What is Vitamin D & Why Do You Need It?

Published November 22, 2012

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What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that’s produced when your skin is exposed to sunlight. There are different types of Vitamin D, but the natural form is called Vitamin D3.

Why your body needs Vitamin D

The most important role of Vitamin D is to maintain calcium levels for strong bones. It increases the body’s ability to absorb calcium from food, reduces the loss of calcium in urine and releases it from storage in the bones into the bloodstream when required. Vitamin D also helps regulate body levels of phosphorus, another important bone mineral.

If you’re low in Vitamin D, you may be prone to bone weakness, fractures and osteoporosis.

Vitamin D is also essential for healthy muscle activity, and it also helps to relax the nerves. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to nervous tension, irritability or insomnia.

Dietary sources of Vitamin D

The best source of Vitamin D is sunshine, which allows your body to produce it naturally through your skin. The best dietary sources are fish liver oils such as cod liver oil or halibut liver oil, although you can obtain small amounts from salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, caviar, full-fat milk, butter, cream, cheese, egg yolk and margarine.

If you don’t have enough exposure to the sun, if you are aging, eating a vegan diet or a low-fat diet, or have a condition that affects the body’s ability to absorb fat, you may be lacking in Vitamin D. In this case, a simple supplement can be beneficial to your health.

If symptoms persist, seek advice from your healthcare professional.

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