Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, because it is produced in your body with the help of sunlight and is also found in some foods.
It plays several important roles in your body, but many of us just do not get enough vitamin D on a daily basis.
We can get our dose of vitamin D from direct sun exposure, but many of us just are not outside enough to get enough. Some foods like fatty fish and eggs contain vitamin D, but overall this vitamin is not found in very many foods.
Depending on your lifestyle and where you live in the world, it may be a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement.
What are the main benefits of taking vitamin D supplements?
If you live in parts of the world with long winters and little sunlight, or you are a vegetarian and do not eat much fatty fish, you may not get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D does a ton of things for our bodies, including:
- Helping with normal immune function
- Development of healthy bones and teeth
- Improving sleep
- Improving mood, particularly related to seasonal depression or the “winter blues”
Let’s go through the benefits of vitamin D a little more in depth.
Benefit #1: Normal Immune Function
Vitamin D plays a role in immune function and there is evidence that it also helps to prevent you from developing multiple sclerosis.
There is research suggesting that vitamin D decreases your chance of developing heart disease and helps to reduce your risk of getting the flu.
Lower levels of vitamin D in the body can put you at risk for getting sick more often.
Benefit #2: Healthy Bones and Teeth
Having adequate levels of vitamin D helps your body to store calcium, which helps in the development of healthy bones and teeth.
Children need vitamin D in order to build their bones, and adults need vitamin D in order to keep their bones strong throughout life.
Benefit #3: Improving Sleep
Vitamin D is linked to improved sleep, because it helps to regulate serotonin in your body, which in turn helps to regulate melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Research has shown that people who have adequate levels of vitamin D in their bodies get better sleep.
Benefit #4: Improving Mood
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere and experience long winters, you no doubt have experience seasonal depression at some point. This is thought to come from the lack of sunlight that we receive for many months during the winter.
Vitamin D is linked to mood, because as mentioned above, it helps to regulate serotonin. Serotonin is related to mood, so getting enough vitamin D can definitely help you to feel better during those dark winter months.
Ways to get enough vitamin D:
- Take a vitamin D supplement. According to experts, a maximum of 4000 iU of vitamin D is safe – but it is worth it to speak to a doctor and get regular blood tests to figure out exactly how much vitamin D you need per day.
- Eat vitamin D rich foods – salmon, tuna, beef liver and egg yolks are all good sources of vitamin D. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can also find many products like plant milks and cereals that are vitamin D fortified.
- Get plenty of sunshine. This can be tricky because we know how damaging the sun can be to our skin. Prolonged sun exposure raises your risk of skin cancer. Expose your skin to the sun in short spurts, and make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat if you are going to be out in the sun for long periods of time.
Vitamin D, like all vitamins and minerals, plays an important role in our bodies. If you think that you may be deficient, speak to your health care provider about safe supplementation and get routine blood tests.