Vitamin D plays an important role in the body, yet many people are unaware just how critical Vitamin D is to health and wellness. Let’s get to the heart of those important facts, starting with the fact that Vitamin D fights cancers and heart disease, increases brain function, and increases bone density. Vitamin D is important on its own, but it also works in conjunction with calcium, playing a vital role in aiding the body in calcium absorption, and keeping bones and muscles strong.
Important Facts About Why Vitamin D Can Be Hard to Find
The tricky thing about Vitamin D is that it can be difficult to get the recommended daily dose from purely the foods you eat, because there aren’t many foods that are naturally rich in Vitamin D. Where you live also plays a big role in how much Vitamin D you might be able to get from the sun—if you live in Seattle chances are good you’ll have less sun exposure than if you live in Denver, with 350ish days of sunshine every year. The other thing that makes a shortage of Vitamin D so common in people is that most of us have no idea what our individual Vitamin D needs are. So let’s explore more important facts about Vitamin D and try to break down the basics that you need to know.
Why Do We Need Vitamin D? What’s the Vitamin D + Calcium Connection?
Most of us are generally aware of the role Vitamin D plays in building strong bones—it works in conjunction with calcium. As we age, Vitamin D (and calcium) become even more important, as they prevent bone fractures, osteoporosis, and even falls in older people. The calcium and Vitamin D connection is vital, because Vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium it needs. What many people don’t know, however, are all the other benefits that Vitamin D delivers—and the list is a long one! Vitamin D protects against cancer, reducing the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer. It’s also important for diabetes sufferers, helping to regulate insulin management. Vitamin D helps support lung function and overall heart health, helps reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, and it improves mood! Now that is one heck of a laundry list of benefits that Vitamin D delivers, and why it’s so important to make sure you’re getting the recommended daily amount.
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?
Recommendations for how much Vitamin D you need varies based on age, and while we’ll provide some general important facts here, you should always check with your doctor to confirm specifics based on your individual health and situation. According to data published by The Mayo Clinic, the daily recommended dosage for all (children, adults up to age 70, pregnant/breast-feeding women), is 600 IU daily. IU stands for International Units, which is the standard measurement units for vitamins and drugs. It is recommended that adults over age 70 get 800 IU per day and, in some cases, it’s suggested that older adults need even more than that. There are varying dosages suggested for those with a variety of different health conditions and/or those who are taking certain medications, and the recommended dosage levels start at 600 IU and go up. That’s why it’s so important to check with your doctor on this, as it will be based on criteria specific to you personally.
Men, Women and Vitamin D
Women are historically pretty good at proactively taking care of themselves, but men are often less so. But here’s a wakeup call for men as it relates to Vitamin D. As men age, Vitamin D becomes even more important to their bodies, because it helps the body absorb calcium and works to strengthen muscles and bones. A shortage of this valuable vitamin might increase the risk of prostate cancer, and it’s also been shown that men who are Vitamin D deficient doubled their chances of having a heart attack compared to men with normal levels. Egads! Get thee on the Vitamin D train, men.
Vitamin D and calcium are critically important to women as well. This is due to the estrogen loss typically experienced at menopause, which can cause a steep decline in bone density. Bone density is something that should be regularly monitored by women and their physicians, especially once they’ve experienced menopause. Falls are increasingly common as we age, and keeping bones and muscles strong, preventing bone breaks, and keeping osteoporosis at bay should be top of mind for both women and men. Other important facts include the added benefits of cancer prevention, increased lung performance, and heart health that make Vitamin D, for women and men, a no-brainer.
Where Can I Get Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is known as “The Sunshine Vitamin” because the body produces Vitamin D when sunlight hits the skin. That’s an easy fix for people who not only live in sunny locales, but who are also outside enough to take advantage of naturally occurring Vitamin D. For people who live in cool, cloudy climates or whose lifestyles keep them indoors more often than not, supplements are the next best thing.
What about getting Vitamin D from food? It’s always best if you can get the vitamins and nutrients needed by way of food sources. But unlike many vitamins and nutrients, Vitamin D is not particularly easy to get from food. Some foods that are good sources of Vitamin D include eggs and a whole bunch of fish. That includes fish like tuna, catfish, sardines, sockeye salmon, mackerel. If those things aren’t on your daily food intake list, a supplement is an easy alternative.
Bottom line, Vitamin D plays a big role in keeping your body fit and strong, no matter what your age. And the older you get, the more important that role is. Whether it’s keeping bones and muscles strong or protecting against disease, Vitamin D is a key component of a recipe for good health.
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