Vitamin D is a crucial supplement that makes a difference in our lives that we sometimes forget about. During the winter months it is harder to stay active, let alone get all the vitamin D that you need. Now, what does vitamin D do? This vitamin keeps your immune system strong which is important during the colder months when people are getting sick the most. It is also a vital part of calcium absorption– this means that it helps your bones stay strong and healthy. The way that is absorbed is by sunlight coming in contact with your skin. This can be hard during winter months when you have to bundle up.
Without vitamin D what can happen?
Due to vitamin D being important for bone strength, without it you can become more prone to broken and soft bones. There are many other bodily functions that can be disturbed by a lack of vitamin C. People may not realize that this small supplement can help with the way your brain works, and the operation of your heart. A lack of vitamin D can also lead to seasonal affective disorder which can lead to change in moods at certain times during the year. Winter time can lower how strong the rays of the sun are which ultimately affects how much sunlight you need. During Summer, the average time a person must spend in the sun to get all the vitamin D they need is 10 to 20 minutes, depending on their skin tone, because vitamin D synthesis decreases when more melanin is present. Ultimately, in very cold climates one cannot make vitamin D at all.
The good news is that sunlight is not the only place you can get vitamin D! In the colder months, eating fish such as Salmon, Tuna, and other fatty fish can provide you with plenty. Other great sources include egg yolk and certain mushrooms. Mushrooms are the only plant-like food that naturally produces vitamin D. New medical advancements such as light box therapy can be beneficial. Although this light box provides light, it does not increase vitamin D. However, it has been linked to brightening moods during gloomy times. In our country many products are fortified with vitamin D to ensure that the population is getting the nutrients that they need. Be aware that fortified foods such as milk, cereals, and orange juice cannot be your only source of this vitamin.
The big question is how much vitamin D is enough? How much is too much? With the combination of sunlight and fortified foods, you should have a healthy amount of vitamin D in your system. Too much can cause toxicity that will have evident side effects such as bone pain and kidney stones. This can be avoided by following instructions on supplements if you decide to take any. The concern is always not having enough. The amount that you need can vary depending on skin color, age, health conditions and where you are located geographically. Vitamin D has been shown to help your gut biome which is all of the healthy bacteria in your intestines. Having enough vitamin D will ensure that your body is working properly in hopes to avoid inflammatory disorders. Studies show that plenty of this vitamin can help you avoid lung infections and gut infections.
Overall, vitamin D is an important supplement that is important for daily functions. There are many different ways to incorporate it into your diet without having to go above and beyond. If you live in colder climates consider these facts next time you are taking a walk outside or looking after your health.
This post was written for Healthy Young Nevada by a High Sierra AHEC Student Ambassador.