Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is an organic compound that the human body primarily needs to maintain proper bone health and nervous system function. Your body can naturally make Vitamin D on its own, but depending on where you live in the world, how old you are, and whether you have underlying health conditions, you may need to find other ways to increase your Vitamin D consumption.
How Vitamin D functions in the body
Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, crucial for the health of a few major systems in the body like immune, neurologic, and muscular. Vitamin D’s job (in conjunction with fatty acids) is to move calcium between the blood and tissue. Vitamin D, calcium, and fatty acids (also known as Vitamin F) all work together harmoniously to regulate a variety of the body’s daily needs. This useful vitamin is stored in fat tissue, and when levels are low, such as in the winter, the body can pull from storage in fatty tissue.
Vitamin D deficiencies
Most medical literature as of late tells us that we likely aren’t getting enough Vitamin D. Work with your doctor to get a blood panel drawn if you think you may be deficient in Vitamin D. Blood panels can help you take a holistic look at what’s going on in your body, rather than just focusing on one vitamin—which may not give you a full picture of your health.
Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of fracture in older adults. So, keeping an eye on your bone and muscle health becomes increasingly important with age, particularly because fractures can lead to substantial disability and other issues that increase the risk of death.
Increasing Vitamin D responsibly
Whole foods, sunlight exposure, and supplementation are the three main players when it comes to increasing Vitamin D consumption. Getting outside for 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight every day is also a great way to boost your D levels. Even if you’re only sunning your hands and feet, that’s all you need for the benefits to soak in.
Fatty fish and eggs are two other great ways to boost your levels naturally. However, getting it through food is a bit more challenging—that’s why many packaged foods are fortified with it.
If Supplementation is the route you choose your doctor can work with you to determine what your proper dosage should be.