A large percentage of Americans are found to be deficient in Vitamin D. It’s an incredibly important vitamin yet it can be hard to obtain through just diet alone and is reliant on regular sun exposure. We need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. Vitamin D has many roles in the body. It helps to:
- promote healthy bones and teeth
- support immune, brain, and nervous system health
- regulate insulin levels to support diabetes management
- support lung function and cardiovascular health
- influence the expression of genes for prevention of cancers
Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin. This is because vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sun exposure. Spending about 15-20 minutes in the sun, three days per week, can allow a body to produce sufficient vitamin D. This can vary depending on how fair-skinned you are. Darker skinned people with more melanin will need more sun exposure. Other factors, such as smog and even the time of year, can also affect how much UVB rays are present. In addition, due to the very real concerns surrounding skin cancer, many people avoid sun exposure.
Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Fatty fishes, such as salmon and swordfish offer some vitamin D, but most dietary sources of vitamin D are found in fortified foods such as milk, cereal and orange juice. Vitamin D3 supplements may be an easy and effective way to meet your vitamin D needs, especially if you’re at risk of deficiency. Check with your healthcare provider for what would be recommended for you.