6 Ways Vitamin D Boosts Your Day
By Judy Couch, FNP-C
Vitamin D, AKA the “sunshine vitamin”, is critical to how well your body functions on a daily basis. If your body doesn’t produce enough from direct sunlight exposure, you could feel it in many different ways. Why? Because, interestingly enough, it functions more like a hormone than a vitamin.
Hormones help regulate your cells to keep you happy and healthy. Lifestyle choices, genetics, and environment can all play a part of how well (or poor) your hormones work. For example, pollution, obesity, age, sunscreen quality, darker skin, and an aversion to the outdoors are just a few reasons your vitamin D levels may be low.
Additionally, if you live in the midwest or in a city, chances are you aren’t even coming close to the healthy levels of vitamin D. The good news is that you can take a simple blood test to determine your levels, and take vitamin D supplements to increase them.
If you do take vitamin D supplements or spend more healthy time in the sun, you can expect to see at least these six boosts to your day:
1. Lower weight and reduced inflammation
A study on vitamin D supplementation, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that correcting low vitamin D levels in women resulted in weight loss, as well as a significant reduction in C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation. In the study, women who had high adherence to the vitamin D regimen had a significant decline in C-reactive protein levels. The women whose vitamin D levels were highest also lost the most weight and saw greater reductions in insulin levels, waist circumference, and body fat.
2. Enhanced mood
Vitamin D can boost your mood because it activates genes that release your naturally “happy” brain chemicals (the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin). A deficiency in vitamin D causes a negative chain reaction: less dopamine and serotonin; lower moods; a higher chance of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or even depression.
3. Healthier immune system
Vitamin D interacts with peptides in your immune system that trigger a strong anti-microbial response. Basically, this means your body is able to fight infections faster. Additionally, vitamin D reduces your chance of an autoimmune disease by making your cells smarter, enabling them to differentiate between “invader” cells and “self” cells faster and more efficiently.
4. More protection for your heart
In addition to a healthier immune system, vitamin D has significant benefits to the heart. A recent study of men and women undergoing evaluation for coronary artery disease found that a deficiency of vitamin D was present in 70% of the subjects. Coronary artery disease was correlated with the severity of the vitamin D deficiency, and in the severely deficient subjects, the rate of coronary artery disease was twice as high.
5. Lower chance of developing cancer
While it has been well-documented that low levels of vitamin D are associated with the development of breast cancer, recent meta-analysis of studies done in both men and women now reveal a significant correlation with vitamin D levels and the risk of developing colon cancer. Additionally, low vitamin D levels have also been shown to be a risk factor for men in the development of prostate cancer. But there is some good news in all of this: higher levels of vitamin D are correlated with better survival rates in breast, lymphoma, and colon cancer patients, and these patients are likely to remain in remission longer than patients who are vitamin D deficient.
6. Stronger bones and muscles
Perhaps the most well-known fact, vitamin D tremendously boosts your bone health by promoting higher calcium absorption. Without a healthy level of vitamin D, children are at risk for soft, weak, or deformed bones, and adults have a higher chance of developing osteomalacia. Simply taking supplements (or spending more healthy time in the sun) can lead to healthier bones – and muscles!
Vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies I see at Your Wellness Center. If you aren’t feeling your best, call 513-791-9474 for more information or click HERE to schedule a consultation. A simple blood test can determine if you are vitamin D deficient, and we can also examine additional hormones that may be negatively impacting your life. As our motto goes, we are here to help you “feel better, live better, look better”, so don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation to boost your day!