Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Many of us are short on Vitamin D, which has plenty of health benefits.

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

It has long been known as the vitamin that cured rickets. But today, vitamin D is being hailed for being able to do much more than that.

Scientists have known for some time about vitamin D's role in helping the body absorb calcium, in maintaining bone density, and in preventing osteoporosis. But new research suggests it may also help protect against chronic diseases such as cancer, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases.

Yet many adults have low blood levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is not abundant in our usual food choices, so we get most of the vitamin from sun exposure and multivitamins. The problem is that the sun is not a reliable source for everyone.

The season, time of day, geography, latitude, level of air pollution, color of your skin, and your age all affect your skin's ability to produce vitamin D. Further, the form of Vitamin D found in most multivitamins is vitamin D2, which does not deliver the same amount of the vitamin to the body as the more desirable D3 form.