Sunny “D”: The Benefits of Getting Enough Vitamin D
Recent reports in the area of health news say that three out of four Americans don’t get enough Vitamin D. You may have heard that, especially during the winter months, it is very important to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D. Why is Vitamin D so important to your health? And what does the sun have to do with it? It’s all a part of the amazing way your body functions and uses the processes of nature to help us look and feel our best.
Our body’s need for Vitamin D is all the more interesting when you learn that the human body doesn’t even make Vitamin D on its own. Instead, the body makes part of it and then needs exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays to complete the job. Once that exposure occurs, the body can turn the part of the Vitamin D it creates into the active form of the vitamin that gives us many health benefits.
What is Vitamin D in its active form used for? Well, if you’ve ever heard the term “winter blues,” you may have an idea. Being deficient in Vitamin D during the winter months can lead to a condition called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (The apt acronym for this? SAD). The disorder is characterized by low mood, feelings of sadness, and fatigue. A lack of Vitamin D can also contribute to some auto-immune disorders.
If exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is what helps our bodies use Vitamin D, then you may wonder how we can safely get what we need without bringing about sun damage. In order for the sun’s ray’s to properly create active Vitamin D, it needs to be exposed to the sun without sunscreen, which we know is a risky health move. Some say as little as 10 minutes of sun exposure a day is plenty, but being in the sun unprotected every day, even for a small amount of time, could lead to problems later.
There is a way to get more Vitamin D into our bodies: through our diet. Some foods are fortified with Vitamin D, such as cereal, and very few foods, such as cod liver oil, have Vitamin D in them naturally. Taking a supplement may be the best way to increase your body’s amount of Vitamin D, although some people have to be careful about taking Vitamin D supplements because there may be some health risks involved. Women who take Vitamin D supplements should be alert for any signs of heart attack while they are taking it, and some people may have an increased risk for kidney stones.
The bottom line on Vitamin D? It’s important for your health and well being to make sure you’re getting enough of this beneficial vitamin. The best way to find out if your body has a Vitamin D deficiency is to visit your doctor and get a blood test (especially if you notice that you are feeling more sad than usual). Make sure your doctor knows if you are taking Vitamin D supplements, and keep your sun exposure without sunscreen to a very limited amount.