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The Sunshine vitamin is not really a vitamin?! Technically true, but you still need it!
15 September 2021
Why is vitamin D so important? Is vitamin D deficiency common? What foods contain Vitamin D? We did a little research and here’s what we found out!
Before we kick off, let’s clear this controversy: is vitamin D a vitamin or not? By definition, it is not. What defines a vitamin is that vitamins are essential for normal growth and nutrition. As Vitamin D can be synthesized by our bodies when exposed to sunlight, it is not essential and thus does not perfectly fit in the definition of a vitamin. It can be considered a steroid hormone, but it’s commonly known as Vitamin D and we will stick with that in this post!
"According to some studies, more than 40% of the total population of the US is Vitamin D deficient."
Is Vitamin D deficiency common?
What is important to know is that Vitamin D deficiency is very common! According to some research, more than 40% of the total population of the US is Vitamin D deficient. Some age groups and people with certain diseases are known to be at a higher risk of the deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to osteoporosis, reduced mineral density, increased risk of falls and fractures. Vitamin D deficiency also might increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, cancer and multiple sclerosis. It is also linked to a reduced life expectancy.
Although vitamin D is produced from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight, we tend to not get enough of it from the sun. And why is that? The lack of time spent in the sunshine due to our screen-oriented indoors lifestyles, the lack of sunshine during certain seasons, and also the questionable safety of sunbathing may play a role here. In order to have your bones in good shape, immunity strong and to make sure to reduce the risk of some serious diseases linked to the deficiency, it is good to consider including Vitamin D in your diet by a very knowledgeable selection of foods or supplements.
"Become a fan of cod liver!"
What foods contain vitamin D?
Unfortunately, there are not so many foods that contain Vitamin D and to get enough of it from food, the diet needs to include these items almost every day. A good source of Vitamin D is cod liver. But for example, one large egg only gives you 7% of the daily required amount of Vitamin D and the same 7% could be obtained from 3 ounces of beef liver. 3 ounces of cooked salmon on the other hand gives you 75% of the required daily intake. In case you are not up to eating salmon or cod liver every day or if you follow a certain diet that does not allow these foods, you can keep your Vitamin D level in check by supplements.
"Supplements that use D3 produced from lichen can be vegan-friendly."
Difference between Vitamin D2 and D3
According to some research, Vitamin D3 is much more efficient in raising the levels of vitamin D in the blood than vitamin D2. Although D3 is found in animals, there are supplements that use D3 produced from lichen, so they are vegan-friendly. D2, though likely to be less efficient, is produced from plants. Some studies also suggest that it may be beneficial to combine D3 with vitamin K. Before taking any supplements, it is important to know the recommended daily intake that corresponds to the needs of your body.
In a nutshell, we need Vitamin D to be healthy. The deficiency is common and can result in serious health concerns. Cod liver and salmon are a good source of Vitamin D, but there are several supplements available to boost the sunshine vitamin level!
- “Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency and Associated Risk Factors in the US Population (2011-2012).” National Institutes of Health.
- “Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic.
- “Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease.” National Institutes of Health.
- “The Role of Vitamin D in Cancer Prevention.” National Institutes of Health.
- “Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis: A Comprehensive Review.” National Institutes of Health.
- “Vitamin D Deficiency.” National Institutes of Health
- “Vitamin D. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” National Institutes of Health.
- “Effects of High-Dose Vitamin D2 Versus D3 on Total and Free 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Markers of Calcium Balance.” National Institutes of Health.
- “The Synergistic Interplay between Vitamins D and K for Bone and Cardiovascular Health: A Narrative Review.” National Institutes of Health.