Vitamin D is manufactured by our skin cells when we are out in the sunshine. Most people are deficient in this vitamin because they don’t get enough direct sun exposure and vitamin D isn’t present in very many foods. Also, due to risks of skin cancer, most people cover up with sunscreen or clothes when they are out in the sun.
Some patients tell me they are confused by their low levels of vitamin D despite being out in the sun. I tell them if they spend at least an hour each day, at noon, in a bathing suit, with no sunscreen on, out in the sun, then maybe they’re getting the amount they need. If not, we need to supplement.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D promotes healthy cell growth through gene encoding, reduces inflammation, and improves calcium absorption which is important for bone health. Without it, our bones are more brittle and the risk for osteoporosis and rickets increases. In fact Vitamin D is more important for preventing osteoporosis than calcium. That’s because your body needs vitamin D to be able to properly absorb calcium. Without adequate levels of vitamin D, the intestine absorbs only 10 to 15 percent of dietary calcium.
One study found that vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of getting type 1 diabetes by 80 percent. In the Nurses’ Health Study (a study of more than 130,000 nurses over 3 decades), vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of multiple sclerosis by 40 percent.
Vitamin D has been found to reduce inflammation and improve mood.