Avoiding the sun may keep your skin protected but you are certainly missing out on vitamin D, an important vitamin that your body cannot produce by itself. When you expose your skin to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, your body produces vitamin D. However, you can also get this important nutrient from food and dietary supplements.
Vitamin D has several roles to play in the body, from maintaining your bone health to cancer prevention. This makes it important to get enough vitamin D, either through food like tuna, caviar, eggs, mushrooms, sardines. Ensure that you include these foods in your diet if you are unable to get enough sunlight.
Here are 5 reasons why you need vitamin D to stay healthy.
1. It Can Strengthen Bones
Vitamin D and calcium are important to keep your bones strong and prevent osteoporosis, as you age. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium from the food you eat and prevent bone loss and muscle weakness.1 Children are at the risk of a condition called rickets if they have a vitamin D deficiency. It not only makes their bones weak but they also develop a stooped posture and have bowed legs.
2. It Can Regulate Mood And Prevent Depression
Vitamin D promotes the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate your mood. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with depression. Although there is no direct link, it was found that vitamin D deficiency was one of the causes of a depressed mood.
3. It Can Prevent Cancer
Vitamin D may play a role in cancer prevention. Several studies found that there may be a link between cancer risk and vitamin D levels in the body as the studies suggested that vitamin D might slow or prevent cancer development, promote cancer cell death, and prevent tumor blood vessel formation.4 5
Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence available to conclude whether or not higher levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of cancer.
4. It Can Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease
Heart diseases are primarily caused due to the build-up of cholesterol which causes thickening of the arteries and results in high blood pressure. Vitamin D is essential to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke as it can regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, thickening of the arteries, and the risk of arterial hardening. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.6
People with vitamin D deficiency are twice as likely to develop a heart attack as compared to those with adequate levels of vitamin D.7 It was also found that people living away from the equator have a higher risk of heart disease due to lower exposure to sunlight.8
5. It Can Aid Weight Loss
Vitamin D affects the amount of fat produced and stored in the body. Low levels of vitamin D can affect the levels of calcium in the body, which is responsible for burning fat. Vitamin D deficiency will promote fat storage instead of burning fat that eventually leads to weight gain.9
On the other hand, studies found that obese people have lower vitamin D levels as compared to non-obese individuals.10
Note: To get sufficient vitamin D, 15-30 minutes of sun exposure can help you meet the recommended amount.
|↑1||Lips, Paul, and Natasja M. van Schoor. “The effect of vitamin D on bone and osteoporosis.” Best practice & research Clinical endocrinology & metabolism 25, no. 4 (2011): 585-591.|
|↑2||Penckofer, Sue, Joanne Kouba, Mary Byrn, and Carol Estwing Ferrans. “Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?.” Issues in mental health nursing 31, no. 6 (2010): 385-393.|
|↑3||Soni, Maya, Katarina Kos, Iain A. Lang, Kerry Jones, David Melzer, and David J. Llewellyn. “Vitamin D and cognitive function.” Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation 72, no. sup243 (2012): 79-82.|
|↑4||Deeb, Kristin K., Donald L. Trump, and Candace S. Johnson. “Vitamin D signalling pathways in cancer: potential for anticancer therapeutics.” Nature reviews cancer 7, no. 9 (2007): 684-700.|
|↑5||Kennel, Kurt A., and Matthew T. Drake. “Vitamin D in the cancer patient.” Current opinion in supportive and palliative care 7, no. 3 (2013): 272.|
|↑6, ↑8||Judd, Suzanne E., and Vin Tangpricha. “Vitamin D deficiency and risk for cardiovascular disease.” The American journal of the medical sciences 338, no. 1 (2009): 40.|
|↑7||Vitamin D and Health. Harvard T.H Chan.|
|↑9, ↑10||Vanlint, Simon. “Vitamin D and obesity.” Nutrients 5, no. 3 (2013): 949-956.|