What is Vitamin D?
Sunlight exposure causes the body to produce Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin. In addition to sunlight, you can get Vitamin D from foods as well as fortified dairy and grain products. Further, Vitamin D increases bone and teeth strength by helping the body use calcium from the diet. Plus, this vitamin helps to prevent type 1 diabetes.
What are the benefits of Vitamin D?
In general, Vitamin D helps with a variety of bodily functions. Here is a list of a few health benefits of Vitamin D:
- Support bone and teeth health
- Regulate insulin levels
- Support diabetes management
- Support health of the brain, immune system, and nervous system
- Influence the gene expression involved in cancer development
- Support proper function of the lungs and heart
How much Vitamin D should you take?
Vitamin D intake is measured in one of two ways: international units (IU) or micrograms (mcg). Here is the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D:
- 0 – 12 months: 400 IU (10 mcg)
- 1 – 18 years: 600 IU (15 mcg)
- 18 – 70 years: 600 IU (15 mcg)
- 71+ years: 800 IU (20 mcg)
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU (15 mcg)
In addition to supplements and certain foods, experts recommend sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes, 2-3 per week, to meet daily Vitamin D needs.
What is Vitamin D deficiency?
A Vitamin D deficiency can occur for many reasons. For example, people with darker skin do not absorb UVB rays from the sun as well as those with lighter skin. In addition, sunscreen with SPF 30 cause the body not to synthesize 95% or more of the vitamin. Plus, people who live further north, work at night, are in high pollution areas, or stay inside most the time need Vitamin D from food. Finally, infants who only breastfeed, have dark skin, and/or little sun exposure are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
If people do not get enough Vitamin D, they may experience the following symptoms:
- Back and bone pain
- Frequent illness or infection
- Hair loss
- Poor mood
- Impaired wound healing
- Muscle pain
On top of that, long periods of Vitamin D deficiency could cause these complications:
- Heart conditions
- Pregnancy complications
- Autoimmune issues
- Neurological diseases
- Certain cancers, like colon, breast, and prostate