Vitamin D “The Sunshine Vitamin”

Vitamin D is a nutrient we can consume from our diet and a hormone that our body makes when exposed to sunrays. When ultraviolet rays from the sun hit our skin, it triggers the synthesis of vitamin D. Adults need around 600 to 800 international units daily. For healthy levels this is about 10-30 minutes of direct sunlight without sunscreen several times per week. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays many roles in our body.

Regulate Mood and Reduce Depression:

Low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression and mood disorders. Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to mood changes such as hopelessness and sadness, also forgetfulness, loss of interest of normal activities, anxiety, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping.

Bone Health:

Vitamin D is critical for bone health. Without vitamin D our body would not be able to absorb calcium and phosphorus from the foods we eat. Calcium and phosphorous reinforces the connective tissue of bones, making them strong and durable. There are several bone health conditions linked to deficiencies in vitamin D including rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis.

Immune function:

Vitamin D influences immune function, particularity when we are deficient. With adequate levels of vitamin D we have a better ability to protect against invaders. Vitamin D helps to increase white blood cell production to prevent invaders from replicating and causing infection.

Regulating inflammation:

Low levels of vitamin D are linked to higher levels of inflammation. Vitamin D plays a role in regulating inflammatory cytokines. These are signaling molecules that are secreted from immune cells that promote inflammation throughout the body as a defense mechanism.

Blood sugar balance and metabolism:

Low vitamin D levels have been associated with impaired glucose metabolism. Vitamin D is a hormone that plays a role in regulating blood sugar. Vitamin D deficiencies make it more likely to develop type II diabetes.

There are several factors that affect your ability to get adequate vitamin D from sunlight alone. Some conditions that may affect the amount of vitamin D you are able to get from the sun including spending most of your time indoors, use of sunscreen, areas of high pollution, city living.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiencies can include tiredness, achiness, weakness, bone and muscles pain, stress fractures, slow healing of wounds, depressed mood, and hair loss.

Some ways to sneak a little more sunshine into your day could look like having your lunch outside, taking the dog for a walk, exercising outside as opposed to in the gym, read a book outside, stretch outside, outdoor meditation. There are many ways to be creative and get some extra vitamin D in your day! Take advantage of the sun while it’s out!

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