The average adult can get most of their vitamins and nutrients through a variety of healthy foods and spending time outdoors. However, our daily lifestyle and geographic location can affect this nutrient intake.
This is where supplements come in. For example, some people take B12 supplements if they don't eat many animal products, or they may take a probiotic supplement if they're having issues with their gut health.
We wanted to find out if there were any supplements people should be taking on a regular basis to improve their health, so we talked with registered dietitians Amy Davis, RD, LDN and Johna Burdeos, RD to see what they had to say. Both dietitians believe that it is crucial to get enough vitamin D on a daily basis, and taking a vitamin D supplement daily can be a good option.
"The supplement I always recommend to my clients is vitamin D. Since most foods don't contain much vitamin D and we're inside most of the time, it's difficult to get the adequate amount of vitamin D daily from food alone," says Davis, "and vitamin D is crucial for immune health, so low levels are commonly associated with higher risk of chronic disease."
Continue reading to learn more about why vitamin D supplements are so important for your health, and for more health tips, read The #1 Best Supplement For Your Heart next.
Why do people need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is needed for many functions in your body. While you can absorb it naturally through sunlight, or eat foods rich in vitamin D like salmon, eggs, or yogurt, taking a supplement can help you make sure you're getting enough.
"Vitamin D helps optimize bone health by absorbing calcium in the gut and maintaining calcium and phosphate levels to strengthen bones. Vitamin D also helps decrease inflammation and modulates cell growth and immune function," says Burdeos.
What happens if you're deficient?
If you're deficient in vitamin D, you may notice symptoms like fatigue, muscle weakness, and even some feelings of depression. In fact, having low levels of vitamin D by not getting enough sunlight exposure is a common risk factor in developing SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, in the winter time.
"Deficiency in D vitamins can lead to chronic conditions as well as mood disorders," says Burdeos.
Who needs vitamin D the most?
There are many circumstances where you may benefit from vitamin D supplements, but you may not need them. You can talk with your doctor and get a screening if you're not sure. According to Burdeos, these are the common situations where you people are at a greater risk of being deficient in vitamin D:
"People who don't eat foods rich in vitamin D, people who don't get enough sunlight, people with darker skin tone because more pigment or melanin diminishes the skin's ability to produce vitamin D in response to sun exposure, people with kidney disease because the kidneys help covert vitamin D to the active form, people with certain digestive disorders like Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac's disease, people with higher BMI's, and people in nursing homes and hospitals."