Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin” as it is produced in the skin in response to sunlight. It is a fat-soluble vitamin whose family of compounds includes vitamin D1, D2, and D3.
This vitamin is of utmost importance because it may impact up to 2000 genes in the body. Some of its major functions include aiding absorption of nutrients like phosphorus and calcium, which in turn ensures strong immunity and strong bones. Here are the major benefits of vitamin D:
1. Vitamin D fights disease
According to a 2006 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, vitamin D lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis. Another study has found that it reduces the risk of developing heart disease as well. Ultimately, a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that it helps reduce the change of developing the flu.
2. Vitamin D reduces depression
It has been scientifically shown that vitamin D plays a role in regulating mood and preventing depression. One particular study found that those with depression who received vitamin D supplementation experienced a notable improvement in their condition. Another study found that vitamin D deficiency is more common in people with depression and anxiety.
3. Vitamin D fights cancer
Whether it is breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, esophageal, gastric, endometrial, ovarian, pancreatic, or renal, cancers of all types have been shown to be more prominent between people with low levels of vitamin D. Conversely, those with the highest levels of vitamin D, or what are considered optimal levels, tend to be the least prone to developing cancer.
4. Vitamin D boosts weight loss
According to one study, regular vitamin D supplementation helped people improve their heart disease risk factors. Another study found that those taking vitamin D supplements and calcium lost more weight compared to those taking placebo supplements. As explained by the researchers, vitamin D and calcium had an appetite-suppressing effect.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms include muscle cramps, inability to concentrate, restless sleep, headaches, joint pain, general fatigue, constipation or diarrhea, bladder problems, and muscle pain or weakness. Michael F. Holick is a leading vitamin D experts and he claims that the deficiency of vitamin D is related to muscle weakness as well as congestive heart failure.
Vitamin D and sunlight exposure
Vitamin D is extremely important for our bodies because our body is not able to produce it on its own. Those sunscreen choices that we put are packed with chemicals.
They are the reason why our body is not able to get this precious vitamin. Vitamin D boosts the immune system, promotes strong bones, prevents cancer, and even prevents cardiovascular diseases.
Moreover, the sunscreens that we use are designed to block UVB rays (involved in the production of vitamin D3) by our body and allow UVA rays (responsible for DNA damage and skin cancers).
UVB rays from the sun can penetrate the outer layers of our skin then absorb this UV light in order to produce vitamin D3. This process can’t occur without sunlight.
Vitamin D3 is first formed on the skin surface and can’t get into the bloodstream immediately. It takes some time for the vitamin D3 to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
This means that after sun exposure, you need to delay washing your body with soap because the soap can eliminate the oils of the skin that have started the process of vitamin D.
Unfortunately, for the last 30 years, science has been teaching us to avoid the very sun that can protect us from skin cancer and instead use harmful sunscreens full of cancer-causing compounds.
How to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D
UVB rays are strongest during summer, especially during midday. Keep in mind that skin color affects the ability of a person to create D3 in the skin. In other words, the darker your skin, the more you should be exposed to sunlight for production of vitamin D3. People with light skin are recommended to be exposed to sun from 10 to 45 minutes while dark-skinned people from 2 to 2.5 hours.
Also, you can obtain small amounts of vitamin D from your diet through animal-based sources such as:
- Fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
- Egg yolk
- Raw milk (Cow’s milk)
- Beef liver
There are numerous plant sources of vitamin D and thus there are sample ways of including this particular vitamin in a vegetarian’s diet:
- Orange juice
- Soy products