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How much vitamin D should you be getting each day? Well, like a lot of other questions that are related to your health, the answer depends on many different factors.

Here’s a look at how this critical nutrient supports your overall health, why you need sufficient vitamin D levels, and what may happen if your levels aren’t high enough.

Why Is Vitamin D So Important?

Having the right vitamin D levels impacts your health in many different ways. Your body can easily store vitamin D and use it when it’s needed. The problem is that getting a good supply can be challenging.1 You’ll learn why in just a bit.

vitamin d deficiency | Unify HealthVitamin D serves many purposes in the body. One of the main functions is to make sure your blood levels of phosphorus and calcium are adequate. Both of these nutrients support proper bone health. If your vitamin D levels are low, your body can’t do a good enough job of absorbing them.2

And vitamin D also plays a role in making sure the immune system functions properly and supports the development of bodily tissues.3,4

There is also evidence that vitamin D supports healthy brain function.5

The Sunshine Vitamin: How Do I Get Vitamin D From The Sun, And How Much Do I Need?

The main source of vitamin D isn’t food. It’s actually the sun. That’s why it’s called the “sunshine vitamin.” Getting adequate sunlight is important to ensuring proper vitamin D levels in the body.6

vitamin d deficiency | Unify HealthBut while a vitamin D deficiency may lead to certain health issues, so can overexposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun.7 So, how do you get enough of this vitamin without increasing the risk of potentially serious sun damage? What if you live in a climate where the sun is often stuck behind clouds?

Thankfully, there are a couple of other options to keep your vitamin D blood levels where they need to be – food and supplementation. Talk to your doctor about how much sunlight you should be getting each day and whether or not other sources of vitamin D can benefit your health.

Food Sources Of Vitamin D

vitamin d foods | Unify HealthIncreasing your vitamin D intake through food can be challenging for some. That’s because there is not an abundance of foods that are high in this critical nutrient. Certain types of fatty fish, like mackerel and tuna, are high in vitamin D. Egg yolks also contain vitamin D.8

Other foods are fortified with vitamin D. In order words, manufacturers add vitamin D to them. Milk is one example. Manufacturers typically add 400 international units, or IU, of vitamin D in each quart. Orange juice, yogurt, and some breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D as well.9 While these fortified foods may be easy to access, they are often high in sugar which is damaging to your health.

What About Vitamin D Supplements? How Long Does It Take For Vitamin D To Work In Supplement Form?

People have been taking vitamin D supplements for a long time. The original supplement contained cod liver oil – a great source of vitamin D – in a pill coated with sugar.10

But how do you use these supplements to increase your vitamin D uptake? How long does it take for vitamin D to work when you ingest it in this form?

vitamin d supplement | Unify HealthIn many instances, a doctor will recommend a supplement to address vitamin D insufficiency. Every person is different of course, but in general, it takes a few weeks to get vitamin D levels to get where they need to be through supplementation. It may take longer for those that are overweight or obese.11

The amount of vitamin D you need depends mainly on your age. The older you are, the more you will usually need.

  • Babies will usually need about 400 IU of vitamin D per day.
  • Children (ages 1 and up) and adults generally need about 600 IU until the age of 70.
  • Those 70 years of age and older need a daily 800 IU vitamin D uptake.12

Again, always consult with your doctor before making any sort of change to your diet, including the addition of supplements. They will be able to address your situation, determine whether or not supplementation is right for you, and provide proper dosage.

How Might A Vitamin D Deficiency Affect Your Overall Health?

vitamin d deficiency | Unify Health

A lack of vitamin D production in your body can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. When your levels aren’t where they should be, that can lead to some serious health issues.

Children with vitamin D deficiency and low calcium levels can develop rickets and bone distortion. But older adults can also suffer bone problems if their blood levels aren’t sufficient. They can also develop muscle weakness and fatigue.13 Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may even increase the risk of developing a debilitating condition known as multiple sclerosis.14,15

Talk to your doctor if you have concerns. They can determine whether your vitamin D levels are where they need to be, or if you might have a deficiency. If you do in fact have a deficiency, addressing the issue may help you avoid major problems down the road.

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