Nutrient to Know: Vitamin D

You may be up to speed on vitamin C and even know a bit about the various B vitamins, but what about vitamin D? Well, some are calling it the "super supplement." Here's what you need to know.

You may be up to speed on vitamin C and even know a bit about the various B vitamins, but what about vitamin D? Well, some are calling it the "super supplement." Here is what you need to know.

What Is It?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it needs fat to be absorbed by the body. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to have fat in your diet. In October 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled the amount of vitamin D recommended for infants, children and adolescents (from 200 IU to 400 IU). This drastic change made many people take a closer look at this vitamin.

Why Is It Good for You?

Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption and bone growth. For children, it helps prevent rickets, which is a softening of the bones characterized by knocked knees and bowed legs. In adults, this condition is known as osteomalacia and is characterized by bending of the bones, especially the spine. Vitamin D is also involved in nerve and muscle function and helps reduce inflammation in the body. Recent research suggests that it may also play a role in immune system function and protection against high blood pressure.

Where Can I Find It?

Vitamin D is one of the only vitamins that your body can make on its own! Your skin can actually synthesize vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight (how cool is that?). Foods such as eggs, fish, mushrooms and fortified milk products also contain vitamin D. Since it is not present in a wide range of foods, supplements are also available. Look for vitamin D in a multi-vitamin or a separate supplement in the form of vitamin D3.

It's important to note that you cannot overdose on vitamin D with too much sun exposure, but too much from supplements can be toxic. Always talk with a registered dietitian or your doctor before taking a supplement. Signs of overdoing it include nausea, confusion and fatigue.

[Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski / SXC ]
Keep Reading

Next Up

Nutrient to Know: Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps protect cells from damage that may cause heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Nutrient to Know: Vitamin A

Did you know vitamin A can be found in 2 major forms – each with their own special functions? Learn more about this “two-faced” nutrient.

Nutrient to Know: Vitamin C

Which has more vitamin C – a cup of broccoli or an orange? Find out the answer along with other vitamin C facts that may surprise you.

Nutrient to Know: Vitamin B12

Get the facts about vitamin B-12.

Nutrient to Know: Potassium

Your muscles just wouldn’t be the same without this mineral. Most folks know there’s potassium in bananas, but that’s not the only place you can find this powerful electrolyte.


Nutrient to Know: Calcium

This important mineral is essential to both bone and muscle health. It also happens to be one of the nutrients most folks don’t get enough of.

Nutrient to Know: Zinc

You may have heard of this trace mineral but do you know how important it is to your health? Get the facts about zinc.

Nutrient to Know: Tryptophan

You always hear about tryptophan around Thanksgiving time -- folks warn that that gorging on turkey (a well-known source for the nutrient) puts you in a "food coma." Is it really to blame for that post-dinner snooze?

On TV

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.