Vitamin D – Important Benefits
Are you getting enough Vitamin D? Is it necessary to get more? Find out the FACTS here!
There has been a lot of talk about vitamin D lately.
Are we getting enough? Are we getting too much? How much do we really need?
What Is Vitamin D And Why Do We Need It?
When we are exposed to ultraviolet B light from the sun or artificial sources, vitamin D3 is created photochemically in our skin. Food sources like fatty fish, eggs, and meat also provide D3.
Once Vitamin D enters the body, it is then transported through the bloodstream to the liver where it is converted into the prohormone calcidiol. Calcidiol is then converted by the kidneys or organisms in the immune system into calationol. Calatinol circulates as a hormone and regulates mineral concentration in the blood (including calcium), function of the neuromuscular and immune systems and gene proliferation (this is the reason for the link between Vitamin D deficiency and cancers).
Vitamin D is necessary for the body to regulate phosphorus and calcium levels, as well as promote calcium absorption. This, in turn, helps keep your muscles, teeth, and bones strong.
Vitamin D is a hormonal precursor and science is constantly linking deficiency of Vitamin D to increased incidence of many diseases.
It’s kinda crazy to think that we can get our vitamin D for free from the sun, yet most of us are vitamin D deficient!
What Is The Best Way To Get Vitamin D?
There are two ways to get vitamin D: sun exposure and supplementation.
No matter how Vitamin D is obtained, it ends up in the exact same form once it hits the liver (as long as the oral form is D3). While I would personally suggest getting Vitamin D from the sun if possible because of the other benefits of sun exposure, the most important thing is to just get Vitamin D.
When you reach for a vitamin D supplement, you’ll also notice two options: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 is from non-animal sources and D3 comes from sunlight exposure and foods derived from animals. Typically, D3 is what you’re after — a study analysis shows that D3 is more effective at raising vitamin D levels than D2.
Getting your levels tested is the only sure-fire way to know precisely how many IUs you need.
UVB radiation from the sun sparks vitamin D production and experts say just 10–15 minutes of sun a few times a week can help you meet your vitamin D target. Your body will tell you how much you need and when you have enough (hello, sunburn). The goal is to get adequate sun and not ever burn. For light skinned people this may be only 15-30 minutes, but darker skinned people may need two hours or more!
But being Canadian and having less exposure to strong rays of sunlight, UVB rays are weaker the farther you are from the equator, hence the vitamin D supplement recommendation. I actually take a supplement that has BOTH vitamin D and K2! K2 helps your body absorb the vitamin D better.
And please don’t reach for the usual store-bought sunscreen! Most of that stuff is toxic. If you’re going to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes, plan to use a natural sun screen or else get in the shade or cover up.
I also take astaxanthin, which helps protect my skin from the sun from the inside! I took it this summer and didn’t have to wear sunscreen as much! My skin got a nice, even tan so I was protected from getting a sunburn. It’s the first summer ever where I didn’t end up with a sunburn.
Benefits of Vitamin D
I think it’s important to know the many health benefits of getting enough vitamin D. In all honesty, vitamin D is one of the #1 recommended vitamins I tell people to take on a daily basis.
- Benefits your immune system – “t-cells” protect your body against bacteria and disease. Vitamin D is crucial in their creation and function.
- Helps with fertility – high doses of vitamin D lowered estradiol and progesterone. Estrogen dominance is one of the main causes of infertility and a host of other problems.
- Protects against breast cancer – Seventy percent of women with breast cancer are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D has been shown to prevent breast cancer cell growth and decrease the expression of cancer causing genes.
- Protects bones and teeth – In 2007, researchers found that vitamin D deficient women were 77 percent more likely to suffer a hip fracture. Giving elderly women vitamin D has been shown to increase life expectancy by 6 percent (two years). During pregnancy, the mother needs calcium for both her skeleton and the baby’s. Without vitamin D, calcium won’t be absorbed in the hard tissues like bone and teeth. This can cause bone loss and severe osteopenia for both the mother and the child. Vitamin D has also been shown to increase the absorption of calcium from food.
- Avoid PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is one of the leading causes of infertility. Most women with PCOS are vitamin D deficient.
- Inflammation – Lack of Vitamin D can cause inflammation in the body, then again, so can grain consumption. Have joint pain, soreness or inflammation? Cut the grains and hit the beach!
How To Get Enough Vitamin D
- Spend a safe amount of time in the sun, but get out of the sun before skin has a chance to burn and use safe suncreen.
- Get blood levels of Vitamin D tested and supplement if needed to get levels in optimal range.
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