The Sunlight Vitamin: The Power of Vitamin D and How to Get More Of It

The Sunlight Vitamin: The Power of Vitamin D and How to Get More Of It

We all know that plants require plenty of sunlight in order to grow, thrive, and remain healthy, But did you know that the same is true of people? Sunlight, as long as we enjoy it safely and responsibly, has numerous health benefits. Chief amongst them is the role it plays in the production of vitamin D. 

In this post, we will take a close look at this important vitamin and how you can ensure you are getting enough of it.

What is Vitamin D and How Much Do You Need?

Vitamin D actually refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins including D1, D2, and D3. For humans, the most important are D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol.) Vitamin D is essential for health, and a deficiency can cause serious problems over time. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, both men and women aged 19-70 need around 15mcg (600 IU) of vitamin D per day. After the age of 70, this recommendation increases to 20mcg (800 IU.) 

What Health Benefits Does Vitamin D Have?

Vitamin D plays a key role in facilitating healthy immune system functioning and regulating absorption of the minerals calcium and phosphorus in the body. These minerals are important for the healthy growth and development of bones, meaning that vitamin D plays a vital part in maintaining good bone health. 

In addition, some evidence shows that vitamin D may help to decrease the risk of numerous diseases and health problems including heart disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. 

It may also support better mental health and healthy weight maintenance. 

3 Ways to Get More Vitamin D 

Your body can absorb vitamin D in three main ways: from the sun, from food, and from supplements. In this section, we will share our top tips for ensuring that you are getting enough. 

Get Out in the Sun (Safely)

The body produces vitamin D, particularly D3, naturally when exposed to sunlight thanks to receptor cells in the skin. Therefore, it is important to get plenty of sun whenever you can. 

Try to sit outside or go for a walk for 5-30 minutes each day, though this is not an exact science. The amount of vitamin D your body will make in a given period depends on a number of factors including the time of day, how much of your body is exposed to the sun, and the color of your skin (those with lighter skin will make vitamin D more quickly than those with darker skin.)

Don’t forget to observe sun safety when you are going outside. Use sunscreen, wear a hat to protect your head, drink plenty of water, and stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day. Sunlight is important for your health, but it also carries risks including sunburn and increased risk of skin cancer. 

Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin D 

It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, but dietary sources still play an important role in your overall intake. 

Some of the best dietary sources of vitamin D include oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), red meat, liver, egg yolks, and some fortified foods such as plant milks, spreads, and breakfast cereals. 

Vitamin D3 is only found in animal foods such as meat, fish, and dairy. Vitamin D2, however, is also found in some plant-based foods including mushrooms that have been grown in sunlight or UV radiation. 

Supplement Your Intake

Dietary supplements are a great way to ensure that you are getting enough vitamin D. They can be particularly important during the winter, if you live in a locale that gets little sunlight, and if you are vegetarian or vegan (as most dietary sources of vitamin D are animal foods.) 

Endurance Products’ Cal-Mag Complex supplements provide 400 IU of vitamin D as well as the essential minerals calcium and magnesium in an easy to swallow, slow-release formula that’s safe to take every day. 

Do You Have a Vitamin D Deficiency? 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, around 1 billion people worldwide suffer from a vitamin D deficiency and around 50% of people have an insufficiency. In the United States, around 35% of adults have a deficiency. Those living in colder climates and areas that get less sunlight are most at risk, but anyone can be vitamin D deficienct. 

Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, aches and cramps, and mood changes such as unexplained depression. However, all these symptoms can also have other causes. Therefore, if you think you may be suffering from a vitamin deficiency, consult your healthcare provider for testing and advice.