What is so important about Vitamin D?
With our current environment it is crucial that we are focusing on our overall health. We must accept that our overall health is directly in our control through diet and exercise. Washing our hands will only take us so far but our lifestyle choices will place our bodies in the best possible position to handle any exposures that will test our immune system.
Why Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a hormone that is synthesized in our skin when we are exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun, typically in the summertime. Over 90% of vitamin D originates in the skin. The rest can be absorbed from food sources with the best source being fatty fish (Wang, et. al 2017). Our body takes that hormone and converts it into what we know as vitamin D3 that then allows us to absorb calcium from the gut (Lips, P 2006).
Calcium absorption is the most widely known use of vitamin D but studies show it is linked to improving the immune system, preventing chronic disease, balancing blood sugar, respiratory function and muscle recovery in athletes.
Studies show that vitamin D regulates immune function and decreases inflammatory reactions. It has also been shown to delay the progress of autoimmune diseases. Lack of vitamin D has been linked to a higher risk of incident of colon, prostate and breast cancer. Studies have also found that low vitamin D is associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes (Wang, et. al. 2017).
Lung function has also been shown to be improved in asthma patients by supplementing vitamin D. A meta-analysis in 2017 found that multiple studies showed participants had less incidents of asthma attacks requiring steroid inhalers when supplementing with vitamin D (Jolliffe, D. et. al. 2017).
Vitamin D has long been linked to bone health but now more evidence shows that it also supports muscle repair and remodeling. Both young athletes and elderly men showed improvement in muscle quality. In another study elderly participants an increase in muscle strength when supplementing with vitamin D (Owens, D. et. al. 2018).
More research is being done on the effects of vitamin D, but there are some promising studies showing high doses over a short period of time can help someone recover quickly from a respiratory infection. Research has found that athletes with low vitamin D concentrations had a higher number of upper respiratory infection symptom days and higher symptom severity scores (Owens, D. et. al. 2018).
So you get it, vitamin D is important for our overall health. Just as important though is seeing your healthcare professional and having your vitamin D levels tested prior to beginning supplementation.
I also like to recommend that vitamin D be paired with vitamin K2 which has been shown to have positive effects on bone mass density (Kodama, Y. et. al. 2017).
Take the time now to focus on your overall health and commit to a lifestyle that lessens your overall risk to the things we cannot control in our environment.
Jeric Toney, D.C.
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