Vitamin D Quiz and Guidelines

Vitamin D is the most common vitamin deficiency in the United States. Present and future, this deficiency is a threat to your health span. In addition to keeping bones strong, vitamin D may play a role in preventing cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon. Low levels of D have been associated with risk for these diseases.

Vitamin D transports calcium from the intestine into your bloodstream. Without it, you would absorb a mere 10 percent of the calcium you ingest, which is why we now fortify milk with D.

Misnamed long ago, “vitamin” D is actually a hormone. Like other hormones, your body can manufacture D, but only with a little help from the sun.

Your skin contains a precursor to vitamin D. When the ultraviolet-B photons in sunlight penetrate the skin, they set off a series of chemical reactions that ends with the formation of the active form of vitamin D.

Quiz: Are you getting enough vitamin D?
Tabulate your points as the accumulate.

If you are 65 and older:
1 point: For each 5 minutes you spend each week outdoors in sunshine without sunscreen and with face, arms, and hands exposed.
1 point: For each hour you spend each week outdoors in sunshine with sunscreen and with face, arms, and hands exposed.

If you are 21 to 64:
4 points: For each 5 minutes you spend each week outdoors in sunshine without sunscreen and with face, arms, and hands exposed.
4 points: For each hour you spend each week outdoors in sunshine and with sunscreen and with face, arms, and hands exposed.

All ages:
8 points: If you take daily supplements containing 1,000 vitamin D.
3 points: If you take a daily multivitamin or separate supplement containing 400 IU vitamin D.
1 point: For each glass of vitamin D-enriched milk you drink per day.

If you arrive at 8 or more points, your vitamin D is most likely adequate. But getting your vitamin D from the sun is the optimal way of receiving it.

Weekly Sun Exposure Recommendation for Vitamin D
This author’s recommendation is to get 1,000 IU of vitamin D a day from supplements and/or sun exposure. Do not exceed 1,000 IU a day from supplements.

Use these guidelines for getting your vitamin D from the sun. Weekly sun exposure should be without sunscreen, with face and arms exposed. Keep in mind that the sun isn’t strong enough to trigger vitamin D production during the winter at high latitudes.

Under 65: 3-5 minutes, 2-3 times a week.
65 and above: 5-15 minutes, 2-3 times a week.

How much vitamin D do you think you get from the sun?

Adapted from The Longevity Quotient by Edward L. Schneider, M.D. ( Rodale, 2003).

228 comments

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby3 years ago

ty

Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago

Thanks

Care member
Care member3 years ago

Thanks for the article

Patricia H.
Patricia H.4 years ago

thanks for the info

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Anne F.
Anne F4 years ago

No, going outdoors at 58 degrees north for most of the year does not create vitamin D in our bodies.

Ajla C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks.

Heidi R.
Past Member 4 years ago

I always understood that according to my lifestyle I shouldn't have a problem with Vitamin D levels but I was very surprised to find I had to take supplements. We should all have our Vitamin D levels checked, especially as we grow older. Thank you for the information.

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad4 years ago

Also must note that I take 50.000 IU's a week.

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad4 years ago

Now as far as Vitamin D goes...being as I have a thyroid issue and when diagnosed, had zero vitamin D in my system (Very dangerous) but, most Dr.s will prescribe vitamin D-2 for bringing up your D levels when in fact, what thyroid patients need is Vitamin D-3 instead.