Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. It is naturally produced by the body in response to your skin being exposed to sunlight. Getting technical, a chemical reaction to UVB radiation (sun exposure) synthesizes cholecalciferol which is one of the most important compounds in Vitamin D. You can also ingest Vitamin D through some foods. Although in comparison to other vitamins, it is less frequently found in food.
Vitamin D hit the headlines recently. It has been associated with better survival rates for a certain pandemic… This is not new news for anyone in the know. Vitamin D has long been associated with a robust immune system.
This page covers Vitamin D in depth. You will find an overview of the chemistry of this all-important substance below. The benefits (and costs of being deficient) are also covered below – along with the foods which are highest in it.
As a regular disclaimer: This is not medical advice – simply information for general interest readers. If you are unsure of your levels, or suspect any issues related to this, then you should seek the advice of a qualified medical professional.
Vitamin D is a natural hormone our body produces and can also be a nutrient we eat. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorous. Many of the body’s organs have receptors for vitamin D, which suggest a range of health benefits.
We get this vitamin as a consequence of exposure to sunlight. It can be taken as a supplement (either alone or as part of a multi-vitamin) or ingested via your food.
Which Foods are High in Vitamin D?
There are a range of foods which act as a good source of vitamin D. Oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel are all good sources of the vitamin. Vitamin D can also be found in red meat and liver.
Egg yolks are also a handy source for vitamin D. You will also find the vitamin in some fortified foods, with good examples being breakfast cereals and some fat spreads. In some countries you will also find the vitamin is added to cow’s milk.
It is generally accepted that you need around 10 micrograms of vit. D a day (a microgram is 1,000x smaller than a milligram). In the summer months, simple sunlight will usually be enough to fill your full quota for the day.
Health authorities suggest that a supplement is advisable if:
Vitamin D is mostly associated with being essential for strong bones, as it helps the body use calcium that is naturally ingested through your diet. A lack of the vitamin, therefore, can be associated with diseases such as rickets. In this disease the bone tissue does not form properly which can lead to soft bones and deformities of the skeleton.
Other health risks from a lack of the sunshine vitamin can be an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, asthma in children and an increased risk of cancer. Low levels are also associated with a sub-par immune system – making those lacking it more prone to viruses such as colds and flu.
Aside from the combatting the health risks listed above, here is a rundown of some of the other health benefits associated with vitamin D:
It is clear that the right amounts of D can have enormous benefits on your health levels. During the summer months, as long as are out in the sun for some time each day, you will receive enough vitamin D naturally. During the winter, the right food stuffs or supplements can ensure you have enough. Boosting your Vitamin D levels is simple and comes with a wide range of benefits – including a better immune system.
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