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St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center

St. Joseph's Health Connections

Oct 7 2013
Vitamin D

Did you know that adequate vitamin D intake reduces the risk for stress fractures, body inflammation, infectious illness, and impaired muscle function? Studies have also found that generally athletes do not meet the U.S. dietary reference intake for vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It is used for protection against osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer and other autoimmune diseases.

Vitamin D levels are checked via a blood test. Optimal levels of vitamin D status for athletes has not been established, but the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has found that 20ng/mL is the blood level needed for bone health in most individuals.  Higher levels may be needed to promote immune function and reduce exercise –related inflammation.

How to Achieve Adequate Vitamin D Levels:

·         Expose your face, arms, and legs to the sun between 10am and 2pm for 10-25 minutes, 2-3 times per week. Sunscreen will block vitamin D synthesis; speak with your doctor about not applying sunscreen for this moderate exposure.

·         Consume vitamin D –rich foods: salmon, tuna, sardines, egg yolks, mushrooms, and vitamin D fortified foods: milk, soy milk, yogurt, cheese, margarine, orange juice, and ready-to eat cereals.

·         Ask your doctor about vitamin D supplementation. This may be needed if your blood level is low, especially during the winter months.  The Institute of Medicine considers 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day as the upper limit of dietary supplement intake considered to be safe for adults.

Take advantage of the good weather while you can, soak up the sun, have some salmon on the grill and ask your doctor about your vitamin D level.


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The information provided on this site should not be taken as medical advice. As always, we strongly recommend that you consult with a physician if you have any medical concerns.