Do we need more Vitamin D as we age?
If there’s one Vitamin supplement that seems to be all the rage lately, it’s Vitamin D. Is it really the miracle-worker that people say it is, or is it a fashion like bell-bottoms that should be left to the dustbin of times past? If we are to believe the hype, the older we get, the more we need this important vitamin.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (really a hormone our bodies make) in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. This single group of Vitamins can affect as many as 2,000 genes in our bodies.
Without sufficient Vitamin D, a lot of things start to go wrong in our physiology, but most importantly, we can no longer regulate calcium and phosphorous, and our immune systems start to be compromised. From here, all kinds of chaos can break loose!
- You have a dark instead of a fair complexion. People with darker skin (more melanin) often need up to 20 times more sunlight to make the same amount of Vitamin D as people with lighter skin.
- You are over 50. People tend to make less Vitamin D as they age, so taking a supplement, making sure you eat foods high in Vitamin D, or getting it from time spent in the sun is vital as you grow older.
- Your gut isn’t what is used to be. Vitamin D contributes greatly to gut health. If you suffer from bloating, gas, diarrhea, irritable bowel disease, odd food cravings, etc. you may need to increase your Vitamin D to support greater gut health.
- You feel sad or depressed. Vitamin D helps our bodies regulate serotonin, an important neurochemical that helps us to feel happy.
- Your bones ache. Vitamin D and calcium interact in a synergistic way to keep your bones and ligaments strong. If your bones ache, it is likely a sign that your joints are weak, and not the bones themselves, but Vitamin D supports good health in both.
Vitamin D is a hormone we can naturally make inside our own bodies, but only when we spend time in the sun. We can also get trace amount through the foods we eat. It is taken as a supplement for depression, fatigue, muscle weakness, heart disease and even cancer, but does it work?
Vitamin D for Depression and Anxiety
121 million people, and counting, suffer from depression throughout the world, and though there are many supplements that can help regulate our moods and reduce anxiety, it does seem that Vitamin D has a unique effect on our happiness.
Numerous studies point to a Vitamin D deficiency as the cause of anxiety and depression, so supplementing to make sure you get enough can be vital.
Vitamin D to Reduce Fatigue
Scientists are still unsure how Vitamin D helps with energy levels, but since it interacts with so many physiological processes and hormones, it is likely that Vitamin D supplementation helps the body regain its innate energy.
If you are consistently feeling fatigued, even though you eat well and exercise, it might be time to spend more time outside to boost your sunshine intake (which then helps your body make Vitamin D) or take a supplement.
Vitamin D for Muscle Weakness
If you’ve been hitting the gym regularly and find you have muscle soreness, or you just get achy muscles due to your job or from menstrual strain, Vitamin D can help. Getting plenty of Vitamin correlates positively with muscle repair and functioning.
Vitamin D for Heart Disease
Heart disease and parathyroid disease have a positive correlation, and not getting enough Vitamin D can cause both. People with a history of stroke show low levels of this important vitamin.
Research from Johns Hopkins University suggests that getting enough Vitamin D can even prevent a heart attack.
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to insulin resistance and type II diabetes. This is likely because Vitamin D helps the pancreas and liver to process insulin which is then turned to glucose to be used as energy.
Vitamin D could play a significant role in preventing diabetes, and helping those who have it to lower their need for diabetic medications and insulin shots.
Vitamin D for a Healthy Immune System
Research suggests that without enough Vitamin D stores, our immune systems start to fail.
Dr. Joe Pendegrast states that German researchers have found that Vitamin D (which is really a fat soluble hormone) can boost your immune system by a factor of 3 to 5. It also produces more than 200 microbial peptides that help the body fight foreign invaders.
Vitamin D to Help Control Your Weight
Studies have shown that women who get sufficient Vitamin D either through their diets, supplementation, or exposure to sunlight lose more weight when cutting calories than women who just cut calories.
Vitamin D for Cancer Prevention
There are a whole host of cancers which show reduction when proper levels of Vitamin D are established in the body.
Colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer have all been proven to be less common in those who get enough of this fat-soluble vitamin.
How to Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin D
There are a few things you can do to help lower your disease risk and improve your health with Vitamin D:
- Spend time in the sun.While covering up and using toxic sunscreen has been all the rage lately, moderate sun exposure can boost your Vitamin D levels, and your mood, while helping fight numerous cancers.
- Eat Vitamin-D rich foods.Foods that contain high levels of Vitamin D include cod liver oil, sardines, tuna, raw milk, caviar (fish eggs), eggs, and mushrooms.
- Supplement. There are high-quality supplements which offer Vitamin D in the most bioavailable form so that you can stay healthy and strong.