Vitamin D deficiency affects approximately 42 percent of the US population.
Do you think you need more vitamin D in your diet? Are you unsure of what this vitamin is or why it’s so important?
If you’re confused, you’re in the right place. This guide will answer all your most pressing vitamin D questions.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient. It’s naturally present in a few foods, but the most common way to get vitamin D is from sun exposure.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in calcium absorption and helps the body maintain adequate calcium and phosphate concentrations, allowing for healthy bone mineralization. This vitamin helps to prevent conditions like rickets in children, and it protects adults from osteoporosis.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Consume?
According to the National Institutes of Health, the ideal intake recommendations for vitamin D are as follows:
- 0-12 months: 10 micrograms or 400 IU
- 1-70 years: 15 micrograms or 600 IU
- 71+ years: 20 micrograms or 800 IU
Can you have too much vitamin D? Vitamin D toxicity is rare, but it can happen, especially if you consume large doses of vitamin D supplements.
Keep in mind that you would have to consume far beyond what is recommended on the supplement label before you experience adverse effects. For example, the Mayo Clinic says that signs of toxicity (nausea, vomiting, weakness, frequent urination) occur after taking 60,000 IU of vitamin D for several months.
Benefits of Vitamin D
The chances of overdoing it on vitamin D are slim. In fact, most people are probably not consuming as much as they should.
If you need some more motivation to increase your vitamin D intake, here are some of the most significant benefits to keep in mind:
Vitamin D is best known for its effects on the bones. It supports proper calcium absorption in the gut and allows for adequate bone mineralization, reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis and experiencing fractures as you age.
Vitamin D can also help to strengthen the muscles. Research shows a link between weaker muscles and low vitamin D. Weak muscles can also increase your risk of experiencing balance issues, falls, and potentially fractures — especially as you get older.
Enhanced Immune System Function
Vitamin D helps the immune system fight off viruses and bacteria. It regulates the activity of immune cells and encourages them to fight back against foreign invaders.
Improved Oral Health
Because vitamin D supports calcium absorption, it doesn’t just benefit the bones. It also contributes to stronger, healthier teeth and gums.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Vitamin D is also good for the heart.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to higher blood pressure (or hypertension). Supplementing with vitamin D may help to combat this condition and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
Some early research suggests that adequate vitamin D consumption helps to prevent type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin D supplementation may influence insulin sensitivity and help your body respond more efficiently to insulin production (insulin helps to move sugar from the blood to the muscle cells).
Improved Mood Regulation
Several studies show a connection between vitamin D deficiency and depression. Many people who struggle with depression — including seasonal affective disorder, which typically occurs during the winter when the sun shines less often — notice improvements in their symptoms when they supplement with vitamin D.
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
Because vitamin D is only present in a few foods, most people get the bulk of it from direct sun exposure.
If you live in a gray area or a place with excessive pollution, or if you spend a lot of time indoors, you might be more likely to develop a vitamin D deficiency. The same goes for people with darker skin who have higher melanin levels — increased melanin levels interfere with vitamin D absorption through the skin.
How do you know if you need more vitamin D? The following are some of the most well-known signs of a vitamin D deficiency:
- Aches and pains
- Bone or muscle pain
- Muscle weakness
- Increases in stress fractures (especially in the legs, hips, or pelvis)
Some people also experience changes in their mood (such as increased feelings of sadness or depression) when they’re not consuming adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Ways to Get More Vitamin D
One of the easiest ways to increase your vitamin D levels is to simply spend more time outdoors.
Spending about 20 minutes in the sun several times per week can help you boost your vitamin D production and avoid a deficiency. Remember, though, that you should still wear sunscreen when spending time outdoors.
If you live in a place that doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight, or if you can’t safely spend much time outdoors, here are some practical alternatives that will help you meet your vitamin D needs:
- Eat more vitamin-D-rich foods: You can get vitamin D from egg yolks, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, and beef liver, as well as certain types of mushrooms.
- Eat vitamin D-fortified foods: Some foods like cereal and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D.
- Take vitamin D supplements: Vitamin D supplements make it easy for you to meet your daily recommendations without drastic changes to your diet.
When taking vitamin D supplements, look for products that contain vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is generally easier to absorb than vitamin D2, so it’ll help you experience the benefits of adding vitamin D to your diet faster.
Boost Your Vitamin D Intake with Substance
Do you suspect that you’re not getting enough vitamin D? If so, you could be missing out on a lot of potential health benefits.
Follow the guidelines discussed above so you can increase your vitamin D intake and enjoy all the perks it has to offer.
If you’re looking for an easy way to get more vitamin D, Substance’s all-natural, plant-based, sustainably made products are an excellent choice. Try our high-quality vitamin D supplements today.