Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is an essential nutrient that contributes to overall health and wellness. The vitamin helps the body absorb calcium, which leads to a multitude of health benefits and improves the function of your bones, brain, cardiovascular and immune systems, intestines, muscles and pancreas.
Learn about the benefits of more vitamin D and how it can impact your overall health.
According to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), vitamin D has been proven to fight against many conditions and disease, including:
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Unfortunately, almost 50% of the population worldwide is vitamin D deficient and NCBI suggests that we may, in fact, need even more of this essential nutrient than is currently recommended to prevent chronic disease.
While the vitamin is most commonly absorbed through the skin from exposure to sunlight, there is hope for individuals who have precluding health conditions that make sitting out in the sunshine impossible, live in sun-deficit climates or take certain medications.
Readers Digest suggests that vitamin D can be consumed through eating a variety of foods, including:
Supplements are also a great way to consume your daily vitamin requirements. Taking a supplement that contains 400 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D each day, in conjunction with eating nutrient-rich foods will help you to reach your daily target.
Although the effectiveness of vitamin D supplements has been debated over the past few years, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (an affiliate of Harvard Medical School located in Boston, Massachusetts) has embarked on a five-year trial entitled VITAL to definitively determine whether taking “daily dietary supplements of vitamin D3 (2000 IU) or omega-3 fatty acids (Omacor® fish oil, 1 gram) reduces the risk for developing cancer, heart disease and stroke in people who do not have a prior history of these illnesses.”
While nutrient-rich foods and supplements are great ways to increase your vitamin D intake, exposure to sunlight still remains the most effective way to reach your body’s daily requirements. Healthline suggests that “midday is the best time to get vitamin D, as the sun is at its highest point and your body may manufacture it most efficiently around that time of day.”
For most people, just 10-15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to your abdomen, arms, back and legs is enough to meet your daily needs.
According to Dr. Michael Holick, a professor of biophysics, medicine and physiology at the Boston University Medical Campus, practicing “sensible sun exposure” is safe, does not put you at risk of developing melanoma or other skin cancers and most importantly, should never result in a burn. Sensible sun exposure includes protecting the most sun-exposed parts of your body such your face and the top of your ears and never spending more than 15 minutes in the sun without sun protection, such as SPF-30 and a protective hat.
By consuming vitamin D-fortified and rich foods, dietary supplements and practicing sensible sun exposure, you can easily meet your daily vitamin D requirements and reap the health benefits of this essential nutrient, no matter the time of year.
How do you get more vitamin D to boost your health? Through foods, supplements or sun exposure? We’d like to hear your tips in the comments below.