All the Benefits Vitamin D Has for Your Body

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Vitamins are very healthy for your body, and Vitamin D is one of them (1). The reason why we should be aware of its benefits is because many people don’t have enough vitamin D. For example, in America, one third of the people don’t have sufficient vitamin D (2), according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, 8% of them are at risk for vitamin D deficiency.

Over a third of adults in the United States have vitamin D deficiency.

Technically Vitamin D is not a vitamin, it is a hormone. Knowing how much hormones can impact how we feel, it is not surprising that low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of depression. In fact, you have an 85 % chance of being depressed if you are deficient in Vitamin D. (3) The exact mechanism of how vitamin D is associated with depression is unclear. Although studies show that people with high levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of depression it has not been determined if a low levels of vitamin D could be a consequence of depressive behaviors.

Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium. (4) If a person lacks vitamin D, the bones might become soft. This disease is known as osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children. It is also critical in maintain muscle and helps support a healthy immune system. Additionally, vitamin D deficiency can lead to many different diseases.

Just getting enough sunshine is not the simple answer to eliminate a Vitamin D deficiency. A recent study revealed that it may not matter how much Vitamin D you get through sunlight or supplementation, nor how much your body can store. It matters how well your body is able to metabolize that into active vitamin D. (5) People are taking Vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how it gets metabolized. It order to process the supplement correctly we need an adequate level of magnesium, without it the Vitamin D supplement it is not really useful. One of the problems resulting from the lack of magnesium is people may suffer from vascular calcification if their magnesium levels aren’t high enough to prevent the complication.

Here are some diseases resulting from Vitamin D Deficiency:

Type 2 diabetes

There is growing evidence that vitamin D deficiency could be a contributing factor in the development of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes (6).  That is because vitamin D has an important role when it comes to pancreatic cells that secrete insulin. Without this vitamin, your body will find it hard to regulate glucose levels.

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Since sunshine is one of the best sources of Vitamin D, there may be a link between elderly and increased risk for diabetes. This is similar for obese individuals. Being active and spending time outdoors will improve your Vitamin D levels and researchers are exploring the link between sunshine and Type 2 Diabetes.

If you have an elevated A1C level, discuss with your healthcare provide if you should be evaluated for vitamin D insufficiency. It can also be related to high blood pressure.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and the second in women, being the second most deadly cancer worldwide (7). Vitamin D is also used to regulate genes used for control growth, as well as survival of cells and differentiation. Without vitamin D, these processes won’t function and this can lead to cancer. Research has found that both dietary and supplemental intake of vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk of CRC, which suggests a significant influence of vitamin D on the prevention of CRC.

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Vitamin D for Osteoporosis

About 53.6 million Americans have osteoporosis and/or low bone mass and 2 million fractures occur each year due to osteoporosis. (9) It is common knowledge that calcium is probably the nutrient you think of first when it comes to bone health. But vitamin D is just as important for keeping bones strong and preventing the bone disease osteoporosis. Vitamin D is one of the key hormones in the regulation of bone metabolism, the major role of which is to provide the proper micro-environment for bone mineralization (8). It is also important in helping your body absorb calcium and phosphorus.

Vitamin D supplementation may increase bone mineral density in several regions of the skeleton, especially in people who are vitamin D deficient. The increase of bone mineral density may be explained by mineralization of excess osteoid in cases with more severe vitamin D deficiency.

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Vitamin D to Manage Pain

Recent research has found that Vitamin D levels may play an important role in the relationship between pain and sleep. The researchers specifically reviewed pain associated with several chronic health issues including arthritis, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia and chronic back pain. They felt that these conditions can benefit from appropriate levels of Vitamin D in combination with regular quality sleep.

A link between sleep disturbances and pain has long been established, but a role for Vitamin D has not been fully investigated in the past. These findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleep quality could increase the effectiveness of pain management treatments for diverse conditions. (10)

Low vitamin D levels

Your body can lack vitamin D because of a number of reasons. For example, during winter, there are fewer hours of daylight. Your body needs sun in order to produce vitamin D. While sunscreen can protect you against the negative effects of UVB, it can also limit the production of vitamin D.

Additionally, people who are obese or overweight also have low vitamin D levels. It is harder to explain this one, because, according to scientists, this is not linked with their diet or physical activity levels. It is believed that this might be because vitamin D gets stored in the extra fat which means that the rest of the body does not get enough of it.

Can I get Vitamin D from my Diet?

There are very few foods that provide a source of Vitamin D. Depending on diet alone to provide your daily requirement can be difficult. Most experts recommend a combination of sunlight, foods and supplements to insure you meet your daily needs. Making sure that you get 15- 20 minutes of sunshine is a good start. But what about food?

Vitamin D is available in two different forms in food. Vitamin D3 can be found in animal-based foods, such as fish, while vitamin D2 is found in other sources, such as mushrooms. Unfortunately, neither group is a big part of most diets in America. vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it ideally needs to be consumed with fat in order to have optimal absorption.

When adding a food source to your diet to increase Vitamin D you need to combine it with a fat source. These include foods like ghee, coconut oil, nuts, seeds or fish. This will help you absorb the Vitamin D. As we mentioned the primary food sources are found in fish and mushrooms. In addition many packaged products like yogurt, milk and orange juice are fortified with Vitamin D. Reading labels and adding fortified foods to your diet will help improve your Vitamin D consumption.

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Do you need vitamin D?

While vitamin D has numerous benefits, you should make sure that your body needs additional vitamin D. In order to find out about your needs, a dna testing kit might be needed. A DNA test will show whether you truly need any supplements.

Genetics are important when it comes to your levels of vitamin D. The VDR gene can have many mutations that affect vitamin D. This gene encodes the vitamin D receptor. There are such receptors in the intestines, and they are used to absorb calcium from the food you eat. It is also implicated in other roles such as cell proliferation.

If you choose to add a Vitamin D supplement to your diet make sure you discuss it with your health care provider. Some supplements have issues with prescription medications which you need to be ware of. It is possible to have a toxic situation come up if you take too much in a supplement form. You do not need to worry about sun derived Vitamin D, our skin know when to stop absorbing.

There has been a lot of research regarding Vitamin D in recent years. We are learning more about the value it has to good health. And it is important for young and old, so take a moment to see if you are getting the correct amount.

(1) Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
(2) Vitamin D Deficiency
(3) Vitamin D and depression 
(4) Calcium and Vitamin D: Important at Every Age
(5) Study Reveals Connection Between Gut Bacteria and Vitamin D Levels
(6) Vitamin D and Diabetes 
(7) Vitamin D Intake and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer: An Updated Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review of Case-Control and Prospective Cohort Studies 
(8) Vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis
(9) Osteoporosis Fast Facts
(10) Vitamin D in Pain Management

Author
Mike Miller

InnoVision Health Media reports on health content that is supported by our editorial advisory board and content published in our group of peer reviewed medical journals.

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