Vitamin D receptors are found in just about every cell in the body—meaning D plays a big role in everything from bone, muscle, and immune health to cognition, mood, and—yes, longevity.*
Over the past few years, more and more evidence has revealed that vitamin D is a key player in many physiological processes tied to living a long, healthy, happy life.* Did we need another incredible benefit to convince us to take a vitamin D supplement? No. Will we take the longevity benefits with excitement and gratitude? You better believe it!
Discovering more about vitamin D's longevity benefits.
In 2019, Biology published a review outlining the many longevity mechanisms and benefits of vitamin D. You may think of vitamin C when the term "antioxidant" is used, but vitamin C needs to spread the attention and love. As it turns out, vitamin D is another essential vitamin that's a potent antioxidant, helping to balance mitochondrial activities, combat oxidative stress, and protect your DNA1—if your vitamin D status is sufficient, that is.*
The problem is that a large portion of U.S. adults has insufficient levels of vitamin D (41% to be exact), and 29% are straight-up vitamin D deficient. In fact, over 90% of Americans2 can't even manage to eat their way to 400 I.U. of this essential micronutrient each day (and we need way more than that). Without adequate levels of vitamin D, your body can't utilize the vitamin when it's needed—for antioxidant actions or other vital activities.*
When vitamin D levels are sufficient, though? The sunshine vitamin becomes a dynamic free-radical-fighting superhero among a team of antioxidant avengers.*
How vitamin D delivers on its antioxidant benefits.
Vitamin D signaling pathways are a key player in directly protecting cells from the overaccumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).* Specifically, vitamin D helps protect proteins (e.g., hormones, antibodies, collagen, etc.), fatty acids (aka lipids, like those in cell membranes throughout the body), and DNA from oxidation by combating oxidative stress.*
Additionally, sufficient levels of vitamin D support mitochondrial resilience (you know, that energy powerhouse organelle in our cells) and endocrine functions.* This, in turn, promotes healthy energy metabolism, hormone activity and balance, and longevity.*
Beyond the functions that foster antioxidant activity on a cellular level, here are some additional physiological systems that vitamin D supports to promote our overall well-being as we age:*
- Maintains healthy muscle mass: In addition to supporting muscle form and function, vitamin D helps maintain a healthy percentage of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscles (aka muscle mass). In a 2014 clinical study published in the American Journal of Medicine, older adults with more muscle mass were found to live longer3 than those with less.*
- Promotes musculoskeletal integrity: Vitamin D aids the absorption of calcium—a key mineral in maintaining strong, healthy bones4 and supporting musculoskeletal integrity as we age.*
- Supports cognitive function: A 2019 meta-analysis from the Journal of Aging Research found a clear connection between a healthy vitamin D status and age-related cognitive function5, suggesting vitamin D supports the nervous system and promotes optimal brain function as we age.*
- Bolsters the immune system: Vitamin D directly modulates the body's innate and adaptive immune responses. In other words, our immune cells need D6 to efficiently respond to threats. While vitamin D can help support your immune function now and later in life, it's especially important for older adults, whose immune systems do not respond as effectively to immune challenges.*
What this means for healthy, graceful aging.
Vitamin D supports a long, happy, healthy life on multiple fronts—but only if you have sufficient levels of the essential vitamin, which requires daily planning.*
Considering it's absurdly difficult (read: basically impossible) to get enough vitamin D from food and sunshine alone, and our ability to maintain sufficient vitamin D levels becomes more challenging as we age, many individuals (younger and older) choose to add a high-quality D3 supplement to their daily routine.
For a comprehensive list of vitamin D supplements with researched back doses and clean ingredients, check out our vitamin D roundup. But to cut to the chase, here's a little bit more about our top pick: with the most bioavailable form and effective dose of vitamin D (D3), plus an organic trio of avocado, olive, and flax oils for optimal absorption of fat-soluble D, mindbodygreen's vitamin D3 potency+ promotes healthy vitamin D levels to support oxidative stress balance and antioxidant activity, muscle health, cognitive function, bone health, and immune function through all stages of life.*
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.