Vitamin D was likely the most talked-about vitamin of 2020. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, vitamin D was the center of attention in the research world. Numerous studies explored the potential relationship between vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 severity.
Prior to the pandemic, research had indicated that having low levels of vitamin D can make you more susceptible to infection. For example, one systematic review published in 2015 suggests that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of all-cause and infection-related mortality among the general population. At the same time, the review also points out that the effects of vitamin D supplementation appear to be highly individualized.
Aside from increased susceptibility to infectious disease, and potentially other health complications, there are various other reasons why you wouldn’t want to have low vitamin D levels. In a previous article about the health benefits of vitamin D, Nicole Avena, Ph.D. and an assistant professor of neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, explained a few other vital roles the nutrient plays in the body.
“One of the major roles [vitamin D] plays is to help maximize the absorption and utilization of calcium, which is an important mineral for our skeletal system and teeth,” she says.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, vitamin D deficiency may also increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers including colon, prostate, and breast cancers.
Sourcing vitamin D from dietary sources can be challenging, seeing as not many foods are naturally rich in the nutrient. Fatty fish like salmon, eggs (with the yolk!), and mushrooms exposed to UV light are great sources of vitamin D. Other foods like cereal and milk are often fortified with the vitamin. Spending time outdoors under the sun is another way you can make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.
Ask your physician if taking a supplement would be best for you. For more tips, be sure to check out Get More Vitamin D In Your Diet With These Secret Tricks, Say Dietitians. Then, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter!