Vitamin D, The Amazing Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D has been a hot topic in the news recently. The research keeps pouring in on just how important vitamin D is for your health. Research studies also show that vitamin D offers a multitude of important benefits including healthy heart function, immune and bone health, but surprisingly, up to 80% of Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is produced in your body from cholesterol, and it influences your entire body, from cells in your brain to your bones. Science has now realized that vitamin D does more than just aid in the bone formation and the absorption of calcium, it is also involved in regulating your immune system, repairing cells, and more. Along with exercising and eating healthy, make sure your vitamin D level is at its optimal level. This step is so simple, but one that stands to make a huge difference in your health.

Why do most Americans have low levels of Vitamin D? The answer is lack of sun exposure. Vitamin D is considered the sunshine vitamin because it is produced when sunlight touches your skin. Research has shown that if you get very little sun exposure, you use sunscreen when you are exposed to the sun (for a short period of time), are elderly, or have a dark skin complexion, you may need more. Just 15 minutes of sun exposure a day can boost your vitamin D levels in the body and benefit your health.

Are you getting enough Vitamin D? According to experts in nutrition, we may not be getting enough and it is still being debated as to what this amount should be. The conventional RDAs are as follows:

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400 IU for infants, children and adolescents

200 IU for adults up to age 50

400 IU for adults aged 51 to 70

600 IU for seniors over 70

These numbers are the bare bones minimum from what is actually needed for optimal health. Many experts now agree you need about 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight, which may actually be 3 to 4 times the amount than we are currently getting.

The level of vitamin D supplementation you may need depends on many factors including time of year, where you live, how much sun exposure you get each day, sunscreen use, your age, your skin color, how often you eat fish or vitamin D fortified foods, if you are overweight, and how often you exercise. Modifying your diet is also a good way to get some additional vitamin D. Some fish like Salmon and tuna, as well as cod liver oil are among the best sources of vitamin D.

To play it safe, it is best to supplement your diet with a daily multi-vitamin supplement with plenty of vitamin D3 specifically, as it is the easiest to absorb. Look for one with at least a minimum of 800 IU of vitamin D per serving.