The Importance of Vitamin D  

Facts from the New England Journal of Medicine.

Giving your children all they need to grow big and strong may not be as simple as a gummy vitamin and three square meals. They still may be susceptible to an epidemic that's quickly gaining the attention of pediatricians and orthopedic doctors across the country, Vitamin D deficiency.

A review of vitamin D medical literature published last July in The New England Journal of Medicine by Michael Holick, professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics and director of the Bone Health Care Clinic at Boston University Medical School, indicated that vitamin D does much more than boost bone health in children and adults. In children, it can inhibit future hip fractures, and it may help reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes.



Food Sources of Vitamin D
Why is Vitamin D Different from Other Vitamins?

Vitamin D is different from other vitamins because even though the body stores it, it needs ultraviolet B rays from the sun to activate it, says James Dowd, professor of medicine at Michigan State University and author of The Vitamin D Cure. Most Vitamin D, between 80% and 90%, is obtained through sunlight. However, despite the benefits of sunlight, always remember to stay safe in the sun.

When vitamin D is dispatched to the liver and kidneys, it is changed into forms that body tissues can use. Once converted, it helps the body absorb and regulate calcium and promotes the mineralization of teeth and bones.

Vitamin D can also be found in small amounts in a few foods including fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon and tuna. To make vitamin D more available, it is added to dairy products, juices, and cereals that are then said to be “fortified with vitamin D.” Vitamin D can also be made in a laboratory as medicine. Please see food sources of Vitamin D table.

The American Medical Association recommends 10 minutes a day in the sun without  sunscreen However, those at risk or with a history of skin cancer or with sun-sensitive skin conditions should check with their dermatologist first. (USA TODAY). Despite its benefits, too much sun exposure still puts you at risk for sunburn.

From the New York State Department of Health

Food Item & Amount

IUs per serving

Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon                        
Salmon (sockeye) cooked, 3 ounces
Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light to increase vitamin D, 3 ounces
Mackerel, cooked, 3 ounces
Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup
(varies with different products)
Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces
Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines
Liver, beef, cooked, 3.5 ounces
Ready-to-eat cereal,
fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75, 1 cup
Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is found in yolk)
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce


*IUs = International Units.

**DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for vitamin D is 400 IU for adults and children age 4 and older. Food labels, however, are not required to list vitamin D content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.


TIP   Growing up, our parents used to give us cod liver oil gels. Now we do the same with our children, especially during the winter months when the sun is weaker and we spend less time outdoors compared to the summer months. Please consult before with your child’s pediatrician for advice.

Why Do We Need Vitamin D?

•    It regulates our immune system.
•    It’s crucial for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, meaning fewer bone fractures.
•    It may reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
•    Various studies show that people with adequate levels of vitamin D have a significantly lower risk of developing cancer compared to people with a vitamin D deficiency.
•    It reduces the risk of heart disease by improving blood flow.
•    And it promotes weight loss by increasing insulin efficiency. Diabetes is also related to low vitamin D levels.