Is Vitamin D Really That Important?
Because most of us live in climates where we do not have a whole lot of sunshine every day of the year, or do not spend much time outside absorbing that sunshine even if we have access to it, we are pretty much all vitamin D deficient without supplementation.
Most of the vitamins and minerals we need can be obtained in adequate amounts by eating plenty of the right foods. Vitamin D is different. It is very hard, if not impossible, to get enough of this extremely important nutrient from food alone.
So before we talk about ways we can get more vitamin D, let’s go over the potential risks of not getting enough of it, as well as the many purposes it serves for our bodies.
Health Risks Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Not surprisingly, insufficient vitamin D has been linked to some types of cancers, as well as heart disease and mood/behavioral issues like SAD and depression. It is also an essential contributor to a healthy immune system. This means that a lack of it can be responsible for even simple things like colds and flu. Osteoporosis has also been linked to a deficiency. This makes sense in light of the fact that vitamin D helps with calcium absorption; calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth.
Benefits Of Vitamin D
Aids Immune Function
One of the reasons most people get sick more often in the winter than the summer is lack of sunshine. Vitamin D, from the sun or otherwise, strengthens the immune system and helps prevent sickness and disease.
May Help With Weight Loss
According to a study published in 2008 by the British Journal of Nutrition, Vitamin D supplementation, along with calcium, was shown to help participants lose weight and fat mass.
Serotonin is a hormone in our brains that is responsible for helping us to feel happy. Vitamin D can raise serotonin levels. Conversely, low levels of vitamin D can contribute to lower serotonin, which for us means being more moody or sad, worse PMS moodiness symptoms, and a higher likelihood of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While SAD is considered a disorder, I think it stands to reason that it is more of a natural response of the body, telling us that something is wrong (like not having enough sunlight). I, as well as many people I know, feel better and happier when getting enough sunlight or vitamin D in general.
How You Can Get Enough Vitamin D
The first and most obvious solution to a vitamin D shortage is get more sunshine! That, however, is easier said than done for most of us. While I absolutely love being in the sunshine and would be outside pretty much all summer long if I could be, there just isn’t that much summer where I live. And, not everyone can handle that much sun (like my husband, who’s a ginger!).
So when you can, get natural sunlight. It may be easiest to work gradually up to spending more time outside if you are sensitive to heat and sunlight or burn easily. If at all possible, take your work outside during the day. Not only will your vitamin D levels improve, but you will also have the added bonus of getting that full-spectrum natural light that is so crucial for our detoxification systems and our eyes and brains!
Some foods that are high in vitamin D include mushrooms, sardines, herring, tuna, salmon (wild-caught), cod liver oil, oysters,eggs, beef liver, and shrimp. There are also plenty of dairy and grain products that are fortified with vitamin D, but it’s always best to first focus on the foods in which it occurs naturally.
Even if we are eating well and getting lots of sunshine, most of us will still need to supplement for optimal vitamin D levels.
When choosing a vitamin D supplement, make sure you check the label. Many have vegetable oils that are definitely not good for you (remember, whole foods that have not been processed are ideal, and vegetable oils are not whole foods and are very processed!). Look for the one with the fewest ingredients, and make sure those ingredients are quality. You don’t want loads of additives!
Make It A Priority!
As we have seen, if you want to feel well and function the way you were created to, you really need to make sure that you are getting enough vitamin D! It is a good idea to get your levels tested, work to get them higher if need be, then continue to test on occasion to ensure that you are where you need to be.
Make it a priority! It is definitely a priority to your body!