Vitamin D is necessary for normal bone mineralization and growth, maintenance of muscle strength and coordination, cardiovascular health, and robust and balanced immune function. Vitamin D is unique among vitamins working more like a hormone at the level of our DNA. Vitamin D has a been estimated to regulate somewhere between 200-300 genes and likely why vitamin D has been linked to so many health outcomes.
Vitamin D promotes a healthy, balanced immune system through its key role in regulation and differentiation of immune system cells. It also has been linked to healthy endothelial function, which is important for cardiovascular health. And, it also helps maintain normal functioning of the nervous system.*
In addition, recent research has shown the following:
- Vitamin D may play a role in keeping our lungs healthy, with higher concentrations of vitamin D resulting in positive effects on lung function and health.*
- Vitamin D may play a role in helping elderly people maintain lean muscle mass.*
- Healthy vitamin D levels are a key part of minimizing age-associated bone loss.
- . Vitamin D supports the development and maintenance of bones and teeth by helping in the absorption and use of calcium.*
Calcium is the major structural element of bones and teeth. Your body needs several nutrients in order for calcium to be absorbed and used properly. Two of these nutrients are vitamin D and vitamin K. Vitamin D increases absorption of calcium from the small intestine so the body receives maximum benefit, while vitamin K helps make sure calcium builds up in the bones and not in soft tissues. Adequate calcium and vitamin D throughout life, as part of a well-balanced diet, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Food: There is a very small amount of vitamin D in a few foods, which makes it almost impossible to get the levels you need from food alone. However, some foods that include vitamin D are fatty fish, egg yolks, orange juice, and some cereals.
Exposure to the Sun: Every time we expose our bare skin to direct sunlight, we use ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to produce vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Sunlight can be a tricky thing, though, because too much can be a bad thing. You need to monitor how much sun exposure is needed for healthy vitamin D levels. The amount of vitamin D you actually absorb from sunlight differs depending on the time of day and year, where you live, and the color of your skin. The more skin you expose to the sun, the more vitamin D is produced. So those winter rays don’t necessarily produce the same amount of vitamin D that summer rays do.
Signs of Low Vitamin D
Feeling Down and Out – Turns out, when you run low on vitamin D, it takes a pretty serious toll on your mood. This is because our brains produce serotonin—a hormone that affects our moods—at a higher rate when we’re exposed to sunshine or bright light. And as I mentioned, more exposure to sunlight means more vitamin D.
Skin Color – Those with darker skin are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency because skin pigment has a direct correlation with how much vitamin D is absorbed. Some research suggests that those with darker skin may need up to 10 times more sun exposure than those with lighter skin to produce a comparable amount of vitamin D.
Age – Besides the fact that older people usually spend more time indoors, aging correlates to vitamin D deficiency in a couple of ways. First, the skin loses its ability to absorb as much vitamin D as we get older. And second, our kidneys slowly become less effective at converting vitamin D into the form used by our bodies.
Sweat – Excessive sweating (specifically, on your forehead) is a very common symptom of those facing vitamin D deficiency. So if you’re constantly wiping the sweat off your brow (outside of the gym), you might want to look into getting a blood test done to check your levels.
Achy Bones – Many people who are unknowingly deficient in vitamin D will complain of bones and joints that are achy or painful. This is because vitamin D is very important for maintaining strong bones. Calcium and phosphorus are essential for developing a healthy structure and strength of your bones, and you need vitamin D to absorb these minerals.
Excessive Weight – Vitamin D is fat-soluble—meaning that the fat in our bodies is how we collect and store it. So if you’re overweight, the excessive amount of fat in your body needs a comparable amount of vitamin D to absorb. So you’ll need a lot more vitamin D than someone with a lower percentage of body fat.
Gut Problems- Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. So certain gut conditions that cause a lower absorption of fat can also lower your absorption of vitamin D.
Get your supply of Vitamin D here:
This combination is ideal because the vitamins work together in the body.