Vitamin D is arguably one of the most vital nutrients for your health. It’s unique in the sense that it functions much like a hormone and contributes to your overall well-being. The body makes Vitamin D after sun exposure, and it’s activated by the liver and kidneys.
According to the VitaminDCouncil.org, “The amount of vitamin D you get from exposing your bare skin to the sun depends on:
- The time of day – your skin produces more vitamin D if you expose it during the middle of the day.
- Where you live – the closer to the equator you live, the easier it is for you to produce vitamin D from sunlight all year round.
- The color of your skin – pale skins make vitamin D more quickly than darker skins.
- The amount of skin you expose – the more skin your expose the more vitamin D your body will produce.”
No other vitamin goes through the process of activation like vitamin D does before it can be used by the body. It’s fat-soluble, allowing for the absorption of the minerals from our diet more effectively. Most importantly, it helps the body use the calcium obtained from the food we eat, which is essential for strong bones. Traditionally, a vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets and osteoporosis but researchers are now linking a lack of the vitamin to a multitude of other illnesses ranging from multiple sclerosis, depression, heart attacks, strokes and arthritis. Moreover, studies have shown that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for cancer in general.
Additionally, some medical practitioners further claim that vitamin D is an immune system booster that can be used to prevent many problems including autism, type I diabetes, schizophrenia, and mood disorders.
Because it is naturally present in very few foods, most people get their daily requirements of vitamin D by exposing their skin to sunlight or by taking supplements. There are different types of vitamin D and according to the Mayo Clinic, “The term “vitamin D” refers to several different forms of this vitamin. Two forms are important in humans: vitamin D2, which is made by plants, and vitamin D3, which is made by human skin when exposed to sunlight. Foods may be fortified with vitamin D2 or D3.”
When taking Vitamin D supplements, it’s important to choose those that contain D3 as opposed to D2, since D3 is chemically indistinguishable from the form of vitamin D produced in the body. If you’re looking to get vitamin D from food, eat fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks and cheese since they contain naturally occurring Vitamin D. Additionally, milk, breakfast cereals and orange juice may be fortified with vitamin D.
Another option is to take cod liver oil supplements since they are a great source of Vitamin D. Cod liver oil also contains a multitude of other healthful properties, including; vitamins A and K, omega 3 and fatty acids like EPA and DHA. If you decide to take supplements, check with your Doctor for the recommended amount for your age and weight.