Vitamin D is gaining a reputation as a bit of a super nutrient. The vitamin plays a role in everything from calcium absorption to depression. Research has shown that it plays an important part in a number of bodily functions and health conditions. Some benefits of Vitamin D include:
- Contribution to strong bones and prevention of osteoporosis.
- Increase in energy and elevation of mood.
- Improved metabolic function.
- Reduction or prevention of high blood pressure.
- Lower risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Ensuring an adequate intake of Vitamin D can play a critical role in your overall health.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
Everyone will have different Vitamin D needs, based on their age and health. Doctors recommend that adults under 69 get up to 600 IU per day, while those over 70 need 800 IU per day.
The body creates its own Vitamin D through direct exposure to sunlight. Typically, you would need to spend about 15 to 20 minutes in the sun about three to four times a week.
A number of factors can inhibit our ability to get the Vitamin D we need from the sun, including aging (our bodies are not as efficient at synthesizing Vitamin D as we age), the weather (cloudy days make it hard to get exposure to the sun), and even smog. For that reason, it is also important to eat foods that are rich in Vitamin D. Some examples include:
- Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel
- Cod liver oil
- Fortified breads and cereals
You can also take a daily Vitamin D supplement to ensure that you are getting the recommended daily dose.
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
There are not many recognized symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. Often, those who are deficient in Vitamin D report problems with fatigue and pain, as well as difficulty losing weight. However, these symptoms could very well be the result of other health issues.
The only true way to find out if you are deficient in Vitamin D is to ask your doctor to test you. This is done through a blood test that will measure 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.
If you suspect that you are deficient in Vitamin D, talk to your doctor. Your physician can take a health history and order the blood test. If you are deficient, your doctor can make individual recommendations for how to get the levels you need.
Have you discovered that you were or are Vitamin D deficient? Share your experiences and tell us what symptoms you suffered in the comments!
About the Author:
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching bakery schools in New York. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.