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Discover the many benefits vitamin D provides to the body, such as improved calcium absorption and bone health.
Vitamin D plays an essential role in health. Mostly produced by our skin from exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays, it can also come from food. Some foods (such as some fish) contain it naturally, while it is added to others (such as milk). Its main function is to promote the absorption of calcium from food so that the body can use it, just as it is used to build strong bones, which need it to constantly renew themselves. It is estimated that vitamin D increases the body's absorption of calcium by 30-80%. In Canada, due to climate and lifestyle, most people do not meet their daily vitamin D requirements. Inadequate intake of this vitamin can contribute to a variety of health problems, including osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a common condition (more common in women) that often goes unnoticed in its early stages, but can become very debilitating due to the falls and fractures it can cause. Osteoporosis is the accelerated loss of bone mass that causes bones to become brittle. One of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis is to make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet, starting in childhood.
Recommendations for optimal daily vitamin D intake vary with age, as shown in Table 1. The main source of vitamin D is undoubtedly the sun. In summer, 15 minutes of sun exposure limited to the face, arms, and hands can significantly increase vitamin D production. Food sources include dairy products, margarine, eggs, fish, cod liver oil, and other food sources. Table 2 lists some examples of foods high in vitamin D.
Table 1 - Recommended daily intake of calcium and vitamin D for men and women*
Table 2 - Foods high in vitamin D*
Vitamin D is available as a supplement (drops, capsules, tablets, etc.) at the pharmacy, with or without a prescription. If you think your daily intake of vitamin D (or calcium) is insufficient, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. They will be able to help you develop a strategy to ensure your bones have a "golden retirement".
Don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist if you have any questions about vitamin D.
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