Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is different from other vitamins because our bodies can make most of what we need with exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D is more than a vitamin in that is acts as a pro-hormone and effects hormone balance and immune regulation of the body. Most foods, unless they are fortified, are poor sources of vitamin D and there are only a small amount of vitamin D rich foods to choose from.
A deficiency in vitamin D can result in a softening of the bones called osteomalacia or a bone abnormality called rickets.
Some of the biggest vitamin D deficiency symptoms include:
- Weakened immune system
- Seasonal depression
- Autoimmune disease
- Weak bones (osteopenia)
- Skin issues eczema and psoriasis
People most prone to a vitamin D deficiency include those who live in northern regions with little sunlight exposure, people with darker skin, people on low fat diets and those taking steroids and weight loss medications.
Vitamin D also helps with cell replication, and may play a role in the development of autoimmune conditions. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU/day and the Daily Value is 400 IU.
Top 10 Vitamin D Rich Foods
Promotes vitamin D synthesis from cholesterol in the skin.
2) Cod liver oil
1 tsp: 440 IU (over 100% DV)
3 ounces: 164 IU (41% DV)
3 ounces: 400 IU (100% DV)
3 ounces: 400 IU (100% DV)
3 ounces: 228 IU (57% DV)
7) Raw Milk
1 cup: 98 IU (24% DV)
1 oz: 33 IU (8% DV)
1 large: 41 IU (10% DV)
1 cup: 2 IU (1% DV)
In addition to getting sunlight, consume 2 of these vitamin D rich foods daily.
Top Health Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency has been connected to obesity and difficulty losing weight. One study found that women who had higher levels of vitamin D on a calorie-controlled diet lost more weight than those with lower levels of the vitamin.
At this time, it is unclear if vitamin D deficiency causes obesity or if obesity leads to vitamin D deficiency. Overall, if you are having difficulty losing weight, you may want to consider getting your vitamin D level checked.
Nervous system and Cancer
Several studies have shown that people with lower levels of vitamin D perform poorly on standardized exams, may have poor decision making skills, and have difficulty with tasks that require focus and attention.
Also, several studies have found that healthy levels of vitamin D reduce cancer risk especially for cancer of the colon and breast.
Bone and Muscle Health
Consuming more high vitamin D foods plays a key role in calcium absorption and helps keep bones strong. It may also help maintain healthy muscles throughout life. Older adults with adequate vitamin D levels are more likely to be active, have improved muscle strength, and are less prone to falls.