Vitamin D: also known as the sunshine vitamin. And word on the street is that vitamin D deficiency is an alarmingly common problem. In fact, studies indicate that 30–50% of the general population doesn’t get enough vitamin D.
So what’s the big deal? Well believe it or not, getting enough vitamin D in your life can boost your health in all kinds of incredible ways. Here are just 10 things vitamin D does for you . . .
1. Promotes bone growth—By helping your body absorb calcium, vitamin D makes your bones strong and healthy and prevents diseases like osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets.
2. Prevents cavities—A review of 24 clinical trials found that children taking vitamin D supplements had a 47% reduced risk of cavities.
3. Fights depression—The research in this area is still pretty new, but vitamin D deficiency has been linked with an 8–14% increase in depression.
4. Prevents cardiovascular disease—Thanks to its anti-inflammatory powers, vitamin D is great at eliminating hypertension, hyperlipidemia, peripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke . . . you get the idea.
5. Helps with weight loss—If you’re overweight and have low blood levels of vitamin D, studies suggest that adding vitamin D to a calorie-restricted diet might just help you lose weight.
6. Fights infections—Studies also show a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of both upper and lower respiratory tract infections.
7. Could fight type 2 diabetes—The research isn’t conclusive, but researchers have discovered that those with blood vitamin D levels over 25 ng/mL had a 43% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
8. Lowers your blood pressure—This 2012 study from the European Society of Hypertension found that taking vitamin D supplements lowers blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
9. Prevents dementia—Studies have also found that senior citizens with healthy vitamin D levels perform much better on tests of memory, attention, and reasoning compared to those with vitamin D deficiency.
10. Could fight cancer—It’s too soon to call vitamin D a miracle cancer fighter, but studies are finding a correlation between healthy vitamin D levels and a lower risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer. The VITAL Study from Harvard is conducting ongoing research to explore this topic.
So how much vitamin D do you need? According to WebMD, most people need about 600 IU (international units) per day and people over 70 need 800 UI. Foods like salmon, fortified cereal, fortified milk, and egg yolks all have vitamin D, and of course a good vitamin D supplement is a great way to go. If you’re as pasty white as I am, 5–10 minutes of sunshine on your bare skin a few times a week might be all the vitamin D you need. Ask your doctor for advice on how you should get your vitamin D.