Last update: June 11, 2024

7 minute read

The Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Learn all about the power of vitamin D, its health benefits on our bones, mood, immunity, and more.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Jacquie Leone, NMD, HN

Learn more about our editorial standards

If you feel sad and unmotivated during the long, dark winter months, you're not alone! This may be due to low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a mood-boosting nutrient that you produce when exposed to direct sunlight. You may not get the amount of vitamin D you need from food sources, instead, you'll rely on sun exposure to make a significant difference in your vitamin D intake.

In this article, we explore the health benefits of the "sunshine vitamin" and how you can optimize your vitamin D levels all year round, even when the sunlight seems scarce.

    What is Vitamin D?

    Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that humans produce via sun exposure. When UVB rays from the sun hit human skin, 7-dehydrocholesterol is turned into active vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol.

    This vitamin helps with calcium absorption from the gut to the bloodstream. By regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, vitamin D plays an important role in the overall health of your bones, teeth, and muscles.

    Health benefits of vitamin D

    Getting enough sunlight and ultraviolet light may not seem like something that affects your overall health in big ways, but this couldn't be further from the truth. You need a regular dietary intake of vitamin D for a number of health reasons proven in clinical trials. Here are four science-based benefits of vitamin D3 supplements to fight your deficiency.

    1. Supports bone health

    Taking vitamin D3 with vitamin K2 helps keep calcium levels right for strong bones. This is especially good for older people who might have weaker bones or a higher risk of breaks.

    A study on elderly adults found that low blood levels of vitamin D existed in 20.3%-47.8% of the population. Not getting enough vitamin D can be bad for your bones, no matter how old you are. To keep your bones strong, make sure to get enough vitamin K and vitamin D every day.

    2. Boosts immunity

    Vitamin D3 is good to have during cold and flu season. It helps boost your immune system and makes it stronger to fight off sickness.

    A 2020 systematic review found that vitamin D daily supplements might greatly support immune health and decrease your risk to autoimmune disease. Current evidence from another interesting 2019 study found that lower levels of vitamin D3 were associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes.

    VitaRx Tip

    If you're trying to fight off illness, getting enough vitamin D in your diet can help your immune system stay strong.

    3. Regulates mood

    Vitamin D3 helps your brain work well and can make you feel happier. Getting sunlight gives you more vitamin D. This is why some people feel down in winter when there's less sun and less vitamin D.

    Research on adults has found that low vitamin D is associated with mood disorders like depression. Fortunately, regular vitamin D3 supplementation boosts blood levels and improves symptoms of depression, especially when a higher dose is taken during the winter months when there is minimal sun exposure.

    4. Supports muscle strength and fitness

    Taking vitamin D3 helps keep your muscles strong by promoting muscle strength and performance, especially as you get older. Healthy vitamin D levels are associated with greater physical performance, improved muscle tissue composition, and may even help to reduce the risk of falls in older people. So, using vitamin D supplements can help you stay strong and healthy.

    How vitamin D works

    Vitamin D3 is involved in many physiological processes and has been found to influence around 3,000 genes in the body. Almost all human cells have vitamin D3 receptors, making each dose a key nutrient for cell differentiation and growth.

    Essentially, the effect of vitamin D can be felt throughout all your tissues and cells. One of the most well-known health benefits of vitamin D is the ability to regulate the body's mineral balance for strong bones.

    It enhances calcium and phosphorus absorption in the gut and prevents calcium loss. This is essential for strengthening bones and teeth, promoting nerve cell activity, and regulating muscle contraction and relaxation.

    Older adults can often benefit from increased vitamin D production to repair weak bones and allow the body to take on a more active form. It's best to take vitamin D3 with vitamin K. Together, they help use calcium properly, keeping our bones strong.

    Vitamin K helps calcium go into our bones, while vitamin D makes sure we have the right amount of calcium. This keeps our bones healthy without any harmful effects.

    Boosting the baseline of both nutrients may help prevent the calcification of blood vessels and other tissues. Getting enough vitamin D will help you avoid bone fractures while keeping calcium where it belongs and out of your bloodstream.

    Symptoms and risk factors for vitamin D deficiency

    Many people, young and old, don't get enough sunlight, leading to low vitamin D levels. This is more common during winter when days are shorter.

    Taking vitamin D supplements can help boost mood and health during these times. You might not be getting enough vitamin D if you live in cold places, have dark skin, have trouble absorbing fats, or don't eat animal products.

    VitaRx Tip

    If you're worried about a vitamin D deficiency, consider taking a vitamin D supplement to make sure you're getting enough all year round.

    It's important to know and understand the signs that you may have a vitamin D deficiency. Certain medical conditions and side effects are more present when you don't get enough sun exposure or you have a vitamin D insufficiency.

    Talk to your doctor about your vitamin D status to decide your next steps and protective measures for your body's health. Some signs you may have low vitamin D levels include:

    • Falls and fractures
    • Fatigue
    • Sore muscles
    • Osteoporosis
    • Bone pain
    • Irritability
    • Tiredness
    • Irritability

    Besides getting more sunlight, the best way to boost vitamin D levels is through diet and supplementation. There are limited dietary sources of vitamin D, but it can be obtained in small amounts from fatty fish, grass-fed butter, cheese, egg yolks, organ meats, mushrooms, and fortified cereals.

    However, most people require extra support from a vitamin D3 supplement. No matter your age, you can feel the benefits of vitamin D supplements with regular, daily, intake.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Final thoughts

    The power of Vitamin D is truly amazing, from strengthening our bones to lifting our moods. But let's face it, with our busy lives and, at times, limited sun exposure, ensuring we get enough can be a challenge. That's why it's so crucial to make sure you get the right amount of Vitamin D.



    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

     Dr. Jacquie Leone avatar

    Dr. Leone holds a BA in Psychology, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and board certification in holistic nutrition. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Leone has developed and currently teaches science and nutrition courses for a nationally accredited institution. She specializes in chronic illness, gastrointestinal dysregulation, inflammatory conditions, and mental health. Her unique approach combines the wisdom of Eastern medicine with the technology and science of Western medicine, offering an integrative approach heavily focused on functional medicine.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

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