Are you getting your recommended intake of Vitamin D? It is estimated that sensible sun exposure on bare skin for five to ten minutes a few times per week allows most people to produce sufficient vitamin D. However, that does not always happen.
Unfortunately, in the United States, about 42% of the population is vitamin D deficient. Some groups have even higher levels of deficiency, including those with poor nutrient habits, premenopausal women, people over age 65, Caucasians who avoid even minimal sun exposure, and people who take prescription medication long-term for heartburn and acid reflux. In addition, this number increases to 69% in Hispanic adults and 82% in African American adults.
The latest research links vitamin D deficiency to mood swings, depression, lack of energy, chronic skin conditions, and other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It can also decrease our risk of certain cancers, such as colon, ovarian, prostate, and breast. Without vitamin D, our bodies cannot effectively absorb calcium, which is essential to good bone health.
Foods with vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereal.
An annual blood test will determine levels of vitamin D. If you are deficient, talk with your doctor about your dietary habits and discuss your options. If you don’t get enough sunlight or get enough vitamin D in your diet, consider taking a daily supplement with 1,000- 1,200 IU of vitamin D, according to your age and needs. Your healthcare provider can help you determine what is best for you.
Here are the top benefits of vitamin D...
1. Improves Bone Density
This is probably the most well-known benefit of vitamin D. We need vitamin D to absorb calcium in the intestines and to reclaim calcium that would otherwise be excreted through the kidneys. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can result in the softening of the bones. This can result in poor bone density and muscular weakness. It’s called osteoporosis and it is the most common bone disease among postmenopausal women and older men.
2. Reduces Risk of Flu
According to Medical News Today, children given 1,200 International Units of vitamin D per day for 4 months during the winter reduced their risk of influenza A infection by over 40 percent.
3. Lowers Risk of Childhood Diseases
People with a low vitamin D have a higher risk and severity of atopic childhood diseases that include asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema.
4. Healthy Pregnancy
According to Medical News Today, pregnant women who had low counts of vitamin D were at greater risk of developing preeclampsia and needing a cesarean section. Also, high vitamin D levels during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of food allergy in the child during the first 2 years of life.
5. Reduces Cancer Risk
Vitamin D is vital for cell growth and for cell-to-cell communication. According to Medical News Today, Some studies have suggested that calcitriol (the hormonally active form of vitamin D) can reduce cancer progression by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue, increasing cancer cell death, and reducing cell proliferation and metastases. vitamin D influences more than 200 human genes, which could be impaired when we do not have enough vitamin D.
6. Supports Immune Function
Research shows that having healthy levels of vitamin D can help keep your immune system healthy and may protect against respiratory illnesses in general.
A recent study indicated that patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who had sufficient levels of vitamin D had a decreased risk for adverse outcomes and death.
Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties and is critical to activating our immune system defenses. It is possible to take too much vitamin D, so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about your individual needs for vitamin D.