Inflammation is a normal process that is critical to survival. Short lived inflammation is beneficial, while chronic inflammation is the culprit of many common chronic medical conditions and even some autoimmune disorders. Hence, an anti-inflammatory diet may help decrease risk of inflammatory illness.
You may already know of Vitamin D as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is synthesized when sunlight hits your skin. But did you know that Vitamin D is also considered an anti-inflammatory vitamin? This is because lack of Vitamin D is linked with some diseases of inflammation, including heart disease, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer.
People living in the northern part of the United States as well as those with darker pigmented skin often don’t get enough Vitamin D. Even those living in other parts of the U.S. may not get adequate Vitamin D as they try to protect themselves from skin cancer.
Food sources of Vitamin D include liver, egg yolk, some fatty fish, and mushrooms. Vitamin D is also added to some foods, including all dairy milk and some brands of dairy alternatives (soy, almond, and rice milks). Given the limited selection of natural food sources, many people have difficulty getting their Vitamin D needs from food.
So what to do?
Although dietary supplements never replace whole food, Vitamin D may be an exception.
It’s not necessary to run out and buy a mega-dose of Vitamin D. In fact, taking large doses of any single vitamin can be harmful. A better approach for most people is to take a multivitamin supplement.
When selecting a supplement, choose one that contains 100% of the daily value of Vitamin D. Then, even on days when you do have some Vitamin D containing foods, you will not be at risk of toxicity.
Certain medical conditions requiring steroids and some other medications may require you to take more Vitamin D than what can be found in a multivitamin. If this is the case for you, talk to your medical provider about the need for Vitamin D supplementation.
Regardless of existing medical conditions, getting a simple blood test will help determine your need for supplemental Vitamin D.