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Adequate vitamin D difficult in cold weather

Article Published: Nov. 10, 2011 | Modified: Nov. 10, 2011

Vitamin D is thought of as the sunshine vitamin, which most High Country residents don’t get enough of during the cold months.

More research is needed, but studies suggest that vitamin D may go beyond its well-established role in bone health and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more.

Vitamin D is critical to the development and maintenance of bone strength, as it aids in absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the diet. That’s why it’s added to milk, originally in the early 1930s to prevent rickets, or malformed legs in children.

If you haven’t had a vitamin D blood test, ask for one next time you visit your physician. I recently had this test, and like an estimated 40 to 75 percent of adults, I have an inadequate level. My doctor put me on a daily supplement and plans to test me again in several months, changing the dosage when my blood level is adequate.

As a proponent for getting nutrients though a healthy diet, it’s difficult for me to commit to a supplement. But good food sources of vitamin D are few. A cup of milk is fortified with 100 IU, 3 ounces of sardines contain 240 IU, and 4 ounces of salmon contain 411 IU. Sources that contain less vitamin D are eggs, shrimp and fortified foods, such as cereal and orange juice.

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for bone health was recently raised to 600 IU per day for adults, with some health experts recommending even higher intakes. Children 13 and younger need 400 IU, and adults 71 and older need 800 IU per day.

During the winter, our skin makes less vitamin D from the sun due to lack of exposure. Even on warm days, people with a dark skin tone make less, and using sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production. Considering all the facts, supplementation makes sense for most people. After discussing the results of your blood test with your physician, you will know the amount of supplementation that is right for you.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which can build up in your body. The Institute of Medicine’s Committee has set 4,000 IUs as the highest amount that is safe to consume every day. With a differing opinion, the Endocrine Society Practice Guidelines set an upper limit of 10,000 IU per day.
This salmon recipe will help you get your vitamin D and health promoting Omega 3 fatty acids.

Southwestern Salmon Filets

4 skinned salmon filets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon chili
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients, except salmon, together in a medium bowl.
Coat salmon filets with mixture.
Place medium sized skillet over medium-low heat and add filets.
Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Also great cooked on the grill.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. To contact Margie, email or call (828) 264-3061.

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