Affectionately known as “the sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is an essential piece of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. This fat-soluble vitamin is actually a combination of three vitamins – vitamins D1, D2, and D3. It can be obtained in small doses from food, but we generally get most of our vitamin D from – you guessed it – the sun!
When sun rays hit our skin, it kickstarts our body’s production of vitamin D. Before we can use it, our body must process vitamin D twice; once in the liver, and then in the kidneys. However, once it is fully processed and broken down into its most useful form, vitamin D becomes an integral part of our bodily functions. Touching everything from the brain to the immune system, vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients in our systems.
You may be wondering why you need vitamin D or even how to get it, luckily Purolabs are here to break it all down for you.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Since vitamin D plays a big role in cell growth, it is easy to see how its benefits reach every part of our body. However, some of the best benefits of increasing your intake of vitamin D include:
- Building Strong Bones, Teeth, and Muscles: Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorous build strong bones and also help rebuild bones faster than they break down. Without these nutrients, our bones would become weak, brittle, and prone to breakage. Adequate levels of vitamin D can prevent osteoporosis and osteomalacia while also reducing muscle spasms and cramps.
- Reducing Inflammation: A study from the Journal of Nutritional Science examined the relationship between vitamin D and inflammation in older English adults. Results showed that participants that had lower levels of vitamin D did see increased inflammation. Inflammation can have dangerous consequences for our immune systems and leave us prone to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Improving Brain Function: Vitamin D can greatly affect our brain and by extension our mental health. The British Journal of Psychiatry posted a study that found a link between low levels of vitamin D and depression. Further research has also revealed that inadequate levels of vitamin D increase our risk of developing dementia and has been linked to the onset of schizophrenia.
- Supporting Your Immunes System: With vitamin D influencing inflammation as well as our white blood cells, it is no wonder it can have a profound effect on our immune systems. In fact, before the invention of antibiotics, vitamin D was the treatment of choice for tuberculosis. In the modern-day, medical professionals have been studying the effects of vitamin D on preventing disease and have discovered that vitamin D can help protect us against illnesses such as the cold and flu, but also autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis.
- Regulating Glucose: Diabetics may want to consider adopting a vitamin D supplement into their regime. Vitamin D promotes insulin production and reduces insulin resistance which helps us regulate our blood sugar levels.
Finding Sources of Vitamin D
As we have learned, we can get vitamin D in three ways – through our food, the sun, and supplements. Below are some of the most effective ways to get a powerful boost of vitamin D in your system:
- Spend more time outdoors: This past year has had most of us cooped up indoors. Commit to spending a few dedicated moments outside each day to fill the sun on your skin and the vitamin D kick in.
- Fish: Fish such as trout, salmon, cod, sardines, and tuna can have anywhere between 200 IU and 1,000 IU per serving. This would be enough to fulfil your daily requirements!
- Mushrooms: Toss a few sliced mushrooms into your next salad or pasta dish for a quick, effortless addition of vitamin D.
- Milk: Almond, oat, and soy milk are all excellent sources of vitamin D. However, dairy milk such as 2% or milk specially fortified with vitamin D pull double duty. These options can supply your recommended doses of calcium along with the vitamin D necessary to absorb it.
- Cereal: Many countries fortify grain products such as cereal and oats with additional vitamin D. Make sure to read the labels on your next shopping trip to see if your favourite brands are already stepping up their vitamin D game.
- Eggs: Eggs, specifically yolks, are one of the most vitamin D-dense foods available. New reports show that a serving of eggs can give you 63% of your daily recommended value. That is starting off your day on the right foot!
- Supplements: Supplements are an effective way to fill in nutritional gaps left behind by a lacklustre diet. Also a vegan diet can restrict some of the most vitamin D- rich foods. Here at Purolabs we have Puro Vitamin D3, a supplement that provides you with 1,500% of your daily recommended value of Vitamin D3 from a plant-based source while is a perfect vegetarian-friendly option.
Anglin, R. E., Samaan, Z., Walter, S. D., & McDonald, S. D. (2013). Vitamin d deficiency and depression in adults: Systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 202(2), 100–107. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.111.106666
Anjum, I., Jaffery, S. S., Fayyaz, M., Samoo, Z., & Anjum, S. (2018). The role of vitamin d in brain health: A mini literature review. Cureus. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.2960
de Oliveira, C., Biddulph, J. P., Hirani, V., & Schneider, I. J. (2017). Vitamin D and inflammatory Markers: CROSS-SECTIONAL analyses using data from the English longitudinal study of AGEING (ELSA). Journal of Nutritional Science, 6. https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2016.37
Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health. (2021, March 3). Vitamin D. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/.
National Health Service. (n.d.). Vitamin D. NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Office of dietary supplements - vitamin d. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.
Vitamins and minerals in eggs. Vitamins in eggs, minerals in eggs | Official egg info UK. (n.d.). https://www.egginfo.co.uk/egg-nutrition-and-health/egg-nutrition-information/vitamins-and-minerals.