Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that promotes bone, muscle, lung, brain and immune system health. There are two major types of vitamin D: ergocalciferol, also known as vitamin D2, which is manufactured by irradiating yeast with ultraviolet light, and cholecalciferol, also known as vitamin D3, which is the preferred, natural version. Although the human body produces vitamin D when it absorbs sunlight through the skin, in many parts of the world many people are vitamin D deficient. For those who work indoors for much of the day or live in a part of the world with reduced sunlight, getting enough of the “sunshine vitamin” via diet or supplementation is highly important. Some experts believe vitamin D deficiency in the United States has hit a pandemic level, thus having a vitamin D supplement on hand is never a bad idea.
7 Benefits of Vitamin D
Bone health support
Many health-conscious people who are looking to strengthen their bones will tell you that vitamin D is a must-have. Its importance lies in the fact that vitamin D plays a big part in distributing calcium throughout the blood, digestive system and bones. In doing so, it also aids calcium absorption into your bones, which helps them build and maintain strength.
Immune health boost
Vitamin D promotes a healthy immune system and is able to communicate with your body about what it needs to stay healthy. For example, vitamin D can signal a response that can launch peptides within your immune system to help it put up a defense against potential short-term and even long-term health concerns.
Enhances brain health
Vitamin D benefits brain health in multiple ways. Vitamin D helps regulate hormones that can promote a healthy mood, but studies have also shown that vitamin D can support cognitive function in a big way. Evidence indicates that the “sunshine supplement” can boost both memory and concentration.
Supports healthy blood sugar levels within the normal range
The ability of vitamin D to support healthy blood sugar levels within the normal range is tied closely to how it boosts calcium levels inside the bloodstream. Studies have shown that calcium is vital for insulin secretion, and since vitamin D promotes the body’s ability to absorb calcium, it is effective at supporting healthy blood sugar levels.
Promotes heart health
Mounting evidence suggests that getting the proper amount of the “sunshine vitamin” is beneficial to heart health. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is a common risk factor for various heart health concerns. This is why many believe that ensuring that you’re getting enough vitamin D in your diet or taking a vitamin D supplement is necessary to keep your heart happy and healthy.
Helps the body regulate hormones
Vitamin D has an effect on hormonal secretion from your parathyroid glands, which secrete the parathyroid hormone into the body. Parathyroid hormone helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D also affects the pituitary gland, which is responsible for releasing a wide range of hormones. Finally, vitamin D can be used to promote estrogen balance within the body.
How is vitamin D used?
Along with vitamins A, E and K, vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning that it is absorbed in the lymph, secreted into the blood and can be stored within fatty tissues and the liver. Vitamin D is used by the body for many purposes but is most useful in boosting calcium absorption, which promotes healthy bones and teeth.
Often Paired With...
Calcium – Because vitamin D helps boost calcium absorption within the body, vitamin D and calcium are an excellent pair.
Vitamin D Food Sources
Aside from the vitamin D we get from the sun, there are many foods that boast high amounts of “the sunshine vitamin.” Fish, such as herring, catfish and salmon, provide some of the the highest levels of vitamin D among food sources, delivering 2,061 IU, 1,053 IU and 920 IU respectively per 200 calorie serving. Eggs, raw milk and mushrooms are also sources of vitamin D, though in significantly lower amounts than fish.
Say Hello to the Sunshine Vitamin: Top Foods High in Vitamin D