There’s recently been a whole lot of talk on Vitamin D and for good reason. This miracle micronutrient boosts your immune system and supercharges your metabolism. From warding off viruses to burning more calories, Vitamin D makes it easier to fight infection and lose weight and keep it off.
While sunlight tremendously helps, it’s not the only thing you need to rely on. No matter what time of year it is, here’s why you need a daily dose of Vitamin D now more than ever. We’ve even thrown in a fun quiz to test your Vitamin D knowledge!
Is Vitamin D Deficiency Serious?
It certainly can be. Unlike other vitamins, Vitamin D acts like a hormone in your body. Low levels may wreak havoc on your internal systems and functions.
You may notice that you feel extremely tired or even depressed, especially in the winter months. You’re not alone. Research suggests women are more at risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) than men.
On a personal note, I lived in Denmark for the past nine years. The long Danish winters hit me hard. It got to the point where it was difficult for me to even crawl out of bed in the morning—it didn’t help that it was still dark outside. When I eventually went to the doctor, she took some blood samples. The result? Severely low levels of Vitamin D. I started taking a 1000 IU supplement and almost overnight, my energy levels increased and my depression abated.
Other known symptoms of Vitamin D deficiencies include thinning hair, lower back pain and muscle stiffness.
In adults, a Vitamin D deficiency may additionally cause muscle weakness, intensify bone loss and/or increase the risk of fractures.
Which Foods Contain Vitamin D?
Unfortunately, there are only a handful of foods rich in Vitamin D. They include:
Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, swordfish, sardines and mackerel)
Cod liver oil
Foods fortified with Vitamin D (some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and cereals)
Fish is your best option. Three ounces of cooked salmon contains more than 450 IU.
If you’re searching for recipes heavy on Vitamin D, head to Gymondo and explore 1000s of immune fighting recipes.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
The US Institute of Medicine suggests that an average daily intake of 400–800 IU, or 10–20 micrograms, is adequate for the majority of the population.
Since relatively few foods contain Vitamin D, it’s recommended to take a daily supplement. Make sure to consult your physician and don’t exceed 800 IU per day. Consuming too much Vitamin D could cause toxicity—a buildup of calcium in your blood, which causes nausea, vomiting, weakness and frequent urination.
Why is Sunlight So Important?
There’s a good reason why Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin.” When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it naturally produces Vitamin D from cholesterol. Getting enough sunlight is very important for maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin D. But obviously, too much could lead to other health risks, including skin cancer. That’s why it’s important to always wear sunscreen when outdoors.
With summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to bask in the sun. So, get outside and soak up those rays. To reap the benefits of all that Vitamin D has to offer, you need to expose a sufficient amount of skin to sunlight. We’re not saying to run around naked! Simply wearing a tank top and shorts for 10-30 minutes three times per week will do the trick. But don’t forget to apply sunscreen!
Test Your Vitamin D Deficiency Knowledge
Equip yourself with Vitamin D knowledge. See if you can answer these five questions correctly!