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Healthy Living


By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 04/27/2009
Last Updated: 11/12/2018

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A reader, Sherry from Colorado, sent me this email:
"I finally saw my doctor yesterday and had a full blood work done. I was surprised to find that I was very deficient in Vitamin D; so much so that I am taking both a prescription and supplements for the vitamin."
Obviously, for Sherry, this was quite unexpected. Most health professionals are well aware of the importance of this vitamin, yet yours may not be including the screening in your regular blood work, so make sure to ask to have your levels tested. I just had mine tested and the results surprised me, too. Here's why it's so important.

Aside from helping calcium absorption to build strong bones (a key to avoiding osteoporosis), Vitamin D is also important in immune function and reducing inflammation and may provide protection against hypertension and even depression. This miracle vitamin

Since the sun is one of the main sources of Vitamin D (it's not naturally available in many foods), it's easy to see why so many Americans are deficient. If you live in a place where it's gray and cloudy much of the time or you're far from the equator, your D levels might be low. And more and more, we're staying out of the sun and/or using our sunscreen - surely a good thing when it comes to skin cancer but not such a good thing when it comes to getting our fill of Vitamin D. People with dark skin, which absorbs less of the sun, have been found to be even more deficient than those with lighter skin. And as we age, our skin cannot synthesize Vitamin D as efficiently as it once did, therefore making

So, what can you do? For one thing, try to eat foods containing Vitamin D, like salmon, tuna and mackerel. Smaller amounts of Vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks. And since sun exposure is one of the best ways to generate Vitamin D in the body - and it's free! - go outside and get just 10-15 minutes of sun every day (sans sunscreen). Important: don't burn! Try to do this when the sun is not at its strongest, like early morning or late afternoon. I make sure to put sunscreen on my face and hands (where those sun spots pop up!) but to leave my arms and legs without it for just a short while when outside.

If the sun is a complete no-no, you might turn to supplements. How much is enough? Opinions vary anywhere from 400 IU per day to upwards of 5,000. Much of it depends upon just how deficient you are. recommends 800-1,000 IU daily for adults over 50.

Me? I'm now taking 1,000 IU every day after finding out I was D-deficient - and looking forward to every single sunny day!

Are you getting enough Vitamin D?


I confronted this recently, and am now on 2000 I.U. of D per day. I'm in my late 40s and have had issues with rheumatoid arthritis and bone density since my 30s - I'm sure my D deficiency contributed to this. Glad people are talking more about this now.

thank you for shining light on this! i just bought extra d vitamins this weekend :)

I visited my doctor, complaining of severe bone pain and decreased strength. I just plain ached. In addition to being diagnosed with osteoarthritis (in my hips), testing showed I was severely Vitamin D deficient. I was disbelieving that a vitamin deficiency could account for such pain--especially since I maintained a calcium-rich diet, which I thought sufficiently addressed bone health (but, as I found out, not if the Vitamin D is not present to process the calcium).

My doctor prescribed a course of prescription Vitamin D and daily supplements. Within two weeks of taking the Prescription Viatmin D, the severe bone pain had diminished. I now take daily Vitamin D supplements and maintain a diet and exercise program to address my osteoarthritis and bone health. I encourage anyone experiencing bone pain--and before experiencing any pain-- to be tested for Vitamin D deficiency.


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