Sunshine Vitamin D

Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3.

Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.

Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, 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 disease.

If your body doesn’t get enough Vitamin D, you’re at risk of developing bone abnormalities such as soft bones (osteomalacia) or fragile bones (osteoporosis).

Here are three more surprising benefits of vitamin D.

1. Vitamin D fights disease

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
  • decreasing your chance of developing heart disease, according to 2008 findings published in CirculationTrusted Source
  • helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu, according to 2010 research published in the American Journal of Clinical NutritionTrusted Source

2. Vitamin D reduces depression

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.

3. Vitamin D boosts weight loss

Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease. In one 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.

Beware of D-ficiency

Many factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through the sun alone.

The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults include:

  • tiredness, aches, and pains, and a general sense of not feeling well
  • severe bone or muscle pain or weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or low chair, or cause you to walk with a waddling gait
  • stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips

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.

Food sources of vitamin D

Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin D has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include:

  • salmon
  • egg yolk
  • milk (fortified)
  • yogurt (fortified)
  • sardines
  • shrimp
  • cereal (fortified)
  • orange juice (fortified)

It can be hard to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements can help.

How much do you need?

Based on the most recent research, the current recommendation is 35 IUs of vitamin D per pound of body weight. So for a child weighing 40 pounds, the recommended average dose would be 1,400 IUs daily, and for a 170-pound adult, the dose would be nearly 6,000 IUs.

However, it’s important to realize that vitamin D requirements are highly individual, as your vitamin D status is dependent on numerous factors, such as the color of your skin, your location, and how much sunshine you’re exposed to on a regular basis. So, although these recommendations may put you closer to the ballpark of what most people likely need, it is simply impossible to make a blanket recommendation that will cover everyone’s needs.

Blood Testing is the ONLY Reliable Way to Determine How Much Vitamin D You or Your Child Needs

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