It's hard to avoid seeing or hearing something about vitamin D these days. Whether it is added to the milk you're drinking or you hear about getting it from being out in the sun, vitamin D seems to have made its way into every part of our lives. But what is vitamin D, anyway?
Found naturally in many of the foods we eat, vitamin D is a nutrient that is crucial in many of the body's functions. Most notably, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, the building block for bones. In this way vitamin D prevents conditions characterized by weakening of the bones, such as Rickets in children as well as osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults.
Besides its overwhelming benefits to bone health, vitamin D also is helpful in making your muscles move and it bolsters your immune system. It is also instrumental to the nervous system, giving your nerves the ability to carry messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Surely vitamin D is a necessary nutrient to keep our bodies working the way we need them to.
Sources of Vitamin D
Can you get enough vitamin D from the sun alone? Everyone always seems to ask him or herself this question, and the answer is never very clear. Simply put, the answer is "no." While it is true that exposure to the sun causes the body to produce vitamin D, there are a variety of factors that prevent you from getting the needed amount from sun alone. First and foremost, your body cannot create vitamin D from indirect contact with the sun, such as through a car window or at your sunny desk. Also, as you age, it becomes more difficult for the body to make vitamin D from coming in contact with the sun. What's more, extended stays in the sun may increase the production of vitamin D, but such unprotected exposure to the sun's rays puts you in great risk for skin cancer.
So, while certainly a portion of your body's vitamin D can be made from spending time outdoors in the sun, it is necessary to have a diet rich in vitamin D as well in order to support healthy levels of the nutrient. Foods that have higher levels of vitamin D include fatty fish, beef liver, mushrooms, and fortified milk and cereal.
CATEGORIES: Healthy Foods, Vitamins & Minerals