Do you get vitamin D from sun exposure?
Our bodies make vitamin D – which is more like a hormone than vitamin – when our skin is exposed to sunlight.
This is why those who spend so much time inside their homes or live near the poles are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency.
The prevalence of skin cancer has encouraged the recommendation to reduce direct exposure to sunlight, but this recommendation may have inadvertently increased the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. It is true that you maintain balance.
It is important to be exposed to the sun for short periods to make your skin vitamin D. Many NIHs recommend exposing skin between 5 and 30 minutes to sunlight directly between 10a.m and 3 p.m. on the face, arms, legs or back twice a week.
What foods are rich in vitamin D?
Other than sunlight, you can get vitamin D from certain foods. Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel have the highest percentage, but they are also found in egg yolks, beef, cheese and some mushrooms.
Supplements can be an important part of the process of reaching optimal vitamin D levels, but it is impossible to know what dosage you should take without a blood test to see what level of your blood.
What does vitamin D do?
Optimal vitamin D levels can benefit many organs of the body such as musculoskeletal, immune system, cognitive function, mental health, digestive system, hair, skin, etc.
Does vitamin D strengthen teeth?
A 2012 comprehensive review and analysis of 24 clinical trials that examined a total of 2,827 participants found that taking vitamin D significantly reduced the likelihood of tooth decay in children and adults. Another study conducted in 2012 found that children who already had tooth decay were more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Of the 102 children with tooth decay, 66% were deficient in vitamin D, 27% had a minimum health level, and only 7% had adequate levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D cannot cure tooth decay that already exists. Talk to your dentist if you have current problems with your teeth.
Does vitamin D help strengthen the immune system?
A 2010 randomized trial looked at vitamin D supplementation and influenza in schoolchildren, and found that children who took 1,200 IU of vitamin D daily were less likely to develop influenza A during the flu season.
In a 2017 study, vitamin D deficiency was found to increase the risk of autoimmune diseases and infection, while optimal vitamin D levels supported immune function. A 2017 systematic review and comprehensive analysis of 10,933 participants in 25 controlled randomized trials concluded that vitamin D supplementation was useful in preventing acute respiratory infections, especially in previously severely deficient patients.
Hair health studies have found that patients with autoimmune disorders that affect hair growth such as alopecia often suffer from vitamin D deficiency and supplements may help hair growth. A study was conducted on women with female hair loss and carburetor hair loss – a scalp disorder – with vitamin D and the results were conflicting.
More research is needed to see if vitamin D is important in these cases.
Can Vitamin D benefit mental health?
A study of rat cells showed that vitamin D maintains appropriate serotonin levels – a neurotransmitter associated with wellness – in the brain. Some genetic evidence suggests that vitamin D is responsible for making serotonin and can work similarly to antidepressant medications.
A review of studies from 1995 to 2017 found that taking vitamin D with traditional antidepressant medications may improve the effectiveness of the drug, but there was no obvious benefit for other specific psychiatric conditions.
A different review article for 2017 found supporting evidence of vitamin D as a therapeutic supplement for children and adolescents with mental health problems, but the consequences for adult mental health diseases were conflicting. It is sometimes suggested that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is caused by vitamin D deficiency.
This has been studied, but like many other mental health disorders, the results are mixed and inconclusive. Taking vitamin D supplements may be helpful in maintaining positive, healthy behavior and a sense of mental well-being. However, more research is needed to confirm whether this is a useful treatment for mental health disorders.
Is vitamin D important for bone strengthening?
Calcium is widely known as an important building block for bones and muscles, and vitamin D is a key nutrient that may help to properly absorb calcium in the small intestine.
Can vitamin D deficiency cause digestive problems?
A 2019 study found that vitamin D deficiency is a cause of celiac disease. Of the 200 teenagers with vitamin deficiencies, nine were diagnosed with celiac disease. Intestinal damage caused by gluten intake in people with celiac disease makes absorption of nutrients difficult. Proper fat digestion is often impaired in people with digestive disorders, exacerbating the problem because vitamin D is a fat-melting vitamin.
Another 2013 study found that patients with celiac disease who also suffer from vitamin D deficiency are more likely to develop psoriasis and anemia. Research has found that inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, may increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency, especially those living near upper latitudes and in the winter months.
This research concluded that vitamin D is important for maintaining intestinal health, may have an effect on the microbiome, and is important for the health of intestinal immunity. However, it is unclear whether this deficiency is the result or cause of inflammatory bowel disease.
How does obesity affect vitamin D levels?
Research has shown that obesity leads to lower levels of vitamin D. This may be because it dissolves in fat, so vitamin stores hide in fatty tissue and do not appear in blood tests. Possible mechanisms suggest that vitamin D supplementation may help maintain a healthy weight. However, studies that have tried to look at this relationship have not reached conclusions strong enough to recommend it.