Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin within the family of compounds that comprises vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. This is naturally present in some foods and dietary supplements, or it can be formed in the body when sunlight is absorbed through the skin.
Furthermore, vitamin D controls the absorption of the quantity of calcium and phosphate in our blood without which the health and strength of our bones will suffer. The best way to get enough vitamin D is through direct sunlight. That is why it is referred to as the sunshine vitamin. In other words, vitamin D production is triggered by a chemical reaction that occurs when our skin is exposed to the sun. It’s recommended to get outside for at least 15–20 minutes in the afternoon, so our bodies can absorb sunlight.
Natural Ways To Get Vitamin D
In addition to sunlight, vitamin D can be absorbed through your diet. Foods like fatty fishes, including tuna and salmon, cod liver oil, egg yolk, contain this vitamin. For those that do not consume animal products, it may be more challenging to absorb vitamin D through diet, but it is still possible. Foods like spinach, mushrooms, and soybeans are particularly helpful during these circumstances. Likewise, there are some foods like orange juice, almond milk, and yogurt that are fortified with vitamin D.
What Are The Benefits of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D remains among those nutrients we hear a lot about because it helps us maintain overall health. It has numerous roles in the body and assists in the following:
It Can Strengthen the Bones – Vitamin D plays an important role in the control of calcium (for formation of bones) and upholding phosphorus levels in the blood which are fundamental for maintaining healthy bones. The vitamin D deficiency symptoms of these cause softening of the bones or osteomalacia which results in muscular weakness and poor bone density.
Reduced Risk of Flu – From several studies, vitamin D has a protective effect against the influenza virus. That is, it can boost your immune system and help in reducing the risk of an acute respiratory infection (such as pneumonia or the flu) and an upper respiratory infection (like a cold and sinus infection).
Cancer Prevention – Higher vitamin D levels are associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Many cancer research institutions and agencies now stress the significance of getting sufficient vitamin D. This is particularly true for those with a genetic tendency for certain cancers like prostate, breast, skin, pancreatic, lung, and colon cancer.
Supports Healthy Pregnancies – It’s now known that vitamin D’s role in the body is important during pregnancy. Without adequate consumption of vitamin D during pregnancy, problems like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean section are likely to occur. Furthermore, newborns risk rickets, low birth weight, asthma, hypocalcemia and type 1 diabetes. In addition, vitamin D assists women get pregnant and also support fetal growth through secreting placental hormones, the delivery of calcium, and reducing inflammation.
Recommend Daily Intake for Adults
Are you confused about how much vitamin D you need to take as an adult? Don’t be. When it comes to vitamin D, age matters, and for different reasons than you might expect. The best way to get vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. To get enough, you should get at least a minimum of 15 – 20 minutes of sunlight exposure every day. This is important because it will help your skin produce vitamin D naturally.
Alternatively, you can also think about getting vitamin D through your diet, which will mainly happen with vitamin D-fortified products. Also, many supplements include vitamin D, but the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for adults through age 70 is 600 IU per day, with the RDA increasing to 800 IU above age 70.
If you are among the following category, you will need more:
- Reside in a sun deficient state
- Have a dark-skinned complexion
- Constantly use sunscreen
- Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease – a condition that impairs vitamin D absorption from your gut.
Supplementing Vitamin D In The Winter
During Winter, getting enough UVB to produce vitamin D can be much harder because people tend to hibernate in cold weather. From several studies, it can be deduced that low UVB limits vitamin D synthesis for at least a few months during the Winter above about 35 degrees latitude. However, a person’s vitamin D supply doesn’t plunge instantly in the Winter. It’s essential to note that our bodies can store vitamin D in the liver and fat tissues. But that does not eliminate the fact that vitamin D still drops during this season. Especially in the Winter months, it’s important we pay close attention to our diets to ensure we are eating vitamin D foods.
In addition to high vitamin D foods, adults should take an extra vitamin D supplement to get at least the required 600 IU per day. But ensure you consult a health practioner before taking any supplements to ensure correct intake of vitamin D dosage based on your helath needs, as excessive intake can have adverse effect. Another reason why vitamin D is more important in Winter is because we are exposed to more infections. So by taking more vitamin D during the Winter, you will have a healthier gut microbiome to resistant bacteria and inflammation.
The Bottom Line
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that can help fortify bones and keep them strong while also potentially warding off respiratory infections and keeping your mood sunny. If we can follow these simple recommendations, we can avoid the side effects from vitamin D and enjoy all of the health benefits naturally and continue to stay young.