Nutrition Articles

How to Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D

Important Reasons to Soak Up the Sunshine Vitamin

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When is a vitamin not really a vitamin? When it's vitamin D! The "sunshine" vitamin, aptly named because sunlight is a source of it, is actually a hormone. Vitamin D is currently receiving a lot of attention and research regarding its role in various diseases. Because it isn't found in many foods, and people tend to slather on sunscreen (which blocks your body's ability to make vitamin D from the sun) or spend most of the day indoors, many are wondering if their intake of vitamin D is sufficient.

Why Vitamin D Matters
A report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) indicates that there is strong scientific evidence showing that vitamin D plays an important role in bone health. Vitamin D then helps to deposit these minerals in your skeleton and teeth, making them stronger and healthier. Therefore, vitamin D helps prevent the fractures associated with osteoporosis, the bone deformation of rickets, and the muscle weakness and bone aches and pains of osteomalacia (the softening of bones).

But a deficiency of vitamin D may go beyond bones—it may be related to a variety of health problems. Because it's a hormone, and your body is full of receptors for this hormone, it may play a role in the prevention of other ailments. After analyzing more than 1,000 studies the IOM believes that there is not substantial evidence to support vitamin D's role in other diseases. But preliminary research indicates the importance of meeting one’s basic daily needs for vitamin D is important for overall health and well-being. A lack of vitamin D has been blamed for a plethora of health problems, but more targeted research should continue for diseases such as:
  • Cancer. Preliminary research suggests that vitamin D has an anti-cancer benefit. It may stop the growth and progression of cancer cells and be beneficial during cancer treatment, too.
  • Hormonal problems. Vitamin D influences the functions of insulin, rennin, serotonin and estrogen—hormones involved with health conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression and premenstrual syndrome.
  • Obesity. Some research shows that a vitamin D deficiency can interfere with the "fullness" hormone leptin, which signals the brain that you are full and should stop eating.
  • Inflammation. Vitamin D may help control the inflammation involved with periodontal disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
  • Weakened immune system. Vitamin D may play a role in a strengthening your immune system, especially in autoimmune disorders (when the body attacks itself) like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Continued ›
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • i cant hardly go out in the sun , i blister really bad and can get burnt just by being in the shade, some of the foods that have vit d are a surprise though - 5/4/2016 9:17:34 AM
  • TROCKS89
    I also was told by my doctor that I had a low vitamin D level. I did some research and came across this article. I also found another article here: https://www.thenu
    our-diet-lacks-vitamin-d/ I was really feeling down on myself and after I started taking daily vitamin D I can notice a difference. - 4/8/2016 9:08:16 PM
  • My vitamin d was tested and was low. I am now taking a supplement, and hope that my level increases. - 4/6/2016 10:11:49 PM
  • Sorry but its dead wrong to say that sunlight is a SOURCE of it .The UV rays stimulate its production in your body, The amount of sun one needs is also dependant on one's latitude. - 3/2/2016 9:02:39 PM
    I really need to start taking more vitamins. I exercise and try to keep to a low calorie diet, but I make sure to get protein and nutrients that are essential to a healthy body. I'll have to keep an eye out for vitamin D next time I'm out. - 8/12/2015 9:38:07 AM
  • I don't take a supplement, but I am going to start taking vitamins soon. I really don't think you should advise people to go out in the sun. A second cousin of mine died of skin cancer from sun exposure and so did my grandmother's best friend's husband. The cousin went really quick as far as I know, we heard she had it, and not long after, gone! And the man, he was sick for years, confined to his bed, with his skin falling off. That's pretty terrible! And not only, that, his wife had to stay home all the time caring for him. If you can take a supplement, you should. Being poor, though, is no excuse to be playing in the sun, because getting cancer can cost you a LOT of money, that you don't have! I can't even believe you would suggest it. - 4/9/2015 10:05:45 PM
    I was just recently diagnosed with breast cancer and my doctor said my vitamin D level was low. I am taking a prescription strength Vitamin D tablet once a week! I haven't been on it long enough to see any difference. atc medical - 11/25/2014 4:12:28 PM
  • The latest information today said that low vitamin is correlated with Alzheimer's. Enough for me to start taking it. (and I have an aversion to taking even an asprin..) - 8/6/2014 11:41:03 PM
  • The question becomes: are eggs really good for the body? - 2/22/2014 11:06:30 AM
  • Even though I eat many of the foods listed, take a multi vitamin and D3, 2000 iu, I was tested low in "D". My Droctor increased my "D" to 4000 iu's a day. I do have RA and stay out of sun, don't want skin cancer just to get vitamin D.
    I never take vitamins or supplements before checking with my Doctor.
    Sometimes ones body doesn't absorb certain minerals or vitamins as it should. And one doesn't want to have toxic levels by getting too much.
    As far as D2 or ,D3, the bodys preferred form of "D" is D3.. - 1/30/2014 11:42:01 AM
  • This article said " How to get your daily dose of vitamin D " No where not one place did I see a source for it? - 6/7/2013 10:46:52 AM
  • I do monitor my vitamin D intake, and take supplements when needed. Unfortunately, the Nutrition Information for most of the foods listed in this article (i.e., salmon, tuna, and mackerel) does not include any Vitamin D data. It would be nice if this could be corrected. - 4/19/2013 10:49:11 PM
  • I hate to be a grammar Nazi, but this article should have had better proofreading; obvious mistakes are kind of distracting to some readers. They make the author and site look unprofessional. - 4/5/2013 10:35:06 AM
    This article is very misleading. Vitamin D3 and D2 are not interchangeable. Please check your facts through an Endocrinologist. The advice in this article is incorrect and could cause serious problems with D3 deficient patients. - 4/4/2013 11:27:04 AM
    Great article. The one thing I would caution is most doctors just put people on supplements because of their age or background instead of taking the test. Problem is, supplements typically have a VERY low absorption rate (~20%). So the doctor says you are fine because you are taking a supplement and they never actually find out if you are fine. Statistically, you likely still need the test and a diet review. Supplementation is rarely a substitute for diet. - 4/4/2013 10:08:57 AM

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