You’ve probably heard people say, “Go out and get some vitamin D!” especially when the day is exceptionally sunny. Why are you encouraged to soak up this “Sunshine Vitamin”- what is so amazing about this nutrient?
Vitamin D is a hormone produced when our skin is exposed to sunlight- it is a fat-soluble vitamin that is also naturally present in food. It helps your body absorb and maintain calcium and phosphorus, which are critical for bone growth and promotes proper bone formation.
Vitamin D is stored in cholesterol in the body until it is needed. However, it’s not that easy to naturally get this nutrient into your body, unless your diet consists of large portions of fatty fish, liver, egg yolks, seeds and nuts. Oftentimes, getting our 10 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight daily may not be possible due to our busy schedules, the skin’s sensitivity to prolonged sun exposure, or the change in season.
Without enough vitamin D, your body absorbs only half of phosphorus and only a small amount of calcium from your diet, and this, in turn, causes bones to become porous, brittle, and prone to conditions such as osteoporosis or osteomalacia.
Apart from keeping your bones healthy, Vitamin D contains a myriad of important benefits:
- Strengthens Your Muscles
Maintaining your daily recommended intake of vitamin D each day keeps your muscles in good shape which is important to help you get through your everyday activities. One of vitamin D’s primary functions is to increase the absorption of calcium into the body, which is a key mineral in strengthening bones and improving muscle movement and function.
- Boosts your Immunity and Fights Diseases
In this day and age where coronavirus has become a prevalent condition all over the world, we must do everything we can to keep our immune system and lungs healthy. Vitamin D may help protect us against pneumonia and acute respiratory illnesses.
Vitamin D may also help lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis and heart diseases.
- Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
Having an adequate amount of Vitamin D allows your body to synthesize insulin by regulating calcium and increasing insulin sensitivity. And when your body processes insulin properly, the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes is lowered .
- Boosts Weight Loss
If weight loss is something you’re aiming for, it’s best to start brisk walking or running under the morning sun! Studies show that people who have adequate levels of vitamin D, combined with calcium, lose weight faster than people who lack vitamin D.
- Improves Your Mood
Do you ever wake up feeling a little gloomy or less energetic than usual? If it happens to be raining where you are, it’s not only the dark, gloomy weather that’s causing this but it’s your body’s response to a lack of vitamin D.
Our brains have vitamin D receptors in the areas responsible for your mood and behavior. Several studies show that lack of Vitamin D may be a major risk factor in developing depression and mental health conditions such as anxiety, forgetfulness, and loss of interest in activities.
What Happens if You Lack Vitamin D?
Vitamin D deficiency prevents your body from functioning properly and increases your chances of developing bone diseases (osteoporosis and osteomalacia), cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and high blood pressure), some types of cancers, and immune system disorders.
The recommended allowance for Vitamin D is around 600 to 800 IU. Adversely, consuming more than the recommended dose causes toxicity, resulting in elevated blood calcium levels which can cause kidney damage, kidney failure, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and even death.
Individuals who are most at risk of being deficient in Vitamin D are:
- Those who have dark skin
- Children less than 5 years, or adults over 65
- Overweight or obese individuals
- People who lack fish or dairy in their diet
- Individuals suffering from chronic kidney failure
Vitamin D Deficiency
You usually would not suspect vitamin D deficiency early on as the symptoms are subtle, but as the condition progresses, they can lead to the following negative effects:
- Getting respiratory infections or getting sick often
Several observational studies have linked the lack of vitamin D to respiratory tract illnesses such as colds, bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Fatigue and body malaise
Muscle weakening is a direct effect of lack of vitamin D, where your body is not able to process enough calcium to help your muscles function properly. There have been several case studies that show how patients complaining of headaches, fatigue or tiredness have low vitamin D levels in their blood. After being supplied a vitamin D supplement, the patients’ symptoms were resolved.
- Bone and Back pain
Chronic back pain is another debilitating disease and a great cause of disability. Since vitamin D is associated directly with bones and muscle strength, a lack thereof, increases the risk for bone and back pain.
- Slow Wound Healing
If you happen to find a wound taking longer than usual to heal, this can be a sign of low vitamin D levels in your blood, as high inflammatory markers slow down the capability of the skin to repair itself.
If you feel you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek the advice of a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Sources of Vitamin D
Regular exposure to sunlight for about 10 to 30 minutes during midday is enough to raise your Vitamin D levels naturally. People with darker skin may need a little more time than this though, but make sure that you are not sensitive to sunlight when you are going to expose yourself to the sun for a prolonged period of time.
Several food sources can help supply vitamin D to your body:
- Fatty fish
Wild Salmon, fresh herring and sardines are high in vitamin D. If you don’t have access to fresh or wild salmon or herring, farmed fish would also be a good source of vitamin D.
- Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil contains 448 IU of vitamin D per 4.9ml. This has been traditionally used to treat children with vitamin D deficiency and to also prevent it from occurring in the future. Aside from vitamin D, it also contains vitamin A, containing about 150% of the recommended daily value in one teaspoon.
- Egg yolks
Eggs are another wonderful source of vitamin D. You’ll find most vitamins and minerals in the yolk of eggs. One yolk can contain from 37 IU up to 6000 IU of vitamin D, depending on what the hen’s diet consists of.
- Cow’s milk and non-dairy substitutes
Cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D and calcium, which is a good combination since vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium in the body. On the other hand, if you are avoiding dairy, you can get vitamin D from a plant-based milk substitute, like fortified soy milk, almond milk or rice milk.
Should you supplement with vitamin D?
Vitamin D supplements are a quick and effective way to meet your daily needs, whether you are generally healthy, or at risk of vitamin D deficiency. It saves you from having to worry about eating the right type of food or consciously taking time to be outside in the midst of your busy day.
Vitamin D supplements in any form serve its function, and we recommend going with liquid oral spray, which is easier to administer. It is also more easily absorbed via your bloodstream, when the micro-droplets meet the soft tissues in your mouth.
Our favorite immuno spray is Lymunix Vitamin D-K2, which contains the right amount of vitamin D for your daily dose, and combines this with vitamin K2, which helps in processing calcium in the body.
Keeping Healthy with Vitamin D
With the vital role that vitamin D plays in your overall health, take the proper steps to ensure that you are able to meet your recommended daily dosage. Do not leave it to chance- take time to go outdoors to soak up the sunshine, stock up your pantry with healthy vitamin D food sources, and take your vitamin D supplements.