Vitamin D is a unique nutrient produced in the skin as a response to direct sunlight. Anytime the sunlight hits your skin, it starts a series of health benefits within your body. Sunlight isn’t the only way you can experience Vitamin D benefits, as you can also get it through foods and supplements.
Vitamin D benefits are long-lasting and often life-saving, so ensuring you get enough is essential. This vitamin is necessary for keeping your body healthy, as it is responsible for promoting calcium absorption. Not only that, but Vitamin D offers other physical and mental health benefits, as well.
Research indicates that children and adults up to 70 should take in 600 IUs of Vitamin D each day. This research from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences explains that after the age of 70, it should increase to 800 IUs. Normal levels range anywhere from 50 to 100 micrograms per deciliter.
If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you are at risk of developing serious health conditions. Sunlight isn’t always enough, so eating a vitamin-rich diet is essential. Knowing the Vitamin D benefits will help you find the motivation to increase the amount you take in each day.
Factors That Affect Vitamin D Absorption from the Sun
If you’re wondering why you can’t get enough Vitamin D, the sun vitamin, there are a few factors at play. Living in an area with high pollution levels dissipate the direct sunlight, limiting the amount that hits your skin. Plus, you’re likely not getting enough exposure if you live in a city where tall buildings block the sunlight.
Using sunscreen and spending too much time inside also affect your ability to get this vitamin from the sun. Additionally, people with darker skin may have trouble absorbing Vitamin D from the sun because they have higher melanin levels.
Since it isn’t easy to get enough vitamin D from the sun, many people experience a deficiency. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include the following:
- tiredness or fatigue
- aches and pains
- not feeling well overall
- bone or muscle pain or weakness
- waddling gait
- stress fractures
- susceptibility to diseases and illness
- high blood pressure
Food Sources of vitamin D
If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D from direct sunlight, you must find it in other sources. There aren’t many foods that naturally contain vitamin D, but some foods are fortified, which adds vitamin D. Some of the foods that contain vitamin D include:
- egg yolk
- yogurt (fortified)
- cereal (fortified)
- orange juice (fortified)
- milk (fortified)
If you consume these foods and still need more vitamin D, consider a supplement. Vitamin D supplements can make up for what you aren’t getting from the sun and foods.
Eight Incredible Benefits of Taking Vitamin D
What does Vitamin D do for your body? We will look at the primary benefits of Vitamin D.
1. Vitamin D Helps Fight Diseases
One of the benefits of taking vitamin D is that it improves the circulatory system and decreases stress on the heart. Research shows that Vitamin D reduces your risk of multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and many other diseases.
Vitamin D can help control blood pressure, making it a beneficial way to fight cardiovascular disease. It can also help regulate cholesterol levels and inflammation. Additionally, vitamin D can help prevent hypertension, atherosclerosis, and cardiac hypertrophy.
According to the National Cancer Institute, vitamin D can reduce your cancer risk and help fight it. The information specifically linked this vitamin to fighting colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. It promotes cellular differentiation, decreases cancer cell growth, reduces the formation of tumor blood vessels, and stimulates cell death.
2. Vitamin D Reduces Depression
Getting plenty of vitamin D helps with regulating your mood and eases the effects of depression. Studies show that when people with depression took vitamin D supplements, they noticed an improvement in their symptoms. While researchers are still delving into the relationship between vitamin D for anxiety and depression, there is a clear link.
Vitamin D acts as a hormone in your body, making it directly affect brain function. Spending more time in the sun, eating foods rich in vitamin D, and taking supplements can all make a positive difference. It also boosts your insulin sensitivity and energy levels, further improving your mood.
3. Vitamin D Enhances Weight Loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, taking more vitamin D can help. Studies show that those taking a vitamin D supplement lost more weight than those taking a placebo.
Other research shows that having more vitamin D in your blood at the start of a low-calorie diet improved weight loss efforts. The researchers explain that vitamin D helping with weight loss has to do with an appetite-suppressing effect.
Vitamin D also activates the production of leptin, which signals your brain and stomach to stop eating. Further studies show that those with low amounts of vitamin D in their blood also had higher BMIs.
Vitamin D helps regulate calcium levels because it allows your intestines to absorb the calcium. If your body can adequately absorb calcium, you can maintain strong bones and youthful vigor. Any calcium you take in would be worthless without vitamin D because your body wouldn’t absorb it.
This vitamin also affects other important vitamins and nutrients that contribute to bone health, including magnesium, vitamin K, and phosphorus. Vitamin D helps with maintaining phosphorus levels, and it’s linked to vitamin K, as well.
Vitamin D promotes healthy bone growth and prevents bones from becoming brittle. Because of this, it can help prevent osteoporosis. Low levels of vitamin D can lead to bone softening called osteomalacia or a bone abnormality called rickets.
5. Vitamin D Strengthens Your Muscles
Having enough vitamin D in your body can strengthen your muscles and increase your physical stability. In older adults, weak muscles can cause falls, leading to disability or death. Young people have to consider the muscle strengthening vitamin D benefits, too, though.
Weak muscles can cause chronic pain, decreased muscle function, physical fatigue, and longer recovery from exercise and daily activities. Increasing the amount of vitamin D you take prevents and relieves all of those issues.
Keeping your muscles healthy is essential even if you aren’t concerned with muscle mass or weight training. With muscle health, you can live a better life and participate in fun events and activities.
6. Vitamin D Supports Your Immune System
Studies show that Vitamin D boosts your immune system and prevents illness, including the common flu. It can fight against autoimmune conditions, infections, and viruses, as it increases your body’s natural immunity.
Immune cells contain vitamin D receptors, allowing the vitamin to benefit your overall immune function. When the receptors identify vitamin D, it stimulates the immune system. It also prevents inflammatory responses and boosts healthy cell replication, further aiding in immunity.
Your body requires vitamin D for the proper functioning of macrophages, which are white blood cells that attack pathogens. This function stunts the growth and replication of some viruses. It also enhances an enzyme that protects against acute lung injury.
7. Vitamin D Helps Prevent Diabetes
Studies show that Vitamin D can be effective for preventing Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D doesn’t lower the risk alone, but when it is combined with calcium, it helps regulate blood sugar levels. Calcium is necessary for insulin secretion, and since Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, it also plays a role in regulating insulin secretion.
In addition to preventing diabetes, Vitamin D can also help control the complications of the disease. Since this vitamin works as a hormone, it’s important to note that hormones can affect how your body utilizes sugar. Vitamin D can help maintain healthy hormone balances, benefitting those that have diabetes.
8. Vitamin D Helps Fight Inflammation
Vitamin D fights inflammation by supporting the immune system in fighting off viruses and harmful bacteria. The longer inflammation occurs in your body, the more damage it does to your tissues and organs. Chronic inflammation can lead to many diseases, including:
- heart disease
Studies show that those with low vitamin D are at a higher risk of developing inflammatory diseases. When inflammatory diseases occur, your immune system malfunctions and attack your healthy tissue. The good news, though, is that since it reduces inflammation, it can benefit those that suffer from:
- multiple sclerosis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- irritable bowel syndrome
- high blood pressure
With all of the vitamin D benefits, you can see why it is such an essential nutrient. Live your best life by being healthy and taking in enough vitamins that keep your body functioning.
The importance of vitamin D is undeniable, so find more ways to take in vitamin D each day. Start taking more in by spending more time outside in the sun, eating foods rich in vitamins, and taking supplements if necessary.