Vitamin D is a well-known, bone health superstar. What you may not know is that vitamin D has many, lesser-known health benefits that make it one of the most important vitamins you can have in your diet.
Aside from being extremely beneficial to your bones, here are some of the top health benefits of vitamin D.
- Vitamin D enhances the intestines’ ability to absorb certain nutrients, namely calcium and phosphorous. This means more of the calcium you consume will make it to your bones, making them healthier and stronger. This also means that the phosphorous you intake will be more efficiently absorbed, thereby giving added strength to your immune system.
- Vitamin D has also been shown to help regulate blood pressure, as well as improve other areas of cardiovascular health, including reduced risk of heart attack.
- Vitamin D also stimulates your pancreas to manufacture insulin, which can be beneficial for those suffering from diabetes, or those at risk for developing diabetes.
- Women who take vitamin D supplements are less likely to develop multiple sclerosis.
- Your colon health can also benefit from vitamin D. Studies show that people who take vitamin D are less likely to develop pre-cancerous colon polyps.
- If you are trying to conceive, taking vitamin D can increase your fertility. It can also benefit those who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which can negatively affect fertility.
- More recent studies are showing that vitamin D can even help prevent breast cancer cell growth.
- During the winter sickness season, vitamin D will boost your immunity, and can help reduce your risk of contracting the flu.
- Increasing intake of vitamin D is can also aid those suffering from depression. While vitamin D deficiency is not a direct cause of depression, it can improve depression symptoms.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that most health adults take 600 IU of vitamin D per day. Individuals over the age of 71 should take 800 IU per day.
Vitamin D comes in 5 different complexes, but the ones most important for human health are D2 and D3. One of the ways our body can get vitamin D is from sunlight. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, our bodies begin to produce it.
Winter is a time of year in which there are less hours of sunlight, which is why some people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have increased symptoms of depression. Increasing your intake of vitamin D through food or supplements can help balance out the lack of natural sunlight.
Another way to get vitamin D is by making sure it’s a part of our diet. Fatty fish, such as tuna is a great source of vitamin D, as well as beef liver, cheese and egg yolks. It can also be found in food fortified with the vitamin, such as certain cereals, orange juice and some dairy products.
Remember that while vitamin D supplements can greatly improve your health, the best way for your body to absorb vitamin D is through real foods.
Consider adding vitamin D into your diet by increasing your intake of food fortified with vitamin D. If you find that getting the appropriate amount of vitamin D is difficult to do with food alone, you may find that a vitamin D supplement might suit your needs.