Do you often feel tired and run down? Are there times you have difficulty thinking clearly, regardless of how much sleep you get? If you answered yes to either question, you may be one of the 42% of Americans suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for good health and while it’s possible to absorb vitamin D through the sun’s rays, most people need to get vitamin D through food or supplements to reach the recommended daily amount.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient because it boosts your health and maintains strong bones by helping your body absorb calcium. Dietarily, it can be found in two forms: D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 is the more powerful of the two types with nearly double the strength. Each and every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D to help maximize the benefits of the nutrients.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential to many of your body’s basic functions. Muscles need vitamin D in order to work and nerves need it to relay messages from your brain to the rest of your body. Vitamin D also helps boost your immune system by protecting you from bugs and viruses, and for older adults, vitamin D works with calcium to protect from developing osteoporosis. Consequently, if you’re not getting enough vitamin D, you may experience unexplained fatique, difficulties thinking clearly, bone pain or muscle weakness.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Get in a Day?
Health professionals have found that a daily dose of 600 IU for individuals between 1 and 70 years old, or at least 15 micrograms of vitamin D, is sufficient for 97.5% of individuals, with a maximum dose of 4000 IU per day. Some people absorb the recommended daily amount of vitamin D through sunlight because they live in areas that get sun year-round. But the majority of Americans can’t get enough sun during the winter months and must consume their vitamin D through food or supplements.
The Best Sources of Vitamin D
One way to get your recommended daily amount of vitamin D is by choosing vitamin D-rich foods. Although not many foods contain vitamin D3, the ones that do pack a punch. Egg yolks, beef, fish, fish liver oils and cheese are all great sources of vitamin D3. In fact, a single serving of Tilapia contains one-third of your daily requirement, along with other essential nutrients such as vitamin B12 and potassium, making it an overall excellent choice for a healthy meal.
If you’re searching for vitamin D2, you can find it in mushrooms. You can also boost your intake of vitamin D by spending more time outside on a sunny day or by taking supplements.
Want to learn more about the health benefits of fish? Read up on the differences between omega-3, 6 and 9.
Photo credits: Shutterstock / Ileish Anna, Shutterstock / Halfpoint, Pexels / Spencer Selover