Washington Dairy - Vitamin D-o you know how important it is?

Vitamin D-o you know how important it is?

Pop quiz!

Which nutrient is necessary for bone health, can be obtained by sunlight, and is lacking in much of the general US population making it a public health concern?

D, the answer is vitamin D.


We eat food for a multitude of reasons; it smells good, looks Instagram-worthy, and it’s… there. However, some argue that the true purpose of food is to fuel and nourish our bodies so that they can perform basic bodily functions to optimal performance instead. Vitamin D is a huge part of any equation that equals optimal health. Yet, it is not found naturally in many foods, and for those of us that lack the option of year-round copious sunlight exposure (😮‍💨); we need to get it through fortified foods or supplementation.

Fortunately, the fortification of vitamin D in foods has increased our chances of consuming enough, adding to the power of the 13 essential nutrients in milk.

Let’s time hop back to the 1900s when one of the most concerning childhood diseases – rickets – was affecting a large population of US children and was causing softened and distorted bones. In 1922, Dr. E. V. McCollum came to the rescue! He discovered that vitamin D can prevent rickets thanks to its vital role in helping calcium and phosphorus get absorbed into bones to make them strong and healthy.

And thus, vitamin-fortified milk began, which was a natural choice especially since it already provides calcium and phosphorus – two bone health heroes. The introduction of vitamin D in milk had great success. Rickets is now a rare disease in the US. No shots, no meds, just an icy cold glass of tasty, healthy bone-supporting milk.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, just wait!

Warning – the list of how vitamin D keeps us healthy and functioning at our best is long. It helps with maintaining a healthy immune system, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, supporting cell growth, and is important for muscle and nerve function, just to name a few! We all want it, so where do we get it?

Here is an easy way to remember that vitamin D is in dairy. I like to pretend that the D is for Dairy.

Some other sources include cod liver oil, salmon, and mushrooms. Nutrition Facts Labels will let you know if foods have been fortified with vitamin D or not.

There are two common types, D2 and D3. We don’t need to get into the chemical makeup of these, just know that if you have a choice, studies show that D3 may have some perks that outshine D2.

Now that we know the importance of vitamin D, and how to get it, along with a little history, don’t forget to add fortified foods to your shopping list the next time you head to the grocery store.

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