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Vitamin D – Definition, Benefits, and Sources (What You Need To Know)

Overview

As daylight becomes shorter, people will be less exposed to the rays of the sun. While this could be a good thing since the risk of skin cancer becomes less prominent, you risk developing vitamin D deficiency.

Unfortunately, countries that do not get enough sunlight exposure during the fall and winter (e.g., United Kingdom) are more likely to see a spike in vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective depression (SAD).

Scientists estimate that you need between 10–30 minutes of daily sunlight exposure to get sufficient vitamin D. Note that wearing sunblock does not allow for vitamin D synthesis.

In this article, we will cover some benefits of vitamin D, as well as the sources to get this crucial compound.

The benefits of vitamin D

1.     Promotes muscle growth and strength

Vitamin D promotes muscle hypertrophy after resistance training. For this reason, many athletes started taking vitamin D supplements for this purpose.

In a 2015 meta-analysis, researchers went through the results of 6 randomized controlled trials in order to objectify the muscle-growing properties of vitamin D.

Collectively, the studies included 310 participants who received between 4,000–60,000 IU of vitamin D every week.

After detailed analysis, researchers found that vitamin D is very effective in:

  • Boosting muscle growth by stimulating human growth hormone (HGH)
  • Optimizing physical strength
  • Reducing recovery time

2.     Increases bone mineral density

Taking vitamin D supplements is necessary for postmenopausal women and older individuals who are at a higher risk of osteoporosis.

Developing osteoporosis translates to frequent fractures, joint problems, and mobility issues.

3.     Boosts immune function

As you may already know, when the immune system is functioning properly, your risk of infections becomes significantly lower.

Vitamin D is one of the compounds that ensure your immune cells are working properly. Primarily, it boosts the action of T-cells and macrophages. This makes them more efficient in identifying and killing foreign pathogens.

In a 2011 paper, scientists scrutinized the relationship between vitamin D and the immune system. They concluded that low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of several infections.

Another study analyzed the effects of vitamin D on upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) in military recruits. Researchers found that only 21% of participants had sufficient amounts of vitamin D during the winter season. Fortunately, supplementation corrected this deficiency.

Moreover, vitamin D supplementation lowered the severity of URTI symptoms by 15% and the duration of exhibiting symptoms by 36%.

Vitamin D deficiency

The main complication of vitamin D deficiency is the dramatic decrease in bone mineral density. As a result, your risk of developing osteoporosis skyrockets.

When children are deficient in vitamin D, they develop a condition known as rickets, which is a rare disease that causes abnormal deformation of the skeleton. Fortunately, rickets is exceedingly rare due to the efforts of fortifying foods with vitamin D.

Source of vitamin D

If you are looking for food elements that contain vitamin D, here is a shortlist:

  • Oily fish (e.g., salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring)
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods (e.g., breakfast cereals)

Takeaway message

Vitamin D is an indispensable compound that ensures a variety of biochemical reactions in your cells. As a result, your organs will be able to function without a problem.

We hope that this article managed to shed some light on the potential benefits of vitamin D, as well as the food sources to replenish our stores.

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