It’s estimated that 42% of U.S. adults are deficient in vitamin D, and with how much time is spent indoors, whether purposely avoiding the sun’s rays or just staring at computer screens, that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Vitamin D is vital to your health, though, and the best source of it just happens to be from the sun. Your body synthesizes vitamin D from direct exposure to sunlight through your skin, but it’s rare that anyone gets the needed daily dosage of sun exposure these days, so your next best bet is to make sure you get your daily dose of vitamin D in supplemental form.
It only takes around 10-15 minutes of direct sun exposure to get your required natural daily dose in most cases, but that’s not just your face and hands. Sunlight needs to be absorbed through large areas of exposed skin for maximum benefit. That’s simply not realistic for most working adults, people living in cooler climates, or just about anyone during the winter months. Plus, there’s a fine line between a healthy dose of sun exposure and getting too much sun.
Unlike most essential vitamins and minerals, it’s tough to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. Below is a list of common foods with a fair amount of vitamin D content:
- Wild fish, such as salmon, herring, and sardines
- Egg yolks from farm-raised, free-roaming chickens or from chickens fed D-enhanced diets
- Mushrooms that are wild-raised or UV-treated (this is the only plant source of vitamin D)
- Fortified foods like dairy products, juice, and cereals
As you can see, if you’re not in the sun enough, and if you don’t have these foods in your diet every single day to ensure your proper daily dose of vitamin D, then you’ll need to consider getting your sunshine vitamin from a high-potency supplemental form.
You’re probably already aware that vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, but it’s also crucial for much more than just strong bones. These are just a few of the key roles vitamin D plays:
- Needed for the absorption of calcium and phosphorous
- Healthy immune system – deficiency is linked to numerous diseases
- Adequate intake is linked to increased life expectancy
- Enhances the health and strength of bones and teeth
- Helps maintain healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health
- May be linked to improved muscle strength and performance
How do you know if you might be vitamin D deficient? Well, if you’re not in the sun for around 15 minutes every day with a lot of skin exposed, don’t eat enough D-fortified foods, and if you don’t get your sunshine vitamin in supplemental form, then there’s a pretty good chance you’re D deficient. Below are a few signs of D deficiency:
- Muscle weakness
- Fatty muscles
- Poor health and increased frequency of illness from decreased immune system response
With a list like that, it’s no wonder people tend to feel lethargic, depressed, and get sick more often in the winter months.
You can easily get enough of most required vitamins and minerals every day with a balanced diet, but Vitamin D is one of the few individual vitamins you should be taking in addition to a well-rounded diet and supplement program to ensure good, year-round health.