Aside from Vitamin C, there is not another vitamin your body most likely needs than the famed Vitamin D. Sitting patiently in your local grocery store, hiding in your local pharmacy, and awaiting your presence outside in the sun, this more-than-necessary micronutrient supplies your body with a plethora of health benefits too easily overlooked. There is even an organization dedicated entirely to the study of and sharing information on Vitamin D! Whichever path you are on in life, you only stand to benefit from this sorely needed chemical.
Vitamin D’s claim to fame originated from the treatment of two diseases: rickets (a disease caused by a Vitamin D deficiency) and osteoporosis (a massive decrease in bone density and strength). Through the combination of supplementation of Vitamin D with Calcium to improve absorption rates, those with osteoporosis and possibly osteopenia (a less intense form of osteoporosis) could fight against their affliction with vigor! Thankfully, there are many more benefits than the treatment of just two diseases.
According to the Vitamin D Council, the list of major benefits from Vitamin D is as follows:
Fortified immune system, which helps you to fight infection
Improved muscle function
Maintenance of strong bones
Improved cardiovascular function, for a healthy heart and circulation
Improved respiratory system –for healthy lungs and airways
Improved brain development
With these benefits in mind, there is reason to monitor how much Vitamin D we must have on a daily basis. So how can I get enough Vitamin D during the day?
Primarily, Vitamin D production comes indirectly from sunlight. Specifically, as stated by the National Institutes for Health, “It is … produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.” More specifically, there are certain chemical processes occurring in the body to manufacture an extremely bioavailable version of Vitamin D which heavily involve the liver and kidney organs in the body. This is an easy, efficient, and certainly cost-effective way to ensure adequate amounts of Vitamin D are present in the body, not factoring in any negative effects of sunlight exposure. The second method is ingesting it, either from food sources or supplementation. Examples of food sources high in Vitamin D include swordfish, salmon, and cod liver oil. Other sources such as sardines, eggs, and even orange juice from your local supermarket (which is fortified with Vitamin D) are not optimal sources but still provide minimal micronutrient content. With supplementation, Vitamin D is available in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). As far as the average human being goes, these two forms of Vitamin D will serve equally as effective. Both are cheap to produce, so do not worry about breaking the bank purchasing a supplemented form of this water-soluble vitamin.
Research is constantly changing, and more recent studies provide recommendations with drastically higher RDAs for each group, especially those who are either elderly or who do not venture outside on a daily basis (or both!).
At Accelerated Fitness, we will rarely advise you to not seek out sources of Vitamin D on a daily basis. By far the easiest way to get an adequate amount is to go outside for ten to fifteen minutes twice a day and expose your arms and face to the sunlight (sunscreen recommended). Modify your diet to include fish such as tuna or salmon to increase Vitamin D intake if possible, or ask your trainer or nutritionist what he or she recommends is the easiest way for you as a client to maintain proper Vitamin D levels. With such a multitude of benefits and simplicity of acquisition of this wonder nutrient, almost everyone should make sure they get their daily Vitamin D!