‘Sunshine’ vitamin needs larger part in diet

‘Sunshine’ vitamin needs larger part in diet


‘Sunshine’ vitamin needs larger part in diet

Rachel Trampel

Vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin, may need to play a bigger role in people’s everyday diets than previously thought because of continuing research of the vitamin’s benefits.

Judy Trumpy, registered dietitian at the Thielen Student Health Center, said the American Academy of Pediatrics have recently increased the levels of the recommended daily amount of vitamin D for infants from 200 international units to 400 international units. This is because of ongoing research, the recommended levels may eventually increase for all age ranges.

“To me, what it is is ongoing nutritional research,” Trumpy said. “Somebody zeros in on these things and they look at these things for years and years. It’s not like it’s anything new, we just drill deeper and deeper.”

Vitamin D can be hard for people to obtain through foods because of the lack of food that naturally contains it. But vitamin D can be found in salmon, tuna fish, cod liver oil and milk — non-fat, reduced fat, whole or vitamin D-fortified — according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.

Students can best obtain the vitamin through salmon, Trumpy said, which students have to pay a little extra for, but students can also try canned mackerel. Students can also drink milk because other dairy products are not supplemented — except for Yoplait yogurt.

“Yoplait is the only yogurt that supplements their yogurt with vitamin D,” Trumpy said. “So you could drink two cups of milk or three cups of milk, along with two Yoplait yogurts.”

According to “Vitamin D and Cancer,” an article that ran in the 2008 Nurses’ Health Study Newsletter, vitamin D can help regulate the levels of phosphorous and calcium in the body and may also help in “reducing the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, glucose intolerance, high blood pressure, asthma” and many others.

Since it is the “sunshine” vitamin, another way to increase vitamin D levels is through sun exposure which Trumpy said even though she doesn’t have a good educated guess, she said she believes that in looking at the population in Iowa that a lack of sun exposure doesn’t seem to be a problem dealing with vitamin D deficiencies.

According to “Vitamin D and Cancer,” it’s still important to avoid “excessive sun exposure,” but “avoidance of sun exposure” may lead to inadequate amounts of vitamin D in the body.

Since vitamin D can be hard to find in foods, Trumpy said, although she doesn’t encourage supplements as a replacement, depending on the individual’s situation, talking to a doctor and taking vitamin D supplements could be an option.

“The thing with food is we don’t know everything there is to know that’s within our food supply and so if we start omitting or don’t eat an adequate diet and rely on the supplements then we’re not getting what we don’t even know about,” Trumpy said.

Related Links:

The 2008 Nurses’ Health Study Newsletter article, titled “Vitamin D and Cancer”