Vitamin D and Your Health | The Magic of Sunshine That You Need
Do you know which vitamin is the most studied by researchers and has the maximum number of publications under its name?
It is the sunshine vitamin – Vitamin D.
Well, vitamin D influences our physical health, mental health, and overall wellness. While the dosage of vitamin D can give us a pop of happiness, its deficiency can result in issues like depression. Making it one of the important, powerful, and much needed vitamins by our body and brain.
Despite being such a crucial vitamin nearly 70 percent of people do not meet the adequate D requirement. That is why it becomes important for us to understand the need for vitamin D in our life and learn the ways to make it a part of our lifestyle.
Let us explore vitamin D in detail and make it part of our life.
Vitamin D: A Complete Overview
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that your brain and body need for its proper functioning. It is naturally available in food items, dietary supplements, and can be consumed through sunlight. This vitamin is also called “calciferol” and “sunshine vitamin.”
Sources of Vitamin D: Where can you get it from?
Image Source: Medlife.com
Generally, it is believed that the only source of vitamin D is sunlight, which is partially true. Because apart from sunlight we can get our dose of vitamin D from different food sources and supplements as well. Some of the best sources of vitamin D are:
- Sunlight (as our skin produces vitamin D when it is exposed to direct sunlight).
- Red Meat.
- Egg yolks.
- Oily fish- such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel.
- Fortified foods- such as breakfast cereals, fat spreads, milk, and yogurt.
- Vitamin D supplements (you can consult your physician for the same).
What Blocks Your Natural Vitamin D Intake?
(Why am I not getting enough vitamin D!)
When vitamin D is so easily available for us to consume then what truly stops us from consuming it? Well, different factors block our consumption of direct vitamin D available for us. One should be aware of it so that these factors can be eliminated, controlled, or taken care of accordingly.
- Body Fat: Excessive body fat reduces the ability of your skin to absorb as much vitamin D as possible.
- Sunscreen: Sunscreen works as a direct agent to block the body’s ability to absorb sunlight.
- Age: With growing age our natural ability to produce vitamin D decreases. If you are 20 years of age then by the age of 70 the ability is likely to reduce by 4 times.
- Location: It has been found that people living on latitudes above 37 degrees north make even smaller amounts of vitamin D from the sun.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms:
(Am I having enough vitamin D consumption or do I lag)
Considering our current lifestyle and stats available, our consumption of vitamin D is limited and restricted. This might result in vitamin D deficiency (VDD), which if not taken care of can hamper our overall wellness. To check whether you are Vitamin D deficient or on the verge of falling in this category here are some signs of vitamin deficiency for you to consider:
- Excessive fatigue.
- Regular illness or infections.
- Having an autoimmune condition.
- Backaches and muscle pains.
- Low bone density.
- Excessive hair loss.
- Decreased productivity.
If you can relate to three or more of these signs then there are chances of vitamin D deficiency symptoms showing in your life.
Vitamin D and Physical Health:
Why does my body need vitamin D?
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins as it helps our body to function at its fullest potential. The sunshine vitamin activates us, improves our productivity, and safeguards our physical health in many different ways.
- Vitamin D has been shown in studies to prevent autoimmune disease.
- Obesity is also found to be related to low levels of vitamin D.
- Improved balance and coordination are also linked with the optimum level of vitamin D.
- Low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased rate of mortality.
- Vitamin D is also found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- New brain cells are developed through adequate amounts of vitamin D.
- Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Deficiency of the same can make the bones brittle and weak.
- The expression of our 1,000+ genes is controlled by vitamin D.
- The optimal level of vitamin D is found to resolve digestive issues like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and gut inflammation.
- Vitamin D reduces your risk of the flu and cancer as well.
- The right amount of vitamin D is also preventive in controlling diabetes.
- Exposure to sunlight is found to bring relief to muscle aches.
Vitamin D and Mental Health:
Why does my brain need vitamin D?
Apart from safeguarding our physical health, vitamin D also works as a shield from mental health issues. Thus, protecting our overall wellness
- Lower levels of vitamin D are found to be linked with lower levels of cognitive impairment.
- Cognitive decline is also found to be associated with lower levels of vitamin D.
- Lower levels of vitamin D are likely to result in various neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- Normalizing vitamin D levels are found to be linked with schizophrenia and depression.
- Prenatal vitamin D deficiency is linked with further diagnoses of autism and schizophrenia.
- Vitamin D deficiency is also found to decrease productivity in an individual.
- Exposing oneself to sun rays is found to be a natural mood uplifter as it produces serotonin (the happy hormone) in our body.
- With optimum levels of the sunshine vitamin, an individual can also keep winter blues and seasonal affective disorder at bay.
- Studies have also shown that vitamin D deficiency can give rise to symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.
- Relief in symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder is also seen to be associated with vitamin D consumption.
An Interesting fact about Serotonin and Vitamin D:
Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin. That is why sun kisses make you feel happy!
Special Section: COVID-19 and Vitamin D
(Do I need more sunshine amid the pandemic)
Different claims have been done by different countries, authors, and researchers about factors that can help in reducing the risk of COVID-19 among the masses. One such claim is that the sunshine vitamin, that is, vitamin D helps reduce the risk of COVID-19. Although there is currently not enough evidence to support how consuming vitamin D can prevent or treat coronavirus, some reports have shown the link between the two.
But, wait! How much vitamin D do I need to take?
This question is dependent on many factors such as your age, where you are located, and in some cases even gender. The table provided below will help you understand the amount of vitamin D that you need.
|Factor||Vitamin D needed|
|Babies upto the age of 1 year||8.5 to 10 micrograms|
|From age of 1 year to adulthood||10-50 micrograms|
|Breastfeeding mothers||10 micrograms|
|19-70 years of age||50-60 micrograms|
|70+ years of age||80+ micrograms|
|Healthy intake||10-100 micrograms (more than that could be harmful)|
Advice: Spend a minimum of 15 minutes in the morning sunlight and it will help you meet half of your vitamin D requirement.
(What is the link between vitamin D and my overall wellness)
Vitamin D is an important requirement for your mental health (without a pinch of doubt). From making us feel happy to safeguard us from various infections, the sunshine vitamin is important for healthy living.
Now go dip yourself in the sunshine and let the magical vitamin D shield your overall wellness…
P.S: Don’t just let the hashtag Sunkissed go trendy, but actually take some time out to get kissed by the sun.
Sending you sunshine…