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Dr. Costel’s practice is currently full. If you’d like to join the waitlist, please call the office. Thank you.

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Senior woman enjoying the sunshine

The impact of vitamin D on your health and well-being

While there’s an entire alphabet of vitamins that come with various benefits, vitamin D is one of the most important under the sun. Vitamin D benefits your body in many ways,  helping you to function, stay healthy, and reduce your risk of several major diseases. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s naturally produced by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Yet, it’s also natural to have a vitamin D deficiency since there are few vitamin D sources other than sunlight and only a handful of vitamin D foods. As a result, far too many people get too little vitamin D. This leads many to ask, “How can I raise my vitamin D level quickly?” First, you need to know how much is enough. To discover why vitamin D is essential and avoid having a vitamin D deficiency, take a closer look at the many vitamin D benefits and a few vitamin D sources, along with how much vitamin D you need to bask in the benefits.

Take a shine to vitamin D

Vitamin D is unlike any other vitamin. What makes it so unique is that vitamin D is both a fat-soluble vitamin and a hormone. Another reason is that your body is able to produce vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun. There are several forms of vitamin D, but the two most valuable dietary forms are vitamin D3, which comes from animal sources, and vitamin D2, which is found in plants. Vitamin D is essential because it regulates many of your body’s systems and functions, from your bones and your brain to your muscles, cells, and immune system.

The bright side of vitamin D

Vitamin D deserves its place in the sun because it offers a wide range of benefits for your body and overall health. While the nutrient is widely known for helping your body absorb calcium to build and maintain strong bones, there are many other vitamin D benefits that go far beyond healthy bones. Vitamin D benefits your body in the following ways:

  • Builds and maintains healthy bones
  • Keeps your muscles moving
  • Helps your nervous system functioning properly
  • Supports your immune system
  • Improves heart function
  • Brightens your mood
  • Decreases disease-causing inflammation
  • Reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and more

Shedding light on vitamin D sources

The easiest way to get vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunlight. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy for a number of reasons, such as not living in a sunny location, the change of seasons, the time of day, too much cloud cover, air pollution, sunscreen, clothing, your skin color, and your age. Luckily, some foods can also be good vitamin D sources, yet there’s a very short list of vitamin D foods. A common question is, “How can I raise my vitamin D level quickly?” Aside from getting more sunlight, the following vitamin D foods can help. You can also consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Just be sure to speak to your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor to make the right decision and determine a healthy dosage. To increase your intake of vitamin D, foods to enjoy include:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines
  • Fortified milk and milk alternatives, such as soymilk, oat milk, and almond milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt

Know the recommended dosage

Your vitamin D needs depend primarily on your age. Adults up to age 70, along with children and teens, need 600 IUs of vitamin D a day. This amount rises for adults over age 70 who need 800 IUs a day, while babies under 12 months only need 400 IUs of vitamin D daily. If you don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight, foods, or supplements, you may develop a vitamin D deficiency. Along with weakening your bones and leading to osteoporosis, a lack of vitamin D can cause fatigue, bone pain, muscle aches, and mood issues like depression.

Don’t overdo it on vitamin D

Seeing the major health effects of a vitamin D deficiency may lead you to ask, “How can I raise my vitamin D level quickly?” Before you start consuming more vitamin D, be aware that too much of the nutrient can be as dangerous as too little. An excess of vitamin D can cause muscle weakness, pain, confusion, dehydration, nausea, loss of appetite, and even kidney stones. This is why it’s important to speak with your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor to know when enough is enough.

Hopefully, knowing about the importance of vitamin D will help you see the light about this vital nutrient.