How Much Vitamin D Can I Get From My Diet (fish, milk, fortified cereals)?

DDayVitamin D is important for brain development in the womb, bone development for your infant, cancer prevention for all of us, and our immune system just for starters.

I recommend everyone take a supplement since absolutely everyone I have tested has been below optimal levels and most have been deficient.  But what about all the milk you drink, or the fortified cereal?  The best natural source for Vitamin D is cod liver oil, and the fatty fish like salmon, herring, or sardines.

To get about 2000 IU of vitamin D, you would need to eat daily:
– 3 cans of sardines
– 4 teaspoons of cod liver oil
– 10 to 20 glasses of fortified milk
– 10 to 20 bowls of fortified cereal
–  50 to 100 egg yolks
–  4 to 5 pounds of shrimp
–  Half a pound of wild salmon.

Vitamin D made from your skin lasts twice as long as that from food or supplements. This is done with direct exposure to light, typically sunlight (although there is one light that can be purchased with the right wavelength for production of vitamin D here ). Compare this to sunbathing on the beach or your backyard which will provide 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D if you stay long enough  to be slightly pink 24 hours later.

Clearly it would be preferable that you spend less time than that which changes your skin pink.  You also may not expose your whole body. From the burn doctors we learned the rule of 9’s that helps us know how much surface area is involved:

Face – 9%
Arms – 18%
Abdomen and chest – 18%
Back – 18%
Legs – 36%.

You can see how exposing arms and legs for just a few minutes of sunlight with no sun screen can give you a good boost in your vitamin D levels.  The problem for most of us is that we have no stores of vitamin D so we would need to get this exposure daily to maintain health.  This is why I recommend a supplement in addition to some brief non-burning sun exposure.

Remember that SPF-8 blocks 90% of your vitamin D production and SPF-30 blocks 99%.

Dr. Paul


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