Vitamin D

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” is produced when the sun’s rays interact with our skin. It helps build stronger bones by increasing the absorption of calcium. It also improves the function of muscles, which can improve your balance and decrease the likelihood of falling and suffering a fracture.

In Canada, we don’t get as much sun as we need to produce adequate vitamin D. Further, the skin’s ability to make vitamin D decreases as we age. There are also very few food sources of vitamin D, making it nearly impossible for adults to get sufficient vitamin D from diet alone. Therefore, Osteoporosis Canada recommends routine vitamin D supplementation for Canadian adults year-round.

Healthy adults between 19-50 years of age, including pregnant or breast feeding women, require 400 – 1,000 IU daily. Those over 50 or those younger adults at high risk (with osteoporosis, multiple fractures, or conditions affecting vitamin D absorption) should receive 800 – 2,000 IU daily.

The best supplement to purchase is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). While most multivitamins or calcium supplements contain some vitamin D, the amounts can vary, so it’s important to read the label carefully to ensure you are getting the amounts you need. If you aren’t sure about the amounts in the supplements you are taking, please check with your pharmacist.

Adding vitamin D enhanced foods to your diet is another great way to increase intake of vitamin D. In Canada, vitamin D fortification is mandated for margarine, infant formula, formulated liquid diets, cow’s milk and substitutes, egg products, foods for use on a very low energy diet, meal replacements and nutritional supplements. Fortification is voluntary for butter substitutes, condensed milk, goat’s milk and goat’s milk powder.

 

Vitamin D Food Sources

Food Serving Size IU's per Serving
Swordfish, Baked or Broiled 75 g 761
Salmon, pink, Canned, Drained with solids and bones 75 g 435
Cod Liver Oil 5 mL/1 tsp 426
Salmon (Sockeye), Baked or Broiled 75 g 394
Snapper, Baked or Broiled 75 g 392
Milk (all types) 1 c/250 mL 103-105
Soy Beverage, Enriched 1 c/250 mL 86
Yogurt, Plain, Vitamin D Added 175 g 82-113
Egg Yolk, cooked 2 Large 64
Tuna, canned in water, drained unsalted 75 g 60
Orange Juice, Fortified 1/2 c/125 mL 50
Margarine, fortified 5 mL/1 tsp 25-36
Mushrooms, white 125 mL/ 1/2 c 4

Source: Canadian Nutrient File April 2017