Vitamin D has long been known as the “sunshine vitamin,” but did you know that it is actually considered a steroid hormone and not a vitamin? Vitamin D is so powerful that it affects almost every cell in the body. However, it is something that most Americans aren’t getting enough of.
In this post, we are going to focus on vitamin D’s amazing ability to help support a strong immune system, a positive mood, and we'll talk about how much you need to ensure you are getting enough.
How Does Vitamin D Boost Immunity?
Vitamin D has been in the spotlight for quite some time now when it comes to its effect on the immune system. Studies have found that vitamin D deficiencies are linked to an increased susceptibility to infections as well as increased autoimmunity. There’s also a laundry list of other conditions that may manifest or be aggravated when you are not getting enough vitamin D. These may include anemia, asthma, chronic fatigue, eczema, the flu, infertility, high blood pressure, inflammation, and inflammatory bowel disease, to name a few.
Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that vitamin D influences approximately 3,000 of your genes and plays a huge role when it comes to the immune response in the body? No wonder we are so immediately affected by low levels. Vitamin D also helps the body produce antimicrobial peptides. These work to help keep infections at bay.
Fighting off diseases and infections stems from boosting your immune health. One of the best ways you can do this is to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. We will talk more about how to make sure you are getting enough, so keep reading.
How Does Vitamin D Improve Mood?
In addition to vitamin D’s impressive immune-boosting benefits, it can also be very helpful when it comes to our mood. Research has shown that getting adequate amounts of vitamin D may be a very cost-effective way to help those suffering from depression on top of supporting long-term health. Other studies have found that the lower the vitamin D level, the greater the chance of experiencing depression.
The good news is that The National Institute of Health found that getting out in the sun helped improve mood. There’s definitely a connection between optimizing your vitamin D levels and mental health.
Since vitamin D also plays an important role when it comes to fatigue, it makes sense that getting enough can help you feel more positive and improve overall mood. When you are dragged down by chronic fatigue, it’s hard to be in a good mood. Think of how children act when they skip naps. Pretty irritable and cranky, just like adults get when we are tired. Something as simple as getting enough vitamin D may be able to help ward off that fatigue and help you feel happier.
How Can You Get More Vitamin D?
So, we know just how important vitamin D is for the immune system, mood, and overall health, but how do we get enough?
First, it’s important to know what to look for when it comes to a vitamin D deficiency. If you have never had your levels checked, it can be extremely helpful in determining where your levels stand. Here is what you need to know when it comes to checking your vitamin D levels.
- 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered normal in those who are healthy.
- Less than 12 ng/mL would be considered a vitamin D deficiency.
To make sure you are getting enough vitamin D, you can simply go outside for some good old natural sunshine. But to maintain proper vitamin D levels, you should be in the sun for 20 - 30 minutes every day. One of the big reasons people deal with a vitamin D deficiency in the colder months is that they just don’t get outside as often as they do in the warmer temperatures. If you work in an office and do not make frequent trips outside, maybe try eating your lunch under partial sun to help increase your exposure a bit. Of course, you don’t want to expose yourself to the sun for too long, as you want to protect your skin as well. However, getting out for a brisk walk or sitting out and enjoying lunch can be an excellent way to boost your vitamin D levels naturally.
Second, you can also add some vitamin D-rich foods to your diet such as eggs, mushrooms, salmon, and sardines. It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, however. Foods that are labeled "fortified" with vitamin D, for example, often contain vitamin D2, which research suggests is less effective than vitamin d3 (the active form) at raising levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream.
Finally, you can supplement with a high-quality D3 vitamin. These come in capsules or even liquid drops to make taking them easy. The RDA for vitamin D for adults in 600 IU, but a growing body of science has found that 5,000 IU is actually the right dosage for most adults to get deficient levels up to optimum, so take 5,000 IU of vitamin D3. Make sure you get the right supplement though. Many vitamin D supplements are derived from sheep's glands (gross, we know) so look for a top-quality plant-based vitamin D3, like Smarter Vitamin D. It's also very important to ensure that your supplement includes vitamin K2, which is essential for directing calcium to your bones and teeth, and away from joints and arteries where it can cause health issues.
Vitamin D is often overlooked, but it is something that can greatly improve your overall health and even the quality of your life.
With a stronger immune system and a more positive mood, you may be surprised at just how much vitamin D can do for you. If you have never had your vitamin D levels checked, talk to your doctor about it at your next appointment.
If you know that you don’t get outside nearly enough or don’t eat vitamin-D rich foods, it may be time to boost that vitamin D food intake and look into taking a high-quality supplement. Plus, if it’s cold and flu season, you may want to support your body with some added vitamin D to help ward off any germs.
Safeguard your health and feel better each day by optimizing your vitamin D levels.