Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you may think. Since vitamin D can only be obtained with a few foods and daily sunshine exposure, it’s easy to become deficient. Keep reading to learn more about the role of vitamin D in the body and why supplementation may be necessary.
Did you know that vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem? Over 1 billion people worldwide are deficient or insufficient in this important vitamin, which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, and mood changes . Although most can naturally produce some vitamin D from the sun, this may not always be possible or provide enough for optimal levels. So, what can you to do ensure that you get enough of this vitamin? Before discussing dietary options, let’s first understand what vitamin D is and what role it plays in the body.
Understanding vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and hormone, and is conditionally essential because even though your body produces it, it’s based on factors like weather, time of year, location, genetics, and skin pigmentation . For instance, those who are older or who have darker skin are naturally less able to produce vitamin D from sunlight exposure .
Vitamin D plays many important roles in your body, as it supports heart health, insulin levels, and immune function. Additionally, it promotes normal bone mineralization, as vitamin D enhances calcium absorption within the GI tract to keep your blood levels of calcium within range. This prevents hypocalcemia tetany, which is cramping and spasms within the muscles . Your bone cells also use vitamin D for growth and remodeling throughout all phases of your life . Without adequate vitamin D, bones can become brittle, misshapen, and prone to breakage .
In addition to promoting adequate bone health, vitamin D helps to reduce inflammation, and is involved with cell growth, neuromuscular function, immune function, and glucose metabolism .
To produce adequate levels of vitamin D, it is recommended to spend 5-30 minutes with the face, arms, hands, and legs in the sun (without sunscreen) . Ideally, this should be done daily, but twice a week can still be effective . However, spending this amount of time out in the sun may not always be possible, which is why getting vitamin D from the diet (and possibly through supplementation) is important.
Vitamin D and COVID
New research is emerging on the role of Vitamin D with COVID-19. Research shows that those who have low vitamin D serum levels are more likely to contract COVID 19 . The research has also shown that those who have low vitamin D serum levels are more likely to have severe symptoms of COVID 19 . As such, it’s indicated that vitamin D supplementation may be useful to prevent COVID 19 infection and reduce symptoms .
Common dietary sources of vitamin D
There are a few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, including :
- Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
- Fish liver oil
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
- Mushrooms treated with UV light
Some common foods that are fortified with vitamin D include :
- Dairy milk
- Plant-based milk
- Orange juice
Tip: since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it needs to be taken with a fat-containing food to be absorbed properly. Some healthy fats that you can include in your diet are avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
When to consider a supplement
If you find that your Vitamin D levels are low and are unable to spend adequate time in the sunlight or incorporate vitamin D rich foods into your diet, you will want to consider a Vitamin D3 supplement (ideally one that also contains Vitamin K2 for bone health). Also important to note is the body needs magnesium to convert Vitamin D into its usable form. Optimal magnesium status is necessary for optimal Vitamin D status. Here at Pursue Wellness, we offer a variety of trusted supplements that are available to purchase here.
- Naeem, Z. (2010, January).Vitamin D deficiency- an ignored epidemic. International journal of health sciences. Retrieved January 13, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068797/
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.).Office of dietary supplements – vitamin D. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved January 13, 2022, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
- B;, K. M. O. P. E. Y. (n.d.).The role of vitamin D deficiency on COVID-19: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Epidemiology and health. Retrieved January 13, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34607398/