Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient with a central role in maintaining health. I recommend intentional daily sun exposure to support the natural production of vitamin D in our skin as one of the best ways to get enough of this vitamin. But if like many these days, you have few opportunities to go outside due to work, school or weather, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Decreased or insufficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to:
- Suppressed immunity: Our innate systems of defense may not function efficiently without adequate vitamin D, allowing increased susceptibility to infectious agents.
- Increased risk of chronic disease: Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a higher-than-normal risk of heart disease and several kinds of cancer.
- Heightened inflammation: Vitamin D is a key cofactor in regulating inflammation throughout the body.
- Falls: Older persons with low vitamin D are at a greater risk of falls, which combined with a greater risk of weaker bones, are a major cause of hip fracture and chronic pain.
Speak with your doctor about checking your vitamin D levels and ask if supplementation may be needed. In the United States, almost everyone is vitamin D deficient, so checking your levels is highly recommended. In general, the recommended is 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day; look for supplements that provide D3 (cholecalciferol) rather than D2 (ergocalciferol), which is a much less potent for and short duration of action.