Research has continued to find evidence supporting the importance of vitamin D for the overall health of everyone. Not only is it necessary to assist in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, but it also has many other amazing benefits, and studies suggest that many people simply do not get enough of this essential.
In fact, information compiled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggests that as many as nine percent of American children were deficient in vitamin D, and a whopping 61 percent were vitamin D insufficient.
The many benefits
Vitamin D helps in many different areas of the body. Sufficient amounts can help to keep the immune system strong and aid against illnesses like the common cold. It may also be a key to preventing the risk of developing cancer. Studies by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America have found that those who have cancer have much lower levels of vitamin D in their bodies.
Vitamin D may also help to boost metabolism and help people maintain a healthy body weight. In addition, those that have adequate levels of vitamin D were found to have a lower risk for heart attacks and premature death.
It can also be helpful in preventing illnesses such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis. Additionally, this vitamin has been shown to help keep people mentally sharp as they age.
How to get enough
Many people don’t think much about Vitamin D. It is actually a steroid hormone, and it has effects on an estimated 200 different kinds of cells in the body.
In a perfect world, the body absorbs sunlight and creates vitamin D with it. However, with all the warnings against being in the sun without proper protection, and the lack of sunlight in many parts of the world, many do not get enough of it.
It is recommended by many health care professionals that people allow themselves 15 to 30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen three times a week for adequate levels of vitamin D. If that is not possible, or in those with darker skin, it is recommended that vitamin D be supplemented through diet and with supplements.
Experts agree that those with an increased risk for a vitamin D deficiency should supplement to ensure that they are getting enough of it. There is a limit to how much a person can safely take, so no more than 1000 IU should be taken daily.
In addition to getting enough unprotected sunlight and taking supplements when necessary, it is beneficial for everyone to eat foods that contain vitamin D, such as salmon, mushrooms, canned tuna and sardines and fortified dairy products.
Although vitamin D is an essential, it does not work alone, so maintaining a healthy diet rich in whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids and plenty of fresh produce will also be helpful when working to maintain total overall health.