Vitamin D: Top Health Benefits and Sources of This Important Nutrient

Vitamin D nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” due to its ability to be absorbed by the body through sunlight is a major player in keeping the human body healthy.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which controls the adequate utilization of calcium and phosphorous in the body.

Its main job, is to promote calcium absorption, making it necessary for bone growth and bone remodeling. Because of that, a lack of vitamin D can lead to thin, brittle, or misshapen bones. But vitamin D offers a range of other benefits too, ranging from positives for both physical and mental health.

WEEKLY GOAL: In the Summer, 15 to 20 minutes (on bare skin without any filter) of sun exposure is enough for the daily needs of Vitamin D. With the sun, cholesterol derivatives are activated in the skin. The Vitamin D pre-cursor 7-dehydro-cholesterol is transformed by UVB rays in the dermis and epidermis layers of the skin.

If possible, get 15-20 minutes of sunlight several times a week. Remember to protect your skin from overexposure and stay hydrated. For most healthy adults, an adequate amount of sunlight is beneficial for optimal health and fitness.

Benefits of Vitamin D:


Here are vitamin D benefits you need to know about; including ways to get more of the vitamin in your daily diet.

Vitamin D strengthens your bones


Vitamin D is famous for its bone-building and strengthening powers. Vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium in your gut, which ultimately allows for normal mineralization of your bones. Basically, the calcium that benefits your bones wouldn’t be able to do its job without vitamin D. You need vitamin D for bone growth and to prevent bones from becoming brittle. When teamed with calcium, it can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that signifies that the density and quality of bone are reduced.

Vitamin D can help strengthen muscles


Along with its bone-building abilities, vitamin D is also influential in strengthening muscles. Lack of vitamin D in the body can increase the risk of having weak muscles, which in turn increases the risk of falls. This is especially important for the elderly. Vitamin D may help increase muscle strength thus preventing falls, which is a common problem that leads to substantial disability and death in older adults.

Vitamin D can support the immune system and fight inflammation


Vitamin D can also help build immunity. It can support the immune system by fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses. In fact, this role in possibly preventing infections has become a critical concern during COVID-19 pandemic, as researchers are interested in its potential role in infection outcomes.

Vitamin D can help strengthen oral health


Because vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium, it plays a crucial role in supporting oral health, lowering the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. The research is scant, there’s an “emerging hypothesis” that the vitamin is beneficial for oral health, due to its effect on bone metabolism and its ability to function as an anti-inflammatory agent and stimulate the production of anti-microbial peptides.

Vitamin D can help you lose weight


Obesity is a known risk factor for low vitamin D levels which means more vitamin D may help with weight loss. One 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that, in overweight or obese women with low calcium levels, those who took a daily dose of calcium paired with vitamin D were more successful shedding pounds than those who took a placebo supplement, due to an “appetite-suppressing effect” of the combination.

Vitamin D can help battle depression


The sun can brighten up your mood, and so can vitamin D. According to a 2017 review article in the journal Neuropsychology, researchers found a significant relationship between depression and vitamin D deficiency. While they acknowledged that more research is needed to define the exact workings of it such as, if low vitamin D levels are a cause or effect of depression the authors recommend screening for and treating vitamin D deficiency in subjects with depression noting that it is an easy, cost-effective and may improve depression outcome.

How to get more vitamin D


Despite being readily available through sunlight, some foods, and supplementation, many Americans are still getting inadequate amounts of vitamin D according to the most recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of the population had sufficient vitamin D. Because you can’t necessarily find out if you a vitamin D deficiency on your own, the best thing to do is to consult a medial expert. Ideally the best approach is to have your blood vitamin D level tested to find out if your blood vitamin D level is within the adequate range. This determines if a supplement is needed in order to achieve adequate blood vitamin D status, and if so, the proper dosage of supplemental vitamin D.

If you find out you are deficient or lacking in vitamin D intake, there are a few key ways you can up your daily dosage staring with getting around 20 minutes of sunlight several times a week. The major cause of vitamin D deficiency is inadequate exposure to sunlight, an increasing feature in modern life: You still need to wear sunscreen whenever you step outside even to get vitamin D.

Aside from the sun, you can also get extra vitamin D from food sources such as fatty fish (including salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines) and mushrooms (some of which are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light to increase vitamin D levels). Foods like milk, orange juice, yogurt, and breakfast cereals can also be fortified with vitamin D. And of course, you can always go the supplement route, in the form of vitamin D3, if your doctor thinks it’s necessary. Keep in mind that this vitamin can be toxic when taken in larger doses with toxic symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness, headaches and loss of appetite.

Compiled and Written by Lanna Millien for

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