Vitamin D is essential in helping your body absorb calcium, which increases healthy bone density and calcium levels in the bloodstream. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets in children and osteoporosis in older adults. Many people take calcium supplements to help maintain healthy and strong bones. Without a good steady supply of vitamin D, most of that calcium, along with calcium from natural foods, will simply pass through your body. In addition to supporting bone health, vitamin D also supports the immune system, cell regeneration, and reduces inflammation. Vitamin D has also shown protective properties against colon cancer.
Many of us associate a good dose of sun with the best way to replenish vitamin D supplies. When our skin is exposed to the sun, we absorb ultraviolet B rays that the body uses to convert cholesterol into vitamin D. All it needs it’s about ten minutes of direct sun exposure at noon when the sun is up to get a good healthy dose of vitamin D. Excessive cloudiness, long cold winter days, and concerns about excessive skin exposure to rays Ultraviolet means that we must ensure that we find adequate supplies of vitamin D in our diet. Additionally, vitamin D is fat soluble, so it is important to ensure that your diet includes essential fatty acids such as Omega-3s, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and butter.
The best natural food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish such as salmon, shrimp, tuna, sardines, and swordfish. The next good sources are dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs. Some fortified products, specifically juices and breakfast cereals, are fortified with vitamin D. The benefit of this may be more than outweighed by the amount of sugar or wheat gluten included in those products. Read the label carefully before selecting such products.
Getting enough vitamin D from food alone may not be enough to maintain healthy bones. Add to that limited sun exposure and aging processes that alter the body’s ability to absorb calcium, particularly in postmenopausal women, vitamin D supplements are a good alternative. Many of these supplements are listed D2 or D3. While both are effective, the main difference appears to be that D3 is better absorbed at higher doses.
Absorbing vitamin D from food or sunlight will not create any risk of overdose of this essential substance. It is important to observe the recommended daily amounts on the packaging very carefully to avoid ingesting too much. Too much vitamin D can become slightly toxic to your body. This can lead to a variety of ailments including anorexia, weight loss, polyuria, and cardiac arrhythmias. High serum vitamin D levels can also increase blood calcium levels, leading to calcification and damage to the cardiovascular system and kidneys. This high level of calcium can also lead to kidney stones in some people.
The best solution is to get vitamin D from all three sources: healthy fatty fish, sun, and vitamin D3 supplements. Watch your diet and lifestyle and make a conscious daily decision to optimize your bone and calcium levels with a good supply of vitamin D.