Smiling girl with a bottle of vitamins sitting at the kitchen table
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Take your vitamins. Part 2

In this series, my goal is to educate all of us on what each vitamin does for our bodies and what food items contain those vitamins.  The more information you have, the easier a trip to the grocery store will be. Knowing what to buy will help you and your family lead healthier lives, eating the right foods to help prevent chronic illness and disease.


So now, to shed some light, pun intended, on the benefits of vitamin D.


Why do we need vitamin D?  First and foremost, vitamin d is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.  It also regulates inflammation and immune function. Pretty cool, right?  Did you know that vitamin D isn’t even a vitamin? It’s a hormone.On top of that, Vitamin D is one of the very few vitamins the body can produce. The body produces Vitamin D when it gathers the correct “ingredients,” stores it, and then uses it to deliver calcium, strengthening our bones. Most of us associate vitamin D with sunlight.  Which, in truth, does cause the body to produce vitamin D, it’s one of the “ingredients.” However, exposure to the sun isn’t the only way our bodies get vitamin d.  In winter months or in colder climates, we can avoid vitamin D deficiency by eating certain foods (fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna), egg yolks, cheese, beef liver, mushrooms, and fortified milk, cereals, and juices). There are also plenty of supplements available. 


With every vitamin I research, most have something to do with our immune system.  Lack of vitamin D has been linked to chronic pain, muscle weakness, loss of bone density, decreased endurance, infertility, new or worsening high blood pressure, frequent bone fractures, constant fatigue, slow wound healing, and mood changes (depression and anxiety). Most of us refer to vitamin D as the “feel good” vitamin because we’re in such a good mood after being out in the sun.  Do you suffer from seasonal depression? Lack of vitamin D might be why.


It’s important to note that, as we get older, we stop spending a lot of time outdoors.  As we decrease our exposure to the sun, we also reduce our vitamin D intake.  Often we don’t supplement the natural decrease in vitamin D, and our bones become weak.  What once was a simple fall can now lead to a significant fracture or worse. 


Of course, there are always risks when we overdo anything.  Vitamin D isn’t any different. There is always the risk of skin cancer from being in the sun too long. Vomiting, nausea, constipation, weight loss, and kidney damage are symptoms of having too much vitamin D in your blood.  So here’s what the food and nutrition board recommends the dietary intake of international units(IU) per day is:

0-12months=400 IU

1-70 years=600 IU

70 years and older=800 IU


As you can see, vitamin D is essential to our diet, but I would suggest doing some research on your own; after all, everyone is different, and so are their needs. To keep things short, these are only highlights of the good, the bad, and the ugly facts intended to pique your interest. Stay tuned for more exciting vitamin talk. 

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