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Vitamin D
Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because the body produces it when the skin is exposed to the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Vitamin D is the only vitamin the body manufactures naturally and is technically considered a hormone. We need vitamin D for bone and teeth health, and it also helps to strengthen the immune system. Researchers are investigating the potential role vitamin D may play in preventing some types of cancer. Vitamin D also fosters normal muscle contraction and nerve function, and it is useful for blood cell formation.

While approximately ten to fifteen minutes exposure to the sun every day will supply adequate amounts of vitamin D, those who can't get out in the sun may need a supplement. For example, in winter, people in northern climes who don't get enough sun may also need additional amounts of the vitamin. In addition, as the body's ability to manufacture vitamin D declines with age, older adults may need to get more vitamin D, whether they're exposed to sunlight or not. Speak with your doctor or dietitian about a vitamin D supplement. If you don't take a multivitamin and are housebound, you should also take 400 IU of vitamin D daily, which is needed for proper calcium absorption.

And increase your intake of vitamin D foods. Vitamin D is found in a few foods such as vitamin D-fortified milk, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. Try one of the following recipes for some inspiration.

Date Published: 12/11/2002
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