MS Central Question of the Week: Vitamin D and Food

  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone which is produced in the body as sunlight (ultraviolet light UVB) reaches exposed skin.  It can be found in very few foods and is available as a dietary supplement in over-the-counter and prescription form.  Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption in the gut and for bone growth and mineralization.  


    Too many people do not produce nor get enough Vitamin D from UVB exposure, food, or supplementation.  Later this week, please come back to read a post discussing Vitamin D deficiency and multiple sclerosis.


    Today, let's focus on some of the few foods in which you can find vitamin D.  The flesh of fish (including salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are some of the best sources.  Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.  Fortified foods (such as milk, yogurt, orange juice, and breakfast cereals) provide enough vitamin D to prevent deficiency-related diseases such as rickets.

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    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Database, lists the nutrient content of many foods, including a list featuring vitamin D (pdf). 

    So this week's questions are: 

    • How much vitamin D do you get on a regular basis?  

    • Do you take dietary supplements or prescription vitamin D?

    • Do you purposefully expose your body (minimum arms and legs) to midday sunlight long enough to get slightly pink on a regularly basis? 

    (The more pigmentation you have, longer sun exposure is needed to pinken skin and produce vitamin D.)


    I look forward to your answers.  Later this week, I'll be discussing my own vitamin D situation.


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: April 12, 2010