The Truth About Vitamin D

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Vitamin D is just a sun ray away. But most people aren't getting enough. So how can you bone up on this essential vitamin? Here's the truth about vitamin D.

Do I really need vitamin D?

Yes, vitamin D is crucial. Your bones depend on it. It helps the body absorb calcium, which forms and maintain strong bones. Kids need it, and adults do too. There are a few ways to get vitamin D. One way is to head outside. Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it's exposed to direct sunlight.

So I just need to head out into the sun, right? Yes and no.

Sun is a great way to get vitamin D, but the problem is it's hard to figure out how much sun you need. Depending on your skin tone, where you live, and even levels of pollution, it's difficult to really know how much sun is enough, or too much.

So should I wear sunscreen?

Yes. While sunscreen does reduce your vitamin D production, many doctors believe the risk of skin cancer outweighs the benefit you get from the sun. And you should always use sunscreen to avoid getting sun damage to your skin. So if you're going outdoors for some fun in the sun, you do need to slather up.

Are there foods with vitamin D?

Yes, the second way to get vitamin D is through food. There are a few foods that contain it naturally, like salmon, sardines, eggs, and shrimp, and there are plenty of foods that are fortified with vitamin D. Look for it in orange juice, milk, and yogurt.

But, most people don't get all the vitamin D their body needs from food alone. So you may want to consider taking a supplement. Before you do, check with your doctor to see if any other multivitamins or medications you're taking already contain vitamin D. Many do.

Can vitamin D keep me

from getting sick? Maybe-- research shows that vitamin D plays a very important role in the immune system, and it's possible that people with lower levels of vitamin D are at a higher risk for getting the flu.

Now that you know all the options, getting vitamin D is as easy as one, two, three-- sunlight, food, and supplements.