You’ve probably heard about vitamin D, but you might not know how important it is to our bodies or even how to get it. Here we break down the basics of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a nutrient with myriad benefits for our mental and physical health. Unfortunately, very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but you can get it from fortified milk, fortified cereals, yogurts, and orange juice. The best food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, while eggs, cheese, and mushrooms contain small amounts.
In addition, our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun, a double-edged sword in light of the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure! Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, vitamin D production might be decreased or be completely absent in winter. Many older adults don’t get regular exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D. If you don’t get enough vitamin D through sunlight or dietary sources, you might want to try vitamin D supplements.
Here are a few of the top benefits of vitamin D:
Keep Your Immune System Fighting Fit: Vitamin D has historically been known to help our immune system resist bacteria and viruses. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how powerful vitamin D can be against even more serious diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Make No Bones About It: Not getting enough vitamin D can lead to tooth loss and brittle bones. It works by promoting calcium and phosphorus absorption in the gut, which helps bones to mineralize, increasing strength and hardness. With more than 53 million adults in the U.S. at risk of developing osteoporosis, vitamin D could be a powerful tool in increasing bone health.
Healthy Dose For a Healthy Heart: By regulating heart function and reducing blood pressure, vitamin D is good for your heart. Although there is no evidence yet that supplements can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, many experts believe that it reduces both blood cholesterol level and high blood pressure, major contributors to CVD.
May Reduce Risk of MS: Several studies have shown that people who get more sunlight exposure and vitamin D from their diet have a reduced risk of developing multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. An article published in 2021 in Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine suggests vitamin D supplements could reduce the risk of developing the disease or improve symptoms for some patients. However, more studies are being conducted in this area.
Whether you opt for a daily dose of sunshine, a supplement, or fortified foods, getting enough vitamin D is vital when it comes to keeping your bones strong, your mood upbeat, and your immune system top-notch!