It’s important to make sure you get the recommended daily value of vitamins and minerals each day so that you can stay healthy. One important vitamin you need every day is vitamin D. The necessary amount depends on your age. The Food and Nutrition Board has set a recommended amount of 600 IU (international units) for adults between the age of 19 and 70. There are two major forms of the vitamin: vitamin D2 (also known as ergocalciferol), and vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol).
You can obtain more of this vitamin when your skin is exposed to sunlight, through certain foods, and by taking vitamin supplements. It is key to overall health because it assists with the absorption of calcium in the gut. A lack of it can result in brittle, thin, or misshapen bones. You could also put yourself at risk for developing osteoporosis and diseases such as type 1 diabetes and Chron’s disease. However, it’s important to make sure you don’t get too much of a good thing. Too much in the blood could cause toxicity. Some signs of too much of the vitamin include constipation, loss of appetite, and nausea.
On the bright side, consuming just the right amount of vitamin D can do wonders for your body. Here are four surprising health benefits.
1. Improved immune function
Research at UCLA supports existing studies showing a link between immune function and vitamin D. It has been found that those with low levels of vitamin D were more susceptible to developing autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, infections such as tuberculosis may also be linked to a lack of the vitamin. Dr. Alan L. Rubin, author of Vitamin D for Dummies, said vitamin D is helpful when it comes to fighting infections. “Vitamin D affects the immune system, resulting in changes that suppress how much inflammation the immune system causes while fighting an infection,” said Rubin. So if you want to keep your immune system performing optimally, make sure to get enough of the vitamin either through food, sun, or supplements.
2. Reduced cancer risk
There have been studies that suggest vitamin D could help protect against colon cancer and some cancers of the breast and prostate. Specifically, when it came to studies of cancer cells and of tumors in mice, vitamin D was suggested to be responsible for the slowing or prevention of the development of cancer. This includes decreased cancer cell growth, faster cell death, and reduction of tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis).
3. Reduction of inflammation
Vitamin D is also an inflammation fighter. Those who are deficient in this vitamin could be at increased risk for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes. In addition, taking vitamin D supplements may also reduce inflammation linked to certain age-related diseases. “Vitamin D is critical for strong, healthy bones throughout your life. Getting enough from the sun can be a challenge when you’re wearing sunscreen to protect your skin. And very few foods contain vitamin D besides fortified milk, so it can be tough to rely on your diet to get vitamin D. For many people a vitamin D supplement is a good idea,” said Dr. Arefa Cassoobhoy, internal medicine physician and Web MD’s medical editor. You’ll need to use caution, however, when adding any type supplements to your diet. This is because drugs and supplements could interact with each other and cause some side effects. Make sure to check with your doctor before adding any new supplements.
4. Lower blood pressure
If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure, the essential vitamin may be just the what you need. Research demonstrates a correlation between hypertension and vitamin D. Those with higher levels have a tendency toward lower blood pressure and have a reduced likelihood of having hypertension.