Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Mar 24, 2022Dairy Council® of Arizona, Families

Why do you need Vitamin D?

The Vitamin D role is to increase the absorption of calcium that is needed for bone growth and maintenance. Without it, your body can only absorb 10 to 15% of calcium from the diet. With it, your body can increase calcium absorption by 30 to 40%!1 This makes for strong bones and teeth.

After age 50, bone breakdown increases at a rate faster than formation.2 This can lead to thin, brittle and fragile bones that tend to break more easily, a condition known as osteoporosis.  In combination with calcium, the sunshine vitamin can help prevent this bone loss as you age.3 Studies have shown that Vitamin D has additional benefits which include prevention of developing autoimmune diseases, improved overall immunity, decreased risk of some cancers, as well as prevention of hypertension and diabetes.1 4

How much do you need?

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people who are 2-70 years old should aim for the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of 600 IUs (International Units) per day. After age 70, you should aim for 800 IU per day.2

2-70 600 IUs or 15 mcg
71 and older 800 IUs or 20 mcg

How you can raise your D levels

It is estimated that over 80% of Americans ages 51 to 70 are lacking enough Vitamin D in their diets.3 Both a nutrient and a hormone, it is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because your body makes this vitamin when in the presence of ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from the sun. Exposing your body to the sun for 5-15 minutes at least two times per week is a good way to maintain healthy D levels.3 However, it can be difficult to get enough sunlight to make the vitamin D your body needs if you live in a colder climate, use sunscreen often, and generally spend more time indoors. Therefore, adding foods high in this vitamin to your diet can help raise your levels and contribute to your wellness. Fortified milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, fortified cereals, salmon, mackerel, sardines, eggs, liver, and mushrooms are great choices.3 Drinking one 8 oz. cup of milk gives you 15% of your daily value of D.5

Raise your daily levels of Vitamin D with this delicious recipe!

Vanilla and Mixed Berry Chia Pudding

Start the morning by pudding yourself in the health zone

About the author: Susan Vanoosterhout is currently in her senior year at Arizona State University, majoring in Nutrition. She is also a stay-at-home mom and in her free-time enjoys traveling, cooking, reading, and learning about nutrition.


  1. Khazi N, Judd S, Tangpricha, V. Calcium and vitamin D: Skeletal and extraskeletal health. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2008;10(2):110-117. doi:10.1007/s11926-008-0020-y
  2. Osteoporosis: What You Need to Know as You Age. Accessed March 10, 2022.,are%20among%20the%20most%20common.
  3. Sunyecz J. The use of calcium and vitamin D in the management of osteoporosis. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(4):827-836. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s3552
  4. Ginde AA, Liu MC, Carmogo Jr CA. Demographic differences and trends of vitamin D insufficiency in the US population, 1988-2004. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):626-632. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2008.604
  5. Schmid A, Walther B. Natural vitamin D content in animal products. Advances in Nutrition. 2013; 4(4):453-462. doi:10.3945/an.113.003780

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