Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Karen McNew McGuire's picture
By Karen McNew McGuire on March 3, 2017

Fact Check: Vitamin D is more important than calcium for strong bones.


In this week’s Fact Check, I sat down with Carilion Clinic Family Medicine physician, Clifford Nottingham, M.D., to find out why we could all use a little more of the sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D is essential to stay healthy, but unlike most other nutrients, it is difficult to get enough vitamin D through the foods we eat. The best way to get vitamin D is to simply step outside and enjoy the sunshine. Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is directly exposed to the sun. 

Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine directly on your skin three times per week is enough to produce the body's requirement of vitamin D. However, the sun needs to shine on the skin of your face, arms, back or legs without sunscreen, and since many of us do not spend much time outdoors or use sunscreen to protect against skin cancer when we do, we are not able to make the vitamin D we need.

Dr. Nottingham recommends taking a vitamin D supplement, but the amount you need can depend on several factors, so it is a good idea to ask your health care provider. 

More information about the importance of vitamin D can be found at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.