Often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is naturally manufactured in our skin in response to direct sunlight. Vitamin D is commonly known for playing a critical role in calcium absorption. But did you know that research suggests that vitamin D may have additional benefits ranging from supporting intestinal health to warding off depression? According to the Mayo Clinic, there is strong evidence demonstrating that vitamin D reduces the risk of:
- bone loss
- kidney disease
- lung disorders
- thyroid problems
- stomach and intestinal problems
- heart disease
The Vitamin D Council recommends that healthy adults receive 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
You may experience vitamin D deficiency if you live with reduced sun exposure, are pregnant, obese, have darker skin tone, or suffer from kidney or inflammatory bowel diseases. Many people never exhibit symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, making it difficult to know whether you are receiving adequate supply of this essential nutrient. If you have concerns, you can ask your clinician for a vitamin D blood test.
Severe deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to bone disease. In children, the most common vitamin D deficiency disorder is called rickets and is characterized by weak, soft bones. Later in life, vitamin D deficiency can result in osteomalacia, which causes pain and weakness both in bones and muscles.
Vitamin D is available in two forms, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Most clinicians recommend the use of vitamin D3, because this is form of vitamin D that our bodies’ naturally manufacture. Vitamin D3 has a longer shelf life and is the form of vitamin D used in most clinical studies.
Tips For Boosting Your Vitamin D3 Intake
There are many vitamin D3 sources that you can benefit from on a daily basis. Enjoy boosting your “sunshine vitamin” levels through:
- Animal sources. Vitamin D3 is naturally derived from many animal foods, including fish, eggs, and cod liver oil. Dairy milk is also fortified with vitamin D, typically 400 IU of vitamin D per quart.
- Plant sources. Fortunately, there is a non-animal source of vitamin D3! In 2012, one particular strain of Scandavian lichen was discovered to contain vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol at levels rivaling animal sources. A lichen is an organism composed of both a fungus and an algae living together. Other plant sources of vitamin D, including mushrooms, offer only vitamin D2 as ergocalciferol, which is not as easily utilized by the human body. Non-dairy milk alternatives are commonly fortified with vitamin D3.
- Sunshine. The human body naturally manufactures vitamin D3 in the skin as a response to sun exposure. Exposure to as little as 10 minutes of sunshine every day may prevent deficiency. Be aware that sunshine through the window doesn’t facilitate the manufacture of vitamin D, and too much sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancers.
- Supplements. Supplements are a reliable way to boost your vitamin D3, particularly if you are vegetarian, vegan, or you cannot get adequate sunlight. Consider products which supply your body with vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol for optimal nutrient absorption.
Increasing your vitamin D3 will improve your bone health and support your active lifestyle. If you’re looking for a reliable source of vitamin D3, every serving of UB Super contains 1000 IUs of vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol from lichen. Read our nutrition facts here.