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Health Hack #6 – The Benefits of the Sunshine Vitamin – Vitamin D

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Health Hack #6 – The Benefits of the Sunshine Vitamin – Vitamin D

Think about vitamin D when you’re catching up on summer rays. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. It can affect as many as 2,000 genes in your body.

Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. Besides getting vitamin D through sunlight, you can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.

Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.

If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D, you’re at risk of developing bone abnormalities such as soft bones (osteomalacia) or fragile bones (osteoporosis).

  1. Vitamin D fights disease

In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:

  1. Vitamin D reduces depression

Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.

  1. Vitamin D boosts weight loss

Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease.

In one study, people who took a daily vitamin D supplement didn’t lose a significant amount of weight, but were able to improve their heart disease risk markers.

In another study, people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The scientists said the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite-suppressing effect.

 

Beware of “D-ficiency”

Many lifestyle and environmental factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D

through the sun alone. These factors include:

  • being in an area with high pollution
  • using sunscreen
  • spending more time indoors
  • living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
  • having darker skin

These factors contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people. That’s why it’s important to get some of your vitamin D from sources besides sunlight.

The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults include:

  • tiredness, aches and pains, and a general sense of not feeling well
  • severe boneor muscle pain or weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a low chair, or cause you to walk with a waddling gait
  • stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips

Doctors can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a simple blood test.

If you’re diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, your doctor will likely recommend you take daily vitamin D supplements. If you have a severe deficiency, they may instead recommend high-dose vitamin D tablets or liquids. You should also make sure to get vitamin D through sunlight and the foods you eat.

Food sources of vitamin D

Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin D has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • egg yolk
  • shrimp
  • milk (fortified)
  • cereal (fortified)
  • yogurt (fortified)
  • orange juice (fortified)

It can be hard to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements can help.

How much do you need?

There has been some controversy over the amount of vitamin D needed for healthy functioning. Recent research indicates that you need more vitamin D than was once thought. Normal blood serum levels range from 50 to 100 micrograms per deciliter. Depending on your blood level, you may need more vitamin D.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences reports new recommendations based on international units (IUs) per day. IUs are a standard type of measurement for drugs and vitamins. IUs help experts determine recommended dose, toxicity, and deficiency levels for each person.

One IU is not the same for each type of vitamin. An IU is determined by how much of a substance produces an effect in your body. The recommended IUs for vitamin D are:

  • children and teens: 600 IU
  • adults up to age 70: 600 IU
  • adults over age 70: 800 IU
  • pregnant or breastfeeding women: 600 IU

 

So, remember to get outdoors and soak up that Vitamin D! Until next time….

 

 

 

7 Sun Health Benefits You Can’t Afford to Ignore

 Sun Health Benefits Springtime brings with it longer days and more sunshine. But when you turn on the news all you hear are warnings about how the sun damages your health. Sunlight can cause cancer as well as give you lines and wrinkles. Sure, spending too much time in the sun, getting sunburn or not using sun protection can all harm your health. But did you know there are health benefits associated with sun exposure? Don’t avoid the sun – enjoy some safe sun exposure. Here are seven of the surprising benefits of the sun that will help improve your life.

Sunlight Helps Prevent Disease

  1. The Vitamin D supply you get from being outside in the sun can help to protect against some forms of cancer, such as colon cancer, rectal cancer, and breast cancer. In order to get the direct benefits of vitamin D, exposure your skin without sunscreen to a small amount of sunlight – experts suggest up to 10 minutes a day, without burning the skin.
  2. Exposure to sunshine as a child, and also higher maternal levels of vitamin D through sun exposure, are linked to lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis as an adult.
  3. One of the main benefits of vitamin D is how it assists the body with using calcium for making healthy bones. Vitamin D from the sun therefore helps prevent bone disease, osteoporosis, and fractures.

Sunlight Helps Minimize Disease Symptoms

  1. Sun exposure has been linked to a lessening of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The results of one study show that exposure to bright light in the daytime helps relieve depression, improve cognitive function, and improve sleep in Alzheimer’s patients.
  2. Sunlight may also help relieve the symptoms of autoimmune diseases like psoriasis and lupus.

Sunlight Brings Mind-Body Benefits

  1. Getting out in the sun can help you sleep better, which in turn promotes better health. When your body is exposed to sunlight it triggers the brain to put a halt to the production of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that helps you sleep. Cutting down production of melatonin in the day means there is more at night when you need it.
  2. Sunshine is a powerful mood-booster and makes you feel better – this free mood enhancer is available whenever the clouds roll away, so make the most of it to help lower levels of depression and feel more positive.