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Expert Alert.

Expert Alert

U of M expert available to discuss low Vitamin D in diets of adults

September 14, 2011

In many parts of the country, cooler weather has started moving in.

A steady drop in temperatures normally hustles people indoors. Unfortunately hibernating during the winter months can cause a decline in vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ vitamin that is crucial to bone health.

Just how bad has vitamin D insufficiency gotten and what can people do to get more of the “sunshine vitamin” during the winter months? A University of Minnesota expert who has studied the effects of vitamin D insufficiency and can offer tips to keep you healthy this winter is:

Lisa Harnack, professor of epidemiology, School of Public Health and director of the Nutrition Coordinating Center


Vitamin D is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones. Unfortunately many Americans (Minnesotans included) don’t get enough vitamin D in their diets to meet recommended intake levels. In fact, Harnack’s latest research – recently published by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association – shows vitamin D in the diet has been heading in the wrong direction.

To view a chart listing examples of food sources of vitamin D, click here.

“Over the past 25 years vitamin D in adult diets has been on the decline, making a bad situation worse”, said Harnack. “Both men and women have shown a steady decrease in their vitamin D intake.”
Harnack says that this winter, residents across Minnesota should aim to include vitamin D rich foods in their diets on a daily basis.

What are some good food sources of vitamin D?
• All types of dairy milk (e.g. 2%, skim, etc.) are fortified with vitamin D. Some brands of soy, rice and other non-dairy milks are fortified with vitamin D while others are not. Read the lable to choose a product that is fortified.
• Some brands of cereal, yogurt, margarine, and orange juice are fortified with Vitamin D. Read the nutrition facts panel to find fortified brands.
• Some foods like fish and mushrooms naturally contain vitamin D. The list of foods that are naturally good sources of vitamin D is short. As a result, most people need to rely on food products fortified with vitamin D to get sufficient vitamin D in their daily diets.

To schedule an interview with Harnack or to invite her for a live, in-studio appearance, please contact Tim Holtz, (612) 626-4784, holtz074@umn.edu or Kelly O’Connor, (612) 624-5680, oconn246@umn.edu.

About the Nutrition Coordinating Center
The Nutrition Coordinating Center provides databases, software, training, and services for the collection and analysis of dietary data. The center distributes and supports dietary analysis software applications for the collection and coding of 24-hour dietary recalls and the analysis of food records, menus, and recipes. The center also maintains a comprehensive research-quality food and nutrient database, the only one of its kind nationally. The database of more than 18,000 foods has been in existence for 35 years.

Tags: Academic Health Center

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