According to Cleveland Clinic and WebMd, Vitamin D is critical to staying healthy, but difficult for most people to maintain adequate levels.

The importance of vitamin D:

  • Keeping bones Strong – you need vitamin D so that calcium and phosphorus can be used to build strong bones.
  • Absorbing calcium
  • May prevent some cancers

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Depression or mood changes

Effects of vitamin D deficiency:

  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Infection and immune system disorders
  • Falls in older people
  • Cancers – colon, prostate & breast cancers
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Ways to get enough vitamin D:

  • Sun Exposure – 15-20 minutes, 3 days per week
  • Foods you eat – salmon, swordfish & cod liver oil
  • Nutritional supplements

Getting your vitamin D through sun exposure is a tricky thing. The effectiveness depends on a few things. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to sunshine, or rather the ultraviolet B (UV-B) radiation that the sun emits.

The amount of vitamin D your skin makes depends on factors such as:

  • The season and where you live; For instance, Cleveland Ohio, the UV-B light does not reach the earth for six months out of the year due to the ozone layer and the zenith of the sun, while cities near the equator have higher ultraviolet light levels
  • The time of day, the sun’s rays are most powerful from 10am – 3pm
  • The amount of cloud cover and/or air pollution
  • The melanin content in your skin, the darker your skin, the more sun exposure you need in order to get sufficient vitamin D from the sun.

Depending on age, you need between 400 to 800 IU/day, with an upper level of 4,000 IU/day.

Things that can cause vitamin D deficiency:

  • Cystic Fibrosis, Crohn’s Disease and Celiac Disease. These diseases do not allow the intestines to absorb enough vitamin D. As well as weight loss surgeries, obesity and kidney and Liver diseases.
  • Age and Mobility
  • Certain Medications: Laxatives, Steroids, Cholesterol-lowering drugs, Seizure-control, tuberculosis and weight loss drugs

Vitamin D is critical to maintaining a health bones, preventing cancer and a healthy immune system. We should all be assuring we are getting enough through nutrition or sunlight!