Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes calcium absorption for normal mineralization of bone. Without a sufficient amount of this vitamin, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. In children, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, and in adults, it can lead to osteomalacia and osteoperosis.
Additionally, vitamin D plays a major role in:
- Cell growth
- Neuromuscular function
- Immune function
- Reduction of inflammation
So, where can you get it from? Most foods aren’t naturally good sources of vitamin D, except for a few. Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and fish liver oil are some of the best sources, while beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and some mushrooms contain smaller amounts. It’s for that reason that we get most of our dietary vitamin D from foods that have been fortified with it, like milk and other dairy products, some breakfast cereals, some brands of orange juice, and other food products. To be sure, look for it to be marked on the product label.
Besides dietary sources, we also meet some of our vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. An accepted recommendation is to aim for 5–30 minutes of sun exposure to your face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week. An easy way to ensure you’re getting enough sunlight is to do your daily exercise routine outdoors and reap even more health benefits at the same time. If you’re particularly susceptible to skin cancer, limit your unprotected sun exposure to the minimum suggested amount.
If you’re unable to meet your requirement through diet or sun exposure, you may consider taking vitamin D supplements. Consult your doctor about whether you would benefit from these supplements, which form is right for you, and the appropriate amount to take.
To find out whether you’re currently absorbing the optimal amount of this vitamin, make an appointment with your primary care doctor to have your vitamin D level checked.
Source: kevinmd.com and nih.gov