Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, and the human body makes it in response to sun exposure. There are three vitamin D types: D1, D2, and D3.
The body can produce these fat-soluble vitamins, or you can consume certain foods to enhance your vitamin D intake. Because these vitamins are critical, you must learn about the benefits.
Vitamin D Is Critical for the Absorption of Calcium and Phosphorous
Calcium and phosphorus are critical for healthy bones and teeth. Although you may get enough of these minerals from the foods you eat, your body will have trouble absorbing them without vitamin D3.
You need calcium and phosphorus for multiple functions in the body. When a person’s body does not produce adequate vitamin D levels, their calcium and phosphorous levels will also drop, which is a serious risk factor. Similarly, too much vitamin D can also have negative health benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin D?
You know vitamin D is essential for your immune system, but do you really understand its benefits? Below, we will discuss the benefits and explain why your body must produce vitamin D so you understand the importance of absorbing sunlight and helping your body create it in abundance.
Although research is ongoing, scientists have discovered links between the body’s ability to fight disease and vitamin D amounts. The following are some diseases that may be prevented as your body produces vitamin D.
- A 2018 research study found that those with lowered vitamin D amounts are at a greater risk of multiple sclerosis.
- Those with vitamin D3 deficiencies are also at a greater risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and heart failure.
- Studies have also shown that the immune system works more efficiently to fight the flu, COVID-19, and other viruses when more vitamin D is produced.
May Help Regulate Your Mood
People often get depressed during the winter because they do not get enough sunlight. Going for weeks without sunlight can cause your vitamin D level to drop.
Many people develop seasonal affective disorder because of vitamin D deficiencies. In a recent study, scientists discovered people with a depressed mood responded well to vitamin D supplements and felt better mentally.
Essential for Eye Health
When people think about vitamin D, they mistakenly believe it is only good for their bone health. You may be surprised to learn this vitamin is also critical for your eye health.
Vitamin D3 improves the production and function of your tears. This vitamin also helps reduce the risks of developing macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.
May Help with Weight Loss
Our bodies use vitamin D in multiple ways. Those who are overweight have a greater risk of developing low vitamin D levels.
Scientists conducted a study showing the effects of vitamin D on weight loss. After a review and meta-analysis, it was concluded that the group given vitamin D supplements lost more weight and had a higher amount of fat loss than the placebo group.
Another study discovered those taking a vitamin D and calcium supplement lost more weight. Scientists found the combination of vitamins acted as an appetite suppressant.
While vitamin D may not be the sole reason you lose weight, it appears there is a direct correlation between low levels and higher weight.
May Prevent Some Cancers
Cancer is a plague on society. With over 100 types, medical scientists are constantly looking for preventative measures.
Scientists have discovered those living below the equator experience a higher level of sun exposure and also a lower level of certain types of cancer.
Many clinical trials have shown a possible connection between a lowered vitamin D status and some cancer development.
We know vitamin D helps with the repair of tissues and the regeneration of cells. It is possible vitamin D could help decrease the proliferation of cancerous cells and stop tumor growth in its earliest stages, though further research is necessary.
Vitamin D may stimulate the destruction of cancerous cells and could decrease the formation of blood vessels within tumors, helping to prevent the spread of cancer.
May Help with Brain Function
Scientists have found that vitamin D plays a key role in many body functions, including the brain. Surprisingly, there are multiple vitamin D receptors in the brain.
Vitamin D helps build and repair nerve cells and helps with neurotransmitter synthesis. Some studies have also shown that vitamin D helps reduce brain inflammation and protect neurons.
Vitamin D improves alertness and encourages more rapid response times. One study even found college students did worse on exams when their vitamin D level was low.
Reduces the Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the joints that causes chronic inflammation. The body begins attacking healthy joint tissue and causing damage.
Medical scientists have studied rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and found a possible link between them. Many people diagnosed with autoimmune diseases like this have lowered vitamin D levels.
By keeping your vitamin D levels optimal, you may be able to prevent rheumatoid arthritis or reduce its severity after onset.
Decreases the Risks of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes often has familial roots. In multiple studies, scientists have isolated vitamin D’s ability to fight insulin resistance.
If diabetes runs in your family, make sure your vitamin D levels are not too low. This vitamin can help your body overcome insulin resistance and prevent type II diabetes development while improving your body’s immune function.
May Lower Your Blood Pressure
For years, scientists have worked to discover the causes of high blood pressure. Hypertension is a growing concern for people of all ages, including children.
Until recent studies, scientists were unsure of the connection between vitamin D levels and high blood pressure. In a large study of over 150,000 people, scientists found vitamin D is linked to hypertension.
In the study, participants with the most optimal levels of vitamin D had lower blood pressure. Those with lower levels suffered from hypertension.
Risk Factors for Low Vitamin D
Some people are at a greater risk of developing lowered vitamin D amounts than others. If you fall into the following risk groups, consider asking your doctor to test your levels to ensure you are not deficient.
- The darker your skin, the more difficult it becomes for the body to absorb UVB rays, which are essential for vitamin D production.
- Children who are breastfeeding need a vitamin D supplement. Pediatricians recommend breastfeeding children receive 400 IU of vitamin D supplementation a day.
- Your world location could also put you at risk of low vitamin D. People who live in the northern latitudes or in heavily polluted areas are at a greater risk.
- Some people have conditions that limit the body’s ability to absorb fats. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. People who cannot absorb fats may have difficulty getting enough vitamin D.
- As people age, their bodies lose the ability to create vitamin D efficiently. Older adults also spend more time indoors and can lack this vitamin as a result.
- After gastric bypass procedures, patients frequently suffer from low vitamin D because the vitamins they consume bypass the stomach and are not broken down by the body.
- People who are obese have a greater incidence of low vitamin D levels than those at a healthy weight. Those who are obese should consider weight loss to promote optimal vitamin levels.
What Are the Symptoms of a Vitamin D Deficiency?
Most people with a vitamin D deficiency do not have symptoms until their levels drop considerably. The following are some symptoms you may experience with a vitamin D deficiency.
- Fragile bones, especially in older adults
- Pain in the bones
- Fatigue that becomes more pronounced with lower levels
- Osteoporosis along with bone fractures
- Twitching muscles
- Muscle pain
- Joint stiffness
- Weak muscles
What Are the Complications of a Vitamin D Deficiency?
While a temporary vitamin D deficiency does not cause complications, chronic deficiencies can. The following are some complications you may experience with a vitamin D deficiency.
- Hypocalcemia, which is lowered calcium levels
- Cardiovascular disease
- Infections or subpar immune function
- Autoimmune diseases
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon
- Neurological conditions
- Complications with pregnancy
How Does a Vitamin D Deficiency Affect Infants?
Because infants are growing rapidly, they must have enough vitamin D for healthy bone growth.
Infants that lack vitamin D often suffer from soft bones, a condition called rickets. Rickets can lead to malformations of the bones in the body and cause deformities.
Pregnant women also need to ensure their vitamin D intake remains optimal during each trimester and may need to incorporate vitamin D supplements. Women with lowered levels are at a greater risk of developing preeclampsia and premature birth.
Have Your Doctor Check Your Vitamin D and Ask About Vitamin D Supplements
You should check your vitamin D level regularly, especially if you are in one of the risk groups above. While sunlight exposure is the best source of vitamin D, you can also get some from the foods you eat, including the following.
- Egg yolks
- Beef liver
- Fatty fish
- Fortified milk
- Fortified juice and cereal
Have your doctor check your vitamin D at your next appointment. Lowered vitamin D puts you at risk for developing many health conditions and can also impact the health of your eyes. If you aren’t getting enough sunlight exposure, consider taking vitamin supplements through an oral vitamin.