Have you ever noticed that you feel better after spending some time outside? This might be because sunshine can do more than just brighten your day. Our bodies can actually convert sunlight into vitamin D!
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that our bodies need. It has long been known to help the body absorb and retain calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus – studies have shown that it can even reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections, and reduce inflammation.
Deficiency in the “sunshine vitamin” can lead to a whole list of health issues, including:
- bone fractures
- worsened osteoporosis
- pain, muscle aches, and weakness
- cognitive impairment in older adults
- osteomalacia (the softening of our bones)
Vitamin D is a team player
Aside from avoiding major health complications due to a deficiency, we can used vitamin D to support our overall well-being.
Think of your body as a sports team. Being short a player affects how well the rest of the team performs. The team may play a great game and still lose because an essential player is missing. Similarly, our bodies need all the essential nutrients to “win.” The nutrients in our systems were designed to work together. When one nutrient is missing, it compromises our overall health.
The importance of getting enough vitamin D
Some of the benefits include:
- diabetes prevention
- neuromuscular and immune function
- improved response to treatment of certain viral/bacterial infections
- calcium absorption, and therefore, better bone health (If you want to learn more, check out our osteoporosis blog!)
The Nutrition Source states, “Many of the body’s organs and tissues have receptors for vitamin D, which suggest important roles beyond bone health, and scientists are actively investigating other possible functions.”
Who is at risk of a D-ficiency
According to Harvard Health, risk factors in developing a vitamin D deficiency include:
- the use of certain medications
- not consuming enough milk, eggs, or fish
- disorders of the intestines, kidneys, or liver that cause malabsorption of nutrients
- having little access to sunlight, whether that be refraining from going outside or living where there is little sunlight available
Another population at an increased risk are people with darker skin because of their higher tolerance to sunlight. Harvard Health explains, “Because pigmentation can reduce vitamin D production in the skin by over 90%, nonwhite populations are at particular risk.”
Our bodies don’t produce vitamin D on their own, so how can we obtain it?
Sunlight provides vitamin D
As the nickname “sunshine vitamin” implies, we can get vitamin D from the sun. There are risks, however, to relying solely on this option. Extensive exposure to the sun can cause issues of its own. Additionally, as we age, our body is less effective at processing vitamin D from the sun. And we may not get outdoors as often as when we were younger. This is why a multi-faceted approach to obtaining vitamin D is usually considered best.
Foods are a great source of vitamin D
Our need for vitamin D increases after the age of 70, making it especially important to get enough vitamin D – through supplements and the foods we eat, or both.
Some great sources of vitamin D include:
- egg yolk
- beef liver
- fortified cereals
- raw mushrooms
- orange juice fortified with vitamin D
- dairy and plant milks fortified with vitamin D
- fatty fish (cod liver oil, salmon, swordfish, tuna, halibut, sardines)
Healthrageous provides well-balanced Made Easy Meals containing essential nutrients including vitamin D. Some of our delicious meals featuring vitamin D are:
- Oatmeal with Maple Syrup
- Veggie & Cheese Scramble
- Bacon & Cheese Scramble
- Butternut Squash & Chickpea Curry Bowl
At Healthrageous, we strive to make sure your nutritional needs are covered. This is why we offer nutritious and delicious meals. We not only provide ready-to-heat and eat meals, but we also provide you with digital health content and support to help you succeed in living your healthiest life.
Visit “Order Meals” in the menu at the top of the page to have nutrient-rich foods delivered directly to your doorstep. We want you to see how easy it is to get the nutrients you need!