Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is primarily obtained through the absorption of sunlight. The sun’s energy is converted to a chemical in your skin, forming vitamin D3. The liver and kidneys then transform the chemical into useful active vitamin D.
Vitamin D is crucial for the body and can have numerous health benefits including:
- Preventing inflammation
- Enhancing overall bone strength – Vitamin D helps the intestines efficiently absorb calcium and therefore, is critical for developing and strengthening bones
- Fighting various diseases like type-2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease
- Regulating a person’s mood and preventing depression
- Facilitating appetite suppression which can help you lose weight
What Happens When You Have a Vitamin D Deficiency?
Over a billion people in the world have some form of vitamin D deficiency. Different environmental and lifestyle factors dictate the amount of vitamin D that one receives and these factors could lead to a deficiency. In the case of inadequate vitamin D, the following problems may arise:
- General fatigue along with aches and pains in different parts of the body
- Stress fractures in the legs, hips and pelvis
- Severe muscle pain that hinders daily life
- Cognitive impairment
- Prevalence of serious diseases like cancer, diabetes and hypertension
Vegans, Vegetarians and Vitamin D – What You Need to Know
Vegans tend to be more susceptible to a vitamin D deficiency as the main food sources that provide the vitamin are fish, shell-fish, and egg-yolks. Vegetarians are at a slightly lower risk since they can consume these foods. Vegans can still gain adequate vitamin D by consuming fortified soy and almond milks, orange juice, and cereals. While spending time out in the sun is the most natural way to receive your daily dose of vitamin D, there can be concerns about UV exposure. Many of us also lead busy lifestyles and getting outdoors everyday isn’t always possible. Supplementing a healthy lifestyle with a multivitamin containing vitamin D is a good way to ensure that you are getting enough of the “sunshine vitamin”.
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