Vitamin D deficiency is a very common occurrence, affecting at least 41% of the population.  This deficiency has been associated with many health conditions including diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.  Though vitamin D deficiency can be silent, it can manifest symptoms such as bone pain, muscle weakness, depression, impaired wound healing, and hair loss.  Vitamin D is most commonly known for helping maintain healthy bones.  Bone mass is determined by several factors including genetics, nutrition, and activity but for many people begins to decline around age 40.  Calcium is a mineral that your body needs to maintain and build strong bones.  In order to properly absorb calcium, vitamin D must be present.  Vitamin D also helps to maintain adequate calcium levels in the blood.  When this does not happen, calcium is released from the bones to keep adequate blood levels which can lead to brittle bones.

In addition to bone density, here are some other great benefits to having optimal vitamin D levels and how to get them!
  • Immune system boosting – Whether it is flu season or you want to prevent cancer, robust immune function is vital to staying healthy.  Vitamin D stimulates immune cells that defend against harmful pathogens.  Studies have found a correlation between decreased colds and upper respiratory infections and optimal vitamin D levels.  It is theorized that this is because vitamin D increases expression of anti microbial peptides in the lungs.
  • Decreased risk of auto immune disorders.  Auto immune disorders are triggered by a myriad of things, but vitamin D has been found to be protective against their development.
  • Supports cardiovascular health – Studies have shown that supplementing with calcium and vitamin D together can decrease risk of cardiovascular disease by 25-37%.  Studies have also shown that adequate vitamin D levels can increase blood flow and decreased blood pressure over time.
  • Prevent age related decline – Vitamin D receptors can be found throughout the brain and research has found that is has neuroprotective effects.  Vitamin D can decrease the formation of beta amyloid plaques which can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Vitamin D is also an antioxidant which helps to prevent oxidative damage and slow cognitive decline.

It is generally recommended that adults get between 400 and 6000 UI per day for optimum vitamin D levels.  Sunlight is the best source but because of skin cancer risk it is important to balance sun exposure with supplementation.  Vitamin K (as well as calcium) is often paired with vitamin D as it helps with bone calcification and minimizes accumulation of calcium in blood vessels.

Vitamin D is also found in foods like:
  • Egg yolk
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, tuna)
The best guide is to make sure to get vitamin D from a variety of sources.  Look for a multivitamin with this vitamin in it as well as try to include eggs and fish several times per week in your regular diet.

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  • Take a look at what sources you have for vitamin D in your regular regimen (supplements, diet, sunlight exposure) and aim to increase by at least one source per week until you are consuming 1-2 sources of vitamin D daily.