The Importance of Vitamin D
-Written by one of Flihh’s talented dieticians, Ryan Gebo
Vitamin D is a nutrient that is responsible for a number of important functions within the body such as supporting strong bones and teeth, aiding in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, maintenance of joints, supporting the immune system, and is an important factor in chronic disease prevention. Low vitamin D levels have also been linked to depression and mood abnormalities.
Vitamin D is a unique nutrient due to the fact that our bodies can actually produce and store it. Through an interaction with UV rays from sunlight on the skin, our body is able to produce this important nutrient. The interesting thing about vitamin D is that it is known to be positively associated with many body and brain processes, yet we don’t fully understand the extent. Researchers are learning more about Vitamin D every day!
While our bodies can produce Vitamin D in the sunlight, it’s not the most effective way to reach our estimated dietary needs. In fact, humans are becoming increasingly inefficient at producing this nutrient due to increased time spent indoors. Because of this, It’s not uncommon to be deficient in Vitamin D – studies estimate that about 42% of the population is deficient!
This makes it especially important to obtain vitamin D through other means – food and supplementation. Foods that are naturally high in Vitamin D include fish (like tuna, cod, herring, and salmon) eggs, and to a lesser extent – mushrooms.
Quick Tip: Try placing mushrooms in the sunlight prior to eating. 15 minutes of direct sunlight can produce 200 to 800 IU in 3 ounces of mushrooms (the daily Recommended Dietary Allowance is 600 to 800 IU)
Some foods are also fortified with Vitamin D, meaning the manufacturer has added vitamin D to the product to increase its nutritional value. These foods include: orange juice, milk, soy milk, cereals, and oatmeal. It is important to include vitamin D rich foods into your diet on a daily basis.
Sometimes food sources aren’t able to ‘cover the nutritional gap’ in vitamin D alone. This is why vitamin D supplementation is often recommended, especially in regions that experience a cold and chilly winter. It is recommended that we get 600-800 IUs of vitamin D daily to satisfy our body’s needs. Before taking any nutritional supplement you must review with your physician or dietitian to ensure that you are following a safe regimen as Vitamin D can be toxic at very high levels.
Meet Ryan and read his bio by clicking the link below!
About Sheri Damon, LMHC & FLIHH (781) 834-5750