Vitamin D Health Benefits: The Importance of Sunlight - Paula Owens, MS

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Vitamin D Health Benefits

Vitamin D Health Benefits - Paula Owens, MS Holistic Nutritionist and Functional Health PractitionerThe Health Benefits of Vitamin D (part 1)

Vitamin D is more than just a vitamin, it’s a fat-soluble steroid hormone precursor that impacts over 2,000 genes and expresses the way certain genes are either turned on or turned off (epigenetics), which can alter our overall health and vulnerability to disease.

It’s estimated that over 90% of all chronic health conditions could be prevented by managing and lowering stress levels, consuming nutrient-dense real foods, daily exercise, reducing exposure to environmental chemicals, and getting a daily dose of sunlight.
Vitamin D is produced endogenously when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from sunlight.
We’re consistently told to stay out of the sun, to wear hats and slather our bodies with sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. By following this advice, vitamin D levels are significantly reduced resulting in vitamin D deficiency leaving us susceptible to developing adverse health conditions and serious diseases.

Sunlight is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in immune, neurological and cognitive function, heart health, strong bones, hormone regulation, psychological health, and metabolism.

Vitamin D: Sunlight - Paula Owens, MS

Just 10-30 minutes of daily sunlight has so many healing properties and significant health benefits: fights depression, strengthens immunity, improves sleep, lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of heart attack, stroke, autoimmune and cancer, balances hormones, happier mood, stronger bones, and even prolongs life! Our brains need light at the correct time of the day to set our biologic body clock and circadian rhythm.

Vitamin D: Did you know?

According to a study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, over 70% of Caucasians and 97% of African-Americans in the U.S. have insufficient blood levels of vitamin D.

In the journal Anticancer Research, scientists reported that most people need a much higher intake of vitamin D resulting in a decreased risk of serious illness, including cancer by 50 percent!

  • There is a direct association between aging skin, wrinkles and vitamin D levels
  • The New England Journal of Medicine reported that 50% of critically ill patients in intensive care units (ICUs) are deficient in vitamin D.
  • One of every 7 teenagers in the U.S. is D-ficient. Overweight teens are 2x as likely to be deficient as teenagers of healthy weight. Girls had twice the risk of boys.
  • Low vitamin D levels reduce muscle power and force
  • During pregnancy, vitamin D deficiency may increase chances of elevated blood pressure and diabetes in mothers, and induce her immune system to make antibodies that can damage the baby’s brain and cause certain genes to malfunction resulting in weakened bones in their offspring, and an increased risk of ADHD, schizophrenia and autism.
  • Those age 50 and older are at an increased risk vitamin D insufficiency. As people age, their skin cannot synthesize vitamin D as efficiently and the kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active hormone form.
  • Older women who skimp on vitamin D rich foods (fatty fish, pasture-raised butter) are more likely to develop breast cancer, according to Frank Garland, Ph.D. of the Department of Community and Family Medicine at UCSD.
  • Studies have reported associations between sunlight deficiency and low vitamin D status to a greater of risk of colorectal, thyroid, breast and other cancers.
  • Higher serum 25-OH vitamin D levels are associated with longer telomeres and lower C-reactive protein levels. The exact mechanism of action is unknown, but it is thought that vitamin D reduces inflammation.
  • A study published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology found that vitamin D helps to increase testosterone levels
  • People with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D tend to have lower immune function, more colds and flu
  • Vitamin D levels are inversely associated with depression, mood and psychiatric disorders
  • Researchers from three different universities found a significant link between insufficient vitamin D levels and cognitive decline.
  • Magnesium and other fat soluble vitamins A, E and K are needed to properly balance vitamin D metabolism.
  • A study reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that magnesium optimizes vitamin D status, raising it in people with deficient levels and lowering it in people with high levels.
  • Vitamin D deficiency is particularly common in those with inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disorders.

Vitamin D Health Benefits

Vitamin D is an immune system regulator. The higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of getting a cold, the flu, and other respiratory tract infections.

Do you want to protect yourself and family from getting the flu? A daily dose of sunlight, supplemental vitamin D, Bio D Mulsion Forte, zinc, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), and limit immune suppressors.

Optimal vitamin D levels significantly reduce PSA levels in men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Vitamin D is important for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, which is required for healthy bones and prevention of osteoporosis. Vitamin D is a synergist to calcium and magnesium.
Optimal vitamin D levels reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, MS, psoriasis, Crohn’s, and cancer by 78%!

Research from the Medical College of Georgia revealed that vitamin D is linked to maintaining a healthy body weight.

Vitamin D helps the body control calcium levels. When the body is deficient in either vitamin D or calcium, there is an increase in fatty acid synthase, an enzyme that converts calories into fat. Vitamin D deficiency causes more calories to be stored as body fat, particularly in the abdominal region.
Vitamin D plays a key role in neurological and cognitive function later in life.

Low Vitamin D: Causes of Vitamin D-ficiency

  • Those with darker-colored skin
  • Toxic chemical exposure (glyphosate, pesticides, heavy metals, BPA, phthalates, and other hormone-disrupting chemicals) that alter our biochemistry, negatively impact receptor sites and cause a variety of health problems
  • Digestive dysfunction, GI problems and leaky gut  inhibit absorption of vitamin D – some people’s digestive tracts are unable to absorb vitamin D due to certain health conditions such as Celiac disease, IBD, cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s disease.
  • Sunlight deficiency. Inadequate sunlight exposure and sunscreen use. Our bodies produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed (without sunscreen) to sunlight. Our ability to absorb vitamin D from the sunlight diminishes as we age.
  • Shift workers
  • People spend more time indoors nowadays and are less exposed to sunlight
  • Low intake of vitamin D-rich foods (and absorption issues). This especially applies to those following a strict vegetarian diet since food sources of vitamin D are highest in egg yolks, pastured butter, beef liver and wild fish
  • Those with higher levels of belly fat, obesity and being overweight
  • Genetic variations: mutations in the VDR (vitamin D receptor) gene restricts vitamin D from getting into the cell
  • Age 50+ — Aging is associated with a reduced capacity to synthesize vitamin D in the skin upon sun exposure; a 70 year-old makes 4x less vitamin D in the skin from the sun than their former 20 year-old self.
  • Environmental conditions: Smog and pollution; living in a polluted area, cloud cover or living further away from the equator
  • Kidney, liver and gallbladder dysfunction, those that have had their gallbladder removed. Those with fatty livers (non-alcoholic fatty liver) and chronic kidney disease
  • Pregnancy, breast feeding
  • Low magnesium status: without sufficient Mg levels you cannot properly metabolize vitamin D
  • OTC drugs and many prescription medications including prednisone, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, seizure medications, plus others inhibit absorption or deplete vitamin D

Important to know for those who supplement with vitamin D: Magnesium is essential in the metabolism of vitamin D. Taking large doses of vitamin D can induce severe depletion of magnesium. Adequate magnesium supplementation (and fat soluble vitamins A, E and K) should be considered as an important aspect of vitamin D therapy.

Vitamin D Recommendations: What is a Healthy Vitamin D Level? (part 2)

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