Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight to protect itself from the sun’s rays. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. Vitamin D can affect up to as many as 2,000 genes in the body.
Vitamin D has several important functions with possibly the most vital functions of regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.
If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D, you’re at risk of developing bone abnormalities such as fragile bones (osteoporosis) or soft bones (osteomalacia).
In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:
– Reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
– Helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu, according to 2010 research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
– Decreasing your chance of developing heart disease, according to 2008 findings published in Circulation
Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received Vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.
In another study of people with fibromyalgia, researchers found vitamin D deficiency was more common in those who were also experiencing anxiety and depression.
Consider adding Vitamin D supplements (NÜD Bare Beauty) to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease.
In one study, people who took a daily vitamin D supplement did not lose a significant amount of weight, but were able to improve their heart disease risk markers.
In another study, people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The scientists said the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite suppressing effect.
Many lifestyle and environmental factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through the sun alone. These factors include:
These factors contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people. That’s why it’s important to get some of your vitamin D from sources besides sunlight.
The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults include:
Doctors can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a simple blood test. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may order X-rays to check the strength of your bones.
If you’re diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, your doctor will likely recommend you take daily Vitamin D supplements (NÜD Men’s MultiVitamin). If you have a severe deficiency, they may recommend you take high-dose vitamin D tablets or liquids. You should also make sure to get vitamin D through sunlight and the foods you eat.
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it is directly exposed to sunlight. A little can go a long way. All you need is 10 minutes a day of midday, pre-sunscreen sun exposure, especially if you have fair skin. Of course, if you’re going to expose yourself to sunlight without sunscreen, moderation is key.
Besides getting vitamin D through sunlight, you can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.
Vitamin D is not naturally contained in many foods so some foods are fortified by adding Vitamin D to the product. Foods that contain vitamin D include:
It can be hard to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking Vitamin D supplements (NÜD Women’s MultiVitamin) can help.
There has been some controversy over the amount of vitamin D needed for healthy functioning. Recent research indicates that you need more vitamin D than was once thought. Normal blood serum levels range from 50 to 100 micrograms per deciliter. Depending on your blood level, your vitamin D intake needs may be increased.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences reports new intake recommendations based on international units (IUs) per day. IUs are a standard type of measurement for drugs and vitamins. IUs help experts determine recommended intake, toxicity, and deficiency levels for each person.
One IU is not the same for each type of vitamin. An IU is determined by how much of a substance produces an effect in your body. The recommended IUs for vitamin D are:
Some sources suggest that considerably higher daily amounts of vitamin D are needed, and although the exact amount may be in question, the importance of Vitamin D is not. Talk to your doctor for guidance on how to ensure you get the right amount for your body.
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