• The Sunshine Vitamin

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    The Sunshine VitaminVitamin D (VitD) is a vital component of our diet. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in the body as several forms and can be obtained from both the sun as well as dietary sources. Through a series of reactions these sources can be made into the activated form of VitD. The importance of VitD in bone health is widely researched, it is especially important in production and maintenance of healthy bones across all ages. Its absence can lead to the development of serious conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults.  More recently, VitD deficiency has been associated with the development of metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer (especially colorectal cancer).

    Vitamin D recommended doses

    Given the important role of vitD to our health, getting an adequate amount of this crucial vitamin in our diet is a no-brainer. The institute of medicine recommends getting 600 IU of vitamin D daily is needed to ward off most potentially harmful diseases and disorders. It is also important to note that taking too much vitamin D can be hazardous to your health, taking more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D (for adults) can cause health complications. Many experts recommend taking calcium along with vitamin D since they work concurrently to keep your bones healthy and strong. Although the exact recommended doses of calcium vary according to age and gender, most experts agree that an average intake of about 1,000 milligrams (for adults) will get the job done. That number tends to be higher for older man and women and lower for babies and newborn (around 200 milligrams).

    Some common vitamin D sources

    Vitamin D sources are rather common and most people get the adequate amount without trying. That being said, much of the vitamin D comes from animal sources so vegetarians and vegans have to be extra careful about meeting the requirements.  Some common vitamin D sources include:

    -        Beef liver

    -        Cod and fish liver oils

    -        Mushrooms

    -        Egg yolks

    -        Seafood (Salmon, tuna, shrimp, mackerel, sardines)

    -        Fortified vitamin D foods (some common ones include milk, cereal, orange juice and yogurts)

    You can get vitamin D from sun exposure

    It is also common knowledge that you can get vitamin D from sun exposure, that is because your body is able to convert existing molecules in our skin into vitamin D with the use of sunlight (hence the name “the sunshine vitamin”). Unfortunately, that is not always possible in colder climates where sun exposure is minimal. In addition, the use of sunscreen prevents the production of vitamin D through the skin and can lead to a deficiency. People with exceptionally dark skin also have trouble producing vitamin D from the sun.

    The importance of vitamin D to our health

    The importance of vitamin D to our health has been thoroughly examined and is agreed upon by all nutritionists and dieticians. As our bodies get older, maintaining strong bones will become increasingly important in maintaining an active and independent lifestyle.

     

    Anna Kling is a blogger at www.easywaystoloseweight.org. With a background in nutrition, she enjoys writing about sports, fitness, and weight loss.

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