The Real Deal on Vitamin D – Its Health Benefits and Top Sources

Vitamins A, C and E continue to be the favorites of dietary supplement shoppers. There is a particular nutrient that doesn’t seem to be getting as much spotlight as those but should actually be: vitamin D.

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Also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because of its primary source (more on that later), vitamin D also deserves plenty of attention and respect. That’s because this lowly nutrient has so many wonderful things to offer to the human body. It’s for this reason why deficiency in vitamin D can lead to a host of health problems.

Getting yourself familiarized with the various health benefits of vitamin D allows you to see why you should start taking this nutrient very seriously. They are the following:

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  • Stronger bones. When it comes to strengthening the bones, it may seem like calcium is getting all the credit. Without vitamin D, calcium is practically useless in making your bones denser and tougher. Calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand in reducing your risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by brittle and fragile bones.
  • Stronger muscles. According to the experts, deficiency in vitamin D can cause muscle weakness. The said nutrient is necessary for the skeletal muscles to contract and relax properly. It is also said that vitamin D helps ward off the degradation of protein in muscles.
  • Healthier skin. Vitamins C and E are not the only nutrients that keep your skin healthy. Vitamin D is a major role player too, especially if you are suffering from various inflammatory conditions of the skin such as dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and even dandruff. If you are suffering from severe acne, getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D can be very beneficial.
  • Reduced diabetes symptoms. Regular vitamin D supplementation is known to help decrease resistance to insulin and increase sensitivity to insulin, making the nutrient beneficial for diabetics. A study conducted in 2009 also revealed that getting enough vitamin D helped considerably reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Prevention of cancer. It is said that vitamin D helps in warding off various types of cancers, including prostate, breast and colon. Health authorities say that the nutrient may counterbalance the high levels of an enzyme that is linked to the aggressive development of cancerous lung tumors.
  • Decreased asthma severity. A University of Colorado Denver study revealed that vitamin D supplementation helped improved lung function. It could mean that the nutrient may be used to reduce the severity of asthma and its symptoms, as well as enhance the response of asthmatics to treatments.
  • Improved male reproductive health. A research conducted by the University of Copenhagen showed that men with insufficient intake of vitamin D had lower sperm count and decreased sperm motility.
  • Healthier heart. Deficiency in vitamin D is linked to cardiovascular disease, according to health authorities. Having optimized levels of vitamin D, they add, helps in preventing cardiovascular disease.
  • Better mood. Scientists do not really know why people with vitamin D deficiency are more susceptible to having depression and various other brain disorders. They suspect it may be because of the fact that the nutrient assists in the various metabolic processes in the brain as well as it possesses cell-protecting antioxidant properties.
  • Stronger immunity. Experts say that the immune system’s harmful pathogen-fighting T-cells rely on vitamin D for their activation. Another reason why vitamin D helps strengthen your immunity is the nutrient’s ability to put a stop to chronic inflammation.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why having sufficient amounts of vitamin D is important. According to the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences or IFAS, children, teens, pregnant women and adults up to 70 years of age need 600 IU of vitamin D daily. Adults over 70 should have 800 IU of the nutrient daily. Here are the top sources of vitamin D:

  • Expose your skin to it for 20-25 minutes although you should avoid doing so between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Oily fish. Salmon, swordfish, mackerel, tuna, halibut, herring and sardines are rich in vitamin D.
  • Consuming maitake, morel, chanterelle and white types of mushrooms is recommended.
  • Dairy products. Butter, low-fat yogurt, skimmed milk are all great sources of vitamin D.
  • Alternatives to dairy products. You can get the nutrient in soymilk, almond milk and rice drink.
  • The consumption of chicken, duck or goose eggs allows you to have your supply of vitamin D.
  • Lean pork. Pork sausage, spare ribs, pork loin and pork shoulder all contain the nutrient.

Soy products. You can get your supply of vitamin D from soy products like tofu, soymilk and soy yogurt.

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