Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
Driving Directions
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

Low vitamin D can mean trouble

Dec. 23, 2015

Vitamin D

Roughly half of all Americans — older adults in particular — don’t get enough vitamin D, which comes primarily from exposure to the sun’s rays, food or supplements. This nutrient is essential to keeping our muscles, bones and immune systems strong.

Vitamin D helps form and strengthen bones by allowing the body to absorb calcium. Without adequate vitamin D, bones become thin and brittle. The vitamin also helps our muscles and immune system function.

What causes low levels of vitamin D?
“Certain factors may limit your ability to obtain vitamin D through sunshine absorption, including seasonal conditions and use of sunblock,” says Gay Bonilla, RD, CNSD, an advanced practitioner and dietitian at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

“Individuals with lighter skin are able to absorb vitamin D more easily and quickly through sun exposure compared to darker-skinned individuals,” she says. “In addition, vitamin D from food or supplements may be difficult to absorb due to conditions such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, fat malabsorption syndromes or bariatric surgery. Use of anticonvulsant or antiretroviral medications can also reduce vitamin D absorption. And recent studies show a link between obesity and lower vitamin D levels.”

Ensuring you get enough
The National Institutes of Health currently recommends that healthy people get the following amounts of vitamin D each day:

  • Children and adults ages 70 and younger: 600 international units (IU)
  • Adults ages 71 and older: 800 IU

Bonilla recommends the following tips to ensure you are getting your daily requirement of vitamin D:

  • Eat foods that contain a natural source of vitamin D, such as eggs, mackerel, salmon, canned tuna, and dairy, almond and soy products fortified with vitamin D.
  • Have your blood level of vitamin D checked by your doctor if you’re worried that you aren't getting enough.
  • Take a vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement to meet the daily goal if your dietary vitamin D and sun exposure is limited.
  • While sunblock is vital for protection against skin cancer, sunburn and sun damage, allow about 10 minutes of sunblock-free sunshine daily for those with light skin, or 20 minutes for those with dark skin.
This story was updated in April, 2016 to remove information linking vitamin D deficiency with certain medical conditions, reflecting the most recent medical research on this topic.

You might also like:

Choose the doctor who's right for you.

At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

All Categories
Contact Sharp HealthCare
Call us


If this is a life- or limb-threatening emergency, please call 911 immediately.

Email us

Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

How would you like to be contacted?
Date of birth

Find other numbers

View our phone directory

What's This?

These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your Sharp hospital account number

Find your Sharp hospital account number

Find your SharpCare account number

Find your SharpCare account number
Lung Cancer Screening

Should you get a lung cancer screening? Answer a few simple questions to find out.

Have you ever smoked cigarettes?
Are you on Medicare or a Medicare HMO?