Vitamin D is probably the most famous Vitamin after B12, being seen as an essential part of the diet. It is also called the sunshine vitamin for its unique ability to be formed inside the body on exposure to sunlight. It is so essential that it is formed right within our body without the need for any oral intake.
The sunshine vitamin is often one of the most discussed topics among medical circles, especially after the 2007 study which concluded that people taking vitamin D supplements are 7.2% less likely to die than those who don’t. Another study later stated that women with low levels of the vitamin are more likely to suffer from breast cancer.
Do We Get Sufficient Amounts of Vitamin D?
With all the positive news surrounding the vitamin, you may think we are consuming an excess of vitamin D. Surprisingly, most of us don’t get the required amounts of vitamin D in our diet. In fact, more than 48% of pregnant women in the United States suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This can be attributed to the low quality diet that most of us follow, as vitamin D is present in just a limited number of foods.
The other factor that may contribute to the deficiency is misinformation. Most people are under the impression that our body produces enough vitamin D on its own when exposed to sunlight. The truth is that natural vitamin D production varies from region to region, and people living north of Colombia do not get enough sunlight for adequate vitamin D production. Besides location, skin color also plays an important part in sunlight absorption. People with darker skins do not absorb enough sunlight, which is why rickets and other bone deformities are a common problem in Africa.
Why Do We Need Vitamin D?
So the main question is this; why do we need vitamin D? The need for vitamin D was first discovered when rickets was linked to people who were not exposed enough to sunlight. Thus, it was concluded that the sunshine vitamin plays an essential role in the absorption of calcium in bones. A deficiency in vitamin D results in soft bones that may become misshaped.
Besides the obvious effect on bones, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to several other ailments such as breast cancer, heart anomalies and various other types of cancers.
How Do I Get Enough Vitamin D?
The most obvious answer here would be to alter your diet in order to add vitamin D rich foods, but that is easier said than done, since a very limited number of foods boast enough vitamin D, such as fish oil. The second option is to expose yourself to sunlight for 30 minutes every other week, but the risk of skin cancer is far too great to make this a viable option. Perhaps the best method is to use multivitamin tablets or vitamin D pills, which are both safe and convenient.