Many of us have heard for years that we need vitamin D for strong bones and healthy teeth. What we may not have known is how essential this vitamin is for optimal health.
There is a lot of confusion today about health and how to obtain the best wellness possible. The great news is that most of us can get healthy by taking some natural approaches. One of the easiest things you can do is get more vitamin D. Let’s look at why this vitamin is so crucial and some signs that you could be deficient.
Many people are looking for ways to boost their immune function. We have all kinds of viruses hitting us, and we want to do everything we can to help our immune systems fight them off. Every cell in your body has a vitamin D receptor. When you get deficient in vitamin D, it is hard for the immune system to work properly. Adequate vitamin D levels will modulate immune responses.
Research shows that a deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased risks of infection. That means that getting more vitamin D could protect against different viral infections. (1)
Getting the proper levels of vitamin D will activate AMPKs. These act as natural antibiotics in the body. They help your immune system act as an antiviral and antibacterial.
A deficiency in vitamin D concentrations has gotten linked to an increased chance of cognitive decline. That could mean that patients who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may lack adequate levels of this vitamin. The reason could be because vitamin D can cross the blood-brain barrier and get to the central nervous system receptors. Long-term vitamin D deficiency may accelerate neuronal degeneration and cognitive defects in Alzheimer’s patients. (2)
Getting consistent doses of vitamin D reduces oxidative stress and activates macrophages, which promote better brain function. In studies, vitamin D shows promising results in better learning capacity in rats.
Since we know that vitamin D has a direct link to brain function, it stands to reason that a vitamin D deficiency could deeply impact mental health. Low vitamin D levels correlate with anxiety, depression, seasonal affective disorder, and even schizophrenia. (3)
Researchers have found that an insufficiency of vitamin D seems to be present in children with severe mental health issues. Studies were also done to examine the effect of vitamin D on patients with major depression. They found that symptoms improved within one month of supplementation.
Studies show that people who have higher levels of vitamin D also have a lower risk of developing various diseases. A deficiency could get linked to prostate, colon, and breast cancer. Patients with heart disease often have low vitamin D levels.
Scientists suggest that treatments with vitamin D could be helpful for people with cancer or other diseases. Clinical trials are ongoing, but the data seems representative of direct deficiency causation. (4)
A vitamin D deficiency could also contribute to high blood pressure. People who have a hard time stabilizing their blood pressure could risk having heart disease in the future.
Research also suggests that getting adequate vitamin D levels could prevent muscular sclerosis. Many people with autoimmune diseases could benefit from boosting vitamin D levels.
When it comes to illnesses and poor health, inflammation plays a huge role. When the body is inflamed, your immune system does not function well. Vitamin D helps lower the inflammatory response in your body.
Many functional medicine partitioners believe that vitamin D will help patients with chronic pain and inflammation. Instead of prescription medications that come with harsh side effects, many patients find relief when supplementing with vitamin D. (5)
In diabetic studies, the groups supplementing with vitamin D reduced their risk of getting diabetes by 10% to 13%. More research is being done, but clinical trials show evidence that vitamin D plays a role in modulating the risk of developing diabetes. (6)
That is a huge finding because right now, diabetes is one of the largest and fastest growing health epidemics of this century. Today, around 84 million Americans are at risk of getting type 2 diabetes. That data is based on lab results of fasting blood glucose being above the normal range.
People at risk for developing diabetes may want to supplement with vitamin D to reduce the chances of developing the illness later. Short- term trials have shown promise from a biological standpoint.
If someone is overweight, vitamin D deficiency is not the only problem. Other factors come into play, but the research suggests that vitamin D could be a predictor of increased belly fat. In one study, analysts found that higher levels of belly fat were associated with lower levels of vitamin D. (7)
From the study, it was hypothesized that there is an association between vitamin D and fat storage. People who find they have gained weight may want to get their vitamin D checked to make sure they have proper levels.
One of the signs of vitamin D deficiency in women may be having fertility problems. There may be a link between low vitamin D levels and female infertility. Vitamin D levels also affect sperm production in men. Supplementing with vitamin D improves fertility and pregnancy outcomes in most situations. (8)
With so many bodily processes depending on proper vitamin D levels, you may wonder how approximately 42% of the population can be deficient. There could be several factors that affect the percentages.
Skin color affects the rate of absorption from the sun. We call vitamin D the sunshine vitamin. That is because in earlier times people got the amount they needed from the sun. We don’t spend nearly as much time outdoors these days. Most of us work inside, and if we go out during warm weather, we use sunscreen that shields our skin. People with darker skin tones can’t absorb as much vitamin D from the sun.
Our diets are also lacking adequate nutrition. Most of us do not eat the kinds of foods that contain vitamin D. Those foods include fatty fish, mushrooms, and liver.
If you live in a cold climate, you may find it harder to get enough vitamin D from being outside. You should spend about thirty minutes in direct sunlight each day and get some vitamin D from the sun. That might not be possible depending on where you live.
To get adequate amounts of vitamin D in your body, you want to make sure you are eating a whole food diet. You also want to get outside to get some natural sunlight.
Experts don’t all agree on how much you may need each day. It is a great idea to get your levels checked. The ideal range is above 50 NG/ML. The endocrine society recommends taking around 2,000 IUs per day. Depending on your levels, that could change. Many functional medical experts recommend 4,000 to 5,000 IUs per day if you do not get direct sunlight.
The takeaway here is extremely positive. Vitamin D is critical for staying healthy and getting your levels at proper amounts is not hard. If you incorporate a healthy diet and supplement as needed, you will be able to maintain healthy vitamin D levels naturally. Many pharmaceutical companies want to monetize healthcare, but true wellness only comes naturally. Start taking the steps today to make sure you get the proper amount of vitamin D for your health!