Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

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Sunlight is only one piece of the equation.

It’s a commonly-held belief that spending more time out in the sunshine increases the levels of vitamin D in your body. While this is true, it’s not quite that simple. You’re not getting vitamin D from sunlight; if we could beam vitamins into ourselves with light, nutrition would probably be a much simpler process. Rather, when your skin absorbs sunlight, a chemical reaction is triggered in your body that breaks down cholesterol and rebuilds it as vitamin D. So while sunlight is certainly a factor, there are other reasons you may not be getting enough vitamin D, and that’s something that should have you concerned.

Like most essential vitamins, vitamin D is vital in maintaining a healthy body and immune system. To be more specific, the presence of vitamin D in your body helps you to metabolize important minerals like calcium and magnesium. These, in turn, allow your body to repair and improve your muscles, bones, and heart. You could drink an entire gallon of milk for its calcium, but without vitamin D to process all of it, all you’ll be left with is a tummy ache.

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Your body needs vitamin D to keep up with its regular maintenance. If you’re deficient in it, you may have a greater occurrence rate of lung and heart issues. Studies have linked vitamin D deficiencies to more frequent asthma attacks and likelihood of heart disease. If that’s not worrying enough (though I feel like it should be), here’s something especially unpleasant: urinary tract infections. Studies have shown that the sensitive muscles of the urinary tract, without the aid of vitamin D, are much more vulnerable to infections, and if there is anything that is decisively not fun, it’s a urinary tract infection.

So make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D from your food, and hang around outside for a little while to ensure your body makes some more from the sunlight.