Vitamin D: Should Everyone Be Taking It?
Vitamin D has a variety of benefits. It is said to improve immunity, reduce tiredness and bone pain, aa well as minimize symptoms of depression. That all sounds like everyone should be taking Vitamin D to get those benefits, but is this true?
Although it is called a vitamin, it isn’t a vitamin. Vitamin D is a hormone that helps to improve the body’s capacity to absorb calcium. Unlike other vitamins, it is hard to find vitamin D in the average diet, other than in certain types of fish, eggs —vitamin D3— and a few plant-based sources —vitamin D2. The body can produce vitamin D in the presence of UVB rays, but it is something that needs to be done carefully not to overexpose your skin to sunlight.
The thing about vitamin D supplementation is that it is not necessarily going to work unless you have a deficiency. That means that if your vitamin D levels are healthy, there is no need for you to take it, and there is no use in it either.
How Do I Know If I Am Vitamin D Deficient?
Vitamin D is associated with brain substances for mood regulation —serotonin— and sleep regulation —melatonin. Low levels of vitamin D are said to cause fatigue and other symptoms. However, waiting for symptoms to show up is not the most proactive way to find out if your levels of vitamin D aren’t where they should be. Talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to check on your vitamin D levels.
In general, vitamin D levels tend to decrease during winter —because of the lack of sun exposure— people with darker skin and those who spend too much time indoors are likely to need vitamin D supplementation.