Vitamin D, often known as the sunshine vitamin, provides a number of important health benefits. While it’s frequently associated with strong bones, it actually protects against a number of health issues and is essential to promoting long-term health. Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight, and it also occurs naturally in some foods. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it dissolves in fats and oils and can be stored in the body for a long time. Given its importance, today we’ll talk about some of the benefits of vitamin D, ways to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of it, and the symptoms and risks of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D Benefits
Vitamin D is probably best known for helping maintain healthy teeth and bones, which it does by regulating calcium and maintaining phosphorus levels. In addition, benefits of vitamin D include supporting a healthy immune system, promoting cardiovascular health, regulating insulin levels, assisting with diabetes management and supporting a healthy brain and nervous system. Further, it decreases the risk of getting the flu, decreases the risk of diabetes, can increase the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy and helps to prevent some types of cancer. There is some evidence that suggests that vitamin D supports weight loss.
Getting Adequate Vitamin D
The most effective way to get vitamin D is through sensible sun exposure. For most people, having bare skin exposed to sunlight for 5 to 10 minutes, two or three times a week will provide adequate amounts of vitamin D. Additionally, natural sources of vitamin d include swordfish, maitake mushrooms, salmon, sardines, fortified skim milk, tuna, eggs, and chicken. Finally, fish oils and supplements are an effective way to ensure that you get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Low levels of vitamin D can lead to a number of health issues and can put you at increased risk of contracting certain diseases. While the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can be subtle, they include bone pain, muscle weakness, a weakened immune system, fatigue, hair loss, and impaired wound healing. A vitamin D deficiency can be caused by the following.
- Not getting the recommended levels over time (those that don’t eat animal products are at a heightened risk because most natural sources are animal based)
- Having limited exposure to sunlight
- Having dark skin
- Kidneys that can’t effectively convert vitamin D
- A digestive tract that can’t properly absorb vitamin D
Long-term vitamin D deficiency leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, asthma in children, and cancer.
It’s important that all people get adequate amounts of vitamin D, whether it’s from the sun, diet, or supplements. If you have any questions about vitamin D or are concerned that you suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, contact our physicians 24/7 for a live consultation.
Please note that the content on this website is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for a medical diagnosis or prescribed treatment. If you have any health concerns, seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.