The Importance of Vitamin D for Your Health
Dr. Scott Sanderson
A lack of Vitamin D can pose serious issues to your health, making it one of the most essential nutrients that you need on a daily basis.
Many people do not understand importance of vitamin D not only is vitamin D crucial for absorption of calcium but it plays a vital role in many other aspects of health.
Vitamin D helps to regulate the production of serotonin the neurotransmitter that regulates our mood, as well as cognitive function. Depression and anxiety results from a lack of serotonin. In 2006, scientists evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 80 elderly patients and found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses.
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with hypertension and supplementation with vitamin D has been shown to improve the function of the cells that line your blood vessels leading to lower blood pressure.
Vitamin D regulates the production of over 900 genes in the human body. It can turn on and turn off the expression of genes. Vitamin D can turn on the expression of enzymes that protect your DNA.
Vitamin D regulates the length of your telomeres. Your telomeres protect your DNA. Telomere length is a biomarker for aging. The older you are the shorter they get. Higher levels of vitamin D were correlated with longer telomeres when levels were checked in identical twins. They were the same age but the one with higher levels of DNA had longer telomeres and thus younger cells. Vitamin D also lowers inflammation which can decrease telomere length. Mice with vitamin D deficiency aged much more quickly than mice with normal levels of vitamin D.
70% of the US population does not meet the standards for adequate Vitamin D levels. People spending so much time indoors plays a large role in this. Increasing average body fat also plays a role. Vitamin D is stored in fat. The more body fat you have, the less vitamin D you will have available in your bloodstream for your cells to utilize. It will instead be locked up in your fat cells.
The older we get, the less efficient we get at making vitamin D from the sun. A person at 70 makes 1/4th less vitamin D from the sun than they did when they were 20.
Vitamin D also plays a crucial role in calcium absorption. Even if you take the right amount of calcium, it won’t be properly absorbed without the right amount of Vitamin D. Without vitamin D, no more than 10-15% of dietary calcium is absorbed from the gut. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to poor bone health, which becomes more of a problem the older you get. In addition to its benefits for your bone health, Vitamin D has also been found to be crucial to boosting and maintaining your immune system.
The amount of Vitamin D adults need tends to be around 600 to 800 IUs, but some research has found that adults might need up to 2000 IUs for the most benefits. But what is the best way to get all of this Vitamin D? Most food does not contain Vitamin D naturally except for fatty fish, but many products such as milk, juice, or cereal are fortified with some of your daily required amount. Despite this, the best way to get Vitamin D is through sunlight. Just being outdoors between five to 30 minutes a day is enough for your body to produce its own Vitamin D. In ideal sunlight conditions you could be producing upwards of 20000 IUs of Vitamin D on your own! Wearing sunscreen and having a darker skin tone will decrease this. Of course, this can also change depending on climate, season, and your schedule – not everyone is able to be outside when it’s sunny, especially office workers. This is why many people in the US must take supplements to attain an adequate level of vitamin D.
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