Now, more than ever, vitamin D is a nutrient which should be taken seriously. Produced in skin in response to sunlight, it is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” Fat soluble vitamin D is absorbed in the lymph and transported in the blood with carrier proteins, and it can be stored in the liver and fatty tissues. D-1, D-2, and D-3 make up the vitamin D family of compounds and some forms of D are more beneficial than others!
If you live in a warm climate, you’re in luck as your body produces vitamin D naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight. If you do not reside in a sunshine state, you can also get your D intake from certain foods or supplements (see our vitamin D patch here)! This nutrient has many important functions but the most important is its ability to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus which promotes immune system function. This can be especially important during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic as there is evidence suggesting that vitamin D can help to combat being infected with the virus. Those with low levels of vitamin D may be more susceptible to respiratory tract infections. Not to mention, the nutrient is important for the development and maintenance of bones and teeth, preventing issues such as soft or fragile bones.
Vitamin D also helps to fight disease! According to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adequate vitamin D intake is associated with lower risk of multiple sclerosis. Several other studies have stated that it also decreases the risk of heart disease. More research points to proper vitamin D levels being linked to the reduction of developing the flu, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
If all these reasons weren’t enough to seek out this super-nutrient, research has also shown that vitamin D plays a critical role in regulating mood and fending off depression. An example study, scientists discovered that those with depression who received vitamin D treatment were observed to have had drastic improvement in symptoms. In another fibromyalgia-based study, researchers found vitamin D deficiency was associated with those who were also experiencing depression and anxiety.
One of my favorite benefits of vitamin D--it can boost weight loss efforts! Not only will the combination of vitamin D and calcium do wonders for your bones and teeth, several studies point to the fact that the combination of these two nutrients have an appetite-suppressing effect. More research has linked vitamin D supplements with improved heart disease risk factors in overweight individuals.
Unfortunately, the majority of the population is deficient in this essential nutrient. If any of the following factors pertain to you, you may want to get your levels checked:
- Using sunscreen all of the time
- Not spending time outdoors
- Being in an area with high pollution
- Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
- Having higher levels of melanin in the skin (this makes it harder to absorb vitamin D)
If you’re unsure if you are deficient, it is important to get your levels tested. A simple blood test can diagnose a deficiency. The following symptoms of deficiency in adults include:
- aches and pains, lethargy, and a general unwell feeling
- bone or muscle pain or weakness
- stress fractures of the pelvis, hips, or legs.
If you do, in fact, have a deficiency, there are numerous ways to alleviate the problem. Of course, sunlight is the most efficient way to do so, however, if you live in a climate which does not permit this solution, you can find natural vitamin D in foods such as salmon, sardines, egg yolk, shrimp, and some fortified selections such as milk, cereal, yogurt and orange juice. Some levels of deficiencies can be hard to resolve with food, alone so supplementing with an easy-to-swallow pill (click here) or one of our vitamin D patches (click here) may be your best bet!