What are the Health Benefits of Vitamin D?
Research has shown that many of us are deficient in the correct levels of Vitamin D. It has also been proved that low levels of Vitamin D can cause many minor ailments including colds and influenza as well as many more serious diseases such as peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer and kidney disease.
It has long been thought that Winter time is the cause of colds and flu due to people grouping together and spreading the cold and flu germs. This is partly true, but a major factor is definitely a lack of Vitamin D which helps to activate and boost the immune system and fight any unwanted viruses.
It’s normal for us to get far greater exposure to sunlight during the Summer months and as sunlight and UVB rays help to produce Vitamin D through our skin, it’s logical that during the Winter, our Vitamin D stores are depleted and this can result in an increase in Influenza and the common cold.
Vitamin D also activates our immune systems and is responsible for the absorption of Calcium within our body’s, which means that having the correct levels of Vitamin D, helps to maintain strong healthy teeth and bones.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere you are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D due to lower sunlight exposure, whereas those living below the equator generally have the ideal Vitamin D levels.
Having the correct levels of Vitamin D has also been shown to improve sleep and suppress hunger which can also help with weight loss.
What is the Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin D
For many years governments have stated that our daily Vitamin D levels should be between 200 and 600 IU (International Units) but it has been proven in recent years that this is far too low with many Doctors, health experts and scientists saying that children should have a daily dosage of around 2,000 IU with adults between 2,000 and 4,000 IU.
It is also important to note that your required Vitamin D levels are also dependent on your body weight. So a smaller person may only require around 2,000 IU, whereas a larger person may require closer to 4,000 IU.
What is Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D levels are measured using a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D test also known as 25(OH)D test. Recommended levels are 40-70 ng/ml (100-175 nmol/l) with normal levels being 20-56 ng/ml (50-140 nmol/l).
If your levels are less than 20 ng /ml (< 50 nmol/l). You are deemed to be deficient.
There are a number of symptoms for Vitamin D deficiency including aching joints, aching muscles, poor eyesight and insomnia.
The fact of the matter is that around 60% of people are deficient in Vitamin D and is why it is so important to make sure your body constantly has enough to function correctly.
What is Vitamin D Toxicity?
Vitamin D toxicity is when you basically take in too much Vitamin D. But considering that many people are subscribed doses of over 40,000 IU in cases where they are deficient, it is almost impossible for you to overdose in any way if you keep your levels to the recommended 2,000 to 4,000 IU.
Many people regularly take around 10,000 IU or Vitamin D per day, with no negative effects at all.
What are the Best Sources of Natural Vitamin D?
Our best source of Vitamin D is from sunlight and UVB rays, but for many of us above the equator, the sunshine eludes us which means in many cases we do not get sufficient levels.
There are a number of foods which are high in Vitamin D including fresh oily fish such as Salmon, Tuna and Mackerel. Other sources include dairy products including milk, cheese, yoghurt and eggs.
Even though you may include the above in your daily diet, you may still be deficient in Vitamin D.
Should I Use Vitamin D Supplementation?
Vitamin D supplementation is an excellent way of topping up your Vitamin D levels which will help your body to function correctly and help ward off many serious illnesses as mentioned above.
You can easily obtain Vitamin D tablets at your local pharmacy which if used daily along with your natural food sources, should provide you with adequate levels.
Many children do not like to take tablets, so if this is the case you can also purchase Vitamin D in liquid form which makes it a lot easier for the little ones to take.
How Can I Find Out What My Vitamin D Levels Are?
The only way to really know whether your Vitamin D levels are where they should be is to take a trip to your local doctor and have a blood test. Your doctor will then be able to tell you exactly where you stand and whether you need a Vitamin D boost or not.
You can learn more about Vitamin D via the Vitamin D Council website.
Image courtesy of Colin Dunn on Flickr.