Melissa Benoit

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that influences many cells within the body. The majority of vitamin D is made in the skin after exposure to sunlight. There are very few natural dietary sources of vitamin D with the exception of fish liver oils. Because of this and the fact that in Canada, vitamin D production in the skin is minimal during the winter months, milk and baby cereal/formula is fortified with vitamin D in order to maintain vitamin D stores. One cup of milk provides you with approximately 100 IU of vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for maximal calcium absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. Calcium is essential for adequate bone development and strength. Although vitamin D is required to maintain bone health there is literature to suggest that vitamin D plays a role in other bodily functions as well. Large studies show that children who receive vitamin D supplementation as babies have a lower risk of developing diabetes later in life. Furthermore, individuals who live closer to the equator (thus being exposed to more sunlight) have a reduced risk of developing multiple sclerosis, raising the possibility that vitamin D may influence the development of this condition. From a pulmonary point of view, there have been two published studies suggesting that dietary vitamin D as well as blood vitamin D levels may be associated with lung function. So there are several reasons why ensuring adequate vitamin D levels is a good goal to achieve. Click here to download a handout. (To download click link and click OK, Size 24.5 kB)