Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is one of the most essential vitamins for our bodies. Getting enough vitamin D has many health benefits but it is best known for assisting in calcium absorption and contributing to bone health. What is vitamin D level and why is it so important to our bodies?
Vitamin D is a nutrient that is contained in some foods and is one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Getting enough vitamin D is important for strong bones. It is a vital nutrient for the absorption of calcium, which is necessary for making bones. Adequate absorption of calcium protects older people from osteoporosis. In addition, getting vitamin D is essential for the movement of muscles, for carrying signals from the nerves to the whole body, and for the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses. Research shows that vitamin D has beneficial effects on ovarian, prostate, breast, and colon cancer. It has also been shown by studies that vitamin D has positive effects on the intestinal microbiome.
Vitamin D deficiency can have negative effects on intestinal microbiota as well as causing diseases such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets. All nutrients are essential, and they have major functions for our body. But vitamin D is vital because it helps maintain the bones that keep our bodies upright and standing. That’s why getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is crucial for us. But how much vitamin D do we need to take in per day?
The body’s need for vitamin D varies according to age. The amount required increases as we get older. When the level of vitamin D in the body drops too low, the bones become thin and brittle and may become deformed. It should be taken daily at different amounts according to age group.
Life Stage Recommended Amount
Birth to 12 months 10 mcg (400 IU)
Children 1-18 years 15 mcg (600 IU)
Adults 19-70 years 15 mcg (600 IU)
Elders 71 years + 20 mcg (800 IU)
In nutrition, the main two forms of vitamin D are D3 and D2. Vitamin D3 is more crucial because it increases blood vitamin D levels more than vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is found in animal products such as fatty fish and seafood and is also produced by our skin in direct sunlight and Vitamin D2 is found in vegetables.
First, let’s list the animal products that contain vitamin D.
Oily fish: Salmon, tuna and mackerel contain high amounts of vitamin D. The health benefits from consuming these fish is much higher when the fish are raised in their natural environments. Try to ensure that they were not produced on a farm. Since these fish are already high in fats, oil is not needed when they are cooked in an oven.
Small amounts of vitamin D are also found in liver, egg yolks, and some cheeses. These foods can be included in our diet to help us reach the daily recommended intake for vitamin D.
Vitamin D2 can be found in mushrooms, and the level of vitamin D can be increased by keeping the mushrooms indirect sunlight. Unfortunately, other vegetables and fruits are not good sources of vitamin D..
Today, vitamin D is added to many popular foods, especially in the United States. There are many options, ranging from orange juice to milk, from cheese to yogurt, and many portions of cereal are fortified with vitamin D as well. The goal is to prevent vitamin D deficiency by consuming these foods, but unfortunately, that is not the case. We also need sunlight for our bodies to use and produce vitamin D.
Is It Possible to Get Vitamin D from The Sun?
Food is not our only source of vitamin D. Our bodies can make it when exposed to the sun. UVB rays in the sunlight act on cholesterol in the skin to make vitamin D. Depending on the month, time of day and our skin tone, spending time in the sun can provide us with some or all of our daily recommended intake of the vitamin.
Unfortunately, due to our lifestyles, increases in cases of vitamin D deficiency are on the rise. Much of our time is spent indoors, whether at work or in shopping malls or homes. This habit decreases our time in the sun and reduces our rate of vitamin D production. Even if we eat foods that contain vitamin D or take supplements, our bodies may not be able to utilize the vitamin D properly.
These studies indicate something important to us. Spending time outside in the sun increases the vitamin D in our bodies. For this reason, we should try to get direct sunlight at least a few days per week.
How Do We Know That We Have Vitamin D Deficiency?
If we have a vitamin D deficiency, symptoms will occur. Some of the symptoms that may present include:
If it is difficult for you to get out of bed, even if you have slept enough or if you feel tired during the day, you may be experiencing vitamin D deficiency.
Feeling unhappy for no reason, a disinterest in socializing, not wanting to talk to people, or even make eye contact with them, may indicate a need for more vitamin D.
More brittle bones
The most important nutrient to help our bodies absorb calcium is vitamin D. If there is a vitamin D deficiency, calcium absorption will be lessened, and this will result in more fragile bones.
You are eating well but can’t seem to lose weight. This is an important symptom of vitamin D deficiency. A simple blood test can determine your vitamin D level. If it’s low, you should consume foods that are high in vitamin D. If necessary, consult a medical doctor who can guide you in taking vitamin D supplements.
It is important to have your blood vitamin D level checked, if you have been experiencing one or more of these conditions for a while. You should definitely share the results of the analysis with your doctor, and if necessary, begin taking supplements. While taking supplements, you can also spend more time outside on sunny days and increase your fish consumption to give your vitamin D level a boost.
Related: 4 Steps For a Healthier Diet