Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body does not create on its own. Because of this, you have to obtain this vitamin via the sun, your diet and with supplements to make sure that you are getting enough of it. It is also classified as a prohormone, meaning that it functions as a hormone precursor.
Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a variety of roles when it comes to health and well-being. It is important for the following:
• Supporting the nervous system and brain function
• Aiding the immune system with healthy function
• Supporting cardiovascular and pulmonary health
• Promoting teeth and bone health
• Helping to regulate insulin levels
• Influencing gene expression related to the development of cancer
Vitamin D might also help with protecting against influenza. One 2018 study explored this theory and it was determined that people with normal vitamin D levels were less susceptible to contracting the flu.
Pregnancy may also be influenced by vitamin D levels. Women who are deficient in this vitamin during pregnancy are at a higher risk of premature birth and preeclampsia.
This vitamin is crucial for making sure that your body is able to absorb calcium efficiently. This is necessary for optimal bone health. It is especially imperative in postmenopausal women who are at a greater risk for reduced bone density and osteoporosis.
Vitamin D Deficiency
In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 42 percent of people are deficient in vitamin D. When you are deficient in this vitamin, the following symptoms are possible:
• Frequent infections or sickness
• Back and bone pain
• Impaired wound healing
• Muscle pain
• Poor mood
• Hair loss
If your deficiency continues on over the long-term, more serious effects are possible and may include:
• Autoimmune issues
• Certain cancers, especially those affecting your prostate, breasts and colon
• Cardiovascular conditions
• Neurological diseases
• Complications during pregnancy
Certain people may need more vitamin D than the general population. Those who fall into this group include:
• Older adults
• Those who have darker skin
• Those who are obese
• Infants who are breastfed
• People with certain medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, liver disease or Crohn’s disease
• Those with a history of gastric bypass surgery
Getting Vitamin D Via Supplements
Vitamin D is naturally supplied to the body via the sun, but most adults are unable to spend enough time in the sun each day without protection to get enough. There are foods that are fortified with this vitamin, but these are still not often enough to ensure that you are getting the recommended amounts each day. As a result, vitamin D supplements are a popular choice.
When you are taking a supplement, you will notice that the vitamin D content is measured in international units (IU) or micrograms (mcg). The following are the recommended amounts of vitamin D each day based on age group:
• Ages zero to 12 months: 10 mcg or 400 IU
• Ages one to 18 years: 15 mcg or 600 IU
• Ages 18 to 70 years: 15 mcg or 600 IU
• Age 70 and older: 20 mcg or 800 IU
• Women who are breastfeeding or pregnant: 15 mcg or 600 IU
Vitamin D is a critical nutrient that many people do not get enough of. Due to issues like geographic location and sunscreen, it is important to have your levels tested and take a high-quality supplement to get adequate amounts of this vitamin.