How Vitamin D benefits your health — and foods that have it

Vitamin D benefits

This guide outlines how Vitamin D benefits your health and the best ways to obtain it in your diet.

Vitamin D is totally different from other vitamins. To begin with, it isn’t really a vitamin at all. It’s actually a steroid hormone that is made from cholesterol whenever your skin gets exposed to the sun. This is why you may have heard it being referred to as the sunshine vitamin. That said, exposure to the sun rarely provides us with enough Vitamin D benefits, which makes it necessary to get it from supplements or what we eat. 

 Vitamin D benefits: overview

This is a vitamin that’s fat soluble, which means that it dissolves in oils and fats and can actually be stored in your body for quite a while. There are two main dietary forms that give you  Vitamin D benefits.

One of them is Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol. This is found in some animal products, such as egg yolks and fatty fish. The other one is ergocalciferol or Vitamin D2. This one is found in some plants, such as yeasts and mushrooms.

Of the two of these, D3 seems to be a bit more effective when it comes to increasing the amount of Vitamin D in the blood. Of course, you could also just eat some Vitamin D gummies and get it that way. 

What It Does

This vitamin requires two different steps of conversion for it to become active and give you  Vitamin D benefits. The first step is to be converted to calcidiol in the liver. This is the form it’s stored in. The second step is for it to be converted to calcitriol in the kidneys. This is the steroid hormone form in which it’s active.

Vitamins are important because they keep you healthy. Vitamin D in particular, is important for bone health. It also promotes the absorption of phosphorus and calcium in your gut. Additionally, it may assist with protection against cancer and boost immune function.


When your skin is exposed to UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays from the sun, the cholesterol in it can produce Vitamin D and thus also  Vitamin D benefits. If you happen to live in an area that features an abundance of sunshine, you might be able to get all of this vitamin you need simply by sunbathing once or twice a week.

That said, remember that you’ll need to expose a good portion of your body to the sun in order to produce enough. If you just expose your hands and face, you’ll produce much less. You need quite a bit in order to promote bone health. Additionally, if you utilize sunscreen or stay behind glass, you’ll produce much less  Vitamin D benefits – or even none at all. 

Best foods for Vitamin D benefits 

Even though fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna, trout, swordfish, mackerel, and salmon, are good sources of vitamin D, you’d need to eat them on a nearly daily basis to get enough.

Aside from those gummies we mentioned earlier, the only excellent source of dietary Vitamin D is actually fish liver oil – like cod liver oil. This contains more than twice the recommended daily intake in just one tablespoon. That said, remember that cereals and dairy products are typically fortified with it. 

If you don’t get enough of these Vitamin D benefits and become deficient in it, you could experience a variety of health issues as well as reduce your life expectancy. 

The Bottom Line

Vitamin D is a vitamin that’s fat-soluble and crucial for your bone health. If you’re low in this particular nutrient, increasing your intake might reduce any depression you may have while also improving your strength.

Your skin makes this vitamin when it’s exposed to sunlight, and you can also get it from fatty fish, liver, and fish oil as well as supplements. Getting more Vitamin D benefits can do quite a lot in terms of boosting your health.

Photo by Geraud pfeiffer