Having enough vitamin D is important for a number of reasons, including maintaining healthy bones and teeth; it may also protect against a range of conditions such as cancer and diabetes.
Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body, helping to:
- Maintain the health of bones and teeth.
- Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system.
- Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management.
- Support lung function and cardiovascular health.
- Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.
What is vitamin D?
Despite the name, vitamin D is considered a pro-hormone and not actually a vitamin.
Vitamins are nutrients that cannot be created by the body and therefore must be taken in through our diet.
However, vitamin D can be synthesized by our body when sunlight hits our skin.
It is estimated that sensible sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week allows most people to produce sufficient vitamin D, but vitamin D breaks down quite quickly, meaning that stores can run low, especially in winter
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include:
- Getting sick or infected more often.
- Painful bones and back.
- Depressed mood.
- Impaired wound healing.
- Hair loss.
- Muscle pain.
Vitamin D food sources
Sunlight is the most common and efficient source of vitamin D. The richest food sources of vitamin D are fish oil and fatty fish. Here is a list of foods with good levels of vitamin D:
- cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon
- herring, fresh, raw
- swordfish, cooked
- raw mushrooms, 1 cup
- salmon, sockeye, cooked
- sardines, canned
- fortified skim milk, 1 cup
- tuna, canned in water, drained
- egg, chicken, whole large