Perhaps you’ve heard of it: the connection between Vitamin D and happiness? If your memories of high school health class have faded, get the lowdown on Vitamin D happiness.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a nutrient that is necessary for your health. It helps the body absorb calcium, and together these two powerhouses make it possible for muscles to move, bones to strengthen, nerves to relay messages, and your immune system to fight off germs.
Vitamin D is so vital that your body makes it! When you expose your bare skin to the sun, your body generates Vitamin D. But UVB-filtering windows and sunscreen (all-important to prevent skin cancer) greatly reduce your body’s ability to make its own Vitamin D.
How Much Vitamin D Is Recommended Per Day?
One in four Americans do not get enough Vitamin D. On average, children and adults need 15 mcg (600 IU) of Vitamin D daily–infants need 5 mcg less and people over 70 need 5 mcg more.
More is not better. There are upper limits to how much Vitamin D you should consume, since (like most things) too much of a good thing can be bad. Consuming too much Vitamin D can cause weakness, nausea…even kidney stones.
Adults shouldn’t take more than 100 mcg (4,000 IU) of Vitamin D a day. Children max out even lower.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin D?
There are plenty of Vitamin D benefits, not the least of which is the link between Vitamin D and happiness. Vitamin D is needed by:
Muscles and Bones
Vitamin D and calcium are key for bone health and can help stave off osteoporosis.
Hearts and Blood Vessels
Supporting healthy hearts and blood vessels is just one of the ways Vitamin D helps your circulatory system. It can also aid in lowering cholesterol and reducing high blood pressure.
The Immune System
The immune system is incredibly complex with a lot of moving parts; Vitamin D helps maintain that balance. A healthy dose of daily Vitamin D can help your body fight bacteria and viruses.
Vitamin D Happiness
Vitamin D’s role as a regulator doesn’t stop with your immune system; it can also play a part in balancing your brain chemistry. Low levels of Vitamin D in the blood have been linked to depression. Getting the right amount of Vitamin D can improve your mood and bring on some Vitamin D happiness.
How Can We Get More Vitamin D in Our Daily Diets?
Okay, so you want those Vitamin D benefits (not the least of which is Vitamin D happiness!). How can you get it? Unless you live in a climate where daily sunbathing is an option, you’ll want to consider Vitamin D foods.
Vitamin D needs fat in order to be absorbed by the body–it doesn’t dissolve in water. That’s one reason the US government started fortifying milk (which has small amounts of fat) with Vitamin D. (A little history lesson : In the 1930s many children, especially those in northern cities, were developing rickets from a Vitamin D deficiency. The government chose to fortify milk mainly because children liked it.)
So now that you feel better about adding a little cream to your coffee, read on about the foods that carry some Vitamin D happiness:
- Milk. As just mentioned, milk is fortified with Vitamin D (about 3 mcg per cup). This includes all types of milk–cow’s milk, soy, almond and oat milks. Other dairy products (sadly this includes ice cream) are not fortified.
- Breakfast foods. Cereals are also fortified with Vitamin D, as are some brands of orange juice, yogurt, and margarine. Egg yolks contain small amounts of Vitamin D as well.
- Salmon and other fatty fish. I know what you’re thinking–fish for happiness? But it’s true. Trout, tuna, salmon, and cod (because of their fish liver oils) are the best source for naturally-stocked Vitamin D.
- Sun-tanned mushrooms. You read that right. While mushrooms contain small amounts of Vitamin D normally, some farmers are exposing their mushrooms to UVB light to boost their Vitamin D. It works!
Although it is always best to get your vitamins from food sources, you may want to consider supplements. Vitamin D is one of the main ingredients in most multivitamins. If you go this route, consider when you take your supplements. Vitamin D is best absorbed when taken with a large meal.
Remember, we are not physicians and this should not be construed in any way as medical advice. Always check with your physician before adding any vitamins or supplements or making changes to your diet.
Don’t Forget the Vitamin D!
We all want to be happy mamas, and that is a mind, body, and spirit pursuit. Vitamin D is what your body needs to be healthy and happy, so make sure you are including it in your day.