What you need to know about vitamin D

The benefits of vitamin D can help you be strong and healthy.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays many very important jobs within our body. It is often known as the “sunshine vitamin” because of the miraculous way that our body can synthesize it through our skin. Just 45 minutes per week from a fair skinned person or up to three hours per week from a darker skinned person can supply enough vitamin D. Sun screen, smog and clothing can affect the synthesis of the vitamin.

Vitamin D plays an important role in helping to prevent several serious health conditions. Calcium is a mineral needed for strong bones and vitamin D plays that crucial role in the absorption of calcium into the bones. While most bone is formed when a person is young, vitamin D can assist with the reduction of bone loss. Vitamin D has also been shown to help in the reduction of falls. Research is showing that a person low in vitamin D have an increased risk of falling.

Some large studies show that getting enough vitamin D can reduce a person’s risk of getting certain cancers such as colon, breast, prostate, skin and pancreas. Vitamin D can also lower the risk of high blood pressure. Although it does not prevent a person from getting high blood pressure, those with high levels of vitamin D seem to have a reduced risk of having high blood pressure.

Studies have also shown that low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes but there is no evidence to show that taking higher levels of the vitamin prevent or treat this disease. Higher levels of vitamin D in the blood have also shown lower risks of developing Multiple Sclerosis as well as a decreased risk of obesity.

Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna and sardines as well as vitamin D fortified milk and eggs. Exposure to the sunshine is another good way to get your vitamin D. You cannot get too much vitamin D from the sunshine or food but you can get too much from supplements. Always check with your doctor before taking a supplement as they can interfere with some medications.

Please check out Choose My Plate and Michigan State University Extension  for more healthy food information and menu ideas.

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