The importance of vitamin D for our health is well established, and until recently no one really had to worry about getting enough. So, why take vitamin D? A main source of vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight, and because of more talk about skin cancer less time is spent directly in the sun, we use sunscreen and more time is spent indoors that now we are starting to learn more about vitamin D deficiencies and this has become a big concern.
Why Take Vitamin D – Why is Vitamin D Important?
Vitamin D is required for our bodies to absorb calcium and without calcium absorption our bones are at risk for becoming soft and brittle. As we age, this puts us at greater risk for developing osteoporosis. This is just one strong answer to why take Vitamin D.
Even with osteoporosis being a concern with aging Baby Boomers, our muscles and the immune system also require vitamin D for movement and to fight infection. If you don’t have enough vitamin D then there are several additional health effects including the inability to absorb essential minerals, bone and muscle weakness, cardiovascular disease and impaired cognition.
Currently, there are studies being done with the connection of low vitamin D levels with hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune (especially with multiple sclerosis,) and possible cancer risks.
Sounds like vitamin D is a necessary component to our health, but where does it come from and what can be done to increase vitamin D levels?
Why Take Vitamin D – Where does Vitamin D come from?
Our bodies actually make vitamin D after exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet B light, and is called vitamin D type 3, which can also be found in animal food sources. Vitamin D type 2 comes from plant sources.
Foods high in vitamin D include:
- Fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel
- Egg yolks
- Beef liver
- Vitamin d is sometimes added to some yogurts, cereals, orange juice and margarine
Why Take Vitamin D – What causes these deficiencies?
Ironically, the use of sunscreen and the limited amount of direct sunlight we allow ourselves to enjoy there are now more and more people with low vitamin D levels.
Also, because vitamin D 3 mainly comes from animal products those on a strict vegetarian diet may need to be a little more cautious on where their D levels are.
Obese people may also be unable to absorb enough vitamin D due to high body fat, and darker skin people may not get what they need from the sun.
Ironically, the widespread use of sunscreen can also inhibit production of this essential nutrient.
If you can’t increase your exposure to sunlight or are on a strict vegetarian then there are ways to get vitamin D. The benefits of vitamin D supplements depend on the type of vitamin D you need. If you can’t get the D3 from sunlight or a tanning bed, then you may want to consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement.
The supplements come in both pill form and drops, and the recommended amounts vary depending on the organization or individual that you listen to. There is agreement that you should not take too much, since it is fat soluble and hard to get rid of in the body. You can get your vitamin D levels tested if you are afraid that you are deficient. The supplements of D3 are not expensive as long as you can find the right dosage.
Vitamin D2 is easier to get in food even for vegetarians since it comes from plant sources. It is only available by prescription as a supplement while D3 is available over the counter.
Despite the widespread concern about skin cancer from sun exposure, even 15-30 minutes a day in the summer can be enough for most people to produce the optimum amount of vitamin D. For most, this amount of sun exposure is not extreme, and carries other health benefits as well. This seems like the simplest and most natural solution to getting enough vitamin D since it is built right into the body’s natural functions, and is regulated to the right amount for health.
If you suspect that you are low in vitamin D, check with your doctor and have your levels checked. This will allow you to know if you need to add additional vitamin D to your vitamin regime and if necessary, how much you will need to take to be at a safe yet healthy level. If you find you are low, it’s a very good answer to why take Vitamin D. You should also discuss with your physician all the implications for vitamin D before starting.
Please share your thoughts on vitamin D with us. Why do you think there is a sudden increase in individuals with low D levels? Do you supplement vitamin D? If so, how much do you take daily?