Vitamin D: Why the sunshine vitamin is important for good health

4 minutes

Key takeaways

  • Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, supporting the immune system, and promoting muscle function.
  • While sunlight exposure is the best source of vitamin D, it can also be obtained from certain foods like oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods. Supplementation may be necessary, especially for those with limited sunlight exposure.

When we think about essential vitamins, we usually think of vitamin C for boosting the immune system or vitamin B12 for energy. However, one vitamin that is often overlooked is vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D and calcium, together, can help prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin D also plays an important role in the immune system and muscle function. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D is not present in many foods.

Chase the sun

Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces vitamin D3, which is then converted by the liver and kidneys into its active form, calcitriol. It’s recommended to spend 10-15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, two to three times a week, to help the body produce vitamin D. After that, it’s important to apply sunscreen to protect the skin.

Living in a country where there is little sunlight or spending most of our time indoors can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, it’s important to get enough vitamin D, either through sunlight exposure or supplementation.

Foods rich in Vitamin D

If we’re not getting enough vitamin D through sunlight, another way we can obtain it is through our diet. Vitamin D is obtained naturally through exposure to sunlight and from certain foods, such as oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals.

Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the diets of people in the United States. However, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone, which is why supplementation such as multivitamin/multimineral supplements is recommended.

How much Vitamin D do I need?

As the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) advises, the amount of vitamin D you need each day depends on your age. The average daily recommended amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg), and International Units (IU):

  • Birth to 12 months: 10 mcg (400 IU)
  • Children 1–13 years: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Teens 14–18 years: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adults 19–70 years: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adults 71 years and older: 20 mcg (800 IU)
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding: 15 mcg (600 IU)

Many of BioGaia's probiotics for adults and probiotics for children also contain vitamin D. Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system and is needed for normal growth and development of bones in adults and children.

Be sure to explore our online shop to explore our range of probiotics with vitamin D.

You can learn more about probiotics and nutrition here strains in our Learning Lab.

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