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Are You Taking Your Vitamin D Supplement Wrong?

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If you're already incorporating a vitamin D supplement into your daily regimen, you're onto something: Most of us have inadequete levels of D—especially during the winter—and research has long suggested that higher levels may be linked to cold and flu prevention (not to mention, a recent study shows vitamin D may improve athletic performance).

However, recent research in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietics shows that the way you take your daily dose may be just as important as taking it. In fact, researchers found that benefits you reap from a vitamin D supplement actually depend on how much fat you’re eating with each meal. In the study, three groups of people ate three different breakfasts: a fat-free option, a low-fat option, and a high-fat option along with 50,000 IU vitamin D-3 supplement. Note: This is a very large dose, used clinically in patients who prefer a once monthly supplement rather than a daily dose. Scientists used it in the study because it produces a readily detectable increase in the vitamin D level in the blood, study author Bess Dawson-Hughes, M.D. explains. (For healthy young adults, 600 to 800 IU per day is generally adequate, she says.) 

The results? The group who had consumed the high-fat meal showed 32 percent greater vitamin D absorption than the group who consumed the fat-free meal.

Like other vitamins such as A, E, and K, vitamin D is fat-soluble, so your body needs some dietary fat to be able to absorb the good stuff. To make sure you're reaping the full benefits, try to include foods like eggs, avocados, flaxseeds, or full-fat cheeses or yogurts (bonus, dairy is often vitamin D fortified!) into the meal you eat with your sushine vitamin.

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