Many people know vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin, but the extraordinary health benefits of this vitamin are not as well known. Vitamin D is so important for health that it has been known to be effective in fighting off the flu, supporting hormone balance, bone health, and supporting a healthy pregnancy just to name a few. We will go more into these health benefits, but for now, let’s talk about the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is occurring more and more, and many people experience a deficiency in the winter months when they aren’t being exposed to enough sunlight. Not getting enough vitamin D rich foods in your diet can also lead to a deficiency. Vegans are at a higher risk since vitamin D is commonly found in animal foods like egg yolks, fish, and beef liver.
There are also some other risk factors for vitamin D deficiency which include:
- Breastfed infants since breastmilk is a poor source of vitamin D. This is why supplementation in infants is commonly recommended
- Those who have Celiac or Crohn’s disease
- Being overweight
- Older adults
- Having osteoporosis
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency & How Much Do We Need?
Many of the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency go undetected, but you may experience symptoms of depression or low mood or even muscle weakness. Things like hair loss, fatigue, and getting sick more often are also common symptoms.
So, how do we know if we are getting enough of this powerful vitamin? The following is a general guideline as to how much vitamin D we need per day. (1)
- Birth to 12 months: 400 IU/day
- Ages 1-70: 600 IU/day
- Adults over the age of 71: 800 IU/day
4 Reasons Vitamin D is So Important for Overall Health
#1: Vitamin D is A Powerful Immune Booster: Supplementing with vitamin D during cold and flu season may help to keep you healthy all year long. Vitamin D has been shown to help prevent influenza, so stay on top of your vitamin D intake when the flu is going around.
#2 Supports Healthy Bones: While we often think of calcium when it comes to bone health, vitamin D plays a critical role as well. The body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium. This is why vitamin D deficiency is associated with osteoporosis.
#3 Supports a Healthy Pregnancy: Pregnant moms can help support a healthy pregnancy by making sure they are getting enough vitamin D. Pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin D may be at a higher risk of developing preeclampsia as well as gestational diabetes. (2) Many prenatal vitamins contain vitamin D so on top of supplementation and a well-balanced diet, your vitamin D levels should be covered.
#4 Supports a Happier Mood: Having a vitamin D deficiency can cause symptoms of depression or low mood. Those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder may also feel depressed during the darker times of the year. This has been linked to changes in vitamin D3 levels. (3) Here’s just one more reason to make sure we are getting enough of this important vitamin.
How to Get More Vitamin D
On top of supplementation, there are some other ways you can make sure you are getting enough vitamin D.
- Eat vitamin D rich foods: Fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver, mushrooms.
- Get out in the sun a little bit each day, but always take precautions to prevent sunburn as well.
- Supplement when necessary.
- How Much Vitamin D Should I Take? (2017) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-vitamin-d-should-i-take
- What are the Health Benefits of Vitamin D? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php
- Physiological Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-breakthrough-depression-solution/201111/psychological-consequences-vitamin-d-deficiency
- Vitamin D for influenza. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4463890/
- Vitamin D Deficiency. https://medlineplus.gov/vitaminddeficiency.html