How can I help prevent vitamin D deficiency?

The goals of treating and preventing the lack of vitamin D of treatment and prevention are the same—to reach and keep an adequate level of vitamin D in the body. Your healthcare provider will let you know if you need to take or keep taking vitamin D supplements. If so, they will also let you know how much you should take. You might also want to consider:

Eating more foods that contain vitamin D: See the vitamin D food sources table included in this article. Keep in mind that foods alone usually don't meet the daily recommended levels of vitamin D.

Getting some exposure to sunshine—but not too much: Exactly how much sun exposure is needed isn’t clear. 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure two to three times a week to the face, arms, legs or back may be all that is needed to absorb a suitable amount of vitamin D. You might need more sun exposure (especially in early spring and late fall) if:

  • You are older.
  • You have a darker skin color.
  • You live in northern climates.

The use of sunscreen, and standing behind a window, prevents vitamin D from being produced in the skin. However, you should remember that too much sunshine increases the risk of skin cancer and ages the skin. That is why taking an appropriately dosed D supplement is far safer than intentionally getting routine sun exposure.

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