Are you getting enough vitamin D?

How milk can help

are you getting enough vitamin d

Many people know that sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D, but it can be difficult to get enough from sunshine alone during the winter months. This is especially true for those living in the northern United States from October through May because the sunshine is not strong enough. And, while sunscreen is important to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, it prevents the body from making vitamin D.

So, it’s no surprise that according to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” many Americans, including children, fall short of getting the recommended amount of vitamin D; not getting enough can be linked to health concerns. Consuming foods high in vitamin D, such as milk, is an easy way to boost intake levels, regardless of how much time is spent in the sun.

Why is vitamin D important?

Vitamin D works with calcium to help build and maintain strong bones. Plus, vitamin D helps protect children from rickets and older adults from osteoporosis.

Vitamin D also helps muscles move, and nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every other part of the body. In addition, a growing body of research supports other potential benefits of vitamin D. According to the “Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report,” it may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

READ MORE: Kids need vitamin D and calcium to ward off health risks.

Why milk is a good choice

Unfortunately, there aren’t many natural food sources of vitamin D, but milk is fortified to be an excellent source. In fact, milk is the top food source of vitamin D in the American diet. Each 8-ounce glass contains 30 percent of the daily value of vitamin D – plus eight other essential nutrients, such as eight grams of high-quality protein. So, if you drink the recommended three cups of milk each day, you can get 90 percent of your daily vitamin D requirement from milk alone.

Want an easy way to add vitamin D to your day? Try pairing a glass of milk with your breakfast or morning snack, such as this falafel-avocado toast. For more recipe ideas, visit

READ MORE: The lowdown on keeping kids healthy

Falafel-Avocado Toast
Servings: 4 (2 pieces of toast each)

1          ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped

1          can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2          tablespoons lemon juice

1/2       teaspoon ground cumin

1/4       teaspoon garlic powder

Tabasco sauce, to taste (optional)

1/4       cup diced red bell pepper

1/4       cup sliced scallions

8          slices whole grain bread, toasted

16        slices thinly sliced ripe tomato (about 3 small tomatoes), divided

24        slices thinly sliced cucumber (about 1/2 an English cucumber), divided

8          tablespoons fat free plain Greek yogurt, divided

In medium bowl, mash avocado and chickpeas together with lemon juice, cumin, garlic powder and Tabasco using fork, or pulse in food processor to coarsely mash.

Fold in bell pepper and scallions then divide among toasted bread. Top with tomato and cucumber slices and 1 tablespoon of yogurt. Pair each serving with 8-ounce glass of milk.

Nutritional information per serving: 430 calories; 12 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 25 g protein; 59 g carbohydrates; 13 g fiber; 460 mg sodium; 440 mg calcium (45% of daily value); 120 IU vitamin D (30% of daily value). Nutrition figures based on using fat free milk and include an 8-ounce glass of milk.