Vitamin D is vital for life. We all know the importance of a healthy and well-balanced diet; you can get all the nourishment you need from the right blend of foods and a healthy lifestyle. However, the body actually uses combinations of vitamins and minerals to help absorb other nutrients, so getting the right balance is essential. Let’s talk more about the benefits of vitamin D.
What Exactly Is Vitamin D And Why Is It So Important?
One of the essential vitamins for healthy body function, it comes in different forms: vitamin D2 is manufactured by many plants, whereas vitamin D3 is produced in the human body (in the skin in particular) as a result of exposure to sunlight or UVB. Both vitamin D forms are essential for helping to control the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your bloodstream. It helps your body absorb small quantities of calcium, which is essential for creating and maintaining healthy bones. Also, it is essential for bone health, both alone and in conjunction with calcium – a strong bone matrix helps prevent osteoporosis – ‘brittle bones’ and fractures.
Vitamin D also plays an important part in the immune system, as it facilitates the manufacture of one of your body’s key peptides, cathelicidin, a natural peptide that your body’s immune system produces when it’s under invasion from any harmful microorganisms.
What Are The Effects Of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Generally, there are optimum amounts of vitamin intake and levels within the body, and having vitamin levels stray out of range can cause a range of problems.
Deficiency can cause serious conditions, including osteomalacia – usually known as rickets in children. This condition is characterized by softened bones – the bones can weaken, bend and sustain fractures. The effect is particularly visible in the bones of the legs, where the affected person’s normal body weight can cause the bones to splay outwards. Rickets can cause long-term deformities, and when it presents in adults is usually experienced as extreme muscle weakness and reduced mobility, reduced bone integrity and increased risk of fractures.
D deficiency has also been linked with the onset of many other diseases, including some forms of cancer; cardiovascular problems; type 2 diabetes; muscular sclerosis; rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
Can Someone Have Too Much Vitamin D?
Some vitamins need to be taken within reasonably careful limits, but it’s extremely difficult to have too much vitamin D. Modify your diet to increase the number of foods you eat that vitamin D, increasing your exposure to UVB or sunlight, even taking liberal dosages of vitamin D supplements would not cause any kind of overdose.
What About Supplementation?
Natural sources such as careful levels of sun exposure and a healthy daily diet are, of course, the ideal way to maintain correct levels. However, many health authorities recommend supplementation for the majority of people, especially those in less sunny places, those who keep their skin covered up and in pregnancy.
Cod liver oil is a good natural vitamin D supplement. Always take supplements according to the instructions on the packaging, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
Which Foods Contain Vitamin D?
One of the best dietary sources is oily fish, which is also high in essential Omega 3 fatty acids. Other foods that are rich in vitamin D include red meat, eggs, mushrooms, and oily fish. Many dairy or dairy alternatives such as nut milk are also fortified with vitamin D.
What Are The Benefits?
The sunshine vitamin – is essential for good health and maintaining healthy levels of it is easy. It can help with:
- Maximizing calcium ingestion
- Optimizing phosphorus production
- Warding off Type 2 diabetes
- Helping to prevent a weakening of your musculature
- Reducing the likelihood of developing osteoporosis
- Enhancing your immune system
- Helping to regulate blood pressure
- Reducing the risk of bacterial infection
- Helping to protect against cancer
Fortunately, maintaining adequate levels can be as easy as a walk in the sunshine, a healthy diet, and easy-to-swallow dietary supplements.
For further information, we recommend that you view the Vitamin D Council website. Also, find out more by downloading a copy of our FREE Budwig Diet Guide.
Note: This post was originally published in February 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and clarity.