Why Is Vitamin D Important?
Vitamin D is commonly known as the sunshine vitamin because of its connection with sunlight. When your body is exposed to UV rays, it naturally produces its own vitamin D3. Yet most people are deficient in this critical vitamin. Why is vitamin D important for your body?
Vitamin D’s most well-known role is to keep bones healthy. It increases the absorption of calcium in the intestines. Low levels of vitamin D lead to thin and weak bones, increasing the risk of fractures. Vitamin D also helps the elderly avoid osteoporosis.
If bone health was the only benefit of vitamin D, it would still be essential, but there are a lot of other benefits of the sunshine vitamin. Here are more health benefits that confirm the importance of vitamin D.
Immune System Support
Vitamin D improves the body’s ability to fight infections quickly and produce antibodies. Because of this, it helps to reduce your likelihood of catching the everyday cold and flu, as well as other viruses.
Does Vitamin D Help COVID-19 Patients?
Because vitamin D is so important for the immune system, it’s possible that it might have a positive effect on COVID-19 patients. Studies have shown that patients who take vitamin D supplements while hospitalized go to the ICU less than patients who don’t. Because it’s so new, there aren’t enough studies on COVID-19, but it’s encouraging that Vitamin D could potentially offer some protection against the virus.
Low vitamin D levels have been shown to cause multiple types of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Depression and weight gain are also concerns. People with autoimmune diseases also tend to have low levels of vitamin D.
Muscle Strength and Performance
According to a medical study, higher levels of vitamin D can lower the likelihood of injuries and improve performance. The importance of vitamin D in overall muscle strength has also been noted.
In addition, without proper levels of this critical vitamin, you may suffer from hypocalcemic tetany, a painful condition that results in involuntary muscle contractions and leads to cramps and spasms.
How Do You Get Enough Vitamin D?
Good old fashioned sunshine is the best way to get enough vitamin D. Approximately 20 minutes of sun a few times a week usually provides enough vitamin D for the average person without increasing the risk of skin cancer. No tan or sunburns are necessary to get the benefits of sunlight.
You can also take supplements to help get enough vitamin D. The normal recommended dose is 400-600 IU daily. 4000 IU daily is the maximum recommended amount, but you should always check with your doctor before taking higher doses. Vitamin D is fat-soluble and can’t be expelled through waste, so taking too much can result in serious illness.
What Causes D-ficiencies?
Most people can’t produce enough vitamin D naturally from sunlight alone. Reasons include:
- Living in a northern climate
- Blocking of the sun by clouds or pollution
- Using sunscreen
- Working and spending a lot of time indoors
- Having darker skin — melanin acts as a natural sunblock
- Aging — our bodies produce less Vitamin D as we age
Vitamin D deficiencies are incredibly common thanks to our modern lifestyle. That’s why the importance of vitamin D supplements cannot be overstated.
Foods With The Most Vitamin D
Unfortunately, it’s hard for your body to make all of the vitamin D that it needs. Thankfully, many dairy items, cereals and packaged foods are fortified with vitamin D to help us reach our daily recommended amounts. Eating healthy and nutritious foods are important, especially when working out hard and building muscles. Making smart choices also will help raise your vitamin D levels.
These foods are your best sources of vitamin D:
- Fatty cold-water fish such as canned salmon, sardines and tuna
- Yolks of pasture-raised eggs
- Dark leafy greens like spinach
Just like humans, both mushrooms and chickens need to be exposed to sunlight to produce beneficial amounts of vitamin D.
“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”
– Roman Payne
The Importance of Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D is only stored in the body for approximately two months, so even if you were able to produce enough naturally during the spring and summer, the shorter and colder days of fall and winter take their toll. Since it’s nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D from food alone, the best way to meet your daily requirement is to take a supplement.
Even though we’ve explained the importance of vitamin D, you may still be wondering how you can boost your levels. We recommend a high-quality supplement to provide the ideal amount without the risk of overdoing it. Such supplements are an easy and hassle-free way to get your daily vitamin D plus other vitamins and minerals you need to maximize your workouts.
*Disclaimer: You should always talk to your doctor before adding supplements to your training plan. This article does not serve as an endorsement of any of the described supplements, nor should it be construed as medical advice.