We’ve all heard that vitamin D comes from the sun and is critical to our health, but how much vitamin D should you be getting and what exactly does it do to your body? Today we dive deeper into this vitamin and why it is so important for your health.
Vitamin D is actually both a vitamin and a hormone. You can get vitamin D from some foods like fish and eggs, but it mostly enters your body via the sun, which is absorbed by our skin and converted into a usable form by cholesterol.
Mostly, vitamin D plays a symbiotic role in musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems. It regulates the production of thyroid hormones which helps you maintain a healthy weight, mood, sleep cycle, and immunity. It also promotes healthier pregnancy in women by helping account for an increased amount of stress hormones, sleep deprivation, and stamina.
At a time when we’re all thinking about our health, vitamin D has been shown to boost the innate and adaptive immune system to help ward off disease. Deficiency has also been linked to a variety of autoimmune disorders.
Our body uses inflammation strategically to health itself, but chronic inflammation is dangerous. Vitamin D reduces chronic inflammation by modulating the release and proliferation of cytokines, the chemical messengers that initiate inflammation.
We at the Optimist Daily talk a lot about the value of gut health, and vitamin D plays into this. It promotes beneficial gut bacteria and reinforces the gut mucosal lining.
You’ve probably heard already that vitamin D is good for your bones. This old saying is actually true as vitamin D increases your calcium absorption for a stronger skeletal system. Lastly, it plays a role in healthy genetics. Vitamin D has been shown to be responsible for up to 3 percent of what’s known as “gene transcription,” the process in which your inherited genes are expressed or activated.
50 percent of Americans are estimated to be vitamin D deficient. If you’re not spending extended periods of time in the sun, you can boost your vitamin D intake by spending time outdoors (with sun protection), eating foods like cod, mushrooms, and eggs, or taking a vitamin D supplement. Your doctor can also test your vitamin D levels to see where you stand on intake.
Vitamin D is incredibly critical, but luckily it’s not too hard to make up for a few too many hours spent indoors. Up your intake, if you live in an especially cloudy place or spend most of your day indoors, and keep track of how higher levels impact your health and mood.