The importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, and facilitating normal immune system function.
Getting a sufficient amount of the vitamin is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases. If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D, you’re at risk of developing bone abnormalities such as osteomalacia (soft bones) or osteoporosis (fragile bones).
5 Benefits of Vitamin D3
1. STRONGER BONES
When you think of strong bones, calcium often comes to mind. Calcium is the major player when it comes to bone health and increasing bone mineral density, but don’t overlook the importance of vitamin D. Previous research has shown that it is a strong stimulator of calcium deposition in bones, making them stronger and healthier. If you’re not getting enough of it, your body begins to slow or stop depositing calcium into bones, eventually drawing calcium out from your bones back into the bloodstream. Over time, this constant cycle of deposit and withdrawal will make your bones weak and at high risk for fractures.
2. IMPROVED MUSCLE FUNCTION
Short-changing yourself when it comes to vitamin D supplementation could be interfering with your strength gains. Research published in the Iranian Journal of Public Health in 2010 reported that over 70 percent of men ages 20-29 had some level of vitamin D deficiency. Additionally, its deficiency is relatively common in athletes and is associated with muscle weakness and atrophy, specifically Type 2 muscle fibre atrophy. Skipping out on this vitamin is just as bad as skipping out on leg day.
3. PROTECTION FROM CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
The classic function is to increase absorption of calcium to maintain proper bone health, but did you know it has a protective effect on your heart? Recent evidence has demonstrated that individuals deficient in vitamin D are at an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, sudden cardiac death, or heart failure. Although the exact mechanisms are unclear at this time, it appears that vitamin D can help lower blood pressure, improve vascular compliance (how elastic your arteries are), and improve glycaemic control. Save your heart by supplementing with the Vitamin D!
4. DECREASED RISK OF TYPE 2 DIABETES
Type 2 diabetes can lead to some devastating long-term complications, including nerve damage, heart disease, eye damage and vision loss, and kidney failure. Recent evidence suggests that it may play a significant role in reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes—especially in those who are at an increased risk for this deadly disease. Several observational studies have shown improvements in beta cell function, insulin sensitivity, and whole-body inflammation with higher levels of vitamin D. A recent study calculated the risk of developing type 2 diabetes according to baseline vitamin D status and found those with the highest baseline levels had a 38 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with the lowest vitamin D levels.
5. REDUCED RISK OF CANCER
Is there anything this vitamin can’t do? Research suggests that sufficient levels of this vitamin in adulthood may significantly reduce the risk for many types of cancer, including colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate. Vitamin D is one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer-cell growth, and reduces the risk of cancer by increasing calcium absorption and cell differentiation, while reducing metastasis (the spread of cancer from one organ to another).
Food Sources of D3
Although few foods contain vitamin D naturally, some foods are fortified with it, which means that the vitamin is added to the food. These foods are:
- Egg yolk
- Milk (fortified)
- Cereal (fortified)
- Yogurt (fortified)
- Orange juice (fortified)
It can be hard to get enough of it each day through sun exposure and food alone, so in my opinion supplementing with vitamin D is vital.
Meet Your Needs for the D3
Some sources suggest that considerably higher daily amounts of this vitamin — as high as 2000 IU per day — are needed. The NIH emphasizes that people over age 50 generally need higher amounts of vitamin D than younger people do. Although the exact amount may be in question, the importance of vitamin D is not. Talk to your doctor for guidance on how to ensure you get the right amount for your needs.