Why is vitamin D important for my body?
Vitamin D is a very vital element for our bodies. It helps us absorb calcium, which keeps our bones growing while we are young and keeps them strong while we age. Calcium is also essential for healthy teeth. Additionally, vitamin D helps our bodies process phosphate, which plays an important role in our skeletal structure and the strengthening of our teeth.
Vitamin D is believed to be of great importance to our immune system and avoiding the development of influenza. Some researchers believe that low vitamin D levels contribute to some cancers, tuberculosis, increased mortality, and increased fractures, especially in the elderly.
We can see that vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining a healthy body and immune system, but what happens if your body doesn’t have enough of it?
How can I tell if I have low vitamin D?
A diet low in vitamin D can lead to osteomalacia, which is the softening of the bones. In children, this condition is referred to as rickets. Osteomalacia and rickets are rarely found in developed countries, however. Unless very severe, it may be difficult to know if you have low vitamin D. A blood test by a doctor will be able to read your vitamin D levels.
Why do people have low vitamin D?
Some people have low vitamin D levels because they lack it in their diet. Vegetarians and especially vegans can be more susceptible to low vitamin D, since their diets do not include many of the main food sources: fish, eggs, and cod liver oil.
Some people are not able to get enough time to be outdoors and therefore do not get enough sunlight to stimulate the production of vitamin D in their skin. Others live in areas of the world that do not receive a lot of sunlight, particularly during the winter months. This lack of sunlight can lead to low vitamin D. I’ve seen people who are very avid surfers or construction workers who are out in the sun most of the day and still find out they are low in Vitamin D!
How can I increase my vitamin D?
We get our vitamin D from two primary sources—the sun and our diet. Some people also opt to take vitamin D supplements to insure that they are getting enough.
Eating a healthy, varied diet containing these foods will help increase your vitamin D levels:
-Fish, including herring, catfish, salmon, trout, sardines, halibut, and mackerel.
-Milk and soymilk, enriched with Vitamin D
-Shiitake and Button mushrooms
-Cod liver oil (available in pill form supplements)
The sun is another important source of vitamin D. When the sun’s rays hit our bodies, our skin begins to have a chemical reaction that produces vitamin D, specifically, vitamin D-3, which is readily and easily absorbed by our bodies. We don’t need much sun exposure a day to produce the amount of vitamin D needed by our bodies. It is thought that 10-15 minutes a day is enough.
Additionally, for those with especially low levels of vitamin D, I administer vitamin D shots in my Encinitas office, which will quickly boost your vitamin D levels and increase the functioning of your immune system.