Sunshine and Supplements

Sun and Vitamin D

Recent findings from the Nurses' Health Study showed that women who had a daily intake of more than 1,200 milligrams of calcium and more than 800 IU of vitamin D –– from food and supplements –– were one-third less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to those who got less than 600 milligrams of calcium and less than 400 IU of D a day. Other studies have found that people with diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance have lower levels of vitamin D. Your best source of vitamin D is the sun, so before putting on your sunscreen, get five to 10 minutes of sun exposure. And talk to your doctor about supplementing, as experts believe most people are deficient in this vitamin. To get the calcium you need, follow these supplementing tips:

  • take calcium with meals, but not with your multivitamin/mineral;
  • find a calcium supplement that supplies vitamin D3 rather than D2;
  • take 500 milligrams or less of calcium at a time for best absorption.

Aside from dairy, great sources of calcium include sardines, salmon, tofu, and shrimp.

Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08

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