Vitamin D deficiency is a major concern. About half of the world’s population is deficient in this vital vitamin which supports the absorption of calcium and supports breast and colon health. It also aids in immune heath and contributes to a positive mood.
The foremost source of vitamin D is absolutely free – the sun! Populations closer to the equator (which receives more sunlight) have higher levels of Vitamin D. For the rest of the world, the best source for the vitamin is through vitamin D foods or supplementation.
Vitamin D supports bones and immunity
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that supports our body’s absorption of both phosphorus and calcium. Thus, the health of our bones and teeth have a direct relationship to the levels of Vitamin D in our body. Vitamin D is also important in promoting both muscular and immune health.
There are two different types of Vitamin D. The first type, D2, is only found in plant foods. The other is D3 which our body produces and maintains naturally when we are exposed to sunlight. D3 is considered to be better than D2, as D2 is not as effective at maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D in the body.
The exact percentage of Americans with vitamin D deficiency is subject to dispute. While a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that it could be as low as 8%, a number of studies have suggested it is much higher – in the 50 -60 % range. The reason for the deficiency may that many people work indoors and eat processed foods, both of which lead to lower levels of Vitamin D in our bodies.
Effects of deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to conditions including:
- Weight gain in older women.
- Depression. Deficiency of vitamin D has been linked depression, mood swings, and other psychiatric conditions. Research shows a strong link between the vitamin and cognitive health, mental and general wellbeing.
- Birth Defects. Not only do higher levels of vitamin D in a mother promote strong bones for her baby, it also protects mother and child from illness and infections. A mother’s deficiency can result in serious and potentially life-threatening health problems for both.
- Increased asthmatic attacks: Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to more serious attacks in asthmatic children, according to a 2010 study published in Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.
- Cancer. There is growing evidence that vitamin D may reduce the incident of certain types of cancers, particularly colorectal and breast cancers.
- Bone problems. Your body needs vitamin D for the body’s absorption and regulation of both phosphorus and calcium. Vitamin D also helps prevent rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults.
Vitamin D foods
A number of foods are rich in vitamin D, including certain types of mushroom, fish and eggs. However, in response to the concerns about widespread vitamin D deficiency, many foods are also fortified with vitamin D. These include dairy milk, soymilk, orange juice and cereals.
Some natural sources of Vitamin D foods include:
- Shiitake and Button Mushrooms
- Sockeye Salmon
- Tuna fish
- Cod Liver Oil
If you are taking any vitamin supplements, you should consider taking vitamin D. While the exact numbers are in dispute, many studies suggest that 50 % of Americans may be deficient in the sunshine vitamin. Persons with darker skin, older persons, people who wear clothing covering most of their bodies, or who don’t spend much time outdoors are most at risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency can cause health problems including poor bone health, depression, and certain cancers. To increase your vitamin D level, you can get more sun, use supplementation or eat more vitamin D foods.