Step outside and soak up a little sunshine (safely, of course). Great job! You’ve just exposed your body to vitamin D, and you probably didn’t even realize it. The sun is one of the best sources of this hardworking essential vitamin, though you can obtain it in many different ways.
Vitamin C may get all the glory for immune support, but vitamin D does its fair share of heavy lifting to help you feel your best too. If you’re curious about vitamin D, here’s everything you need to know about what it does, who should take it, and how to add it to your routine.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that can be stored by your body; water soluble vitamins are flushed out with your urine. Vitamin D is present in two forms: vitamin D2, which is found in mushrooms and yeast; and vitamin D3, which is found in fish, eggs, and lanolin from sheep’s wool.
What does vitamin D do?
Vitamin D’s primary function is supporting healthy bones. It plays an important role in helping promote calcium absorption for bones and teeth, as your body can’t absorb calcium without it. Vitamin D also supports your immune health. When you don’t have enough vitamin D in your diet, you may experience weakened bones and potentially deal with osteoporosis.
How can I get more vitamin D from my diet?
Vitamin D isn’t as easily acquired as other vitamins; it isn’t as commonly found in food, but can be obtained via fortified foods like milk, cereal, and orange juice. You can also get vitamin D from fatty fish like salmon and tuna, mushrooms, and egg yolks. Of course, if you adhere to a vegan diet, this may present a problem.
Many people in the United States don’t hit the recommended Daily Value of vitamin D; it has been reported that nearly 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D.
I know I can get vitamin D from the sun. What do I need to know?
Your skin absorbs vitamin D from UV rays from the sun; it’s possible to get an adequate amount in just 10 minutes! However, this does mean you need to expose a large area of uncovered, sunscreen-free skin to the sun, as research has shown SPF 8+ can block vitamin D rays.
Why should I consider vitamin D supplementation?
If you think you may require vitamin D supplementation, be sure to chat with your healthcare professional before starting a routine.
There are a few reasons why you may be a good candidate for vitamin D supplementation. Do you live in a cloudy, low-sun climate? You may want to consider supplementation, though even just a few minutes in the sun can help. If you have a darker skin tone, you may not be able to absorb as much vitamin D from the sun. Older adults are another group that may require vitamin D supplementation. Those on a vegan diet may require vitamin D, but will want to take vitamin D2, as vitamin D3 is acquired via animal sources.
Is one type of vitamin D supplement better than another?
There are many different vitamin D supplement formulations on the market, from liquid drops to traditional capsules to gummies. What’s most important is that you take your vitamin D regularly, so if you prefer a certain type of supplement, stick with it.