In our daily quest to be healthy, we take a huge amount of supplements, many of which are extremely effective, and others whose true value is yet to be researched properly. But there is one vitamin that we often over-look: it is rarely something that we worry we are deficient in.
Why? Because it is one vitamin that we can manufacture ourselves, with a little help from the sun. However, huge numbers of us are deficient, and often it is because we simply don’t expect to be. The question is, could you be amongst the vast body of people who are seriously lacking in Vitamin D?
Vitamin D and Us:
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin; this is because it is a fat-soluble compound that we manufacture within our own skin when we are exposed to sunlight. Generally, we can get all the vitamin d we need from just 15 minutes of sun exposure three times a week; however, pollution, poor weather and the introduction of SPFs in cosmetics and sun screens make this increasingly difficult to achieve. So why is vitamin D so valuable to our health, and what happens when we have a vitamin D deficiency?
The Health Benefits of Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is absolutely essential for the absorption of calcium in our bodies; and we all know that a healthy calcium level means healthy teeth and bones! In fact, in sufferers of rickets, it is the body’s inability to produce and process enough vitamin D that causes the young, growing bones of children to become soft and warped, since no vitamin D means no calcium. In adults, healthy vitamin D and calcium levels means strong bones, and a reduced risk of developing bone-related illnesses such as osteoporosis.
|A Sunny Disposition:
You may have noticed that it is easier to feel happier in the summer; it could be the glorious weather…but could it also be that the sunshine is actually increasing your levels of vitamin D? Scientists are starting to think so, as research is increasingly showing that a higher level of vitamin D in the bloodstream means a more positive mood! Interestingly, low levels of vitamin D have also been linked with a number of active brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s; research has shown that tested Alzheimer’s sufferers consistently had a lower vitamin D intake than healthy test subjects.
If you’re looking for a natural helping hand in your weight loss efforts, then make sure your vitamin D levels are topped up! This is because it seems the presence of vitamin D in the bloodstream has the ability to prompt the brain to increase metabolism, and tell the body to burn fat rather than store it: Perfect! Not only that, but vitamin D helps to keep cravings in check, and your appetite under control.
|A Healthy Immune System:
Vitamin D helps the body to pre-empt any bacterial or viral infection that may be heading your way, by priming white blood cells to be ready for attack. When a white blood cell detects the presence of a foreign body like a virus, it leaps into action by multiplying quickly, and turning from a dormant cell into a “killer” cell, in order to attack and destroy the invader. But this dramatic transformation can only happen if there is sufficient vitamin D present in the blood stream. If there isn’t enough of the vitamin available, then the white blood cells will remain dormant and helpless against an onslaught. So it makes sense then, that a healthy level of vitamin D will dramatically improve the efficiency of your immune system!
|Keep Major Illnesses at Bay:
Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of developing cancer. This is because vitamin D is directly involved in cell differentiation, where cells become specialized to perform a particular task. It is at this stage of cell division that mutations can occur, resulting in tumours, and ultimately cancer. By helping the cell division process to go smoothly, vitamin D ensures that tumours are avoided. There is also evidence to suggest that a healthy vitamin D intake lowers the risk of developing auto-immune diseases, like Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
What are the Symptoms of a Vitamin D Deficiency?
It is very easy to get your vitamin D levels tested at your doctor if you are worried that you may be deficient. But there are several health indicators that you can look out for, which may reveal a deficiency:
– Asthma and psoriasis, particularly in children
– Fatigue, and continuing colds and flus
– Muscle tiredness or weakness
– Weight gain
– High blood pressure
What are Naturally Vitamin D-Rich Foods?
The most effective method of making sure your levels are topped up is by getting enough sunlight, which triggers the production of vitamin d3. Vitamin d3 (as opposed to d2, which is derived from plants) is the more potent form of vitamin d that your body needs to function effectively.
It can be found in certain foods, so make sure you pack these into your diet to keep your levels of d3 up:
- Oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon
- Cod liver oil
It’s fish all the way for the best source of vitamin d3! But if a fish-rich diet isn’t to your liking, or if you are vegetarian, we recommend taking a supplement to get your d3; do make sure you read the label for the correct dosages!
Are there Any Negative Side Effects of Taking Vitamin D?
If you are taking any other medications, you should consult a doctor before you start any supplementary course. However, generally you will only suffer negative side-effects from taking vitamin d supplements if you take vastly more than the recommended daily dosage, which can result in vitamin d toxicity. These side effects include:
- Feeling incredibly thirsty
- Increased urination
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Stomach upsets or constipation
- The taste of metal in your mouth
- Pain on your bones, or in your eyes
What the Press Says:
The Guardian: (Click article for full size)
The Telegraph: (Click article for full size)