By Dr. Shreya Batra, ND
As soon as summer hits, everyone starts talking about Vitamin D and how it is so important to take. What is so special about this vitamin and why is it important for your health?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and is created in response to skin exposure to the sun – because of this, it is called the “sunshine vitamin”. Vitamin D can be found in some foods, however, supplementation may be warranted. That being said, most people who are living in Canada (and north of the equator) are often deficient due to lack of exposure to the sun.
Vitamin D can be found in the following foods:
Vitamin D has amazing benefits and some of them may surprise you.
1) Bone Health: It is an important vitamin that is needed to regulate healthy bones and keep the harmony between calcium and phosphorous levels in your bones. Due to this, it is especially important that growing infants get enough of the vitamin, as well as menopausal women, because their bone health is often compromised.
2) Reduces cardiovascular disease risk factors: studies have shown that it may have a benefit in reducing risk factors which influence cardiovascular disease – such as triglycerides. It may also reduce the risk of increased blood pressure or sudden cardiac arrest in individuals who already have cardiovascular risk factors.
3) Supports immune system: The common and more well-known correlation is between Vitamin D and the influenza virus which is the cause of the flu and colds. Lower the Vitamin D levels in your body, higher the rates of influenza, and this has been shown in various different studies. Furthermore, many studies are now starting to show a correlation between low Vitamin D levels and autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
4) Helps with low mood, depression, and anxiety: studies have consistently shown that getting your vitamin D at an optimal level will significantly help with depression, low mood and even generalized anxiety disorder. It helps regulate serotonin (which is considered to be your “happy hormone”) and improves mood. Supplementation can be particularly helpful for seasonal depression when weather is gloomy and sunshine isn’t prominent.
5) Beneficial for pregnancy and fetal development – low vitamin D levels are shown to result in lower birth weight, impaired development of lungs, immune system, and the skeletal system. It may also result in impaired glucose intolerance, and increased C-section rates. Maintaining optimal vitamin D levels (along with calcium supplementation) during pregnancy is crucial.
Remember, requirements vary for each individual. It is important to discuss your Vitamin D requirements with a Naturopathic Doctor, and get blood work if necessary. Book an appointment if this is something you would like to discuss!
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