The “sunshine vitamin”… That’s the nickname for vitamin D, which is produced by your skin in response to sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from certain foods like egg yolk, shrimp, salmon, sardines, and the vitamin-fortified versions of yogurt, milk, orange juice, and cereal.
Vitamin D benefits your health in many ways. Consequently, you should achieve and maintain an appropriate vitamin D level in your body.
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What Vitamin D Does for Your Body
Vitamin D is beneficial to your health in many ways, including the nine described below. Getting enough vitamin D:
- Helps strengthen your bones. Vitamin D is crucial for building and strengthening bones since it promotes the absorption of calcium. Together, vitamin D and calcium can prevent osteoporosis and help keep the bones from becoming brittle.
- Supports the immune system. Vitamin D is important to your immune response. For example, there’s evidence that taking a vitamin D supplement helps reduce the risk of acute respiratory infection in participants.
- Improves oral health. The effect vitamin D has on bone metabolism is beneficial to oral health, as are its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to stimulate the production of antimicrobial peptides that are part of the immune response.
- Helps prevent high blood pressure. Evidence suggests that vitamin D plays an important role in proper blood pressure, including that even a short-term deficit can directly raise blood pressure.
- Strengthens muscles. Vitamin D influences muscle development, which is important for everyone but especially older adults, as lack of muscle strength can increase the risk of falling.
- Supports weight loss. When combined with calcium, vitamin D has been shown to help with weight loss due to an appetite-suppressing effect.
- May help reduce the risk of certain cancers. There is increasing evidence that taking a vitamin D supplement can help improve cancer outcomes. This includes experimental evidence that vitamin D has been found to slow or prevent the development of cancer cells and tumors in mice.
- May help with depression. Studies have shown a correlation between low vitamin D levels and depression. More research is needed to fully understand the relationship, but already some researchers are advising doctors to screen for vitamin D deficiency in patients with depression since it’s easy to find and address a vitamin deficiency.
- May help prevent Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Research is ongoing, but studies have found that ensuring the appropriate daily production/intake of vitamin D and calcium could effectively lower diabetes risk.
Vitamin D Supplements: Consult Your Doctor and Use with Caution
Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it gets stored in the body. If you take a vitamin D supplement regularly and it puts your daily intake over 2,000 IU, you can develop kidney damage, kidney stones, excessive bleeding, and muscle weakness.
You should talk with your doctor before starting to take a vitamin D supplement.
Learn More About Vitamin D and Your Health from Baptist Health
If you have questions about any of the conditions listed above and how vitamin D can play a role in preventing or treating them, your doctor has the answers! If you don’t have a Baptist Health provider, you can find one in our online directory.
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