Fortified cheese contains added vitamin D, as does fortified milk. Vitamin D is a necessary vitamin that your body produces naturally with exposure to sunlight. However, for various reasons, many people don’t get enough exposure to sunlight for their bodies to produce adequate daily amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can result in serious illness; fortified cheese helps to prevent vitamin D deficiencies by ensuring adequate daily vitamin D intake.
Reasons Why People Don’t Get Enough Sunlight
Vitamin D deficiencies became common during the Industrial Revolution, when people’s daily lives began to change. People began spending more time indoors, out of the sun, and the clothes they wore during this period covered most of the body, blocking skin’s exposure to sunlight.
Today, many people, especially the elderly, are housebound and can’t get outdoors; others wear sunblock and protective clothing to minimize the risk of skin cancer. While skin cancer is a real threat, preventing sunlight from reaching your skin puts you at risk for a vitamin D deficiency. Clouds and smog can block sunlight from reaching your skin, as well, so those who live in northern, cloudy climates or smoggy cities are at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency.
How Fortified Cheese Helps Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
Doctors feel that exposing yourself to more sunlight in order to encourage your body’s production of vitamin D could be dangerous. They recommend you increase your vitamin D intake through supplements, rather than putting yourself at risk for skin cancer by increasing sun exposure.
Fortified cheese, which contains added vitamin D, can help ensure that your diet contains vitamin D. Vitamin D can be difficult to find in other dietary sources; it’s mostly found in oily fish and eggs, so it would be hard to get enough vitamin D in your diet if cheese and milk weren’t fortified with it. In fact, most of the vitamin D in the American diet comes from fortified cheese and milk.
Benefits of Fortified Cheese
Fortified cheese can help prevent all the side effects of vitamin D deficiency, which can be quite severe. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children, a disease in which the bones soften and become more prone to breakage and deformity. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can cause osteomalacia, a painful softening of the bones, and osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones become increasingly fragile.
Vitamin D deficiency may also play a role in heart disease, cancer, and a number of illnesses including:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
Fortifying cheese and milk helps to ensure that the entire population receives adequate vitamin D and significantly reduces the incidence of nutritional deficiencies as a public health problem. Eating fortified cheese helps to keep your bones strong, and vitamin D serves a number of other purposes in your body as well:
- Vitamin D supports your immune system.
- Vitamins eases the symptoms of asthma.
- Vitamin D supports cognitive function as you age.
- Vitamin D helps you maintain a healthy body weight.