Vitamin D is vital, but too much may increase certain risks.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps build and maintain healthy bones and teeth.
Without this, our bodies cannot absorb calcium, which is the main component of bone.
Vitamin D may also protect against cancer and diabetes.
Our bodies synthesize vitamin D when sunlight reaches the skin.
The amount of vitamin D that our skin produces depends on several factors, including where we live, season, and skin pigmentation. During winter, vitamin D production may decrease or be completely absent.
We can also get vitamin D from salmon, sardines, canned tuna, oysters, and shrimp. People who are vegetarian can obtain this vitamin by consuming egg yolks, mushrooms, and fortified food products such as soy milk, cereal, and oatmeal.
Vitamin D in older adults
It may be harder for some older adults to absorb vitamin D because they may not get regular sun exposure. In this case, taking a vitamin supplement or a multivitamin that contains vitamin D may help boost bone health and improve memory.
Studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to conditions such as dementia, depression, diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia.
As we age, it is crucial to ensure that our bodies get the right amount of vitamin D, because the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia may increase.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended daily amount of vitamin D is:
- infants 0–12 months: 400 international units (IU)
- children 1–18 years: 600 IU
- adults to age 70: 600 IU
- adults over 70: 800 IU
- pregnant or lactating women: 600 IU
While it is crucial to take vitamin D, excessive exposure can also pose risks. A study led by Rutgers University found that older women who are overweight or obese who took more than three times the recommended daily dose of vitamin D had slower reaction times.