Do you often feel tired, suffer from back pain or have too many colds and flu? If so, you might not be getting enough Vitamin D.
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Facts About Vitamin D.
- It is the only vitamin that your body makes itself.
- You make 90% of your Vitamin D from sunshine. Hence it is known as the Sunshine Vitamin. It is made under your skin when you’re outside. However, the amount you make is dependent on your location, the season, your skin type, time of day, air pollution, your body parts which are exposed and your age.
- It’s actually a hormone.
- It is naturally present in only a few foods which include fatty fish, eggs, fortified milk and cereals and mushrooms.
- Therefore, it is recommended that you take a vitamin D supplement from October to early March.
The Benefits of Vitamin D.
1. Helps to Build Strong Bones. Calcium needs vitamin D to help to remineralise bone structures, making them stronger. If you have low levels of calcium and vitamin D, over time, you could develop ‘osteomalacia’, a condition where your bones become weak and are more likely to fracture. Also, ‘osteoporosis’ which is bone loss. Studies have shown that Vitamin D can slow down bone loss.
2. Can Protect Against Gum Disease. It was found that low levels of this vitamin are linked to periodontitis and gum disease. Also, a study in Norway found a link between tooth loss and exposure to sunlight. Only 11% of those living in the South of the country lost teeth; compared with 65% in the North.
3. Can Help to Keep Your Muscles Strong. Muscles need vitamin D to move. For example, nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part. Research has shown that muscle performance was significantly improved and the risk of falls was lowered in the elderly who took vitamin D supplements.
4. May Improve Heart Health. A recent study revealed a deficiency of this vitamin is linked to heart disease. Over 70% of about 1500 patients undergoing investigation for narrowing arteries had this deficiency and, there was a 32% higher occurrence of coronary artery disease in those patients with the lowest vitamin D levels.
5. Can Boost Brain Function. More research is needed but there is evidence that shows links between low levels of this vitamin and dementia.
6. Fights Infections. Your immune system needs it to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen determined that vitamin D is needed to activate your immune system’s T-cells that identify and attack pathogens circulating throughout your body. Having none of this vitamin means your body isn’t as effective in fighting infections.
7. Can Lower the Relapse Rate in Those Who Suffer From Multiple Sclerosis. A study from the University of Toronto found that multiple sclerosis sufferers who took high doses of vitamin D supplements had less chance of relapsing than those who didn’t.
8. May Help You Lose Weight. Research had revealed that those who started a diet with higher levels of vitamin D in their bodies were able to lose weight more successfully than those who were vitamin D deficient.
9. May Help to Regulate Mood. In one study, people with depression noticed an improvement in their symptoms when they took vitamin D supplements.
10. May Help to Alleviate Bone and Back Pain. In one study of 9,000 women, researchers found that those with a vitamin D deficiency were more likely to have back pain; even severe back pain that limited their daily activities.
Women, in particular, have to ensure they’re getting enough of this vitamin because oestrogen increases the activity of the enzyme responsible for activating vitamin D so declining levels during the menopause could lead to symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Something I personally experience! I was advised to take a supplement a couple of years ago because my levels were low.
How Much To Take.
Unfortunately, despite me singing the praises of this vitamin, you can have too much of it. It could lead to heart and kidney damage.
Therefore, it is recommended that you only take 10mcg (400 IU) a day. And then only take from October to early March. Feel free to see your doctor for more guidance.
Remember, you can’t get much of this vitamin from your diet. And, if you live in somewhere like the UK, such as me (and some days forget what the sun is!) seriously, consider taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter months.
Sources: healthinspireddentistry.com, hollandandbarrett.com, nhs.uk, odd.od.nih.gov, healthline.com, bda.uk, huffpost.com, megsmenopause.com, medical news today.com