It so happens that my annual physical happened in January. So, every single time I get the standard blood work done, I can expect the call from my doctor telling me that I’m Vitamin D deficient and so I know it’s time to get some sun.
I guarantee that if my physical was during the summer months, this would not be an issue whatsoever. I’m quite fond of the sun and try to get as much safe exposure as I can.
“Vitamin D is the only vitamin that our body is able to create. All other vitamins are introduced to our body through the foods we eat.”
But, statistics say that my results are not uncommon at all. It is estimated that anywhere from 65-85% of the US and Canadian population are Vitamin D deficient. It is especially understandable living in the Northeast and being cooped up in the house, not wanting to brave the cold outdoors. So, as spring approaches, it is vital that we get out and get into the sunlight while we can.
Nature tells us exactly how important Vitamin D is. It is so important that our body has its own mechanism to create it. In fact, Vitamin D is the only vitamin that our body is able to create. All other vitamins are introduced through our body by the foods we eat.
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Vitamin D is created by the body when we are exposed to sunlight. The process is so complex that there is actually a debate on whether Vitamin D is actually a vitamin or a hormone! Many people consider it a hormone because our body can create it on its own with proper sunlight, yet the Vitamin D from sunlight isn’t readily available for use. The body converts Vitamin D through numerous chemical interactions before it is ready to do its important tasks.
- BONE HEALTH: We commonly hear that calcium is the key mineral when it comes to having strong bones. But, did you know that Vitamin D is required for your body to absorb this important mineral? So you can have all the calcium that is recommended and it won’t be as effective without the presence of Vitamin D.
- GUT HEALTH: It’s understandable that gut health has become a hot topic. We are beginning to realize just how important a healthy digestive system is to our mental and physical health. Our gut is where 90% of our immune system resides, and it is also responsible for digesting all of our food and dispensing all of our key nutrients. Inside our gut, we have trillions of bacteria, both good and bad, that work to properly manage all of these processes. Vitamin D is also a key player in this process. Mounting evidence suggests that Vitamin D helps regulate the gut biome, allowing the more beneficial bacteria to flourish.
- VITAMIN D MAKES YOU HAPPIER: Ever feel like winter makes you feel down? Well, there is a medical term for that. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Causes of SAD are unknown, but the clues point to how much sunlight we are exposed to. During the fall and winter, the sun sets earlier, affecting our circadian rhythms causing some of us to feel down. A lack of Vitamin D also drops the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin, which is directly linked to mood. In fact, a deficiency in these two brain chemicals is strongly linked to depression.
- YOU MIGHT NOT NEED THE FLU SHOT: In the US and Canada, flu season is in the winter months, with peak activity between December and February. (Sensing a pattern yet?) The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shared a study conducted by doctors and scientists from Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan in which the risk of children suffering from the flu can be reduced by 50% if they take Vitamin D. Vitamin D activates the innate immune system, enabling the body to produce several proteins which trigger cell activity and disable viruses.
- VITAMIN D AND THE BIG “C”: Vitamin D is really making news with its association to risks of several types of cancer. According to PubMed, The high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, combined with the discovery of increased risks of certain types of cancer in those who are deficient, suggest that vitamin D deficiency may account for several thousand premature deaths from colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer annually. The evidence suggests that efforts to improve vitamin D status could reduce cancer incidence and mortality at low cost, with few or no adverse effects.
“… the risk of children suffering from the flu can be reduced by 50% if they take Vitamin D.”
Unfortunately, there are only a few food sources of vitamin D: fortified foods and beverages such as milk, soy drinks, orange juice or fatty fish including salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel. Beef liver can also be a good source of vitamin D. But, you can take a Vitamin D supplement to meet individual needs.
After reading this, one might think she has reason to bask in the sun unprotected, but there are still legitimate concerns about sun exposure and skin cancers. The good news is that we don’t need to bake in the sun just to get this vitamin. Limited unprotected sun exposure 10-25 minutes 2 to 3 times a week is enough for most people. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of limited unprotected sun exposure as well as whether or not you might benefit from vitamin D supplements.
Are you getting enough Vitamin D?