Vitamin D is essential for your body to function optimally. Many of us are aware that Vitamin D supplementation helps the body absorb calcium and can promote strong bones. That is why it is often prescribed to those afflicted with osteoporosis, or its predecessor, osteopenia. Did you know Vitamin D has a significant role in many other body functions though? Vitamin D is involved in the immune system, muscle function, cardiovascular function, respiratory function, brain development and may even have anti-cancer effects (Reference 1). There are many more implications we are probably not even aware of yet. Needless to say, deficiencies aren’t a good thing for your overall health.
The primary source for Vitamin D is the sun. This can be problematic if you live in northern climates where the sun hides for months at a time, or if you don’t go outside often enough to reap the benefits of sunlight. Unfortunately, too much sun exposure is also linked to skin cancer – especially exposure during peak UV hours. Therefore, it is not shocking that people might limit the amount of sunlight they receive with these inherent risks looming. Considering this, it seems reasonable to take a Vitamin D supplement to help your overall health goals.
One of the issues with taking Vitamin D is that it does in fact help absorb calcium into the blood stream. However, once the calcium is absorbed, what directs it to the proper destination in your body? Elevated calcium in blood vessels can lead to plaques in the arteries. This can contribute to atherosclerosis, cardiac disease and stroke. Seems like a bad thing, right? The good news is, vitamin K2 is shown to direct calcium to the skeleton for storage (Reference 2).
If you are looking for sources of Vitamin K2, fermented foods seem to be a good start. Sauerkraut, cheese and nato (a soy dish popular in Japan) appear to be foods with high concentrations of K2. If you are looking to go the supplement route, you can look for Vitamin D that has Vitamin K2 or MK-7 (a specific form of Vitamin K2) mixed into it. You can also purchase Vitamin K2 or MK-7 separately and take it with your vitamin D.
Vitamin D does it all. It could probably file your taxes if you needed it to. Being deficient isn’t a good thing. If you think you may be deficient consider having your blood tested for Vitamin D levels. With proper supplementation or increased exposure to the sun during non-peak UV hours, you can get the levels your body needs to function optimally.