Vigor and Vitality – Pretty much everyone knows the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet, but many people may not truly understand what that means. For instance, there’s the major food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and dairy), but you also have to consider vitamins and minerals. In fact, many people are vitamin deficient and may not even know it. The most common vitamin deficiencies are vitamins B6, B12, and vitamin D.
Symptoms of a Vitamin D Deficiency
It’s actually very common for people to have a deficiency in vitamins, especially vitamin D. However, a medical diagnosis is required to verify, and not everyone shows symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency. Of those who do show symptoms, the most common ones include:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Getting sick often
- Recurring infections
- Back aches
- Bone and muscle pain
- Anxiety and depression
- Inability for wounds to heal
- Hair loss
- Bone loss (in the most severe cases)
As we age, we lose bone density and our bones become more brittle. This is why many older adults (especially women) are susceptible to bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Best Sources of Vitamin D
It’s possible to get an adequate amount of vitamin D through a proper diet, but sometimes supplements are needed. If you’re generally healthy, you won’t need to use vitamin D supplements unless directed by a doctor. Your doctor will also determine the correct dosage of vitamin D to consume (if required) in supplement form. Some of the best food sources of vitamin D include:
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, etc.)
- Fortified cereal
- Juices with added vitamin D
- Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products
Sunlight is also a good source of vitamin D, so make sure you spend time outdoors but still protect your skin with sunscreen. Also, many vitamins and minerals can be paired together to get the maximum benefits of both, and this is called nutrient synergy. Vitamin D paired with calcium and vitamin K gives you the benefits of the mineral and both vitamins.
Benefits of Vitamin D
One of the most well-known benefits of vitamin D is that it supports bone health. As mentioned before, this is extremely important as we age because we lose bone density. The stronger our bones are, the better quality of life we’ll have as we age. Elder falls are a common injury in later life, whether these falls occur in a nursing home or in one’s own home. These falls can be serious, causing severe injuries and even death.
Vitamin D is also a great energy booster. This makes sense because a lack of vitamin D can make you feel extremely tired. Increasing your intake of vitamin D can increase your workout performance by giving an extra boost of energy and improving lung function. Vitamin D also helps you to get a better night’s sleep, which also leads to increased energy levels. It also boosts your mood.
Other benefits of vitamin D include:
- Boosts testosterone in men
- Regulates insulin levels and combats diabetes
- Aids in weight loss
- Reduces your risk of getting the flu
- May help prevent allergies in children
- Strengthens teeth
- Supports heart health
Remember that while you’re increasing your intake of vitamin D, it’s also important to make sure that you’re getting an adequate amount of other vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other essential nutrients.
Don’t take vitamin D supplements unless you have been instructed to do so by a medical professional because there is such a thing as too much vitamin D. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin (along with vitamins A, E, and K), and that means since it can be stored in the body, we don’t need to replenish it as much as water-soluble vitamins. Just remember to eat a diet high in fiber (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables), complex carbohydrates, and healthy proteins (fatty fish and eggs).