Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in many functions in the body, including bone health, immune function, and muscle function. Here are some reasons why vitamin D is important in your diet:
Bone Health: Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption in the body, which is important for bone health. Without enough vitamin D, the body cannot absorb enough calcium, leading to weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures.
Immune Function: Vitamin D is important for immune function. It helps to regulate immune cells and can improve the body's ability to fight off infections and illnesses.
Muscle Function: Vitamin D is important for muscle function. It can help to improve muscle strength and balance, particularly in older adults.
Mood: Vitamin D may play a role in mood regulation. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of depression and other mood disorders.
Chronic Diseases: Vitamin D may play a role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
It's important to note that vitamin D deficiency is common, particularly in certain populations such as older adults, those with darker skin, and those who live in northern latitudes with limited sun exposure. While some vitamin D can be obtained through diet, the best source of vitamin D is sunlight. The body can produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, particularly UVB radiation.
However, it can be difficult to obtain enough vitamin D through sunlight alone, particularly during the winter months or for those who live in northern latitudes. Supplementation may be necessary for those who are at risk for deficiency.
A 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine recommended a daily intake of 600-800 IU of vitamin D for most adults. However, some experts argue that this may be too low and that higher levels of vitamin D intake may be necessary for optimal health.
Good food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, fortified dairy products, and fortified cereals. It's important to talk to a healthcare provider before starting any new supplements or significantly increasing your vitamin D intake.
National Institutes of Health. Vitamin D. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.