It’s the wonder vitamin of the moment, and with good reason: Getting enough vitamin D seems to protect against just about everything, from cancer and depression to heart disease and an earlier death. When it comes to the sunshine vitamin, you’ve heard it all before—or so you think.
It turns out there are a handful of lesser-known reasons you’ll want to guarantee you get your daily dose. Which, by the way, is frustratingly tricky to pin down. The Institute of Medicine currently recommends men and women get 600 IU of vitamin D a day, but recent research suggests those guidelines are way too low—one possible reason about 42% of American adults seem to be vitamin D deficient. The IOM currently lists 4,000 IU a day as the highest amount of vitamin D you could take and still be safe, but we might need more like 7,000 to truly reap the vitamin’s biggest benefits.
Until science figures it out, let the following benefits inspire you to get sensible sun exposure, eat more sources of naturally occurring vitamin D, and consider a supplement.