What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a “micro” nutrient that has a huge impact on the health of your brain, bones, immune system, and more. Vitamin D plays double duty as a nutrient and a hormone that the human body produces naturally. Your body also converts sunlight into vitamin D, hence its nickname the “sunshine vitamin.”

Its main job is helping the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus—two minerals that are essential for maintaining healthy bones and preventing conditions like osteoporosis. 

There are 2 main forms of vitamin D:

  • Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol): formed in plants and yeast
  • Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol): the most active form of Vitamin D which is formed by the skin through direct exposure to sunlight, or from food sources

Vitamin D Benefits

  • Bone strength and density
  • Natural source of energy
  • May improve your mood
  • Benefits heart health
  • Enhances immunity
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Boosts cognition
  • Bone growth and remodeling
  • Prevents rickets

How much vitamin D do you need per day?

  • Adult Women: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adult Men: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Pregnant/Breastfeeding Women: 15 mcg (600 IU)

Natural sources of vitamin D

  • Sunlight
  • Fatty fish, including trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolk
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Vitamin-fortified milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereal

Learn about vitamin D deficiency symptoms.

Further reading: National Institutes of Health