I saw this infographic for Vitamin D on Facebook yesterday and it got me curious to find out more about what vitamin D is and what it does.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that your body can synthesize when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) light. There are some foods with vitamin D, so we can get it through our diet. Foods like cod liver oil, wild-caught salmon, portobello and maitake mushrooms, sardines and eggs are high in vitamin D.
The preferred way to get vitamin D is through exposure to the ultraviolet B rays in sunlight, but that can be difficult for many either because work keeps us inside all day or we live in the far northern or southern latitudes where there isn’t much UVB in the sunlight even if we can get outside.
Because we don’t get enough from exposure to sunlight, we have to either get it from our food or from supplements.
What Does Vitamin D Do?
Why is vitamin D important? I think everyone knows that vitamin D is necessary for strong bones because the body cannot process and use calcium without it. Calcium is also used by the nerves that cause muscle contraction and beat your heart, so vitamin D plays an important supporting role in movement and circulating blood.
A lack of vitamin D is associated with a variety of conditions. The most common ones, other than reduced bone mass, appear to involve nerve tissue. Some studies indicate that insufficient amounts of vitamin D can contribute to increased risk for depression (including seasonal affective disorder), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.