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Vitamin D Basics — What You Need to Know About This Super-Nutrient

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Recently we went over the various health benefits of vitamin D (surviving breast cancer, strong bones and more) and the best ways to get more of it into your body (sunlight, foods, supplements). Today we’ll take a broader look at this wonder-nutrient that you probably aren’t getting enough of.

What Exactly Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for all animal life. At least five forms of vitamin D have been discovered, and two of them are important to human functions. These are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. This beneficial nutrient can affect as many as 2,000 genes in our bodies.

How Do We Get Vitamin D?

What makes vitamin D different from other essential nutrients is that our bodies can produce it in sufficient quantities without supplementation. All we need is sunlight. Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” with the proper amount of sunlight exposure, our bodies can make all the vitamin D we need. Of course, most of us spend a lot of time indoors and use sunscreen when outside, so we also need to get vitamin D from certain foods and supplements.

What Is Vitamin D Good For?

At its most basic level, vitamin D is used by our bodies to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorous in our bones. The nutrient also aids in communication between cells. What this means for us is that healthy levels of vitamin D will protect and strengthen our bones, boost our immune systems, help us maintain a healthy body weight, and fight certain diseases like multiple sclerosis, the flu and possibly even some cancers.

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