Discover the Hidden Powers of Vitamin D
August 08, 2016 | 3,255 views
Vitamin D is a nutrient that’s often overlooked, but recent research has proven that it works wonders on your body, especially when it comes to disease prevention and improving your overall health.
Unfortunately, due to dermatologists and sunscreen manufacturers many have the ingrained mindset that the sun, the best source of vitamin D, should be feared because it may cause negative consequences. It’s about time vitamin D is recognized for the good it can do.
Fast Facts About Vitamin D
Vitamin D is actually a potent neuroregulatory steroidal hormone that can impact up to 10 percent of your body’s genes. It can help inhibit many diseases, such as:
- Heart disease
- Type 1 and 2 diabetes
- Crohn’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
Vitamin D also has the ability to inhibit bacterial, viral and fungal infections by producing over 200 anti-microbial peptides that effectively kill these harmful organisms.
Why Vitamin D Deficiency Is Devastating
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get enough vitamin D, and this has resulted in rising vitamin D deficiency cases. Data from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2006 displayed a 41.6 percent deficiency rate in the U.S. Excessive use of sun protection and staying indoors for long periods of time instead being in the outdoors contributed to this number.
Not having enough vitamin D can be quite dangerous among older women, and a study also revealed that mild weight gain is associated with low vitamin D levels. A 45-year-long study of 4,600 women aged 65 and above indicated that women who had inadequate vitamin D levels gained 2 pounds more compared to those with healthier vitamin D levels.
Heavier weight was recorded among women with insufficient vitamin D levels at the end of the study. Eighty percent of the participants also had vitamin D levels below 30 ng/ml — a major red flag. Another study of obese adolescents who wished to undergo weight loss surgery showed that half of the participants were vitamin D deficient. A further 8 percent also had severe vitamin D deficiencies.
Some of the highest BMIs were recorded among adolescents who were most likely to be vitamin D deficient. Even more alarming was the fact that less than 20 percent of these people had adequate vitamin D levels to begin with.
Differentiating UVB and UVA Rays
Did you know that there are actually two types of rays from the sun? They’re UVB and UVA rays, and both have their own pros and cons.
UVB rays are actually the ideal source of vitamin D. Compared to UVA rays, they have higher energy but aren’t able to penetrate your skin as far as UVA rays do. UVB rays also have lower wavelengths and are effectively absorbed by DNA and RNA proteins and other chemicals. Unfortunately, UVB rays can alter DNA structures.
Meanwhile, UVA rays aren’t as absorbed efficiently by your skin. This can lead to skin damage and the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
However, this doesn’t mean that exposure to UVA rays are entirely bad for you. Nitric oxide (NO), which can defend your heart by calming blood vessels and lowering blood pressure levels, is actually created in the skin once it is in contact with UVA. NO also stimulates the brain, eliminates bacteria from the body and assists in combatting tumor cells. However, it can be dangerous is when it’s produced in excess, since it can act as a free radical.
Tips to Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
To get the benefits of vitamin D, make sure that your levels reach 50 to 70 ng/ml. Anywhere below 20 ng/ml is already dangerous. Safe sun exposure is the best way to increase your body’s vitamin D stores, especially when you expose your skin to the sun (not just your face and arms) around solar noon.
To know where your vitamin D levels stand, make sure to get tested ASAP, and continue to be tested at regular intervals so you can monitor them wisely. The D*Action Project, a global health campaign by GrassrootsHealth, is a good place to start. The D*Action Project allows you to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year period. What’s great about this is that GrassrootsHealth provides you with a testing kit to use at home.
Boost Your Health With the Right Eating Habits as Well
While maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is a surefire way to improve your health, eating the right food and adhering to healthy eating habits is crucial so that your efforts won’t go to waste. Ensure that your diet is composed of large amounts of fresh and organically grown fruits and vegetables, moderate portions of grass-fed protein and appropriate servings of healthy fats.
Intermittent fasting can also enhance your health. There are various schedules you can follow, but the most common is the restriction of eating time to a six- to eight-hour window, while fasting for the rest of the day. Intermittent fasting provides health benefits, such as:
- Assist in eliminating sugar cravings, as the body is able to burn fat instead of sugar
- Lower LDL and total cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure
- Develop better insulin and leptin levels, plus insulin and leptin sensitivity
- Combat inflammation, oxidative stress and cellular damage
- Regulate levels of ghrelin (hunger hormone)
- Enhance mitochondrial energy and metabolic efficiency
- Boost immune system and pancreatic function
Although the benefits of vitamin D are just recently being recognized, I believe it is never too late for you to start working on maintaining healthy vitamin D levels. Whether you’re young or old, you can surely benefit from this vitamin. Learn more about the benefits of vitamin D by reading “Surprise! Vitamin D Can Help or Hinder Your Weight Management.”