Vitamin D is essential for maintaining your health, but many people don’t know just how important it is. Almost all of us at one point or another have experienced low vitamin D levels, whether we have realized it or not. Symptoms often manifest as poor energy, insomnia, compromised immune system, and mood imbalance. That’s why I want you to know these 9 facts about D. Everyone needs to know these, so let’s dive right in!
VItamin D: What You Need to Know
You probably already know that the best source of vitamin D is the sun, something all of us rarely get access to on a daily basis. Without appropriate sunlight exposure, our vitamin D status decreases and our health follows. Here are a few things you should know about vitamin D:
1. Most of Us Don't Get Enough Vitamin D
In the U.K., not only is the recommended daily allowance (RDA) much lower than in the U.S., but also many people don't realize how important this vitamin is for bone health.  Because of this, many kids and adults there don't get enough.  But while U.S. RDA can sometimes be as high as 4000 IU, a higher guideline doesn't mean all Americans will get enough either. Since you get Vitamin D from both diet and sunlight, make sure you're getting enough.
2. Vitamin D is Insanely Good for Your Health
Some experts say Vitamin D not only helps in bone health but can also aid in heart, brain, and immune system function, even noting that lower levels can be associated with asthma.  Some suggest it could even protect against certain forms of cancer.  It's fairly well established, though, that maintaining proper levels can stave off infections and prevent bone brittleness. 
3. It Can Cut the Risk of Breast Cancer
A recent study suggests spending some time in the sun each day can reduce your risk for breast cancer. This exposure stimulates Vitamin D production in your skin, and that alone could cut your risk for breast cancer in half.  Opt for around 20 to 30 minutes of sun exposure per day without sunscreen.
4. Reduces Risk of MS
In Scotland, where sun exposure is typically low, there's a push to supplement the nation's food with Vitamin D. One source of Vitamin D is from the sun. Because of this, much of the population is deficient, and some experts blame that deficiency for a high rate of multiple sclerosis—one of the highest in the world. Studies suggest there could be a link between the two, and that Vitamin D could offer some neuroprotective effects. 
5. May Support Verbal Communication
A recent report suggests pregnant women with low Vitamin D levels are two times as likely to have children with language difficulties.  It's important to remember that a developing baby relies entirely on the mother for vitamin D. This makes it doubly important for expectant mothers to get enough of the vitamin!
6. Vitamin D Deficiency is Linked to Autism
With sunlight as a main source for Vitamin D production, increased sunscreen use, declining vitamin levels, and rising autism rates have had many wondering if there could be a connection.  While one study noted that autistic children do, in fact, have lower vitamin D levels than non-autistic children, more studies must be done before drawing a conclusion of any kind.  Regardless, it certainly seems to show how important Vitamin D can be to brain health.
7. Low Vitamin D is Linked to Premature Death
In a worrisome discovery, low vitamin D levels have been linked to premature death.  Research has found that individuals with low blood levels of vitamin D had a doubled risk of premature death compared to those with a higher level. If you're curious, your doctor can do a simple blood test so you can know your current levels of Vitamin D.
8. Low Vitamin D Boosts Risk of Dementia
I've already mentioned vitamin D's suspected role in brain health. A recent study even suggests low levels can boost a person's risk for dementia and Alzheimer's.  As we age, our skin becomes less able to convert vitamin D from sunlight, so while it's too early to draw conclusions, these findings could lead to updated guidelines for vitamin D levels in those over age 65.
9. Fears of Skin Cancer May Lead to Vitamin D Deficiency
More evidence is stacking up for Vitamin D's influence on health: one study even suggests it could protect us from high blood pressure, heart disease, and even stroke.  But fear of skin cancer is keeping people out of the sun, and that is leading to low levels of D. Consider getting your sun exposure in the morning or evening when the sun's rays aren't as strong.
One Final Thought
Vitamin D is crucial for the healthy body, but getting enough can be tricky as there aren't too many foods that naturally contain the nutrient. With all we've heard about milk and healthy bones, you'd think dairy products would be a great source. While milk does contain Vitamin D, it might be time to rethink all you know about milk and bone health. One study suggests it's not as helpful as originally thought when it comes to preventing bone fractures.  Since finding the right amount in foods can be tough, a vegan-friendly supplement is an easy way to always make sure you're getting the nutrition you need to support your health. If you choose natural sunlight for vitamin D exposure, follow this general rule of thumb: if your shadow is taller than you, you’re probably not generating enough vitamin D.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM