The “sunshine vitamin” Vitamin D is one of the bodies most needed vitamins, and if you are not getting enough of it, you can suffer.
Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional, and hope that should you suffer from any of the symptoms identified here, you will seek help from your medical team. My sources for this article are WebMD, Everyday health, Dr. Axe, the Global Healing Center, and the Vitamin D Council.
What is Vitamin D and how do I get it?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is different from other vitamins due to the fact that our bodies can make most of what we need when exposed to sunlight. It is important for good overall health and strong bones. It is also important for ensuring your muscles, heart, lungs and brain work well and that your body can fight infection.
It is most usually referred to as the Sunshine Vitamin because when you get the “right amount” of natural sunshine, your body will convert that into a usable form of vitamin D in the body. It promotes the absorption of calcium, which helps keep our bones strong and healthy. You should only need 5 to 30 minutes of sunlight twice a week to get enough to be healthy.
When your skin is exposed to the sun, it produces vitamin D and sends it to your liver where it is changed to a substance called 25(OH)D. When you have a blood test done for levels of vitamin D in your blood, it is referred to by the doctor as the amount of 25(OH)D or 25-hydroxy vitamin D you have in your blood. This chemical is sent all over the body where your tissues (like the kidneys) turn it into activated vitamin D which is ready to perform its duties to help manage calcium in the blood, bones, and gut; and help cells to communicate properly.
The foods that can help supply vitamin D are: milk (that has been fortified with vitamin D); fish such as mackerel, sockeye salmon, herring, sardines, catfish, and tuna are all very good sources of vitamin D; cod liver oil is rich in vitamin D; eggs contain approximately 21% of your daily needs (best to get free-range eggs from a local farmer if possible); and sun dried shiitake, button and oyster mushrooms are also rich in vitamin D that have been dried in natural sunlight.
Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption for the bones. A deficiency of this vitamin can result in softening of the bones (osteomalacia) or a bone abnormality called “rickets“. It also helps support strong, healthy teeth and hair; regulates cellular growth and healthy cell activity; soothes and reduces systemic irritation and swelling; and helps promote skeletal health.
If you have a vitamin D deficiency, it may be caused by: not consuming the recommended levels of vitamin D over time; your exposure to sunlight is limited; you have dark skin; your kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form; your digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D; or you are obese.
A deficiency of vitamin D can produce risks for symptoms such as:
- a weakened immune system
- heart disease
- seasonal depression (SAD)
- increased blood pressure
- autoimmune disease
- weak bones (osteopenia)
- skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis
To treat vitamin D deficiency, you can still obtain benefits by taking a vitamin D supplement or by getting plenty of sun on a daily basis. The Institute of Medicine recommends a dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for ages 1-70 is about 600 international units (IU) daily, older than age 70 it is recommended to raise that RDA to 800 IU for optimal bone health. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may recommend supplementation of about 4,000 IU per day. When you don’t spend enough time in the sun, or you use sunscreen (which actually inhibits vitamin D production), you should speak to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, especially if you have a deficiency.
Without vitamin D your body cannot perform at its best.
I hope this information has been helpful to you.
Wishing you a wonderful rest of your day and week ahead.