Vitamin D Not Just for Immune Health- A Must-Have Nutrient 365 Days a Year
Vitamin D supplements have been popular for many years and are most recommended for the winter months to replace the lack of sunshine. But research on Vitamin D supplements is beginning to identify why this supplement has become a necessary part of everyday health 365 days a year!
Your body makes Vitamin D when sunlight hits your skin. When the sun’s ultraviolet rays touch the skin, they convert into a precursor molecule called Vitamin D3, which then follows a metabolic pathway through the liver, and the kidneys. Once in the kidneys Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is converted into a new form (calcitriol). Once converted by the kidneys a protein grabs it to the organs where it starts it ‘s cascading list of benefits from building bones, maintaining nervous system function, supporting DNA expression and immune health. You can also obtain Vitamin D from fortified foods or supplementation.
The sun’s is the best source of Vitamin D (between the hours of 10 and 12), but many of life’s contributing factors have affected just how much natural sun rays we are getting or should be getting every day. Long winters, overcast days, the pigment of your skin, air quality, how close or far from the equator you live, obesity, layers of clothes, lack of outdoor time and the use of sunscreens reduce the amount of sun we are getting, which slowly decrease Vitamin D stores in the body.
Low Levels of Vitamin D can lead to low bone calcium levels, resulting in bone loss, increased risk of fractures and Osteoporosis. That alone would seem like enough reason to ensure you are receiving your daily dose of Vitamin D. Still; evidence continues to emerge on the benefits of Vitamin D for intestinal health, muscle support, blood vessel integrity, heart health, endocrine glands and mental health.
Signs you May Be Deficient in Vitamin D
Mood Disorders – Vitamin D helps regulate chemicals in the brain and elevate mood. A deficiency can cause depression, anxiety and feelings of sadness and low energy.
Reduced Immune Function – Vitamin D regulates and maintains the innate and adaptive immune responses. Insufficient levels can weaken the body’s immune system, increasing the risk of more frequent illnesses and infections. Consider Vitamin D supplementation if you often become sick, especially with colds or flu.
High Blood Pressure In recent years, studies are emerging that show low levels of vitamin D may predispose some people to higher blood pressure and chronic blood vessel inflammation.
Weaker Bones – Resulting in Osteopenia, Osteoporosis and bone fractures. Vitamin D promotes healthy bones by regulating calcium and phosphate levels. When there is a Vitamin D deficiency, calcium (which Vitamin D helps to produce) is pulled from the bones, causing a calcium shortage that can lead to osteopenia, osteoporosis and bone fractures
Increased Risk of Infection- Cuts and wounds do not heal as effectively or efficiently as they should
If you meet any of the above criteria, consider adding a Vitamin D supplement to your daily routine. Monitor your direct skin sun exposure throughout the year, and on days when you have not been able to acquire the recommended outdoor time, slip in a Vitamin D that day.
Natural Factors Vitamin D3 comes in liquid, tables and softgel forms. They provide a convenient daily dose of vitamin D as cholecalciferol to help support immune function and develop and maintain strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D3 is the natural form of this vital nutrient and is most effective at raising active vitamin D blood levels.
Vitamin D3 typically comes from animal sources, so Vegans tend to shy away from Vitamin D or reach for D2 supplements which are not absorbed as efficiently. Natural Factors Vegan SunVitamin D3 is sourced from wild-harvested lichen. This unique non-GMO formula was developed especially for vegans and vegetarians, who are more likely to lack this essential nutrient.
How much Vitamin D should you take every day?
Your required Vitamin D supplemental intake varies depending on many factors. If you are immune-compromised, you may take a higher dosage of 2500 IU daily during the winter months, cold and flu season. Infants can take up to 400 IU daily for general maintenance, and children may take up to 600 IU. Regular maintenance in adults is suggested at 1000- 2000 IU’S daily. If you are uncertain about what dosage is best for you, speak to your health care provider and do not exceed the recommended dosages on the label without consultation
Foods that are fortified with Vitamin D
If you are consuming foods fortified with Vitamin D every day and are getting adequate exposure to the sun’s rays (without sunscreen), you can reduce your supplemental Vitamin D accordingly. Foods that contain Vitamin D3 are egg yolks, beef liver and fatty fish (cod, salmon and tuna). Fortified foods (added Vitamin D2) are orange juice, dairy products, and cereals.