Vitamin D, the vitamin that most know as the “sunshine vitamin” plays a much larger role in overall health than many of us realize — from hormone balance to immune and mood support, bone health, and more. But how do you know if you have a vitamin D deficiency? Since most people are deficient in vitamin D, it’s important to know the answer to that question. Taking measures to raise your Vitamin D levels can improve your total health in many ways.
Let’s take a closer look at the importance of getting enough vitamin D, what a vitamin D deficiency looks like, and then some natural ways you can combat it.
The Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, which plays a major role in our health. After spending some time out in the sun soaking up all of that wonderful vitamin D, the body will synthesize it and then it can be activated by the liver and the kidneys. This new activated form of vitamin D is what acts like a hormone in the body to help with the regulation of calcium metabolism. This is one of the ways vitamin D is different from other vitamins, as other vitamins don’t go through this activation process before the body can use them.
In addition to regulating calcium metabolism, vitamin D also plays a role in other functions:
- Blocks the release of parathyroid hormone which is a hormone that can lead to brittle bones.
- Supports the immune system.
- Supports muscle function.
- May help provide mood support and be a supportive part of the treatment for depression.
What Does a Vitamin D Deficiency Look Like?
We now know just how important vitamin D is for overall health, but what if you aren’t getting enough? Here are some of the signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for that would indicate your body may need a vitamin D boost.
- Getting sick frequently
- Feeling rundown
- Low bone mineral density
- Hair loss
Another great way to know where your vitamin D levels are is to get some routine lab work done with your doctor at least once a year to make sure your vitamin D levels are where they need to be.
Natural Ways to Combat a Vitamin D Deficiency
If you have a vitamin D deficiency, the good news is that there are steps you can take to boost those vitamin D levels in your body.
Here are some natural ways to get your vitamin D levels back up to where they need to be.
Take a Vitamin D Supplement
The easiest way to get those vitamin D levels back up is to take a vitamin D supplement like Smarter Nutrition Vitamin D3, which is plant-based and is sustainably sourced. Many vitamin D3 products are derived from bodily fluids that are secreted in sheep’s wool, and that’s not an appealing option to everyone, especially those who strive to follow a more plant-based diet. Smarter Vitamin D3 also contains vitamin K2. This is important because the calcium which the vitamin D3 pulls into your bloodstream needs to be directed to the right place — your bones. Vitamin K2 is essential to achieve this, and to prevent calcium from building up and then calcifying in your veins and arteries. So, when choosing a vitamin D supplement, you will want to make sure it contains K2 to help get that vitamin D to where it needs to be in the body.
Optimize Your Diet
Another natural way to get more vitamin D is to optimize your diet with vitamin D rich foods such as sockeye salmon, sardines, oysters, egg yolks, mushrooms, liver, and cod liver oil. Although you will see companies market things like orange juice and cereals as being fortified with vitamin D, you should stay away from these, as they are not natural sources, and will not be a great usable form of the vitamin.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
We’re not saying you have to give up your morning cup of joe, but limiting your caffeine intake may help support better vitamin D levels. As it turns out, caffeine may inhibit vitamin D absorption in the body. In addition to keeping your caffeine intake limited, try to take your vitamin D supplement at a different time of day than the time you have your cup of coffee.
Get Some Sunshine
This one goes without saying, but it just wouldn’t seem right if we didn’t mention sunshine as one of the best ways to get some natural vitamin D. Try to get out in the sun for 15-20 minutes every day to soak up that sunshine vitamin.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Get Per Day?
The total amount of vitamin D you should get each day depends on age, but a growing body of science is now concluding that 5,000 IU per day of vitamin D is the optimal amount to combat deficiency and keep your body and immune system running efficiently.
The Bottom Line
Vitamin D is super important for overall health, and many Americans simply aren’t getting enough, especially when we aren’t getting out in the sun during the colder months. If your vitamin D levels are suboptimal, or you just want to stay ahead of a possible vitamin D deficiency, try implementing these tips to boost your vitamin D levels naturally: get some sunshine each day, eat foods that are rich in vitamin D, and take a quality, plant-based vitamin D supplement that has 5,000 IU. Not only will your physical health benefit, you may notice a big mood boost when you get your vitamin D levels up to where they need to be.