Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is required to maintain strong bones and muscles. Chronic vitamin D deficiency in adults results in osteoporosis, osteomalacia, muscle weakness, and an increased risk of falls. This fat-soluble vitamin primarily aids in calcium absorption, bone growth, and mineralization. It is also involved in the working of the immune system, digestion, heart function, etc.
Research suggests that vitamin D may help prevent various illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and heart disease. However, the relationship of vitamin D with these conditions is still poorly understood.
What are the ten effective ways to increase vitamin D levels?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is not received adequately by many people worldwide. Below are ten common effective ways to increase vitamin D levels in the body:
- Sunlight: Vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin.” Our skin hosts a type of cholesterol that makes Vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. However, the amount of vitamin D your body can make depends on several parameters like your skin tone, the exposed part of the body, age, etc. Reasonable exposure in sun from 1000 hours to 1500 hours is an excellent way to maintain the body’s Vitamin D Levels.
- Seafood: Fatty fish and seafood are among the richest natural food sources of vitamin D. Many kinds of seafood are also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, rainbow trout, mackerel, oysters, salmons, sardines, and anchovies).
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are the only completely plant-based source of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can make their own vitamin D upon exposure to UV light. Humans produce a form of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol}, whereas mushrooms produce D2 (ergocalciferol). However, one should always purchase them from a trusted supplier such as a grocery store or farmer's market to avoid exposure to poisonous varieties. Shiitake mushrooms particularly are recommended for vitamin D content.
- Egg yolks: Egg yolks are a common source of vitamin D that can be easily added to the routine diet.
- Fortified foods: Vitamin D may be added to certain foods to increase their nutritive value. This process is called fortification. Some common vitamin D fortified goods include:
- soy, almond, and hemp milk
- orange juice
- ready-to-eat cereals
- certain types of yogurt
- Dairy foods: Dairy products like Swiss cheese, cow milk, curds, and cottage cheese are also good Vitamin D sources.
- A tablespoon of cod liver oil contains 1360 international units of vitamin D. Consumption of cod liver oil with warm water or taking cod liver oil capsules may enhance vitamin D levels.
- Supplements: For many people, taking a vitamin D supplement may be the best way to ensure adequate intake. Vitamin D exists in two main biological forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Typically, D2 comes from plants and D3 from animals. Research suggests that D3 may be significantly more effective at raising and maintaining overall vitamin D levels than D2, so a supplement with this form may help in maintaining vitamin D levels in the body. Additionally, it is important to purchase high-quality supplements that have been independently tested.
- Ultraviolet (UV) lamp: Lamps that emit UV-B radiation may also boost vitamin D levels. When skin is exposed to UV-B radiation from the sun, it’s able to produce its own vitamin D. UV lamps mimic the action of the sun and can be especially helpful if your sun exposure is limited because of geography or time indoors. UV radiation has been used therapeutically for various skin conditions for decades, but recently, it has been marketed as a way to improve vitamin D levels. Too much exposure may burn the skin. It is recommended to limit the exposure to no more than 15 minutes at a time.
- Daily exercise: Research has proved that people engaging in regular physical activity like walking, jogging, and cycling have better Vitamin D levels.
How much vitamin D does a body require?
Usually, 1,000-4,000 IU is considered a safe daily dose for maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D. However, people may need much larger doses especially if their current levels are very low or they have limited exposure to sunlight. The optimal blood level of vitamin D is not concretely established but likely falls between 20 and 50 ng/mL. Calcium supplementation along with Vitamin D consumption is essential for structurally strong bones and muscles.
There is a significant debate about how much vitamin D is needed by the body.
- As per the U.S. National Academy of Medicine: 600-800 IU of daily vitamin D is considered to be sufficient for the majority of the population.
- The U.S. National Academy of Medicine further suggests that a daily intake of up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D is safe for most people, although much higher doses may be temporarily necessary to raise blood levels in some individuals.
- As per the U.S. Endocrine Society: 1,500-2,000 IU per day is required for the body.
- As per the Reference Daily Intake: 600-800 IU of vitamin D is recommended for adults.
- Daily consumption of more than 4,000 IU is not recommended, as it may be toxic to the body.
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