Do you know which vitamin is imperative to healthy bones and muscles, helps maintain hormone balance, ensures proper sleep, helps the nervous system manage stress, and is even linked to balanced moods? Both a vitamin and a hormone, there's a lot more to vitamin D than just getting some sunshine.

Here are some of the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency:

Bow legs or knock knees (rickets)

Burning in mouth or throat


Dental cavities or cracked teeth



Joint pains or bone pains

Muscle pains or cramps

Nearsightedness or myopia (can't see distances)


Osteomalacia or osteoporosis

Poor bone development

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

While direct sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, new research shows that it takes 48 hours from the time of the sun exposure on the skin for the vitamin D to reach the blood. In the interim, this oil-soluble vitamin can be washed away with soap, oils, or body lotions that prevent its absorption. Once you've had moderate sun exposure refrain from washing your sun-exposed skin with soap--simply wash with water and reserve soap for the armpit and groin areas only. If you slather on sunscreens, you'll also limit your vitamin D intake. Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone becomes a sun worshipper--moderation is key.

Also, if the sun exposure you're getting comes through your home, office, or car windows, you could be getting only UV-A rays that actually deplete vitamin D.

You can also obtain some vitamin D from fish, fish oil, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, and many types of sprouts, but sunlight is still the best option. When supplementing always choose the natural form of vitamin D--vitamin D3. Dosages vary depending on the person, usually starting at 1000 IU/day. Some health experts report the reversal of skin and mood disorders on higher doses.

Because vitamin D production is dependant on having adequate cholesterol in your body, you may especially need to supplement with vitamin D if you're taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels. Consult with a natural health or medical practitioner to determine if vitamin D supplementation is right for you.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc, CNC is a best-selling and six-time book author, whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, The Brain Wash, and Healing Injuries the Natural Way. She is a doctor of natural medicine, doctor of acupuncture, holistic nutritionist, and energy medicine practitioner. Her work has been featured in/on: Woman's World, First for Women, Vegetarian Times, Oxygen, Dr. Roizen's YOU: The Owner's Manual Radio Show, Gaiam Life, Yahoo! Shine, and The Huffington Post. She is a regular columnist for and Learn more about her work at:

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