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Winter Wellness: The importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for overall health and wellness. It plays a role in the functioning of approximately 2000 genes. It is necessary for heart and respiratory health, balances minerals responsible for bone formation, regulating immune function, brain and nervous system functioning, supports healthy pregnancy and also acts as an antioxidant. Whew! This vitamin does a lot! On the flip side most people, especially in northern climates (hey Minnesotans!), are deficient in this critical vitamin. This condition is only exasperated in the winter when we are spending less time outdoors while also having to wear more layers making it extremely hard to maintain proper vitamin D levels.

This all comes at a time when we need proper vitamin D levels the most. Low levels of vitamin D can weaken our bodies natural defense systems and make us more susceptible to illnesses like the cold and flu.  Supplementing with vitamin D, especially in the winter, can help you stay healthy and avoid respiratory infections. Vitamin D can act directly on the immune system by regulating your body’s antimicrobial peptides, which kill pathogens directly.

Wondering how much vitamin D to take? Check out the table below. Dose will vary depending on age. More vitamin D will be needed to correct deficiency.

Daily recommended dosage from National Institutes of Health
Upper daily recommended limit from National Institutes of Health

Vitamin D is necessary for a variety of other bodily functions.

Bone & Muscle Health
Regulates the minerals responsible for the formation of bones and muscles. Deficiency in children causes rickets and osteoporosis and muscle weakness in adults.

Nervous System
Vitamin D is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Low levels can have a negative effect on mood and sleep.

Cardiovascular Health
Vitamin D supports overall heart health. Low levels have been associated with various complications and stiffening of the blood vessels. 
Pregnancy
Vitamin D is necessary for overall health and wellness. Studies have shown that proper vitamin D levels are linked to lower risk of many pregnancy complications.