Although vitamin D is essential for the proper functioning of the human body, many people do not get enough. Vitamin D comes from sunlight and certain foods. A vitamin D deficiency can be a very serious problem when it causes some very significant physical health effects. People with little exposure to the sun or who already have low vitamin D levels should take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D Benefits
Primarily, vitamin D helps the immune system to function properly. People with enough vitamin D get the common cold and influenza less often than people with low vitamin D. There is now evidence to suggest that vitamin D can also help protect people from cancer, hypertension and certain autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D also helps protect the skeletal system. In addition to being important for calcium absorption (which is why milk is fortified with it), vitamin D is important for bones on its own merits.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to Rickets in children, which causes deformities in the long bones as they grow. It can also cause osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults, both of which cause fragile, brittle bones with little density.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with other health problems. Among these are tuberculosis, high blood pressure, seasonal affective disorder, cancer and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D deficiencies won’t necessarily cause these problems. It can, however, make a person more susceptible to them.
Where to Get Vitamin D
There are two basic sources of natural vitamin D: sunlight and food.
• Sunlight – Just a few minutes of sun exposure a day is enough to boost quantities of vitamin D in the human body. Not only does this help the body, but it can affect one’s mood for the better as well. In the winter months, when it is not possible to be outside as much, a vitamin D supplement is appropriate.
• Food – Good food sources of vitamin D include fish liver oil and fatty types of fish, such as herring, mackerel, tuna, salmon, catfish and sardines. Eggs and beef liver are also good sources of vitamin D. Many dairy products are also fortified with it, so people can get extra help meeting their requirements. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that exists in several forms.
Consider a Vitamin D Supplement
If you think you have a lack of vitamin D, it is time to consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Although vitamins are absorbed easier from food than from supplements, it is often difficult, especially in the winter to get enough vitamin D without a supplement.
And, as you can see, vitamin D is too important to neglect. Enough vitamin D can help your immune system, your bones and even your frame of mind.
Whether you get your daily dose of vitamin D from the sun and food alone, or you have to take a supplement, it is important to make sure you do not overdose on it. Since vitamin D is fat soluble, it stays in the body much longer than if it were water soluble. Only the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D should be consumed.