Considering we can obtain vitamin D from the sun, it’s a strange phenomenon that many of us are deficient in this essential vitamin. Some places in the world have less exposure to the sun than others, but the good news is that vitamin D can make its way into our bodies through our diet and through those convenient supplements , which research is showing might be more necessary than convenient.
Until recent studies proved otherwise, “the major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus,” according to the Mayo Clinic . Helping to build and maintain strong bones, “it is used, alone or in combination with calcium, to increase bone mineral density and decrease fractures.” Those who are deficient in vitamin D have consistently been diagnosed with diseases that may have been stopped. Children with a vitamin D deficiency can end up with rickets, “which results in skeletal deformities. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, which results in muscular weakness in addition to weak bones.” The New York Times published an article that said up to 50 percent of children and adults “have less than optimum levels [of vitamin D] and as many as 10 percent of children are highly deficient.”
Medical News Today reported on the benefits of vitamin D and suggested that it may have a possible role in assisting with weight loss, according to research done at the University of Minnesota. The body can produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays. “If you live in the tropics and can expose your unprotected skin to two sessions of 15 minutes of sunlight each week your body will naturally produce adequate amounts of vitamin D.” Some of us aren’t so lucky, and live in places that can reduce our body’s vitamin D synthesis due to a number of factors including cloud cover and smog. If you don’t live near the equator, “your sunlight exposure will be less during many months of the year.” Plus, unprotected exposure to the sun could cause you and your skin severe problems.
The importance of proper vitamin D levels in our body has gone way, way up in recent years. Women’s Health Magazine published an article that called it “one of the best vitamins you can put in your body,” and explained why you need more of it. Researcher and director of the vitamin D, skin, and Bone research laboratory at the Boston University Medical Center, Michael F. Holick, Ph. D., M.D., says, “It affects cell death and proliferation, insulin production and even the immune system.” This news means that those with low vitamin D levels are not only at risk for the bone related diseases, but their body is working less efficiently than it could be. So how much vitamin D is enough?
According to Women’s Health Magazine, “a number of experts, including those from Harvard School of Public Health, have urged the government to raise its recommended daily amount of vitamin D for adults from 200 IU to at least 1,000 IU, possibly more.” Fox News stated in a 2010 article that, “researchers at the University of California as San Diego have suggested that one-half of breast cancer cases and two-thirds of colorectal cancer cases could be stopped by taking 2,000 international units of vitamin D3 daily and spending 10 to 15 minutes in the sun each day, weather permitting.”
The trouble is it’s hard to get an adequate amount of vitamin D solely from our diet. It can be found in foods like salmon and tuna, egg yolks and fortified milk and beef liver. Supplements can be taken in conjunction with Mega 3 Fish Oils in order to consume the proper amount of vitamin D each day. Some believe that these supplements along with sun exposure would be the most effective way of boosting vitamin D levels. Talk to your doctor about testing your vitamin D level, and ask what s/he recommends as far as supplementation goes.