Vitamin D- Why We Need it and How to Get it

Vitamin D- Why We Need it and How to Get itMost people have heard that it is important to maintain proper levels of vitamin D. However, what many don’t realize is how difficult this can be, especially during the winter months. As a matter of fact, as much as 77% of Americans are vitamin D deficient, and 6% are severely deficient! Why is Vitamin D so important, and how can we make sure that we get what we need?

Why We Need Vitamin D

There is a good reason why we have heard so much about vitamin D. It plays a part in the growth and maintenance of many body systems, and can even help to fight against some pretty serious health problems. Here are a few of the benefits of Vitamin D:

  • Because it helps the body to absorb calcium, it contributes to bone mineralization and growth and can help to prevent the onset of osteoporosis
  • It contributes to muscle strength and coordination.
  • It promotes cardiovascular health.
  • It aids the immune system, which fights illness and infection.
  • It may help to prevent certain cancers.

There is no question that vitamin D deficiency should not be taken lightly. However, many people may not be aware of the challenges of maintaining the proper levels.

How to Get Enough Vitamin D

Most essential vitamins and minerals are present in many of the foods that we eat, but vitamin D is unique because it is difficult, if not impossible, to take in enough through diet alone. Some dietary sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, egg yolk, oily fish, beef liver, and fortified milk or cereal, but these foods do not contain enough vitamin D to maintain it at the optimal level.

Our primary source of this vitamin is internal. Our bodies are able to produce Vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight (specifically UVB rays). The more time we spend in the sun, and the more skin that we leave exposed, the more vitamin D we are able to produce. For many of us, this presents a problem during the winter. This is partly because we tend to spend much more time inside once it gets cold, and when we do venture outside we leave as little skin exposed as possible.

A second reason for lack of vitamin D production in the winter has to do with the sun’s rays themselves. In the northern half of the United States, the sun’s rays enter the atmosphere at too sharp an angle, and UVB rays are blocked for most of the day. This means that, for several months of the year, even sitting outside for hours wearing nothing but a bikini won’t result in adequate vitamin D production.

The situation is not hopeless. Thankfully, there are supplements available to help offset these seasonal challenges. The Vitamin D Counsel recommends taking a daily supplement of vitamin D3. Most people can do this with no problem, but if you have concerns, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist.

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