Vitamin D is known as the “Sunshine Vitamin”, as it is produced as a response to the skin being exposed to sunlight. It also is present naturally in some foods, including fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products. This means that if you live in areas that receive little sunlight, are an SPF-All-Day-Every-Day type of person, are lactose intolerant, or follow a vegan diet, you could be lacking in vitamin D.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and healthy joints, as it helps the body to absorb calcium from the food you eat. A deficiency in vitamin D is commonly associated with rickets and other bone diseases, lower back pain, throbbing bone pain, and muscle weakness. Two studies published in recent years have also linked vitamin D deficiency with symptoms of depression, specifically including lack of energy, loss of interest in activities, moodiness, anxiety, and sad feelings.
Factors That Can Increase Your Risk Of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Living in the far North, or in areas that lack daily sunshine
- Dark skin
- Past or present obesity
- Lactose intolerance
- Digestive diseases
- Daily sunscreen use – though it is important to remember that having a vitamin D deficiency is much less significant of a problem than increasing your risk for skin cancer, and we recommend wearing sunscreen when spending time outside.
Ways To Boost Your Vitamin D Levels
There are many reasons someone might want to boost their vitamin D levels. Adequate vitamin D levels helps the body to absorb and regulate calcium which can help to maintain healthy teeth and bones. Vitamin D has also been shown to support the immune system, as well as other bodily functions. It is even believed by some scientists that vitamin D can be a natural health remedy used to help prevent breast and prostate cancer, but evidence is still needed to prove this theory. Currently a study is being conducted by Harvard University that is following 20,000 participants, which will hopefully find truth behind this hypothesis. Here are a few ways to boost your vitamin D levels:
- Sun: As we mentioned about, vitamin D is the Sunshine Vitamin. So it would follow that you can boost your vitamin D levels by spending time in the sun. However, this mode of vitamin D exposure mostly works for people with fair skin. People with darker skin have a harder time absorbing vitamin D from the sun, as do older people. Spending too much time in the sun could also leave to unwanted skin aging and damage, and skin cancer in some cases.
- Food: The recommended daily dose of vitamin D for adults is anywhere from 600-1000 IU, and more if you are deficient in the vitamin. We mentioned some food sources above, and now we’d like to break down how much vitamin D is in each. Three ounces of salmon contains about 800 IU, an egg yolk contains about 40 IU of vitamin D, and a cup of fortified milk has around 120 IU of vitamin D. Small amounts of the vitamin can be found in beef liver and other fatty fishes, but not in significant quantities. Unless you’re eating salmon for dinner every night, you might be lacking in vitamin D.
- Supplements: Most experts agree that supplements are the most efficient way to consume vitamin D since many of us do not get enough through our food. Though too much vitamin D can be dangerous, you would need to consume around 50,000 IU of vitamin D per day for several months.
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