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Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3.

 

Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.

 

Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.

 

If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D, you’re at risk of developing bone abnormalities such as soft bones (osteomalacia) or fragile bones (osteoporosis).

 

1. Vitamin D fights disease

In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:

  • reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis.
  • decreasing your chance of developing heart disease.
  • helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu.

2. Vitamin D reduces depression

Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one studyTrusted Source, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.

In another study of people with fibromyalgia, researchers found vitamin D deficiency was more common in those who were also experiencing anxiety and depression.

 

3. Vitamin D boosts weight loss

Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease. 

In one study, people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The scientists said the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite-suppressing effect.

In another study, overweight people who took a daily vitamin D supplement improved their heart disease risk markers.

 

Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin D has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • egg yolk
  • shrimp
  • milk (fortified)
  • cereal (fortified)
  • yogurt (fortified)
  • orange juice (fortified)

It can be hard to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements can help.

 

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences reports new recommendations based on international units (IUs) per day. IUs are a standard type of measurement for drugs and vitamins. IUs help experts determine recommended dose, toxicity, and deficiency levels for each person.

 

One IU is not the same for each type of vitamin. An IU is determined by how much of a substance produces an effect in your body. The recommended IUs for vitamin D are:

  • children and teens: 600 IU
  • adults up to age 70: 600 IU
  • adults over age 70: 800 IU
  • pregnant or breastfeeding women: 600 IU
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Ashley Resnik
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September 14, 2021
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