Sunday, January 17, 2010

Simple Steps

Do Your D!

Calcium often gets all the glory when it comes to bone health. But calcium wouldn't benefit your bones much without its partner, vitamin D!

Why? Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and keeps your bones strong; without enough vitamin D, the bones become weak and brittle, a condition called rickets in children, andosteomalacia in adults. Adults from 19 to 50 need 200 IU (international units) per day, while those from 51 to 70 need 400 IU daily. Those over 70 need 600 IU per day.

Unfortunately, not too many foods contain vitamin D naturally. (Tuna and sardines canned in oil are exceptions.) The good news is that many foods are now regularly fortified with vitamin D, including milk, some yogurts, margarines, and cereals. You can check the Nutrition Facts panel on packages and containers to see which products contain vitamin D. It should be listed after vitamins A and C, along with the percentage of the Daily Value that a serving of the food contains. The Daily Value (a standardized amount) for vitamin D is 400 IU, so if your milk has 25 percent of the Daily Value, it provides 100 IU per serving.

Your skin can also make vitamin D using sunlight — you need about a half hour of exposure to the midday sun twice a week to make enough. However, because of the increasing incidence ofskin cancer in recent years, many experts are wary about recommending sun exposure.

So take a closer look at milk, yogurt, cereal, and margarine selections when you're doing your weekly shopping, and stock up on brands that are fortified with vitamin D. Challenge yourself to consume one source of vitamin D at least three days in the coming week! If you cannot eat or do not like any foods that contain vitamin D or are fortified with it, talk with your health care provider ASAP about taking a supplement. Your bones will thank you for it!

No comments: