Vitamin D, which is also known as the Sunshine Vitamin, is a naturally occurring vitamin that can be found in some foods, it is also a hormone that is created by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in the health of your bones, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer risks, autoimmune disease, diabetes and much more.
When we think about our health, we usually consider our eating and exercise habits, not our vitamin levels. Vitamin D and your exposure to the sun are probably the last thing that you would think of. With all of the sunshine that is available, an astounding estimation of 1 billion people suffer from insufficient or deficient levels of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies are believed to be very common, but undiagnosed.
Natural sunlight is the largest source of Vitamin D, when it hits our skin a process is triggered which causes our bodies to begin creating it. There are many things that can affect the bodies Vitamin D production, such as: limited exposure to the sun, using sunscreens, seasons, ozone amount, time of day, latitude, and cloudiness. There are also other factors to consider, such as the fact that people who have darker complexions also have to stay in the sun twice as long as someone who is has light skin, to produce the same amount of Vitamin D. Some research also suggest that people who are obese tend to have significantly lower levels of Vitamin D.
A Vitamin D deficiency can be determined by taking a simple blood test, however, there are also signs which may which may indicate a deficiency beforehand. The most common symptom of people suffering from a deficiency is muscle weakness and bone pain. Low levels of Vitamin D can also pose health risks, such as: cancer, asthma, cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, and possibly more.
If you have a Vitamin D deficiency, the best way to fix it is by spending time in the sun, eating vitamin D – enriched foods and/or taking a multivitamin. For most, sun exposure and diet can cure any deficiencies, however, Vitamin D supplements are for those who need some extra help. Supplements for the vitamin should not be taken unless instructed by a physician. However, it is recommended to take a daily multivitamin, most of which will contain 400 IU, which is more than half of the daily recommendation.
If you believe that you may have a Vitamin D deficiency, then you should contact your doctor to ask about having a simple blood test done to check. These deficiencies can be hard to detect and are often undiagnosed. The good news for most is that these deficiencies are easily treated by increasing sun exposure and eating a diet that is rich in Vitamin D.