A Dose of Vitamin D for the Healthy Life
With summer practically here, many people are going to get the vitamin D that they have been lacking in for the past couple months with the cooler seasons. Vitamin D is such an important vitamin and it plays many roles in the human body. Did you ever notice that you have much more energy and feel much livelier in the summer months and a little bit more tired and down in the winter months? Well, this has a lot to do with your intake of vitamin D.
WHAT IS VITAMIN D AND WHY DO I NEED IT?
This vitamin is a fat soluble vitamin along with vitamins A, E, and K. These fat soluble vitamins are the vitamins that are stored in the body. As the name implies, these four vitamins are soluble in fats. Fat soluble vitamins don’t really leave the body, instead they are stored. Although vitamins are good for you and are necessary for life, too many is a bad thing, especially of the fat soluble vitamins. Ingesting too many can cause hypervitaminosis (too much of a vitamin) which can lead to toxicity. Vitamin D is needed for many basic life functions such as bone growth, bone remodeling, cell growth, and reducing inflammation. Here are some of the most important things that vitamin D does for us:
- It helps our bodies absorb calcium and phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorus are very important for the bones and teeth. Calcium also plays a very big role in muscle contraction, especially of the heart. Other functions of calcium include: transmission of nerve impulses, blood clotting, milk production in mothers, contractions of the uterus for childbirth, and regulates many hormones. Phosphorus works along with calcium to help maintain bone and teeth formation. Some functions of phosphorus include: proper digestion, transmission of nerve impulses, aids in kidney excretion, increases energy levels, and forms some proteins. So you see that without calcium and phosphorus, your body would be missing out on many important functions. And without vitamin D, your body wouldn’t be able to absorb calcium and phosphorus.
- It plays an important role in immune system function. Vitamin D interacts with many parts of your immune system. It has been shown to provide sort of like a shield to protect against bacteria and other foreign substances. T cells are the cells in the immune system that destroy any bad cells that your body may have and vitamin D plays a big part in activating these T cells.
- May help maintain your weight. There have been numerous studies linked to vitamin D and maintaining a healthy weight. People who don’t consume an adequate amount of vitamin D tend to have higher blood pressure, higher body fat percentage, and a higher amount of belly fat.
- Supports brain function. This is especially important for the older adults. It can help prevent or delay any signs or symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Can help prevent certain cancers. There is always a debate over the things you can do to prevent cancer but consuming an adequate amount of vitamin D has been known to work. Vitamin D regulates the abnormal cells that begin to multiply in the beginning stages of cancer which can slow down or eliminate the entire process. The most common types of cancers prevented by vitamin D are colon and rectal cancers.
These are just some of the biggest roles that vitamin D plays in the human body. Some other important things vitamin D does is regulates blood pressure, improves skin by reducing wrinkles, improves cardiovascular function, reduces respiratory infections, relieves body aches, and reduces stress.
THE BEST SOURCES OF VITAMIN D
Now that you know all of the great things about this vitamin, it’s time to get some in to your body! Here’s how!
- Sunlight. Vitamin D has a nickname, “the sunshine vitamin.” The sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D. This is the reason why you are happier and more energetic in the summer months than you are in the winter months. In the summer, there aren’t as many vitamin D deficiency cases and for good reason. People are always out in the sun during the summer months. During the winter months, people don’t get out in the sun as much. Take advantage of the nice, sunny weather this summer!
- Cod liver oil. This oil comes from the cod fish and is THE best animal source of vitamin D. Only one teaspoon of the stuff can give you enough vitamin D for the day.
- Other fatty fish. Aside from cod fish, many other fatty fish are good sources of vitamin D. Some examples include salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel.
- Eggs. Eggs are great for a lot of reasons and their vitamin D property is one of them. If you are someone who just eats the whites, you may want to add in those yolks. The egg whites are great for a low cal, high protein choice but the egg yolk is where the majority of the nutrients are, especially vitamin D.
- Milk. Milk is an excellent choice for consuming an adequate amount of vitamin D. Be sure to choose the low fat kind!
There are many sources of this vitamin, these are just a few that most popular because of the amount they provide.
It’s really important that you are getting the right amount of vitamin D in your body. If you are unsure about whether or not you’re on track, ask your doctor to mail you your blood test results the next time you get blood work. Your vitamin D intake will be on that list and will give you a good idea of where you’re at. If you aren’t at an optimal level, don’t panic…just begin to consume more of the foods listed above and maybe take a vacation to the Caribbean! If your vitamin D levels are very low or if you don’t get enough sun or eat the right foods, try a vitamin D supplement. Of course it’s always better to get your vitamins from fresh, whole foods but if a supplement is what is going to get you that vitamin D, by all means, take it!