The Vitamin D Benefits You Don't Know About

Worth popping an extra capsule for.

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(Image credit: Getty)

The number one truth you might think you know about vitamin D is that you probably aren't getting enough of it. (Oh, and they put it in milk, don't they?) But just what are we missing out on by Failing to Adult, the title of the movie they make from my autobiography but only if I write the screen adaptation myself? Here, all the benefits of vitamin D you might not know, plus some bad stuff that might happen if you don't change your ways, because fear and pizza are the only things that motivate millennials.

As you may already know, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption so your skeleton doesn't go crumbly or misshapen. That's why, in the 1930s, the government started adding vitamin D to milk—so kids would stop getting rickets and Humpty Dumpty-ing all over the place. In adults, deficiency can cause a similar softening of the bones, which looks like this.

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(Image credit: Getty)

The saddest sad face.

You can eat more cheese!

This only comes in as a benefit if you *cared* about meeting your daily requirement, but if you did, you would then conceivably get to help yourself to an ounce of Swiss, one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Salmon and eggs are even better sources, so you might be excited to have more of those too, while on the less-appetizing-but-healthy end of the menu, we've got cod liver oil (fishy burps) and beef liver (metallic burps). Of course, some orange juices, milk, and cereals come fortified, though it takes a special 21st-century person to not have some sort of issue with dairy, gluten, and/or sugar.

It gives you an excuse to take a lunch!

Studies have shown that it can take as little as 5 minutes of sun exposure to help maintain adequate vitamin D levels, so if your boss says, "And where do you think you're going?" just reply that you're stepping out to avoid getting osteoporosis like your granny. (If she protests, keep in mind that this is America and that there's definitely enough here for a frivolous lawsuit. Probably.)

Something about cancer?

While further research is still needed to determine if vitamin D actually does anything in this department, or if not getting enough does something else in a different, more harmful department—definitely management, if we're continuing with the analogy—some trials suggest that it could play a role in preventing colon, prostate, and breast cancers. But in other trials, it didn't do much of anything. And in yet more trials, people with the highest levels of vitamin D still got cancer. But until science comes back with an answer, it doesn't make that much of a difference We need vitamin D to support overall health, so keep choking down that cod liver oil and chasing it with a walk around the block.


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(Image credit: Courtesy, design by Betsy Farrell)

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.