Vitamin D and your body
Vitamin D is important for many aspects of health including bone and muscle health. It’s unique from other vitamins because it cannot be obtained solely from food and is naturally produced in the skin through adequate exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Unfortunately, even in this sun-drenched country, it’s estimated that up to 1 in 3 Australian adults are vitamin D deficient, which can have significant health effects.
What does vitamin D do for my body?
- Bone health and osteoporosis ‐ Vitamin D is very important for bone health. It’s essential for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are vital for the normal mineralization of bone. Maintaining adequate vitamin D throughout life can help increase and maintain optimal bone density and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Muscle health ‐ Vitamin D maintains muscle strength and helps our muscles function efficiently. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to muscle weakness and pain.
- Immune health ‐ Vitamin D helps maintain healthy immune system function.
- Overall health – Vitamin D is required for general cellular function in all cells of the body. It also helps regulate cell growth and cell differentiation, the process that determines what type of cell it will mature into.
Am I getting the vitamin D my body needs?
To obtain enough vitamin D, it’s recommended that people with moderately fair skin expose their arms or equivalent size body area to the sun for 5‐10 minutes outside of the peak UV period on most days.2 Longer exposure times are required for those with darker skin, in winter and in southern parts of Australia.2 Eating foods such as fish, eggs and fortified milk may also add to the body’s daily intake.1 People who are unable to achieve adequate amounts of vitamin D from the sun for various reasons, may require a vitamin D supplement.
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Published April 11, 2014
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