Of all the vitamins and minerals you should be sure you’re getting enough of, vitamin D is perhaps one of the most important. The benefits of vitamin D are widespread and pretty incredible. Recent studies have found that vitamin D can even improve your cognitive function.
Imagine, a vitamin that can make you smarter.
The potent impact vitamin D has on your cognition is due to the fact that acts more like a hormone in the body, rather than a vitamin. There is a receptor for vitamin D in every cell of your body thus impacts thousands of functions in your body.
Unfortunately, about half the population is thought to be deficient in vitamin D. This is due to the fact that we spent a lot more time indoors and use more sunscreen because we get most of our vitamin D from the sun. Some people also have genetic variants that make them less efficient at converting vitamin D into its active form from the sun.
In fact, a report from the American Osteopathic Association suggested that the widespread prevalence of insufficient vitamin D levels is primarily due to the fact that we use far too much sunscreen. This report goes as far as to suggest that the increase in chronic diseases is due, in part, to insufficient vitamin D levels.
The overuse of sunscreen came after a massive campaign for protection against skin cancer. Scientists are now wondering, did we take this too far?
Sure, we have fortified foods with vitamin D and some animal products carry natural levels of vitamin D, but overall this appears to be insufficient. We need to be sure we’re getting more sunshine to optimize our vitamin D levels for better health.
Vitamin D is just too important to miss.
The Amazing Benefits of Vitamin D
The benefits of vitamin D are truly amazing -its impact on your health are widespread and affect every system of your body.
Here are some of the ways vitamin D impacts your health:
- Improves cognitive function
- Supports healthy bones
- Significantly boosts immune system health
- Reduces risk of autoimmune disease
- Improves gut microbiome health
- Improve heart health
- Influences genetic expression of other genes
- Supports hormone regulation
- Promotes weight loss
Vitamin D has even been shown to reduce your risk of mortality for all causes overall. That’s a pretty bold statement right there, but it’s a conclusion of numerous studies.
If you don’t get enough vitamin D, eventually it can lead to what’s called rickets. Rickets is when bones become very weak and brittle. This is a condition that hasn’t really been a problem since the 1930s. However, simply having low levels of Vitamin D can have numerous effects on your health.
What is Vitamin D?
I mentioned above how Vitamin D isn’t a vitamin, it’s more like a hormone. Vitamin D is actually a group of steroid hormone precursors. And every system in your body has receptors for vitamin D, which is how it has such widespread effects on your overall health.
Vitamin D helps your bones absorb nutrients including calcium. Vitamin D also helps make sure calcium stays out of places where it shouldn’t be. It also plays an important role in your genetics. Vitamin D impacts your genes and has the ability to turn on and off gene expression. Vitamin D is also used to carry messages through your nerves from your brain to the rest of your body.
There’s an important conversion that happens in your body to make sure vitamin D is in its active form. Vitamin D starts in its provitamin D form but is then converted into calcitriol. This activation process is dependent on sunshine. So, if you’re not getting enough vitamin D this transition doesn’t take place efficiently and it remains inactive in your body.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?
While a lack of vitamin D causes many health conditions, there are also health conditions that can reduce your body’s ability to absorb or convert vitamin D. Gastrointestinal disorders especially have the potential to interfere with your body’s ability to effectively use vitamin D.
You can have your vitamin D levels tested with your doctor to get a better picture of your vitamin D status. The most common symptoms of insufficient vitamin D levels are:
- Getting sick regularly
- Chronic pain
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Wounds that don’t heal
If you do decide to get tested, here’s the Vitamin D Council’s recommended range:
Deficient – 0-30 ng/ml
Insufficient – 31-39 ng/ml
Sufficient – 40-80 ng/ml
Toxic – >150 ng/ml
With the ideal level for most being – 50-80 ng/ml.
Get More Vitamin D for Better Health!
You can supplement with vitamin D but it is by far, much better for you to get adequate sunshine. If you do decide to supplement, be sure you’re taking vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is far more potent than vitamin D2. You should also be sure your supplement is paired with Vitamin K2. This is because vitamin D3 and K2 work together synergistically for better absorption.
Vitamin D3 helps your body absorb calcium better and K2 is important in ensuring calcium ends up in the correct place. For example, calcium that ends up in your arteries can harden them and lead to heart conditions, obviously, this is not where you want calcium.
The Vitamin D Council recommends 1000 IU or more, daily, however I highly encourage everyone to get their vitamin D level checked to stay in the optimal range to avoid guessing how much you need.
To further boost your vitamin D levels, make sure you’re getting lots of sunshine. If you’re worried about skin cancer, you can still wear sunscreen but it’s a good idea to allow your body to absorb some sun for 20 minutes or so before you apply sunscreen. And of course you will want to use natural sunscreens like zinc oxide, and avoid ones full of chemicals.
Getting more vitamin D is a piece of health advice that actually feels good. I encourage you to get more sunshine this summer end even in the winter. Vitamin D keeps your immune system strong and you healthy – get more today!