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Vitamin D often called “the sunshine vitamin” is one of the most powerful nutrients we know of, in terms of its effect on our overall health. Of course, it is indeed true that our skin creates vitamin D under sunlight conditions, but vitamin D has many more hidden dimensions beyond those apparent in its name alone.
Here I discuss vitamin D’s best sources, benefits, signs of vitamin D deficiency, and the many ways it enhances our good health
Best Sources of Vitamin D
Vitamin D can come from the sunshine, your food, and supplementation as needed.
Here are some of the best sources of vitamin D:
Sunlight: Sunlight is the most natural and a major source of vitamin D. It is possible to make vitamin D when you expose your skin to UVB rays (from the sun). To produce enough vitamin D through sunlight, it’s usually advised that you get 10-30 min of sun exposure, several times per week. In your sun exposure time concentrate on the more effective skin locations that produce Vitamin D, which means chest, arms, and legs.
Fatty Fish: High-fat marine fishes (such as salmon and tuna) provide abundant natural vitamin D.
Some excellent choices include:
Just eating a handful can give you a large chunk of your daily dose.
Fortified Foods: Vitamin D, on the other hand, is often added to foods, especially in areas where there isn’t much sunlight or in the winter seasons.
Common fortified foods include:
- Breakfast cereals
- Orange juice
- Plant milk substitutes (e.g. Convert to almond milk, convert to soy milk, etc.).
Make sure you read the label to see how much Vitamin D is in the cream.
Mushrooms: Some varieties of mushrooms like Shiitake or Portobello have low quantity of Vitamin D, but this can be increased when they are subjected to UV radiation similar to the synthesis of Vitamin D by human skin after exposure to Sunlight.
Egg Yolks: Egg yolks are another source of vitamin D but in small quantities. One large egg yolk has around 20 IU (IU) of vitamin D.
Beef Liver: Beef liver is an excellent source of Vitamin D (about 50iu per 3oz serving).
Cod Liver Oil: Cod liver oil is a true Vitamin D superstar. One tablespoon of cod liver oil contains around 1360 IU of vitamin D. but don’t overdo it on the cod liver oil supplements — too much can cause vitamin D toxicity.
Supplements: If you can’t get enough of the “sunshine vitamin” naturally, or if you have health issues that prevent absorption of the nutrient, your doctor may suggest supplements. To be taken on doctor’s advice for their accurate dosages.
These sources can certainly aid in keeping vitamin D levels, nonetheless, it is essential to balance out. Taking high doses of vitamin D supplements is dangerous. The best thing is to check in with a doctor about your levels of vitamin D and what dosage you should be taking.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Strong Bones and Teeth: The most crucial function of vitamin D is to assist the body in retaining calcium from the foods we consume in our intestines. This is what will keep our body able to handle calcium correctly for our bone growth and maintenance. Vitamin D deficiency causes the poor absorption of calcium in blood and thus reduces bone strength and increases fracture risks.
Immune System Support: Vitamin D is crucial to a strong immune response. It regulates the system of immune responses which increases your defense against bacterial or viral attack. It is well-established that healthy Vitamin D levels decrease the incidence of infections, including cold and flu symptoms.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties: “Vitamin D is an anti-inflammatory agent,” says Dr. The same can be said for chronic inflammation that may lead to heart disease or cancer. Reducing inflammation can decrease your chance of developing these conditions with vitamin D.
Mood Regulation: New research suggests that Vitamin D may have something to do with mood disorders. Adequate vitamin D levels may help minimize depression symptoms and reduce the risk of mood disorders such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Respiratory Health: Vitamin D may help the lungs, especially for those with asthma. It’s also linked to better lung health and a lower chance of catching a cold or flu.
Cancer Prevention: While the research here is still continuing, some research indicates that good levels of Vitamin D might have a possible protective effect against certain cancers such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer.
Support for Autoimmune Diseases: A possible function is controlling autoimmune diseases. This is associated with a lower rate of autoimmune diseases such as MS and RA.
Skin Health: Vitamin D is also good for the skin because it helps the skin in general and with issues like psoriasis.
What are the signs of vitamin D deficiency?
With symptoms that can manifest in various ways—such as fatigue, muscle weakness, or bone pain—it’s critical to know these signs so that you may identify a problem and take steps to correct your vitamin D deficiency. 5 signs you’re lacking vitamin D.
Fatigue and tiredness: Low levels of vitamin D can make you feel tired and exhausted and impair your everyday life. Bone and joint pain — Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, and it’s possible for this nutrient deficiency to cause bone and joint pain. In some rare instances, it could lead to an issue known as osteomalacia which is the reason for frail bones and muscular debility too.
Muscle weakness: Vitamin D supports muscle function; a deficiency may lead to weakness and pain.
Mood changes: Vitamin D helps regulate mood and studies show lower levels of vitamin D are associated with depression and other mood disorders.
Weakened immune system: Vit-D is essential for an effective immune system — Vitamin-D deficiency could mean weak immunity and increased susceptibility to infections.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor, who might suggest testing your vitamin D levels, and perhaps even prescribe supplements if it’s deemed necessary.
How much Vitamin D Do You Need?
There is no one-size-fits-all daily recommended dosage for Vitamin D based on factors such as age group, gender, the degree of skin type, how they live, where they live (latitude), and sun exposure among others. The recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), as established by health authorities, is often expressed in terms of International Units (IU) or micrograms (mcg).
Here are the general guidelines for vitamin D intake:
Infants (0-12 months): The average recommended daily dose of Vitamin D for children under one-year-old is often in the range of 400 – 1000iu (10 — 25mcg) per day. Breastfed infants may need vitamin D supplementation as breast milk is often insufficient in providing sufficient amounts of the nutrient.
Children (1-18 years): Kids and teenagers usually require between 600-1000 IU (15-25 mcg) of Vitamin D per day. Vitamin D needs to be in their growing bodies and overall well-being.
Adults (19-70 years): Most adults between the ages of 18 and 70 need at least 600-800 IU (15-20 mcg) of vitamin D each day. The 0.8 gram/day dose used in the studies was found to be an adequate level for preserving bone health and overall wellness.
Adults (over 70 years): Older seniors, especially over the age of 70+, might need somewhat greater daily VitD[M1] . This level of vitamin D insufficiency is usually resolved by the suggestion of an 800-1000 IU/day (20 micrograms/d) supplementation plan for those over the age of 70 years aimed towards reducing age-associate.
Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: Pregnant and nursing mothers — 600-800 IU (15-20 mcg) per day. Vitamin D supplement during pregnancy and lactation is important for both maternal and neonatal health.
Important Things about Vitamin D Dosage
Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble Vitamins, which means that the body can store it and liberate it slowly. This means you don’t need sunlight every day – the Vitamin D that your body makes and stores in the summer can be liberating slowly over a couple of months, to get you through winter. Some people who are at high risk of Vitamin D deficiency may benefit from taking Vitamin D supplements, especially older people who are at risk of fractures, people who are naturally very dark-skinned and live in less sunny climates, those who spend long hours indoors, and women that are already Vitamin D deficient and are pregnant.
If you think you or a family member are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, do consult with your doctor to see if a supplement mayhelp you. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin; your body can’t eliminate it if you take too much. Vitamin D from sunlight can’t reach toxic levels, but Vitamin D from supplements can, especially if taken in very large doses.
You should be especially careful with children – they have small bodies and if they are given too much Vitamin D through supplements, it may become toxic. There have been cases of children who suffered from a condition called hypercalcemia because of surplus Vitamin D given by their parents.
Remember to talk to your pharmacist before you give your children any kind of Vitamin D supplement. It’s always best to consult with your doctor to determine the appropriate amount of vitamin D for your specific needs.
How can I Check my Vitamin D Levels?
The most accurate method of determining how much vitamin D you have in your system (the gold standard) is to conduct the 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test. This test measures the amount of vitamin D in your blood; it may help identify whether or not you’re deficient.
If you’re worried you don’t have enough of the stuff in your body, your GP might suggest having a blood test. The physician can order the study and guide on reading its results.
Notably — and this is a point I’ll keep emphasizing — some doctors won’t even check your vitamin D level unless you’re showing symptoms of deficiency or they have a particular reason to. However, if you feel like a risk for low levels of Vitamin D, the benefits aren’t even worth it.
in case of deficiency, you should consider talking to your doctor for a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (total) test.
It’s easy to get deficient in vitamin D — you can’t synthesize it with UV-A and UV-B rays from the sun at an intensity high enough (for a significant period) and food doesn’t supply enough of it either.
Therefore, it’s better to consult a doctor about taking a vitamin D pill.
If you’re curious about your vitamin D status, a blood test can reveal whether you’re deficient, which might mean supplementation is required to bring levels back to normal. By making efforts such as the above, you could guarantee to your body’s need of fulfillments and maintaining health.