10 Surprising Vitamin D Benefits

Vitamin D Benefits
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What Is Vitamin D and Where do You Get It?

Before learning about Vitamin D benefits, you must first understand what it is and where it comes from.

How Do You Get Vitamin D

Vitamin D3 is a member of the family of compounds known simply as Vitamin D, which also includes vitamins D1, and D2. These vitamins are often referred to as the “sunshine vitamins” because the body produces all of these compounds naturally when it is exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, chemically very similar to Testosterone, Estrogen, and Progesterone, which is one reason why the body relies on it so much for overall health. D vitamins are fat-soluble, which means that they are stored within the liver and other fatty tissues when they aren’t used and are secreted when the body needs them.

To gain Vitamin D benefits, the recommended daily intake is between 400 and 4,000 IU, but some experts recommend even more, up to 10,000 IU per day. Lab tests have shown that many Americans are severely deficient in Vitamin D, which leads to many unhealthy consequences, as outlined below.

Daily sunshine exposure to mid-day sun is very important for producing Vitamin D benefits. 20-30 minutes per day is highly recommended, especially on your arms and legs. You may want to shield your face in order to reduce sun exposure there, which can lead to wrinkles and excessive sun damage. Excessive use of sunscreen, as is too often recommended, can lead to Vitamin D deficiency. If you live nearer the equator you receive sufficient sunlight exposure via more direct UV light exposure; however, the more temperate northern and southern latitudes have less direct exposure from the Sun and much greater exposure time each day is needed.

Your skin color is also a factor. Melanin in the skin, which is associated with darker skin tones, absorbs and blocks UV light from reaching the cells that produce Vitamin D. Thus people with darker complexions tend to require more UV light and may need more relative sunlight exposure to generate the same endogenous Vitamin D levels. 

You can also get Vitamin D from some foods, as well as supplements. You can try eating more foods that are rich in Vitamin D3, such as salmon, tuna, eggs, trout, and dairy products that have been fortified with the vitamin.

Vitamin D Sources

Vitamin D Benefits

It strengthens teeth and bones. Vitamin D3 helps with the regulation and absorption of calcium, and it plays an important role in the health of your teeth and bones.

Of all the minerals found in the body, calcium is the most abundant. The majority of this mineral lies in the skeletal bones and the teeth. High levels of calcium in your diet will help to keep your bones and teeth strong. Inadequate calcium in your diet can lead to joint pain with early onset osteoarthritis and early-onset tooth loss.

It strengthens the immune system. One of the most important Vitamin D benefits is its important role in maintaining and strengthening the immune system. It stimulates the production of T-cells and helps to promote a proper response to infectious pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and fungus, that are responsible for various types of illnesses, including the common cold, influenza, and similar community-wide diseases.

There is evidence that it helps reduce the severity and duration of COVID-19. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/942497 It can also prevent the development of autoimmune diseases.

It might prevent certain types of cancer. Vitamin D3 can help to prevent the development of certain types of cancer. Epidemiologic research has shown that there is a lower incidence of certain types of cancers for people who live in southern / equatorial locations and have more exposure to the sun.

A number of experiments have indicated that there is a possible connection between Vitamin D and the development of cancer. Vitamin D aids in the repair and regeneration of cells, which could decrease the growth of cancerous tumors, stimulate the death of cells that have been damaged by cancer, and lower the formation of blood vessels in tumors.

It may improve brain function. Scientists have connected Vitamin D with numerous important functions in the body, including how the brain functions. There are Vitamin D receptors located throughout the brain and the spinal cord. Vitamin D benefits you by plays a role in activating and deactivating the synthesis of neurotransmitters, as well as nerve growth and repair.

Additionally, studies on animal subjects have found that Vitamin D helps to protect neurons and can reduce inflammation within the brain. All of these factors likely improves the overall function of the brain, helping to promote alertness and quicker response time. Another study analyzed the effects that Vitamin D levels play on a collection of subjects’ performance on mental exams. This study found that those who had lower levels of Vitamin D performed worse than those who had adequate levels of the vitamin, suggesting it improves mental acuity.

It boosts your mood. Vitamin D benefits your daily mood, especially in the colder, darker months. Several studies have revealed that the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be linked to low levels of Vitamin D3, associated with the lack of sunlight exposure.

SAD is a mood disorder and the primary symptom is depression. https://charmaustin.com/3-ways-to-fight-seasonal-affective-disorder/ Studies suggest that the decreased levels of Vitamin D3 may impact the levels of serotonin in the brain, a hormone that regulates the mood. By taking a Vitamin D3 supplement or increasing your exposure to the sun, you could see a significant boost in your mood.

Vitamin D Benefits

It can aid in weight loss. Did you know this was on of the Vitamin D benefits? If you have been trying to lose weight and haven’t seen the results that you are looking for, you might consider increasing your levels of Vitamin D3 through diet and sunlight exposure. Studies have found that taking a Vitamin D3 supplement, eating more foods that are rich in this vitamin, or simply getting more sun – coupled with eating a well-balanced diet and exercising – can make it easier to lose weight. This is because Vitamin D3 can actually help to keep your levels of body fat down.

Research has revealed that people who are deficient in Vitamin D have a greater risk of becoming obese and developing complications that are related to obesity. Remember though, simply taking a supplement, eating more Vitamin D rich foods, and increasing your sun exposure isn’t enough; you also need to eat a nutritious diet and to get enough exercise.

It can lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have found that people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis – a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints – often have low levels of Vitamin D. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The immune system reacts to the linings of the joints as if these proteins were foreign substances, leading to inflammation in the joints that results in stiffness, pain, and reduced mobility.

Since one of the main Vitamin D benefits is to help maintain the immune system and ensure that it is functioning properly, it makes sense that a deficiency in this vitamin could lead to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. By raising your Vitamin D levels, there is a chance that you could reduce the severity and onset of this disease and other autoimmune diseases.

It lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. If diabetes runs in your family or you have been diagnosed with hyperglycemia (pre-diabetes), you might want to consider getting more Vitamin D. Recent studies confirm  that there is a link between Vitamin D deficiency, the body’s resistance to insulin, and type 2 diabetes. By overcoming insulin resistance, you could potentially prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

The cells in the pancreas that are responsible for secreting insulin contain alpha-hydroxylase enzyme and VDRs, which both play a role in the body’s tolerance to glucose and resistance to insulin. As a result, not getting enough sunlight can reduce the secretion of insulin from the pancreas, which can create  resistance to insulin and affect how the body responds to glucose. Given these findings, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor to find out if getting more Vitamin D benefits for your overall health.

It can help lower blood pressure. There have been several long-term studies that have proven that there is an association between low Vitamin D levels and hypertension (high blood pressure).

Until recently, it wasn’t known if being deficient in Vitamin D actually leads to hypertension, but a large genetic study that involved more than 150,000 people revealed that low levels of Vitamin D can, in fact, cause hypertension. In this study, those who had the highest levels of Vitamin D had lower blood pressure. It was demonstrated that increasing Vitamin D by 10 percent led to a 10 percent decrease in hypertension. If you have high blood pressure or you want to avoid developing it, an increase in your Vitamin D levels may help.

It might reduce the risk of heart disease. An increasing number of studies have indicated that a deficiency in Vitamin D is a risk factor for developing high blood pressure, heart disease, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, strokes, and heart attack. Improving Vitamin D levels can help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and the symptoms that are associated with it.

Furthermore, since it may play a role in weight loss and maintaining healthy body weight, this vitamin may also be able to prevent the adverse effects that are associated with obesity and high levels of body fat, including cardiovascular disease. Speak to your doctor to learn more about Vitamin D benefits.

Dr. David Harris

Board-Certified Medicine & Rehabilitation
Board-Certified Pain Medicine

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