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Discover Vitamin D’s many benefits on the body, such as better calcium absorption and improved bone health.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin produced mainly by the skin following exposure to the sun’s UV rays, although it can also be obtained from food, either naturally (such as from certain types of fish) or artificially, from foods such as milk, which is fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a key role in helping the body absorb calcium from food to build strong bones, structures that are constantly renewed and that require calcium to do so. Vitamin D is estimated to boost calcium absorption by 30% to 80%. Canada’s climate and its people’s lifestyle are such that most individuals do not meet their daily vitamin D requirements. A deficiency of this vitamin can contribute to various health problems, including osteoporosis.
A common disease that affects more women than men, osteoporosis often goes undetected at the early stage but can become quite debilitating as it is usually the reason behind falls and bone fractures. Osteoporosis is characterized by an accelerated loss of bone mass, resulting in more fragile bones that are susceptible to fractures. As life expectancy increases in North America, this disease is expected to affect a growing number of people and prevention is therefore becoming increasingly important. One of the best ways to avoid this disease is to ensure an appropriate intake of calcium and vitamin D from birth, since bone development during childhood and adolescence is a key determinant of adult skeleton health. Although it’s never too late to build up your calcium and vitamin D stores, the earlier you start, the more you’ll benefit when you’re older.
The recommended daily intake depends on your age, as shown in Table 1. The sun is clearly our main source of vitamin D. In summer, exposing the face, arms and hands to sunlight for 15 minutes will significantly increase the body’s production of vitamin D. Food sources include dairy products, margarine, eggs, fish and cod liver oil. Table 2 shows examples of foods rich in vitamin D.
Everyone, regardless of age, must get enough vitamin D to ensure proper bone development. That said, some groups are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency:
The elderlyVitamin D production by the skin and calcium absorption slows considerably as we age. The elderly must therefore make doubly sure to get an adequate supply of vitamin D in order to maintain good bone health and prevent the ravages of osteoporosis.
People with little exposure to sunlightSuch individuals must obtain their vitamin D from other sources (food or supplements).
Vitamin D supplements are available in various forms (drops, capsules, tablets, etc.) with or without a prescription. Certain product manufacturers, such as Jamieson, offer a variety of formulations to make your vitamin D intake easier and more pleasant. If you’re unsure about your daily vitamin D or calcium intake, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. Both can help you work out a plan to keep your bones in tip top shape.
Your pharmacist will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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