Vitamin D is what is known as a steroid vitamin. It is one of a group of fat soluble prohormones (a material whose function is to enhance the strength of hormones) that enhance the metabolism and absorption of calcium and phosphorous. Exposure to sunlight allows the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. Read further to learn more about the health benefits of vitamin D.
While there are five forms of vitamin D, the two that are most important to us are D2 and D3. There is disagreement between researchers on which of the two is the more important but both are used nutritional supplements to provide the health benefits of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is Important Because:
• It helps regulate the immune system
• Studies indicate it may minimize risk for developing MS (multiple sclerosis)
• One of the more important health benefits of vitamin D is that it may well have an important function in keeping the brain working well as we age.
• Vitamin D may help maintain a proper weight. One study found that the amount of vitamin D in the body before beginning a low calorie diet was an accurate predictor of success in losing weight.
• Vitamin D has been linked with reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women.
• Many different studies have indicated that those who maintain an adequate level of vitamin D enjoy a markedly lower chance of developing cancers when compared to those with lesser amounts of the vitamin.
• It promotes the absorption of calcium and helps keep sufficient concentrations to allow normal mineralization of the skeleton.
As mentioned above vitamin D is naturally synthesized by the skin when exposed to sunlight. As little as 15 minutes exposure a week is sufficient if you live closer to the equator and more is necessary the further north or south you live.
Vitamin D is pretty hard to find in nature. There are no fruits that have the vitamin naturally although you will find some products such as Orange Juice and Milk that are “fortified” with vitamin D. Among vegetables, only mushrooms have it. So, to enjoy the health benefits of vitamin D you probably need a supplement.
Vitamin D Daily Requirements:
The National Institute of Health recommends 600 IU (International Units) daily for both men and women from one year of age up to 70 years of age. After 70, the NIH recommends 800 IU daily for both sexes.