Top Chef Meals: The Power of Vitamin D

The Power of Vitamin D

Did you know that most people in the United States consume less than recommended amounts of vitamin D?

THE STORY: Vitamin D - nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because of its ability to be absorbed via sunlight - has traditionally been known to be essential to the body because it helps the body absorb calcium for strong bones. Now research is showing that Vitamin D may be vital in protecting against a host of health problems. Unfortunately, too many people in the U.S. don’t get enough of this important vitamin.

HEALTH BENEFITS: So what kind of health benefits does Vitamin D offer? Here are just a few ways this vitamin can boost your health.

Supporting the immune system & decreasing inflammation: A good portion of things that go wrong with our health are due to chronic inflammation and low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to increased inflammation. There’s also evidence that Vitamin D can lessen the pain associated with inflammation. The sunshine vitamin also supports the immune system by fighting off harmful bacterias and viruses - a crucial aspect in the time of covid.
Treat hypertension: This review suggests that a Vitamin D deficiency may raise blood pressure.
Promote weight loss: Low Vitamin D levels are associated with obesity which means an increase in intake (particularly when paired with calcium as in this study) may help you shed pounds.
Fight depression: If you’re familiar with seasonal affective disorder, then you know how important sunshine can be in affecting one’s mood - light therapy is one of the treatments for fall/winter S.A.D. That’s because sunshine can brighten your mood and so can Vitamin D! While more research needs to be done to determine whether depression causes lower levels of Vitamin D or a Vitamin D deficiency can lead to depression, there’s absolutely a correlation between the two.
Help prevent cardiovascular disease: Growing research suggests that being deficient in Vitamin D is a risk factor of heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases.

D2 VS D3: There are two types of Vitamin D - D2 and D3. What’s the difference and which should you be taking? The main difference between these two D’s is where they come from. D2 comes from plant sources and fortified foods, while D3 comes from animal sources. Another difference is the fact that your skin makes D3 when exposed to sunlight, while D2 is formed in plants and mushrooms that are exposed to sunlight. While both versions will help you meet the recommended Vitamin D requirements, research suggest D3 is more effective at raising blood levels of Vitamin D.

HOW TO GET ENOUGH VITAMIN D: There are several ways to be sure you are getting your recommended dose of Vitamin D - 1) spend time oudoors in the sun (the amount depends on where you live but between 15-30 minutes a day should suffice, also note that you should still wear sunscreen!); 2) eat fatty fish at least twice a week; 3) choose foods that have been fortified with Vitamin D such as milk or orange juice; 4) consume eggs and butter in moderation; and 5) take a Vitamin D supplement, not exceeding 4000IU.

THE ROUND-UP: Vitamin D is an incredibly important vitamin of which you should be sure you’re getting enough. If you think you might be lacking, have your doctor test your Vitamin D levels and then make adjustments as necessary to improve.