Vitamin D: Why You Should Include It in Your Diet
From healthy bones to mental health, vitamin D is essential to your wellbeing.

In a time when we’re all a little more aware of our health, everyone is searching for ways to boost immunity and provide our bodies with some preventative maintenance. While there are a lot of different recommendations, one that’s gotten a lot of attention lately is vitamin D, an essential vitamin for the human body. Received primarily via sunlight, this vitamin helps your body in a variety of ways, so read on to learn some reasons why you should include vitamin D in your diet.

Vitamin D promotes healthy bones and prevents bone diseases

As we all know, calcium plays a crucial role in promoting the growth and maintenance of healthy and strong bones. For this reason, it’s really important for us to maintain sufficient levels of calcium as well as phosphate in our body. Vitamin D aids this process by increasing the absorption of calcium in our intestines, enabling us to take up calcium that would otherwise leave your body as waste.

Moreover, there are diseases that affect the bones of people of all ages, such as rickets, which softens the bones of children, osteomalacia, which causes softening of bones and poor bone density in adults, and osteoporosis, which causes low bone mass and bone tissue loss in the elderly. All of these could be warded off by maintaining proper vitamin D levels in our body. 

Vitamin D can reduce the risk of respiratory infections

A study conducted in 2017, with 25 randomised and controlled trials involving 11,000 people, concluded that, when given daily or weekly, vitamin D supplements reduced the risk of acute respiratory infections. It was also revealed that the strongest impacts were experienced by those who started the trials with serious vitamin D deficiencies. 

In 2021, the study was updated with data from further 46 trials with 75,500 participants, confirming the earlier findings. However, this time, researchers determined that the impact of the supplement appears to be quite small, contrary to their earlier assertions.

With already proven abilities in reducing the risk of respiratory infections, many researchers have turned towards vitamin D to explore its influence on COVID-19. Although some found several impacts of the vitamin in lowering the severity and death rate of the virus, the topic still remains unproven and controversial, and much more research must be done on the topic. 

 Vitamin D helps reduce depression

Some research done on vitamin D has demonstrated that the vitamin might play an important role in regulating a person’s mood and averting depression. A study carried out in 2008 with 441 participants indicated that those who were suffering from depression noticed an improvement in their symptoms after receiving vitamin D supplements. However, the scientists of the study suggested further research in order to establish more accurate relationships between vitamin D and depression. 

Moreover, scientists who conducted a study in 2006 in relation to fibromyalgia found that vitamin D deficiency was a common factor in those who were experiencing anxiety and depression.

Although the effects of vitamin D on COVID-19 are ambiguous, it is indeed an important supplement that our body requires to maintain good health. So, how do you get vitamin D naturally? The best way is to get enough sun exposure. When sunlight touches our skin, processes inside the tissues start making vitamin D. However, this sun exposure is always affected by factors like the time of day, geographical location, sunscreen, and also our skin colour. In addition to the sun, plenty of food sources like egg yolks, cheese, beef liver, mushrooms, milk, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, cereals, and juices also help us to get vitamin D into our bodies.

So, there you have it – a vitamin D supplement a day may help you keep the doctor away (while keeping your bones and teeth strong!). Just be careful out in the sun, especially here in Australia; vitamin D is good, but melanoma is definitely not. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

If you liked this article, check out our feature on maintaining your mental health after lockdown.

Sanda Arambepola

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Vitamin D: Why You Should Include It in Your Diet