Vitamin D is a tiny vitamin that packs a large punch when it comes to our health.
Why Do I Need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D naturally occurs in sunlight as well as through healthy dietary choices. This vitamin is instrumental in our bodies’ absorption of calcium. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with osteoporosis and osteomalacia, which results in bone density loss, bone softening and fractures. The importance of Vitamin D has been linked to healthy teeth, as adequate levels of the vitamin will help keep teeth resistant to disease as well as healthy jaw bones.
What Are Other Benefits of Vitamin D?
The presence of Vitamin D has been found to help our bodies in the following ways.
- Regulation of our immune systems, especially in fighting the common cold
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Continued brain function later in life
- Significantly less chance of developing cancer
- Decreased development of rheumatoid arthritis in women
Could I Be Vitamin D Deficient?
With our hectic schedules and busy lives, it’s entirely possible that each of us needs to supplement Vitamin D in our daily diets. Babies and older men and women tend to need more Vitamin D than the average person, due to decreased time spent in sunlight and special dietary needs or changes.
The measurement for Vitamin D is in International Units. The National Academy of Science suggests that 200 IUs are appropriate for children to adults aged 50. For adults 50 to 71 years old, the suggested amount is 400 IUs, and 600 IUs are recommended for people over the age of 70.
According to the Institute of Medicine, however, these levels are too low. They suggest 1,000 IUs for infants up to a year old and 2,000 IUs for those one year and older.
How Can I Get More Vitamin D?
Eating right covers a multitude of potential problems. Like most dietary deficiencies, a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and fish will help supply the vitamin D that we need. Vitamin D supplements are also recommended to keep levels adequate, along with reasonable exposure to sunlight (about 15 to 30 minutes should do it).
It’s important for us to recognize the value of Vitamin D in our everyday lives for strong, healthy bones, teeth and immune systems.
Kelly Wilson is a busy mom, freelance writer and author of Live Cheap and Free! Strategies to Thrive in Tough Economic Times. Kelly lives with her husband and two children in Portland, Oregon.