Vitamin D normalizes your body’s calcium and phosphorus absorption and assists your immune system function. It’s also essential for bone growth and bone remodeling. Other roles it serves in the body include the reduction of inflammation and modulation of multiple processes such as cell growth.
How Important is Vitamin D?
Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Together with calcium, it also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. A deficiency is a risk factor for bone loss and can increase your chances of breaking bones. Vitamin D deficiency is alarmingly common among women in nursing homes. In a study of nearly 1,000 female nursing home residents, researchers found that almost 93% had lower-than-recommended levels.
Studies have also shown that not having enough of this vitamin may increase your risk of becoming obese later in life. Daily levels are affected by weight: the higher your weight, the more your body needs. Researchers are investigating whether vitamin D can help regulate blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes since it helps with the absorption of calcium, regulating sugar in the blood. Studies have found that people with a deficiency have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, but the link is not conclusive.
How Do I Get More?
The easiest way to get vitamin D is by exposing your skin to the UVB rays in direct sunlight. Some researchers suggest that 5–30 minutes of sun exposure, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., either daily or at least twice a week to the face, arms, hands, and legs without sunscreen, leads to sufficient vitamin D synthesis. But despite the importance of the sun for synthesis, limiting skin exposure to sunlight is recommended to protect against skin cancer.
Foods that contain vitamin D don’t have sufficient amounts and are unlikely to give you the amount your body needs. If you don’t get enough sun exposure regularly, your doctor may recommend taking supplements. If you have questions, contact Creekside Center for Women at 479.582.9268.