Vitamin D (also known as the sunshine vitamin), is produced by the body in response to sun exposure.
Vitamin D is important in the body for a number of reasons such as maintaining strong, healthy bones, preventing depression and reducing the risk of a range of conditions including cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from food so it’s important in helping prevent fractures and brittle bones. This is especially important in children, so they can avoid conditions such as rickets, a cause of bowed legs, knock knees, and weak bones.
Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body, helping to:
- Maintain the health of bones and teeth.
- Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system
- Prevent type 1 and 2 diabetes
- Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management.
- Support lung function and cardiovascular health.
- Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.
- Improve cognitive development and function
- Prevent/reduce symptoms of depression
Most people get vitamin D from sunlight. When the sun shines on your bare skin, your body produces its own vitamin D.
It is estimated that sun exposure on bare skin for roughly 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times per week allows most people to produce enough vitamin D, but it breaks down quickly so during cloudy months such as winter, vitamin D stores might run low.
If you’re running low, you may feel tired, depressed, sluggish and may find you’re getting sick more often. If this is the case, Vitamin D can be found in foods such as fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon), some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals. Otherwise, vitamin D supplements will do the trick!
Learn more about the benefits of vitamin D in the body through the online natural medicine courses offered at the Australian School of Herbal Medicine.