Vitamin D benefits, deficiencies and sources

Did you know vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin? When you step outside on a warm, sunny day, you’re not only enjoying the physical benefits of the sun’s rays, you’re also getting some much needed vitamin D in your system. And when you’re not basking in those relaxing rays, you should be getting vitamin D from the foods you eat. We need enough of this vital nutrient for lots of different things. Let's take a closer look at what that means. 

Why do I need vitamin D?

Our bodies need vitamin D to absorb the calcium that builds and maintains healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Vitamin D also helps improve our mood and increase energy levels. Not to mention, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help support immune health and brain cell activity. It’s important to know your levels of vitamin D to make sure you’re getting enough. If you’re not, you’ll want to know what you can do to give your body the vitamin D it needs to function at its best.1

What are the benefits of vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a powerhouse nutrient that does so much more than build strong bones. The scope of vitamin D benefits spans far and wide – effecting your mental and physical health in so many ways. Take a look:2

  • Strengthens bones and muscles. Without enough vitamin D in your body, you can’t absorb the calcium you ingest. So, your body steals calcium from your bones. This is why low vitamin D could lead to things like osteoporosis and bone fractures. You need sufficient vitamin D to help absorb the calcium you take in to keep your bones nice and strong.3
  • Protects oral health. Did you know your teeth need calcium just like your bones? Vitamin D keeps your teeth and gums healthy by helping them absorb calcium and stimulating production of antimicrobial peptides.
  • Supports immune health and fights inflammation. Vitamin C usually gets the credit for this one — but lately vitamin D has been getting recognition for its role in this area. That's because the antimicrobial peptides that vitamin D stimulates help your body fight infection.
  • Prevents diabetes. Vitamin D helps improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which could lower your risk of getting diabetes. 
  • Helps shed extra pounds. Obesity is actually a risk factor for low vitamin D. That’s because vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means it gets stored in fatty tissue instead of being absorbed right away. So, more vitamin D may help you lose weight (and increase your vitamin D levels).
  • Boosts mood. It’s not called the sunshine vitamin for no reason. Just like a good sunshiney day, vitamin D can help improve your mood and combat depression.
  • Reduces risk of cancers. Vitamin D has been found to slow or even prevent cancer cells and tumors. 

When should I see my doctor if I’m concerned about my vitamin D levels?

If you’re noticing vitamin D deficiency symptoms, you might want to see your doctor and ask to get your levels checked. You likely get your vitamin D checked each year when you have your annual blood work done, so you could wait until your physical if symptoms aren’t severe. You know your body best. If you think something is really off, head in to see your primary care provider (the doctor or provider you might see for your yearly exam).