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Sunshine Vitamin: The Power of Vitamin D for Optimal Health

Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is a nutrient you need for good, overall health. It helps your body absorb calcium, an important building block for strong bones. Your muscles also need vitamin D to move, and nerves need it to send messages from your brain to the rest of your body. 

While vitamin D is naturally gained through sunshine, most of us do not get enough vitamin D from the sun alone to be beneficial, especially in the Northwest. Many factors impact how we absorb the benefits of sunshine including sunscreen, pollution, time of day, time spent in the sun, and skin color.  

Benefits of Vitamin D:

  • Helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis, especially in menopausal women and older people. There have been many studies supporting the use of vitamin D, in conjunction with calcium to improve bone mineral density, which may help reduce fractures. Vitamin D may also help improve muscle fibers which in turn helps reduce the risk of falls as we age.
  • Vitamin D may help reduce the risk of certain cancers by slowing tumor progression.  
  • Two of the most common risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, vitamin D has been shown in some cases to reduce these heart-healthy risks
  • Depression has been linked in some studies to low vitamin D levels.
  • Vitamin D can also help regulate blood sugar levels.

Where can I get my Vitamin D?

  • Foods that include some vitamin D are fatty fish (like trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel), fortified dairy (cow’s milk that contains additional minerals) and even mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light offer vitamin D. 
  • Sunshine, your body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, however, as we mentioned above there are many factors that impact this (another reason it’s important to get outside!). 
  • Oral supplements are often suggested as most of us do not get enough from food types only. 
  • We suggest getting your vitamin D level checked annually and speaking to your provider for supplementation recommendations if needed.

How much Vitamin D should I take?

The amount of vitamin D you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg).

Average daily recommended amounts of vitamin D

What happens if I don’t get enough Vitamin D?

Over time, vitamin D deficiency can cause osteomalacia, a disorder that causes bone pain and muscle weakness. 

For more information on Vitamin D: 

National Institute of Health (NIH), Vitamin D for consumers

Medline Plus, Vitamin D 


Posted January 05, 2024

Sunshine Vitamin: The Power of Vitamin D for Optimal Health

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