ZocdocAnswersHow much vitamin D does the body need?

Question

How much vitamin D does the body need?

My friend says that I need to spend more time in the sun because it gives you vitamin D. How much vitamin D does a person need? Do you get it from eating foods too?

Answer

Vitamin D is an important nutrient required to maintain health. Together with calcium, Vitamin D helps regulate bone health, including protection from osteoporosis. In addition, Vitamin D is also involved with regulating neuromuscular function as well as proliferation and differentiation at the cellular level. Because it is involved in so many key processes, it is important to make sure that you are getting enough Vitamin D! Your friend is correct that spending time in the sun does allow your body to synthesize Vitamin D in the skin. However, even though this connection between the sun and Vitamin D is well known, Vitamin D synthesis only occurs with intense sunlight. In much of the United States, for example, sufficient sun to produce Vitamin D is only found during a very limited part of the year. Most of us will thus get our Vitamin D from the diet. Vitamin D is found in eggs, certain kinds of fish (including salmon and tuna), and yeast. It can be difficult to get sufficient Vitamin D from the diet, so Vitamin D is almost always part of a daily multivitamin. General recommendations for an adult under age 70 is a dietary intake of 600 IU (international units) each day. Any questions about your Vitamin D intake, diet, and overall health should always be addressed with your primary care physician. Please make an appointment soon, and stay healthy!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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