What is Vitamin D?
The surprising benefits of vitamin D are many. Vitamin D is a vitamin that is essential for human health. The body needs to make its own vitamin D from sunlight, and people who are dark-skinned have less sun exposure than people with lighter skin. Therefore, they are more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiencies.
Some people take supplements of vitamin D to improve their health.
Vitamin D, sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, is naturally produced by the body in response to sun exposure. Your body uses it to absorb minerals like calcium and phosphorus that make your teeth and bones strong.
Vitamin D is often thought of as a vitamin for the skeletal system, but there are surprising benefits to taking it beyond just strong bones. Vitamin D can help to prevent conditions such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and depression. It can also improve mood, cognitive function, and physical performance. Vitamin D supports muscles, nerves, and immune systems and affects brain and heart health. It can boost serotonin levels and mood. At your next doctor’s visit, be sure to get your vitamin D levels checked.
Why You Might Need More Vitamin D
There are a few possibilities:
- You don’t get enough sunshine.
- You don’t get enough from food. This is more common in vegans and people with dairy allergies or intolerance.
- Your body doesn’t absorb it as well as it should. Your body needs fat to absorb vitamin D. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and other conditions that affect your gut — like celiac disease, leaky gut syndrome, IBS, and cystic fibrosis — make it harder for you to absorb fats. Individuals with bowel disease are more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiencies.
- Your body gets rid of it too quickly. Stress causes your body to consume more vitamin D. Under periods of stress; you may need more vitamin D.
- Your body doesn’t make vitamin D well
Surprising Benefits of Vitamin D
Promotes Healthy Bones and Prevents Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis affects a third of women between the ages of 60 and 70 and two-thirds of women 80 or older. No single thing causes it, but insufficient vitamin D makes it harder for your body to use the minerals it needs to keep bones strong.
In osteoporosis, there is an enlargement of natural spaces in the substance of your bones. They become more porous, which makes them more breakable. Vitamin D seems to prevent and improve osteoporosis.
Helpful for Breastfeeding Mothers and Infants
Breast milk often lacks enough vitamin D to keep infants healthy unless the mother takes a supplement. Rickets happens most often in breastfed children. African American mothers, in particular, tend to start with less vitamin D in their blood. Experts say breastfeeding infants need an extra 400 IU of vitamin per day.
Can Help Those Who Are Overweight
If you have a BMI of 30 or more (meaning you are obese), your vitamin D levels are more likely to be lower than someone who isn’t obese. It’s not that your skin makes less; the extra fat under your skin keeps more of it and changes the way it goes into your blood. Diet, lifestyle changes, and supplements can help with this issue.
Can Help With Weight Loss
In one study, people taking daily calcium and vitamin D supplements lost more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The scientists said the extra supplementation had an appetite-suppressing effect, leading to weight loss.
Can Boost The Immune System
In an international study that looked at nearly 11,000 people over 25 clinical trials, researchers found that those with lower levels of vitamin D who then took a daily or weekly supplement were shown to cut their risk of an acute respiratory infection (such as pneumonia or the flu) and an upper respiratory infection (like a cold and sinus infection). Dr. Harry adds that a study published in Frontiers in Immunology also found that vitamin D could be therapeutic for those with autoimmune diseases, such as Lupus and multiple sclerosis.
How to increase vitamin D levels:
- Increase your sun exposure
- Eat food rich in vitamin D like Cod liver oil, Salmon, Swordfish, Tuna fish, Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, Dairy and plant milk fortified with vitamin D, Sardines, and Beef liver.
- Take Vitamin D supplements. Look for a vitamin D supplement that contains at least 10,000IU of vitamin D per serving and take it daily.