The most well-known source of vitamin D is sunlight. It’s nicknamed the sunshine vitamin because of its ability to be absorbed by the body through sunlight and produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Vitamin D has numerous benefits and more sources beyond the sun which is not always sufficient when one is housebound or during winter periods.
Benefits of Vitamin D
1. Strengthens Bones & Muscles
Vitamin D promotes the absorption and utilization of calcium which is important for the growth, development and strengthening of bones and teeth. A deficiency leads to low calcium absorption. This results in abnormalities such as soft bones or fragile bones. In children soft bones cause rickets and in adults, it causes osteomalacia. It also increases muscle strength which prevents falls and is especially critical for older people.
2. Strengthens Immune System
Vitamin D helps build immunity and supports the body in fighting off harmful bacteria, viruses and infections. It lowers the risk of certain cancers and may improve cancer outcomes. It reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, decreases the chance of heart disease and lowers your likelihood of contracting the flu. A study found that vitamin D reduces the risk of acute respiratory infection although more tests are being done to determine what this means as relates to the Covid-19 pandemic.
3. Mental Health
The sun has been known to brighten people’s moods and so does vitamin D. Research shows that it may play an important role in mood regulation, finding that people who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms. The same improvement was also noted for people with anxiety.
4. Boosts Weight Loss
In one study, people taking Vitamin D while on a weight loss product lost more weight than those who took the placebo. Overweight people who took vitamin D supplements daily registered an improvement in their heart disease markers.
5. Fertility and Reproduction
Sources of Vitamin D
1. The sun
Leading source of and by far the best and most readily available source. Go outdoors and soak up some sun.
2. Protein sources
3. Dairy and fortified sources
Including milk, yoghurt and cheese. Fortified cereal, oatmeal and fortified tofu are a great source for vegans. 6 Reasons Why You Should Increase Your Consumption Of Yoghurt
Including mushrooms which can synthesize vitamin D2 from the sun and are a great plant-based source.
Primarily orange juice.
One popular supplement rich in vitamin D is cod liver oil which is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which many people are deficient in. There are other types of supplements as well.
Care should be taken not to overdo it. Taking too much of it in the form of supplements may result in nausea and vomiting, poor appetite and weight loss, constipation, weakness, confusion and disorientation, heart rhythm problems and kidney stones and kidney damage.