Did you get your daily dose of vitamin D today? Known as the (sunshine vitamin), vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods -- including fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks and in fortified dairy and grain products.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn't properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. But recently research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against many health problems.
Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Yet even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:
* Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
* Cognitive impairment in older adults
* Severe asthma in children
The sunshine vitamin may protect against a host of diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, type1 and type ll diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis, and cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon. Sunlight also has other hidden benefits, like protecting against depression, insomnia, and an overactive immune system. Treatment for vitamin D deficiency involves getting more vitamin D, through diet, supplements, and through spending more time in the sun.
To get your vitamin D from the sun, try spending 15-30 minutes in the sun everyday with no sunscreen so you can build up immunity to the sun without causing skin damage. Vitamin D is found in oily fish like tuna and salmon as well as in fortified foods like milk and breakfast cereals. You can also take vitamin D supplements. The AI for children and men and women up to age 50 is 200 international units (IU); 10 mcg (400 IU) between ages 51 and 70; and 15 mcg (600 IU) after age 70.
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