Vitamin D is essential for all of us. This vitamin is one that is frequently lacking in the Americans population. Especially in the cold, dark, and dreary winter months, when the sun is not out as much, Vitamin D exposure is less readily available. A study in 2010, found that 42% of Americans were deficient in Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is absorbed into the body when the skin with exposure to sunlight. There is a type of cholesterol in the body that makes Vitamin D from this sun exposure on your skin. But that’s not the only way to get Vitamin D – in fact, if you have any risk for skin cancer, it’s best to continue to wear recommended SPF and sun cover-ups and find an alternate source of Vitamin D.
There are Three Main Ways to Get Vitamin D:
- Vitamins and supplements
- Foods fortified with vitamin D
What if I Don’t Get Enough Sunshine?
In the months of winter, or for those who are appropriately protecting themselves from skin cancer, Vitamin D may be hard to get naturally. Your body may not get the sun exposure that it needs to make Vitamin D out of cholesterol through your skin. For those in this category, it’s crucial to ensure you get the right amount of Vitamin D for your body to absorb calcium.
Vitamin D is essential for absorbing calcium properly. If you do not have enough Vitamin D, you may develop problems associated with a calcium deficiency such as brittle bones and increased risk for fractures.
Not only is Vitamin D vital for calcium absorption, but it also has many other important jobs. You may be surprised at the list of symptoms of low Vitamin D.
Symptoms of Low Vitamin D
Although this list is not complete, here are some of the most common effects of vitamin D deficiency.
- Hair Loss
- Bone Loss
- Muscle Pain
- Back Pain
- Sick More Often
- Gum Disease
The Types of Vitamin D
This vitamin can naturally occur in some foods, but we do not get enough Vitamin D from our food sources. This is why many products have become fortified in Vitamin D. These products include milk, orange juices, and even some mainstream cereals.
There are Two Main Types of Vitamin D
Vitamin D2- This vitamin is found in mushrooms and fortified milk, orange juice, and cereals.
Vitamin D3- The sunshine vitamin is vitamin D3, and it is also found in animal products.
The Role of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for many different areas in the human body:
- Vitamin D plays an integral role in bone health. It’s important for the absorption of calcium in the gut. So, vitamin D allows our bodies to properly utilize calcium. Without it, our bones would break easily or become brittle.
- Vitamin D is involved in the role of cell growth.
- Neuromuscular function requires Vitamin D.
- Vitamin D is vital for inflammation reduction.
- Vitamin D is also crucial for proper function of the immune system.
- It can help prevent gum disease.
- Vitamin D deficiency has a link to heart disease.
- Dementia has been found in patients with low levels of Vitamin D.
- Vitamin D is essential for strong and healthy teeth.
Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin D
In the United States, the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) have been created to provide guidelines for healthy individuals. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D for healthy adults is 600 IU (International Units), which converts to 15 micrograms. Many daily vitamins that are available provide the recommended allowance of Vitamin D. If you feel like you are not getting the requirements through your fortified foods, consider a daily vitamin.
Foods with Vitamin D
It is important to note that most foods containing Vitamin D do not provide enough of the recommended dose unless it is a fortified food. That being said, the following may help supplement your vitamin D intake:
- Eggs (yolk)
- Salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish
- Beef liver
- Fortified cereals, orange juice, cow’s milk, alternative milks such as soy, coconut, and almond
- Canned tuna
How Can We Help?
Do you have any questions about the amount of Vitamin D you are getting? Let us know if you have any thoughts in the comment section below.