Top 3 Reasons Vitamin D Is So Important For Your Health?
You probably already know that vitamin D –also known as the 'sunshine' vitamin– helps your body absorb calcium, promoting healthy bones.
But here’s something you might not have known …
Contrary to popular belief, the Sun shouldn't be your sole source of vitamin D. According to multiple studies, 30% – 50% of both children and adults in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia are deficient in vitamin D!
And unfortunately, this deficiency can bring about some rather nasty effects. To find out why (and what these nasty effects are, specifically), continue reading.
What is the importance of vitamin D?
Vitamin D, also referred to as 'calciferol,' is a fat-soluble vitamin that exerts powerful effects on several systems throughout the body. More details below.
#1 – Promotes Healthy Bones
The sunshine vitamin's best-known role is to keep bones healthy. Your body can only absorb 10% –15% of dietary calcium (compared to the typical 30% – 40%) if you fall short on vitamin D.
As a result, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia (a marked softening of the bones) and osteoporosis (where your bones become weak, brittle, and prone to breaking). Low vitamin D levels are also known to cause rickets–the softening and weakening of bones in children.
#2 – Fights Disease
This might surprise you, but vitamin D also plays a role in keeping your immune system healthy; it directly interacts with the cells responsible for fighting off viruses and bacteria that cause illness.
More specifically, research suggests that vitamin D can play a role in:
- Reducing your risk of respiratory tract infections(RTIs) – Multiple studies have found that taking vitamin D supplements at a dosage of up to 4,000 IU daily can reduce the risk of RTIs, like colds, bronchitis, and even pneumonia.
- Decreasing your chance of developing heart disease – Research has suggested that individuals with low blood levels of vitamin D have increased risks of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Ensuring that you get sufficient vitamin D can, therefore, bolster your heart health.
- Lowering your risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) – According to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, having adequate levels of vitamin D may have a protective effect and lower the risk of developing MS–a disabling condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of issues with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation, or balance.
#3 – Regulates Mood
Are you always struggling with mood swings? Vitamin D may be the thing you need. Research shows that the vitamin might play a role in mood regulation.
Perhaps more impressively, it’s believed that vitamin D can help ward off depression.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that people with depression noticed a significant improvement in their symptoms when they received vitamin D supplements.
This finding was supported by another study conducted with people who have fibromyalgia–the researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was more common in the participants who were also experiencing depression and anxiety.
What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Now that you understand the importance of getting enough vitamin D, there must be one question on your mind: “How do I know if I’m deficient?”
Well, there are a few tell-tale signs:
- Aches, pains, tiredness, and a general sense of not feeling well
- Severe muscle or bone pain that may cause difficulty in movements like climbing stairs
- Stress fractures (especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips)
That said, the only way to know for sure would be to visit your doctor–he/she can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a simple blood test.
How much vitamin D do you need?
According to the US Institute of Medicine, an average daily intake of 400 IU – 800 IU is adequate for 97.5% of individuals. That said, several studies have indicated that the daily intake needs to be higher if you don’t receive sun exposure and/or overweight.
Considering all factors, though, experts believe that a daily vitamin intake of 1000 IU – 4000 IU should be sufficient to ensure optimal blood levels and health for most people.
Are you struggling to hit that amount of vitamin D in your diet? Then you might want to consider vitamin D supplements (like this one!) to reap the many health benefits the vitamin provides.