Winter is here. The days are short and the nights are long. And for those of us living in the temperate climates, the desire to hibernate can be quite overwhelming. But, beware. Your hibernation habit can cost you some major healthy points.
Vitamin D also dubbed the “sunshine vitamin” can be naturally obtained from the sun. However, studies have shown that individuals living in temperate climates tend to suffer from vitamin D deficiency. And if you’re thinking it’s because of a lack of sunshine, you’re absolutely correct. But aside from the winter hibernating, don’t forget, due to technology, people aren’t going outdoors as much as they did in the past, even in the summer months. So friends in the tropics, you too need to leave the house some more.
Another important factor that apparently contributes to the low vitamin D epidemic is the overuse of sunscreen. Newsflash: UVB rays ( which gives you a suntan) cannot be absorbed through the skin with sunscreen on. And it is these UVB rays that are needed to naturally produce vitamin D in the skin.
Low levels of this precious vitamin can lead to some pretty serious ailments among which include;
- Depression: studies have linked low-level vitamin D with depression.
- Brittle Bones: vitamin D is necessary for normal development of the bone plates. In severe cases of D deficiency, children may develop rickets (bone deformity), though this is extremely rare nowadays. Deficiency can also cause osteoporosis, which can lead to bone fractures.
- Brittle teeth: much ado is made about the importance of calcium in bone health, and rightly so. However, just as much ado should be made about the role of vitamin D in maintaining strong, healthy teeth. Like I stated earlier, calcium needs vitamin D for absorption. So basically without vitamin D, there is no there is no calcium support for the teeth.
- Loss of muscle mass: studies have also shown that vitamin D decreases body fat and supports muscle mass and balance.
- Impairs calcium absorption: without vitamin D, the absorption of calcium, which takes place in the small intestine will not occur. In other words, no vitamin D, no calcium absorption. So even if you drank a gallon of milk your body will not reap the benefits of the calcium it contains. This ultimately affects bones, which depend on calcium for support.
Depending on what you eat, sources of vitamin D includes milk, eggs, liver, salmon, tuna and swordfish. If you’re not getting enough vitamin D from your diet, which most people don’t, get thee into the sun, daily for at least 15 minutes if you have light skin and 25 to 30 minutes if you have dark skin.
You can also have a blood test done to determine your levels and talk to your doctor about a supplement dosage that’s right for you.
How are you getting your vitamin D? Share in the comments below.
Dixie Lincoln- Nichols is a biological science educator, health and wellbeing consultant and Qigong instructor. Her work has been featured in media outlets like, Oprah Mag, SELF, Yahoo and more. She is the founder of Inside Outer Beauty Market, a multi-cultutal retailer curating and creating products to support the body inside and out. Visit the site at www.iobeautymarket.com