The Health Advocate

by Hannah Whittenly, The Health Advocate

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Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for health, and many people are deficient. Proper vitamin D intake helps prevent a variety of diseases, especially those involving the bones and teeth along with a wide variety of other diseases and disorders. The good news is that there are many ways to ensure you get enough of this critical nutrient.

Wide Ranging Health Benefits

Vitamins are a complicated area of nutrition and health. Although scientists understand a lot about how vitamins work to support the body, the interactions between vitamins, other nutrients and the body’s cells are so complex that it is often difficult to define. This is definitely the case with vitamin D, often resulting in somewhat conflicting information regarding its usefulness.

Vitamin D has been found mildly helpful in the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including multiple types of cancers, heart disease, diabetes and even the flu. It has been shown to support nerve health, immune health and bone health among others. This gives vitamin D a broader range of possible application than almost any other vitamin. At the same time, a deficiency in vitamin D hasn’t been shown to contribute too many diseases beyond those regarding calcium and bone health. Given the complex nature of vitamins and the difficulty science has in pinning down exactly what they do or how they work, it is almost always better to err on the side of higher intake. It is nearly impossible to overdose on vitamin D or take enough to be toxic or harmful, so getting a little extra won’t hurt and might certainly help.

Healthy Sunshine

Getting some vitamin D is as easy as taking a walk on a sunny day. Your skin naturally produces vitamin D, converting it from cholesterol, when in contact with UV light. This is the same radiation that gives you a tan and also sunburn. For this reason, most health experts warn that people should not aim to get all their vitamin D from the sun or they risk a higher incidence of skin cancer.

Fortunately, you don’t have to languish on the beach all day to get as much vitamin D as you’re going to get from the sun. In fact, it takes as little as 15 minutes of full body sun exposure to receive the maximum effect. After that, any further exposure isn’t helping because your body’s vitamin D production shuts down to prevent toxicity.

Vitamin D from Food

There are only a handful of foods that naturally contain high levels of vitamin D, namely salmon, tuna and eggs. To combat this lacking, many foods are fortified with vitamin D, meaning they have been artificially added. Foods commonly fortified include cereal and dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. The body is not designed to get all of its vitamin D from foods. If you don’t get out in the sun much, have a high risk of skin cancer or live in northern climates, you will want to supplement with vitamin D.

Link Between Vitamin D and Calcium

One of the major uses of vitamin D and the one best understood by nutrition and health experts is that it helps the body metabolize calcium. The link is crucial. Although most people think of getting enough calcium, all the calcium intake in the world won’t do any good without sufficient vitamin D. Many people who experience diseases such as osteoporosis aren’t deficient in calcium, they are deficient in vitamin D.

Calcium and other vital nutrients that help with bone health may be consumed together in the form of supplements, like those from AlgaeCal. Such supplements may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and help to strengthen bones when combined with other treatments recommended by a health professional.

Ensuring you get enough vitamin D from whatever source is crucial for overall health. It is worth examining your diet and lifestyle to see if you are at risk of being vitamin D deficient and supplementing with vitamin D capsules if at risk. It is never too late to ensure you are getting enough of this crucial nutrient.

@ 3:54am ET on September 12, 2017
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