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Spring has Sprung, Let's Talk Vitamin D

With the changing of seasons, it's an opportune moment to shed light on the importance of vitamin D for our overall health. Often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin," vitamin D plays a pivotal role in various bodily functions, from supporting bone health to boosting immunity. Despite its importance, at least 1 in 4 US adults are vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D is essential for bone and joint health as it facilitates calcium absorption in the gut, which is crucial for maintaining optimal bone density and strength. Additionally, vitamin D helps regulate calcium and phosphate levels in the blood, which are vital for bone mineralization. Insufficient vitamin D can lead to weakened bones, increased risk of fractures, and may exacerbate joint conditions like osteoarthritis. Ensuring adequate vitamin D levels through sunlight exposure, dietary sources, or supplementation is fundamental for maintaining healthy bones and joints.

The most efficient way to increase vitamin D levels is through direct sunlight exposure to the skin. Just a brief period of exposure—about 10 to 15 minutes—several times a week can kickstart vitamin D synthesis in the skin while keeping safe sun exposure in mind. Talk to your doctor about SPF recommendations.

For those who may struggle to obtain sufficient vitamin D from sunlight alone, incorporating vitamin D-rich foods into the diet is a great alternative. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, along with fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereals, serve as excellent dietary sources. Including these foods in your meals can help ensure you're meeting your vitamin D requirements, particularly if sunlight exposure is limited or if you belong to groups at higher risk of deficiency.

Certain individuals, such as older adults, people with darker skin, and those with limited sun exposure or medical conditions affecting vitamin D absorption, may require supplementation to maintain adequate levels. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance on the appropriate dosage and form of supplementation.

Emma Nelson is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer. Emma is available remotely for all things nutrition related, whether it be general nutrition, pre/post op nutrition, rehab nutrition, or sports nutrition.

PHONE: 615.477.0602

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