We need vitamin D in our bodies for many vital processes, such as building and maintaining strong and healthy bones and warding off illness. Vitamin D deficiency is considered a major health concern all across the globe. It is estimated to affect around 13% of the world’s population. How do we determine vitamin D deficiency? There are a few symptoms that can give us a hint: fatigue, muscle aches and weakness, bone pain, and severe mood changes. If you experience any of these, take a test at your local doctor's office to see if you have vitamin D deficiency.
There are three main ways in which you can raise your vitamin D levels quickly:
- Exposing your skin to sunlight
- Taking vitamin D supplements
- Eating lots of vitamin D rich foods
Vitamin D levels are measured in International Units (IU) and the recommended daily dosage is anywhere from 600 to 2000 IU, depending on age and skin colour.
Vitamin D is also considered “the sunshine vitamin” and uses the sun as one of its best sources. Although sun exposure can be very dangerous, it is one of the best ways to raise your daily vitamin D intake. That is, of course, if you live in a sunny area.
Spending anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes in the sun daily, between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm is just enough for your body to get the right amount of vitamin D.
For this process to work, you need to expose the skin of your face, arms, legs, and hands to the sun, without sunscreen. Sunscreen, windows, clothes, and even clouds can block or limit your vitamin D intake. It’s important to protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, but it can reduce vitamin D production by 95 to 99%.
Vitamin D from the sun has been shown to last way longer in your body than the vitamin D from supplements. However, exposing yourself to direct sunlight has some risky and dangerous side effects. Spending more time in the sun raises the risk of having skin cancer and possibly developing skin burns and skin damage.
Before taking supplements, you should always contact your pharmacist or your doctor.
One of the easiest and most efficient ways to quickly increase vitamin D levels is to take supplements. Considering the fact that sunlight can increase skin cancer risks to boost vitamin D, supplements are often the number one recommendation for people who have vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D can be found in many multivitamin supplements, but it can also be found on its own as well.
There are two types of vitamin D and both can be found in supplement form: D2 and D3. Some research has shown that D3 has a greater and more sustained elevation of vitamin D in the blood than D2. It takes approximately 24 hours for vitamin D3 supplements to elevate vitamin D levels in your bloodstream.
The main thing about taking supplements is that vitamin D levels increase gradually. If your tests reveal you have low levels of vitamin D, you need to consult your doctor to determine how much vitamin D you need to take to raise and keep your levels up. Taking over 4000 IU of vitamin D supplements is not recommended without medical supervision.
There are some vitamin D superfoods you can take to boost your levels. One of the richest natural food sources of vitamin D is fatty fish and seafood. The exact vitamin D content of seafood depends on the type and species.
Not every fish has the same vitamin D levels. Foods that help you boost your vitamin D are salmon, tuna, sardines, and oysters. If you’re not a fan of seafood, there are other kinds of food such as eggs, cheese, mushrooms, fortified dairy, and non-dairy kinds of milk that also contain vitamin D.