The sun is a major source of vitamin D, which is needed for good health and building healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D also helps your muscles, nerves and immune system to work properly. However, overexposure to the sun's rays damages the skin and can cause skin cancer.
It's always safest to limit your sun exposure. You can meet your daily requirements for Vitamin D through your diet or through supplements.
Canada's Food Guide recommends drinking 500 ml of milk or fortified soy beverage daily. Only small amounts of vitamin D come from food like oily fish (salmon, sardines) or egg yolks.
If you're not getting enough vitamin D through your diet, you should take a supplement. There are specific recommendations for different age groups:
Vitamin D is important to infant development. Breastfeeding is the recommended method for feeding infants because it provides many important nutrients and immune factors. However, breast milk alone does meet your baby's requirements for vitamin D. Health Canada recommends that all breastfed infants receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU every day from birth until 12 months.
- If you're under 50 and you do not drink 500 ml of milk or fortified soy drink daily – take a daily 400 IU vitamin D supplement;
- If you are at risk or living with osteoporosis, follow Osteoporosis Canada's recommendations for vitamin D intake (800-2000 IU per day), unless under the supervision of a health care provider;
- If you are 50+, take a daily 400 IU supplement (pill) of vitamin D and follow Canada's Food Guide recommendations of 500 ml of milk or fortified soy beverage daily.