Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D1, D2, and D3. Your body produces vitamin D when it is exposed to natural sunlight. Alternatively, you can get vitamin D from various foods, oils or supplements.
Vitamin D has several important functions in the body. Firstly, it is recognised to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and to facilitate normal immune system function. Getting enough vitamin D is important for bones development and good resistance against different diseases.
Here is some information about the benefits, sources and deficiencies of vitamin D:
It protects you against diseases:
- decreasing the risk of developing heart disease: poor levels of this vitamin have been linked to hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. However, it is difficult to say if a low level of vitamin D determines the installation of the disease or if it influences it as the overall health is affected.
- reducing the risk of developing serious illness: although it is difficult to prove it, a good level of vitamin D might prevent you from getting severely ill. Some research suggests that having a good level of vitamin D in blood might help your organism fight against Covid-19 and any other respiratory difficulty.
- supporting the immune system: people who do not have enough vitamin D might be at high risk of developing infections or autoimmune diseases, such as: such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.
It might regulate mood and reduce depression
Research focusing on participants who experienced negative emotions wanted to see if vitamin D can help them improve their mood. They concluded that those who took vitamin D noticed an improvement in symptoms. Some specialists also suggest that low levels of vitamin D might be a risk factor for fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression.
For more information about these studies, please click here.
It might help during pregnancy
Vitamin D has been proved to increase fertility and ensure a healthier pregnancy.
It helps your baby’s bones, teeth, kidneys, heart and nervous system to develop. Some women are more likely to need than others. You might have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency if:
- you got darker skin
- use high-factor sunblock
- rarely go outside
- have BMI over 30
You should not take extra vitamins unless you have been diagnosed with a deficiency. As your body produces less vitamin D during autumn and winter, you might need some extra help during these months. Always check your level before taking any vitamins as too much isn’t always good. All pregnant women are advised to take about 10 micrograms (or 400 IU) supplement of vitamin D each day. This will give your baby enough vitamin d for the first few months of life. Breasting mums should also take it.
Sources of vitamin D
Some foods contain it naturally. You can find it in the following foods:
- canned tuna
- cod liver oil
- beef liver
- egg yolk
- regular mushrooms
- certain cereals and oatmeals
During the cold seasons when we don’t get much sun exposure, food won’t be enough to have a good level of vitamin D in the blood. Some supplements might help.
How much you need depends on your actual level, so it is worth checking your blood levels before starting to take supplements.
Vitamin D deficiency
You might be less likely to absorb it if:
- live in an area with high pollution
- spend most of your time indoors
- live in a big city where buildings block sunlight
- have darker skin (The higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D your skin can absorb.)
- use sunscreen with high SPF
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
The symptoms in adults might include:
- tiredness, aches, and pains
- severe bone or muscle pain or weakness
- stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips
Vitamin D has several important roles in our bodies. It may reduce the risk of certain diseases, help improve mood and reduce depression symptoms and help with weight management.
It is hard to get enough of it from sun exposure and diet sometimes, so don’t hesitate to go for some good supplements when you don’t have enough. Ask a healthcare professional for a blood test before starting to take them.
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