This post is part of the series Nutrient Spotlight... meant to explore the what, why, where, and how of important dietary players, with some culinary inspiration to get you started.
For the first HGN post of 2018, let’s give vitamin D the Nutrient Spotlight.
What is it? // Why do I need it?
Vitamin D is an important nutrient for proper cell growth, reduction of inflammation, helping nerves carry messages between the brain + every part of your body, and aiding the immune system in fighting off bacteria + viruses. Adequate vitamin D also helps the body absorb + utilize calcium, and it may play a role in decreasing risk or progression of a variety of chronic conditions, including cancer.
According to the 2005 to 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, roughly 41% of American adults are deficient. Low levels are linked to suppressed immune health, decreased mental clarity, depression, hypertension, muscle aches + spasms, bone pain, and severe asthma + rickets in children. Low vitamin D also increases risk of type 1 + type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and several types of autoimmune diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis + Hashimoto’s disease.
In pregnancy, vitamin D helps the body utilize not only calcium but also phosphorus, and it promotes strong teeth, bones and eyesight for the developing fetus. Maternal deficiency is associated with increased risk of gestational diabetes, and may lead to muscle spasms in the newborn.