Many health experts consider the benefits of vitamin D to be one of the most important health discoveries in the last century!!! How amazing is that?
The first thing that comes to mind when you think about Vitamin D is SUNSHINE. :)
Vitamin D is found in 2 forms. Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) is made by plants. You can find it in foods that have been fortified, such as juices, milk, or cereals (not really the best source). However, Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), the most complete form of Vitamin D, is made when the skin is exposed to the sun.
We’ve been somewhat “brainwashed” by the media to think that all sun exposure is bad. This is NOT TRUE! Getting 15 minutes of direct sunlight on unprotected skin is usually enough to get in your daily dose. Nature is your best bet for Vitamin D. Including foods in your diet that contain vitamin D, like fish (wild salmon is good), cod liver oil, milk, eggs, fresh fruits, and vegetables will also help. Unfortunately, most of us cannot get enough Vitamin D through food sources or sun exposure.
It is estimated that up to 2/3 of the population is Vitamin D deficient and needs to take a Vitamin D3 supplement. Keep in mind that it is a fat-soluble vitamin and should be taken with a meal for the best absorption possible.
So what are some of the benefits?
Bone Health - Vitamin D aids in the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous
Increases bone density & helps decrease fractures
Helps to prevent osteoporosis
Enhances the immune system, lowering the incidence of colds or flu
Lowers incidence of cancer & rheumatoid arthritis
Controls hypertension (high blood pressure)
Aids in heart/cardiovascular health, preventing premature death
Prevention against diabetes, autoimmune diseases, & multiple sclerosis
Eases muscle aches & fibromyalgia symptoms
Improves serotonin levels, thus lessening depression and/or anxiety
Helps control appetite and even improves fat-loss efforts!!
As you can see, Vitamin D is absolutely necessary for good health & the list of benefits just keeps on GROWING.
How do I know if I am getting enough?
Have a blood test called 25(OH). It is the ONLY blood test out there that measures the amount of Vitamin D to determine if you are getting enough or not. This test is especially important if you have a family history of cancer or autoimmune disease. Remember food before supplements and since this is a fat-soluble vitamin our bodies do store this, so too much can cause toxicity issues, so make sure you need Vitamin D before increasing or taking a supplement for it.