Vitamin D- The Sunshine Vitamin!!
Vitamin D is necessary for our bodies to achieve optimal function. It helps increase the strength of our bones and can reduce osteoporosis, diabetes risk, improve the immune system, and help during pregnancy.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a mysterious yet powerful vitamin. According to David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, vitamin D is more of a hormone than a vitamin because our body creates most of our vitamin D. Our bodies are unable to produce any other vitamin. This important role in our bodies is the reason that deficiencies can have such a dramatic effect on our health.
Science has yet to discover every function of our bodies that it is involved in. Scientists and physicians alike understand that D is an essential component in our bodies and ensuring that we have the right amounts can make all the difference.
Though our bodies can naturally produce Vitamin D, deficiency in this essential vitamin is common and affects both children and adults. Deficiency in children can lead to rickets, a disease that causes softening of the bones and poor bone growth. Adults with D deficiency can experience early onset osteoporosis which leads to an increased risk of injury from falls, and an increased risk of diabetes. Both adults and children experience a decline in immune system function with a decline in D levels. Studies have shown that pregnant women deficient in vitamin D have an increased risk for preeclampsia, high blood pressure during pregnancy.
How do I get more vitamin D?
Vitamin D is produced naturally in our skin with sun exposure. 10-15 minutes of sun exposure, 2-3 times a week on bare skin, can provide the adequate amounts of D our bodies need. This does not need to be laying out in the sun, which comes with an increased risk for burns and skin cancers. The needed sun exposure can be gained through working, exercising, or playing outside on a regular basis. While it may seem easy to get enough sun, it is estimated that up to 50% of adults and children worldwide are Vitamin D deficient. Because this is a minimal requirement and is based on the body functioning at 100% (which our bodies rarely do), it often takes longer in the sun and supplemental nutrition to meet our vitamin D needs. So how much D do we need?
It is recommended that the average person, age 0-50 get 2,000 IU per day. The best form is produced in our bodies from sun exposure. A problem arises when we start to apply sunscreen to prevent harmful skin damage. Applying sunscreen with SPF 30 can reduce the production of Vitamin D from the sun by as much as 95%. It is important to find a balance between protecting your skin and producing enough Vitamin D. No matter what time of year it is, there is often a need to supplement Vitamin D through diet or nutritional supplements.
The second best way to obtain vitamin d is through diet. While the go-to food item is milk, there are actually far better products that have more of the vitamin in it. Some of these items are cod liver oil, fresh herring, swordfish, raw mattock mushrooms, salmon, sardines, tuna, and eggs. These food items can be easy to incorporate into our diet and will provide needed nutrition in not only vitamin D but also in other vital nutrients.
If you do not like fish, nutritional supplements can be another alternative to vitamin D support. When it comes to supplements, quality if key. Most of the supplements that are available over the counter might have a large amount of a particular ingredient, but often our bodies are not able to utilize the form of the vitamin that is in the supplement. This often leads to much of it being wasted. It is important to get a supplement that has a high bio-availability. Consult with your chiropractor or wellness provider to gain access to these products. At Pappas Chiropractic, we offer a variety of nutritional supplements to fit your needs and work with many manufacturers to ensure the highest quality ingredients.
When produced and consumed in the right quantities for our bodies to function, vitamin D can have multiple benefits. These include, but are not limited to, reducing the risk of developing diabetes, increasing the strength of our bones, reducing flu risks, reducing cancer risks and increasing the health of pregnant women and their children. It is also important to keep from having too much vitamin D as a high level has been shown to increase child allergies during the first two years of life. As important as it is, vitamin D can be relatively easy to maintain proper levels.
Unlike some other vitamins, our bodies can normally produce adequate amounts to keep us healthy if we get enough sun exposure. Another option to ensure that our vitamin D is at adequate levels is to supplement with a good quality Vitamin D3.
Vitamin D is essential for many functions in our body and needed to avoid certain risk factors and diseases. Whether you are getting your vitamin D from the sun, food, or through nutritional supplements it is always important to find something that works for you.