Vitamin D is vital for optimal health.
It is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” produced in your skin when you expose it to light from the sun.
However, it is essential to note that vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in most parts.
Studies have shown that at least 42% of the American adult population is deficient in vitamin D, contributing to health disorders.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in bone health and immune function.
In this article, we’ll discuss how much vitamin D you need for optimal health.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in many body functions. There are two forms of vitamin D; vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. They are known as ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol, respectively.
Vitamin D2 is found in mushrooms, while vitamin D3 can be found in fish liver oil, oily fish, and egg yolks.
Vitamin D3 is more powerful than D2 and raises vitamin D levels twice as much as D2. Your skin can also produce significant amounts of vitamin D from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Excess vitamin D is stored for later use in the body fat.
There is a receptor for vitamin D in every cell of the body. It is essential to many processes, such as immune system function, bone health, and anti-cancer properties.
Vitamin D deficiency is a global problem. However, it is pervasive in infants, young women, older adults, and people with dark skin.
Over 42% of the American population is vitamin D deficient. This rate increases to 70% in Hispanics and 82% in African-Americans. Systemic problems may likely play a role in this.
If you are exposed to intense sunlight all year, then occasionally exposing yourself to the sun may be just all you need to fulfill your vitamin D needs.
But if you live far north or south of the equator, you’ll experience fluctuations in your vitamin D levels. The level of change depends on the season. For example, vitamin D levels may go down during the winter due to insufficient sunlight.
If this happens, you may have to rely on your supplements or diet for adequate vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency in adults may cause:
· Weakness of the muscle
· Intense bone loss
· Increased risk of fractures
Severe vitamin D deficiency in children can cause rickets and growth delays. Rickets is a disease characterized by the softness of the bones.
Also, vitamin D deficiency is associated with several cancers, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, thyroid problems, and high blood pressure.
The amount of vitamin D you need depends on several factors. These include:
· Exposure to the sun
Note that this list is not exhaustive. It is only a partial list of factors that help determine how much vitamin D a person needs.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adults should take an average of 400–800 IU or 10–20 micrograms per day.
However, several studies suggest that your daily vitamin D intake should be increased if you have darker skin tones or are not exposed to the sun.
Depending on your healthcare provider, blood levels above 20 ng/ml or 30 ng/ml are considered “sufficient.”
Overweight or obese people need a daily vitamin D intake of 1,000–4,000 IU, or 25–100 micrograms, to ensure optimal blood levels of vitamin D in most people.
The National Institutes of Health recommends 4,000 IU as the safe upper limit. However, ensure that your intake does not exceed this without consulting your healthcare provider.
Vitamin D can be obtained via:
· Exposure to the sun
· Vitamin D-rich foods
Intake of vitamin D from natural foods is generally on the low side because very few foods contain significant amounts.
Examples of foods that contain vitamin D include salmon and other fatty fish and fish liver oils.
There are also small amounts in egg yolks. Cereals and milk are also enriched with vitamin D in some countries.
On the other hand, vitamin D supplements are widely available and very effective and safe.
Vitamin D is essential for bone health and other aspects of human health. Unfortunately, there is a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, which may have health consequences. If you consider topping up the vitamin D content of your diet, consult your healthcare provider for guidance.
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