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It may be quite low-profile, but vitamin D is extremely important and has powerful effects on several systems in our bodies.
The sunshine vitamin
While small amounts of Vitamin D can be obtained through certain foods (fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified foods), our main source is direct exposure to sunshine. The body produces vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
Since most of us are underexposed, spending daylight hours at the office and using sunscreen when outdoors, we may end up having low levels of Vitamin D. This is particularly the case of children, the elderly, and those living in countries with little sunshine. Shockingly, it is estimated that as many as one in five of us has low levels of Vitamin D in blood.
Why is it so important?
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, both nutrients are responsible for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Vitamin D also keeps our immune system alert and helps fight off viruses and bacteria. Thus, one of the most common signs of deficiency is an increased risk of infections and illnesses. Fatigue, depression, slow healing of wounds, hair loss, and back and muscle pain are also common symptoms.
There have been some reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus. However, since the evidence is circumstantial, more studies are needed to confirm this.
7 benefits for our health
Adequate levels of vitamin D will ensure clear health benefits, such as:
- Strong bones and lower probability of osteoporosis.
- Reduced risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Lower risk of colorectal cancer and other cancers, including breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
- Stronger immune system.
- Reduced risk of multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Enhances mood during winter months.
- Positive influence on blood sugar imbalances and prevention of metabolic complications.
You can not overdose on Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you are out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
Vitamin D supplements are available in several formats from syrup to capsules and tablets. As for supplement intake, Public Health England for instance, recommends adults and children over the age of one should have 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D every day. And for most people, Vitamin D3 supplements of 1000–4000 IU (25–100 micrograms) should be enough.
Addressing vitamin D deficiency can have a positive impact on your health.
If you're concerned about your vitamin D levels, it's best to check with your doctor to have your blood levels measured.