Vitamin D is an important vitamin for more than bones. Men who get enough of it have a lower risk for heart attack and stroke, according to research in the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
A Bounty of Benefits
Although the same benefits weren't seen for women, there are plenty of reasons why vitamin D deserves your attention:
- A large portion of men and women in the U.S. have low vitamin D.
- Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is needed to keep bones strong. It helps prevent osteoporosis - a condition in which thin, porous bones fracture easily. Although osteoporosis occurs more often in women, it occurs in men, too.
- Your nerves, muscles and immune system need vitamin D to function well.
How Much "D" Do You Need?
The Institute of Medicine recently increased its vitamin D recommendation. "Adults up to the age of 70 need 600 IUs a day. Adults age 71 and older need 800 IUs a day," said Tom-Oliver Klein, MD, Internal Medicine at Sharp Rees-Stealy Chula Vista.
You can get vitamin D from food and supplements. The best natural food sources are egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver. Milk, many breakfast cereals and some brands or orange juice are fortified with vitamin D and are also good sources.
"It is possible for your body to make vitamin D when sunlight strikes your skin. But too much sun increases the risk for skin cancer and should be avoided," Dr. Klein stated. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends getting vitamin D from your diet and supplements, not from the sun.
"If you're not sure whether you are getting enough of this health promoting, all-purpose vitamin, talk to your doctor. If you are vitamin D deficient, you may need higher doses or 1,000 to 2,000 IUs daily or one weekly high dose," Dr. Klein added.