Vitamin D is a very important vitamin, and the interesting thing is that we can get it both through diet, supplementation, and the sun! Vitamin D is essential for many physiologic and metabolic processes in the body and has been associated with good physical and mental health. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that our levels of vitamin D are not just adequate but ideal. In this blog, we’ll go over vitamin D benefits, how to know if you are low on vitamin D, and how to get more vitamin D in your diet.
Vitamin D benefits
Vitamin D is perhaps most well-known for its role in helping to strengthen bones since it helps the absorption of calcium within your digestive tract. But vitamin D is involved in many other bodily functions as well. Studies show that vitamin D is important to maintain a healthy immune system, which helps your body fight off infections. In fact studies show that people with healthy levels of vitamin D may be less likely to get respiratory infections than those who have abnormally low levels. Vitamin D is associated with metabolic health as lower levels have been shown to be associated with insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity. Finally, studies have shown a connection between lower levels of vitamin D and depression.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is often asymptomatic- meaning there are no noticeable symptoms which is why it is important to have it periodically checked by your doctor. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include getting sick easily and often (indicating immunity issues), fatigue or feeling tired, muscle and bone pain, low bone mineral density, frequent falls and mood disturbances such as depressed mood. Again, many of these symptoms often have other causes, so be sure to check with your doctor if you are experiencing any of these.
How to get vitamin D
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, you can take in vitamin D just by getting outside in the sunlight. Sunshine causes a reaction in the skin that results in the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D is also present in certain foods. Many types of fish are a good source, such as salmon, herring, and tuna. Cod liver oil is another healthy way to get some vitamin D. Egg yolks are another source. Mushrooms are the only plant-based source. Many foods are also fortified with vitamin D, such as cereals and milk. However, most Americans don’t get enough vitamin D through diet and sunshine alone. A vitamin D supplement can help.
If you suspect you are low on vitamin D, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to check your levels.