What if we told you there is something you can take to build strong muscles and bones, improve your cognition, build a strong immune system and increase your energy level…and you can’t taste it?
Well, this is your lucky day. We are not talking about expensive, questionable supplements. We are talking about vitamin D. A little dose packs a big punch.
Vitamin D is a nutrient that can be found in some foods but, as many know, is also absorbed by the body from the sun. Vitamin D is essential for the formation, growth, and repair of bones and for normal calcium absorption. It is also a requirement for muscle movement and helps nerves carry messages between the brain and every part of your body. In addition, your immune system needs vitamin D to fight off bacteria and viruses. It has also been cited in helping to maintain a healthy body weight and healthy heart.
In fact, high levels of vitamin D were found to protect people at a genetic level. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that higher vitamin D levels in healthy individuals have a significant impact on the genes that are involved in several biologic pathways associated with illnesses, including cancer, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases. It is also a great defense against osteoporosis.
People can become deficient in vitamin D because they don’t consume or absorb enough from their food, their exposure to sunlight is limited or their kidneys do not convert vitamin D to its active form in the body.
How do you know if you are getting enough?
They best indication is through a blood test on your vitamin D levels. A level of 50 nmol/L or above are sufficient for most people. Vitamin D levels can rarely be high enough to be harmful, but it is possible.
How do I get it?
Not that many foods contain vitamin D. It is mostly found in fortified foods. Foods that naturally have vitamin D include salmon, tuna, mackerel, cheese, egg yolks (in small amounts), mushrooms and milk. Fortified foods (enriched by food manufacturers) include some brands of bread, orange juice, cereal, yogurt, soy beverages, etc.
The body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Recommended intakes of vitamin D are based on the assumption of little sun exposure. On average, you only need 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times per week. Skin exposed to sun through a window indoors does not produce vitamin D. Despite the benefits of vitamin D from the sun, is it critical to limit exposure of skin to sunlight, wear sun protective clothing and sunscreen with SPF to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
You can also take vitamin D supplements. The safe upper limit for Vitamin D is 1,000 to 1,500 IU/day for children 1-8 yrs old and 4,000 IU/day for children 9 years and older, including adults. You should not exceed these amounts. On average, the recommended amount of vitamin D is 600 IU per day. Just as a reference, I take 2,000.
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