Vitamin D is essential to helping your body to absorb calcium, which increases healthy bone density and calcium levels in the bloodstream. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets in children and osteoporosis in older adults. Many people take calcium supplements to help support healthy and strong bones. Without a good consistent supply of vitamin D, most of that calcium, along with calcium from natural foods, will simply pass through your body. In addition to supporting healthy bones, vitamin D also supports the immune system, cell regeneration and reduces inflammation. Vitamin D has also shown protective properties against colon cancer.
Many of us associate a good dose of sunshine with the best way to replenish supplies of vitamin D. When our skin is exposed to sun, we absorb ultraviolet B rays that the body uses to convert cholesterol into vitamin D. All you need is about ten minutes of direct, midday sun exposure when the sun is high to get a good healthy dose of vitamin D. Excessive cloudiness, long cold wintry days and concerns about excessive skin exposure to ultraviolet rays means we need to make sure we find adequate supplies of vitamin D in our diet. In addition, vitamin D is fat-soluble so it is important to make sure your diet includes essential fatty acids like Omega-3, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and butter.
The best natural food sources for vitamin D are the fatty fishes including, salmon, shrimp, tuna, sardines and swordfish. The next good sources are dairy products including milk, cheese, yoghurt and eggs. Some fortified products, specifically juices and breakfast cereals, are boosted with vitamin D. The benefit of this may be more than offset by the amount of sugar or wheat gluten included in those products. Please read the label carefully before selecting such products.
Obtaining sufficient vitamin D from food alone may not be enough to support healthy bones. Add to that limited sunshine exposure and aging processes that alter the body’s ability to absorb calcium, particularly in post-menopausal women, and vitamin D supplements are a good alternative. Many of these supplements are listed either D2 or D3. While both are effective, the primary difference appears to be that D3 is better absorbed in higher doses.
Absorbing vitamin D from foods or from sunshine will not create any risk of overdosing on this essential substance. It is important to observe the recommended daily allowances on the container very carefully to avoid taking too much. Too much vitamin D can become slightly toxic to your body. This can produce a variety of ailments including anorexia, weight loss, polyuria, and heart arrhythmias. High blood serum levels of vitamin D can also increase the levels of calcium in the blood, leading to calcification and damage to the cardiovascular system and the kidneys. This high calcium level may also result in kidney stones in some individuals.
The best solution is to get your vitamin D from all three sources, healthy fatty fish, sunshine and vitamin D3 supplements. Look at your diet and lifestyle and make a conscious daily choice to optimize your bone and calcium levels with a good supply of vitamin D.