With the first official day of summer just around the bend, days will be filled with sunshine and plenty of opportunity to soak up a much-needed vitamin. Also known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin — the most natural way to get enough vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to the sun.
Although you can obtain some vitamin D from your diet, it’s not enough to meet your body’s needs. Supplementation is also an option, especially during the winter months, however, maintaining an active lifestyle outdoors, is the most effective and natural way to ensure you get your required daily dose.
4 Reasons Why You Need to Obtain Enough Vitamin D
Meeting our nutritional needs can be tough — sometimes, we’re not even aware that we’re suffering from a deficiency. While focusing strictly on vitamin D, it benefits your overall health, impacting your teeth, bones, heart, lungs, brain, muscle, and immune system.
As you can imagine, once vitamin D in the body dwindles, a number of systems will be affected. Meaning, if you maintain a deficiency, you may increase your risk of illness — both mental and physical. So, if you’re not one to soak up a little sun here and there, here are four reasons that you should happily step outdoors.
- You’ll Feel Happier
Vitamin D isn’t an ‘on’ switch that will take away the stresses of daily life, but it can influence your overall mental health. For years, vitamin D research focused on bone health, leading to a range of other discoveries, including this vitamin’s effect on mood and one’s risk of depression.
Within the human brain, there are specific receptors for vitamin D – meaning it has a direct effect on the brain itself. How exactly it influences the brain is not fully understood, however, vitamin D receptors are found in the areas of the brain which are linked to depression. Vitamin D is also believed to influence certain chemicals, such as serotonin — one of our ‘happy’ hormones.
- You’ll Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer Complications
Some researchers suggest that maintaining optimal vitamin D levels may actually help prevent breast cancer. Women who show blood levels on the higher end of the recommended range when diagnosed are twice as likely to survive, in comparison to women who have deficient levels.
Within one Canadian study, women with low levels of vitamin D when diagnosed, were 94 percent more likely to have cancer cells spread throughout their bodies. Based on these findings, it’s believed that vitamin D may encourage cells to stick together — not allowing cancerous cells to rapidly divide.
- You Could Reduce Low Back Pain
Low back pain can really affect your quality of life. The Canadian Chiropractic Association has stated that in a six-month period, five in ten Canadians suffer from low back pain. Amazingly, vitamin D may play a role as a deficiency has been shown to significantly influence pain levels.
Studies have shown that people suffering from low back pain, required twice as much pain medication when they were deficient in vitamin D. In one 2013 study, published in Pain Physician, it was concluded that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent among lumber spinal stenosis patients (74.3 percent), leading to severe pain and a higher risk of osteoporosis.
- You May Lose Weight
Weight loss is something that millions struggle with on a daily basis. Of course, your lifestyle is the most important factor — nothing beats balanced nutrition and exercise. With that being said, it’s been found that obese and overweight individuals with a vitamin D deficiency, significantly benefit when provided with vitamin D supplementation.
Within one Italian study, researchers compared three groups — the first group did not receive any additional vitamin D; the second group received 25,000 IU/month; and the last group was given 100,000 IU/month. Although all three groups lost weight, those who received the most vitamin D, lost an average of 12 pounds, in comparison to 2.5 pounds within the zero-supplementation group.
It’s clear that you need vitamin D, so don’t be shy to spend more time outdoors. Garden for 15-20 minutes, read a book on your front porch or walk your dog. When you make an effort to spend more time outside, you don’t need to do anything else — the sun and your body will do all the work for you. For more information, please visit the Vitamin D Council.
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