As winter winds down, we chase those moments when sparse sun rays pierce through lifeless skies. But does sunshine offer more value, boosting physical health along with your mood? Of course, sunshine remains a top source of good vitamin D levels, a predictor of good health. A review of records of Canadian infants shows that by age one, they are getting only a bit over 10 percent of the amount of vitamin D that they need through food such as oily fish, fortified dairy products and cereals. A recent study, however, shows that vitamin D supplements and vitamin D from cow’s milk may steal the spotlight from sunshine, when it comes to lifting vitamin D levels.
A study published last month researched nearly 1900 children ages 1-5 over a period of 30 months. During routine doctor’s visits, health workers drew blood samples and measured vitamin D levels. They also looked at eating patterns and whether or not the kids took vitamin D supplements. They found that taking vitamin D supplements and drinking two cups of cow’s milk each day increased vitamin D levels by 3.4 ng/mL and 3.2 ng/mL, respectively. Sunshine? It made a difference, but not as much.
“When it comes to maintaining sufficient vitamin D stores in young children, the story is about dietary intake of vitamin D through vitamin D supplementation and cow’s milk,” said Dr. Johnathan Maguire, researcher from St. Michael’s Hospital. He was also surprised to find that more than half of the kids studied were taking vitamin D supplements, which he believed to be a result of teaching parents about the health benefits of taking vitamin D.
Getting enough vitamin D may support:
- cell growth*
- bone and joint health*
- immune function*
- the maintenance of heart health*
More research will continue to allow experts to conclude the good health effects of getting enough vitamin D.