Vitamin D – The Bone Defender is a fat-soluble nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium, which is needed to maintain healthy and strong bones. It is also involved in several other bodily functions such as digestion, blood circulation, and the immune and nervous systems. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, so it is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”.
Although direct sunlight is a great way for the body to produce vitamin D, today’s lifestyle often limits, if not prevents many people from getting enough vitamin D produced that way, so food sources and taking a quality supplement are often needed to make sure a healthy balance is maintained.
Some of the best food sources are fatty fish and seafood. Tuna, shrimp, anchovies, sardines, oysters, mackerel, and salmon are among the most common and popular, but farmed salmon may contain only 25% of the amount found in wild-caught salmon.
Egg yolks are another potential source of D, but mass producers of eggs generally don’t allow their chickens to be exposed to direct sunlight, so the D content is generally much less than that of free-range or pasture-raised chicken eggs where the animals have exposure to direct sunlight.
Mushrooms, especially wild grown, make their own vitamin D from their exposure to UV light and are the only completely plant-based source of vitamin D. Mushrooms produce D2 (ergocalciferol) and in sunlight, the human body creates a form of D called D3 (cholecalciferol). While both forms are beneficial, D3 is generally considered more efficient and effective in raising vitamin D levels.
Supplements of vitamin D are generally the best and most efficient way for people to be sure of adequate intake. As noted earlier, there are two main biological forms of D, D2 (ergocalciferol) from plants and D3 (cholecalciferol) from animals. Research suggests that D3 is considerably more effective at raising and maintaining overall D levels, so look for a supplement that contains D3.
There are generally two different ways to measure the dosage of vitamin D, and the recommended dosage generally increases with your age. Vitamin D intake is recommended at 400–800 IU/day, or 10–20 micrograms. However, some studies suggest that a higher daily intake of 1000–4000 IU (25–100 micrograms) is needed to maintain optimal blood levels and keep your immune system on point.
For more information about the specifics about vitamin D and to get links on the research, check out our Wise Women’s supplements.