What is it? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be found in very few foods.

Why do we need it? Our bodies need vitamin D in order to absorb calcium and phosphorus from the foods we eat and the supplements we take. Together these nutrients work to build and maintain bone, providing protection from bone loss and osteoporosis. Vitamin D also assists the immune system and may help to reduce inflammation and may reduce the risk of cancer.

How much do we need? According to Health Canada, until the age of 70, both males and females require 600 IU of vitamin D per day, and the levels remain the same during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Starting at the age of 71, the requirement is 800 IU.

Infant formula is fortified with vitamin D, but breast-fed infants may need a 10 µg/day supplement until they are weaned and take to consuming fortified milk products.

There are a number of other health and lifestyle factors that may impact your vitamin D supplementation needs. Speak to your doctor to find out for sure whether you would benefit.

Where is it found? When your skin absorbs sunlight, your body forms vitamin D. You could also take a nutritional supplement or eat a diet rich in the few foods that contain high levels of vitamin D. Some of the highest vitamin D sources include egg yolks, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and liver, as well as fortified milk, yogurt, cereal, and juice.

Amy Toffelmire