Eat more vitamin-rich foods and get a daily dose of sunlight, and you could have a fuller head of hair, leaner abs, and more amazing benefits.
You probably know it as the “sunshine vitamin,” or the vitamin that helps maintain strong bones, but there’s a lot more to Vitamin D than meets the eye. It serves a variety of functions in the body, including maintaining optimal bone and muscle health, as well as having favorable effects on inflammation. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough vitamin D on a daily basis.
There are many benefits to vitamin D and it’s virtually impossible to list them all in one post but here are a few of the more important health benefits of vitamin D.
BENEFIT 1: STRONGER BONES
When you think of strong bones, calcium often comes to mind. Calcium is the major player when it comes to bone health and increasing bone mineral density, but don’t overlook the importance of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a strong stimulator of calcium deposition in bones, making them stronger and healthier. If you’re not getting enough vitamin D, your body begins to slow or stop depositing calcium into bones, eventually drawing calcium out from your bones back into the bloodstream.
BENEFIT 2: NUTRITION FOR YOUR BRAIN
Are you becoming progressively more forgetful or even mentally sluggish? There may be a way to curb this, according to a British study. Researchers performed blood tests on more than 3,000 European men and discovered that participants with higher levels of vitamin D displayed superior memory function and information processing capabilities than those with lower levels of the sunshine vitamin. If you’re unsure of your vitamin D levels, ask your doctor to set up a blood test. You can read more on this here.
BENEFIT 3: PROTECTION FROM CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
The classic function of vitamin D is to increase absorption of calcium to maintain proper bone health, but did you know it has a protective effect on your heart? Recent evidence has demonstrated that individuals deficient in vitamin D are at an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, sudden cardiac death, or heart failure. Save your heart by supplementing with the D!
BENEFIT 4: DECREASED RISK OF TYPE 2 DIABETES
Type 2 diabetes can lead to some devastating long-term complications, including nerve damage, heart disease, eye damage and vision loss, and kidney failure. Recent evidence suggests that vitamin D may play a significant role in reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes—especially in those who are at an increased risk for this deadly disease.
BENEFIT 5: REDUCED RISK OF CANCER
Is there anything this vitamin can’t do? Research suggests that sufficient vitamin D levels in adulthood may significantly reduce the risk for many types of cancer, including colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate. Vitamin D is one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer-cell growth, and reduces the risk of cancer by increasing calcium absorption and cell differentiation, while reducing metastasis (the spread of cancer from one organ to another).
BEST SOURCES OF VITAMIN D
How can you make sure you’re getting enough of this incredible nutrient? Here are three easy ways to get vitamin D, none of which will break the bank.
One of the easiest, and not to mention free, ways to be on your way to your daily dose of Vitamin D is to just get out in the sun! When your skin is exposed to UVB radiation from sunlight, pre-vitamin D is formed before being shuttled into the bloodstream. From there, it is quickly moved to the liver and converted to vitamin D.
Another way to make sure you hit your daily allotment is through your diet. While vitamin D is not naturally plentiful in many foods, oily fish like salmon and trout, as well as dairy, eggs, plants, and fungi all contain varying amounts. In an effort to combat high incidences of vitamin deficiencies, many foods are now fortified with vitamin D as well, such as breads, cereals, and milk.
A great way to get your vitamin D for the day (and lots of other vitamins too) is through a multivitamin. Supplementation becomes extremely important during the winter months, when you’re more likely to have limited exposure to sunlight. Try to take in at least 600 IU per day to get your daily allowance. While we may not know the exact amount needed, there’s no questioning the importance of vitamin D. Make it a staple in your diet, and take your health and performance to the next level.