Vitamin D: Overview, Health Benefits, Deficiency, Food Sources, Risks, and Other


Getting enough vitamin D helps your bones and teeth grow and develop. It can also help protect you from certain diseases. It is a type of vitamin that dissolves in fat. There are different kinds, including vitamins D1, D2, and D3. Your body makes it when your skin is in sunlight. You can also get it from some foods and supplements to make sure you have enough in your blood. It has several important jobs. The most important ones are helping your body absorb calcium and phosphorus and keeping your immune system healthy. Getting enough is important for normal bone and tooth growth and for protecting against some diseases. Here is more information about the benefits of it, its downsides, how much you need, and foods that have it. For more research you can also visit Healthline. 

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a nutrient the body needs in small amounts to stay healthy and work well. It helps the body use calcium and phosphorus to make strong bones and teeth. It is fat-soluble (can dissolve in fats and oils) and is found in fatty fish, egg yolks, and dairy products.

What are the Health Benefits of Vitamin D?

Here are some potential benefits of it. such as: 

Vitamin D may Fight Disease:

Besides its main benefits, research shows that it might also help with reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). A 2017 review found that low levels of it are linked to a higher risk of MS. Decreasing the chance of heart disease. Low vitamin D levels are linked to a higher risk of heart diseases like high blood pressure, heart failure, and strokes. But it’s not clear if low vitamin D causes heart disease or just shows poor health in people with long-term illnesses. Lowering the chance of severe illnesses. Some studies suggest that it might make serious flu and COVID-19 infections less likely. A recent review found that low vitamin D levels are linked to severe lung disease. Supporting immune health people who don’t have enough it might be at a higher risk of infections and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.

May Regulate Mood and Reduce Depression:

Research has shown that it might help control mood and lower the risk of depression. A review of 7,534 people found that those with negative emotions who took supplements felt better. Vitamin D supplements might help people with depression who also don’t have enough of it. Another study found that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for worse fibromyalgia symptoms, anxiety, and psychological stress, depression.

May Support Weight Loss:

People with higher body weight are more likely to have low vitamin D levels. Some studies suggest there might be a link between vitamin D and obesity, but more research is needed to be sure. In an older study, people who took daily calcium and vitamin D supplements lost more weight than those who took a placebo. The researchers think that extra calcium and vitamin D might help reduce appetite. Current research doesn’t show that it causes weight loss, but there seems to be a connection between vitamin D and weight.

What is Vitamin D Deficiency?

Several things can affect how well you get it from sunlight alone. You might not absorb enough it from the sun if you:

  •  Live in a place with a lot of pollution
  • Use sunscreen
  •  Stay indoors most of the time
  •  Live in a big city where buildings block the sunlight
  • Have darker skin (more melanin means less it is absorbed)

These factors can increase your risk of not getting enough of it, so it’s important to get some from other sources besides sunlight.

What are the Symptoms of Vitamin D?

The symptoms of it deficiency in adults may include:

  • Tiredness, aches, and pains
  •  Severe bone or muscle pain or weakness
  •  Stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips

A healthcare professional can diagnose a deficiency with a simple blood test. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may order X- rays to check your bone strength .

Is it Good to Take Vitamin D Every Day?

If you are diagnosed with a deficiency, a healthcare professional will likely recommend taking supplements. If your deficiency is severe, they may suggest high- dose vitamin D tablets or  liquids.

What is the Risk of Getting Too Much Vitamin D?

If you take too many vitamin D supplements, you can get too much of it. But this is unlikely to happen from food or sunlight because your body controls how much vitamin D it gets from sunlight. Having too much vitamin D in your body can cause problems it can raise your blood calcium levels, leading to:

  •  Peeing often
  •  Feeling indifferent or not caring
  •  Throwing up
  •  Stomach pain
  •  Being very thirsty
  • Feeling confused
  •  Being thirsty a lot

What food is highest in vitamin D?

Some foods naturally have it, while others have it added. Here are some foods with it:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Canned tuna
  • Cod liver oil
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolk
  • Regular mushrooms and ones treated with ultraviolet light
  • Milk (with added vitamin D)
  • Certain cereals and oatmeals (with added vitamin D)
  • Yogurt (with added vitamin D)
  • Fruits (orange) juice (with added vitamin D)

It might be tough to get enough from sunlight and food alone, so taking supplements could help.

How Much Do You Need?

There’s been some debate about how much vitamin D we need for our bodies to work well. Recent studies suggest we might need more than we used to think. Some of the big question about it are:

  • How we measure it levels consistently
  • The difference between free and total vitamin D testing
  • Figuring out when it levels are too low (not enough) versus really low (deficiency)
  • Deciding if we should check for low vitamin D or just treat it
  • Deciding how much vitamin D people need depending on their health and age ( like if they’re pregnant, have kidney problems, or osteoporosis)

For most people, a good level of it in their blood is between 50 and 100 nanomoles per liter ( nmol/L). But depending on your level, you might need more. Here’s how much it is recommended.

  • Babies (0-12 months): 10 micrograms (mcg) or 400 international units (IU)
  • Children and teens: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adults ages 18-70: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adults over age 70: 20 mcg (800 IU)
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding people: 15 mcg (600 IU)

How to Get More Vitamin D from the Sun?

The sun is a great source of it for our bodies. How much time in the sun a person needs each day depends on things like their skin color. It is really important for our bodies. It helps us absorb calcium, which is good for our bones. It also helps our bones grow, heal, and keeps our immune system working well. This article talks about how our bodies get it from the sun, tips for getting the most it from sunlight, and other ways to get it.

What are the Tips for Getting Vitamin D from the Sun?

When sunlight touches the skin, the body starts making it. You don’t have to get a tan or sunburn to get it. The body makes enough in about half the time it takes for the skin burn. Several things affect how much it you get from the sun:

  • Time of Day: You make it more when the sun is highest in the sky, around midday. If you’re out in the hot sun for a long time, use sunscreen and drink water.
  • Amount of Skin Exposed: The more skin you show, The more skin you show, the more vitamin D your body makes. Showing your back, for example, lets your body make it than just showing your hands and face.
  • Skin Color: Lighter skin makes it faster than darker skin.
  • Location: Being closer to the equator helps your body make more of it from the sun. In the United States, people in sunnier southern states find it easier to get enough from the sun compared to those in the northern states, especially in winter when the sun is lower.

It’s good to spend some time in the sun, but too much can be harmful. Spending too long in the sun can increase the risk of skin cancer. Experts suggest staying in the sun for half the time it takes for your skin to burn before covering up and finding shade. This should give you enough without raising your skin cancer risk.

How do you Get Vitamin D from the Sun?

The body needs a steady supply of vitamin D for many different functions. The sun is the best natural source of it. Even a short time in the sun can give the body all the vitamin D it needs for the day. According to the vitamin D council 15 minutes in the sun is enough for someone with light skin. People with dark skin may need a couple of hours. Only a few foods have a lot of it, so it’s important to spend time outdoors regularly to make sure you get enough. When sunlight hits the skin, the body starts making it. But it’s important not to spend too much time in the sun because it can burn your skin and possibly lead to skin cancer. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is important for building bones. It also helps nerves, muscles, and the immune system work well. Not having enough can cause bone problems like rickets or osteomalacia, as well as osteoporosis, which makes bones weak and break easily.

What Factors Prevent You From Getting Vitamin D from the Sun?

 wearing sunscreen stops the body from making it in the sun. But being in the sun without sunscreen can cause sunburn and might lead to skin cancer. The body can’t make it when sunlight comes through a window because the glass blocks the sun’s rays that help make it. Some people’s skin doesn’t make as much vitamin D as others. Some may not release vitamin D into their blood well from fat cells. Also, certain people might not change it into a form the body can use. These people might have a higher risk of not having enough it like:

  • Older people
  • People with darker skin
  • People who are overweight
  • People with kidney or liver disease

What are the Other Ways to Get Vitamin D?

It comes from the sun, certain foods, and supplements. In the United States, here’s how much it is recommended each day:

  • Children and teens: 600 IU or 15 mcg.
  • Adults up to 70 years old:  600 IU or 15 mcg.
  • Adults 71 years old and over: 800 IU or 20 mcg.
  • During pregnancy and breastfeeding: 600 IU or 15 mcg.

Some foods have more than others. Eggs, sardines, and salmon have natural vitamin D. Also, most milk, some yogurt, and some breakfast cereals are fortified with it. Here are examples of foods with it:

  • 3 ounces of cooked sockeye salmon: 570 IU or 14 mcg.
  • 3 ounces of drained canned tuna: 240 IU or 6 mcg.
  • 3 ounces of drained canned sardines: 165 IU or 4 mcg.
  • 1 cup of fortified milk: 120 IU or 3 mcg.
  • 6 ounces of low-fat vanilla yogurt: 80 IU or 2 mcg
  • Three-quarters of a cup of fortified orange juice: 75 IU or 2 mcg.
  • I serve fortified breakfast cereal: At least 40 IU or 1 mcg.
  • 1 large hard-boiled egg: 45 IU or 1 mcg.

People who can’t get enough of it from the sun, like older people or those with darker skin, may need supplements. It’s rare, but too much of it can be harmful. It can cause nausea, constipation, weakness and kidney damage. Adults shouldn’t have more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day from food and supplements. Indoor tanning beds can also give it, but it’s important to be careful. Stay on the bed for only half the time it takes for your skin to burn. Use beds with low- pressure UVB, not ones with high-intensity UVA light.


Which foods are rich in vitamin D?

The best food sources for it are oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Other sources include eggs, yolks, liver, and red meat. It is also added to some foods like breakfast cereals, plant milks, and margarine.

Is vitamin D good for hairs?

When we have enough of it, it helps hair follicles grow and work properly. This triggers the anagen (growth) phase, where thick hair is produced. So, having enough is important for healthy hair growth. It’s a key nutrient that keeps your hair healthy.

What causes hair loss?

Hair loss (alopecia) can affect just your scalp or your whole body, and it can be temporary or permanent. It can happen due to genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, or aging. Anyone can lose hair loss on their head, but it is more common in men.   

Which fruit is best for vitamin D?

  • Amla: It is a very nutritious fruit used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has a good amount of it and can be eaten fresh or used in different recipes.
  • Mushroom: Some mushrooms like maitake, moral and shiitake, can produce it when they are exposed to sunlight.

How do I get enough vitamin D?

It is not naturally found in many foods, but you can get it from fortified milk, fortified cereal, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Your body also makes it when direct sunlight changes a chemical in your skin into an active form of it (calciferol).

What does vitamin D do for?

Along with calcium, it helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. It also reduces inflammation and helps with processes like cell growth, nerve and muscle function, immune function, and glucose metabolism.

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