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"Fall back" but not with vitamin D

Consumer Reports News: November 07, 2011 04:39 PM

As daylight savings time came to an end this weekend, so did our extra daily dose of vitamin D from sunlight. But just because most of the U.S. won’t be singing “Here comes the sun” during the winter months ahead, that doesn’t mean we need to say goodbye to vitamin D. And despite widespread worries about vitamin D deficiency in this country, most of us don’t need to be concerned, according to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine.

While some people truly are deficient in vitamin D or may be at greater risk, for example--infants who are breastfed exclusively, people who are older or dark skinned, those who have trouble absorbing the vitamin, such as people with celiac disease--the report concluded that the average American is not. Even assuming minimal sun exposure, the panel found that people are probably consuming adequate amounts of both vitamin D and calcium because they take multivitamins and eat food that has been fortified with those nutrients.

That said it can’t hurt to pay special attention to keeping your vitamin D levels up during the winter months. The IOM report recommends between 600 and 800 IU a day for most adults. Good food sources include milk, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, some brands of orange juice, and cereals fortified with the vitamin. Signs of vitamin D deficiency can include bone pain or muscle weakness, but symptoms are often subtle.

For more detailed information on vitamin D, evidence on what it can and cannot do, and what you should know before getting tested read “The vitamin D dilemma.”

Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D[IOM]

Rachel Hager

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