So summer is winding down (I know. I’m as bummed as you are), the kids are going back to school (I know. I’m as psyched as you are), and pretty soon it won’t be sunbathing weather anymore, and regardless of whether or not you’re a sun worshiper, it’s one of the best ways to get that all-important, daily dose of vitamin D. Even those who make it a point to get out in the sun throughout the summer still end up with low vitamin D levels somehow. So why am I going on and on about vitamin D? I’m glad you asked…
Over the years, there’s been a growing awareness and interest surrounding wellness from a more holistic approach. Now, what’s important to remember here is that while the term holistic health often gets lumped in with Naturopathy or alternative medicine, they’re not all necessarily one and the same. Holistic wellness simply means approaching the health of a person’s mind and body as a whole because they are interconnected. Why is this important to remember? Because making sure your body is balanced with the proper vitamins and nutrients can have far-reaching implications on both your physical and mental health and vitamin D is no exception. Why? Because this versatile vitamin plays several critical roles…
- Vitamin D affects the body on a cellular level. This means that it plays a part in the health, growth, and function of everything from your bones and muscles to your brain.
- Vitamin D also has a vital role in supporting your immune system by helping it respond to fight off harmful, foreign organisms.
- Mental health also gets a boost from vitamin D, which has been shown to help improve both circulation and cognition. In other words, it helps to get rid of that awful brain fog!
So now that we know we need it, there are a few different angles to consider when it comes to making sure you’re getting enough, so I’ll do my best to break it down for you by answering three questions…
- What causes vitamin D deficiency?
- What are the effects of having low vitamin D?
- How can I make sure I’m getting enough vitamin D?
Let’s get to it!
Causes of vitamin D Deficiency
Diseases and health conditions
There are several diseases and health conditions that, amongst other things, can result in low vitamin D or a full-on deficiency. Some to look out for include any type of digestion issue, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and less commonly known, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Obesity or being overweight
Some of the functions of fat cells become diminished in overweight or obese individuals. In this case, they aren’t able to release macronutrients that the body needs.
Certain dietary restrictions
Whether you have an allergy, intolerance, or you simply choose to restrict your diet to certain foods for personal reasons, cutting out certain nutrient-rich foods can result in low vitamin D levels. Vegetarians, vegans, and those who cut out dairy, in general, run this risk.
Lack of sun exposure
While it’s not as appealing to get sun exposure in the winter and the fall, it’s essential to get a healthy dose of UV rays because they trigger your body’s response to produce vitamin D. So even if you have to bundle up, try to get out and get some sun on your face for at least 20 minutes every day.
Effects of Having Low vitamin D
Getting sick more often
As mentioned before, vitamin D has properties that help to boost your immune system. Take that vitamin D away, and your body’s ability to fight harmful foreign organisms becomes diminished. Low vitamin D has also been shown to slow recovery times, as well.
While this symptom is hard to nail down to any one cause, studies show that individuals with low vitamin D levels tend to experience fatigue. Because this is a common symptom associated with many other causes, it’s important to note whether or not you’re experiencing it in combination with any of the other symptoms associated with low vitamin D.
Bone aches and deterioration
We’ve all seen the commercials and campaigns promoting milk as a great source of calcium and vitamin D, so it should come as no surprise that vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone aches and pains and even deterioration over time.
Ways To Ensure You’re Getting Enough vitamin D
Eating a healthy diet should be a no brainer, but making sure you’re consuming enough foods that are rich in vitamin D can be tricky. So here are a few to get you started: milk, eggs, yogurt, oily fish. For all you vegans and vegetarians out there, let’s talk about some of your options…
As mentioned earlier, getting sun exposure prompts your body to produce its own vitamin D, and while it’s important to make sure you’re protecting your skin with sunscreen most of the time, it’s also essential to get some sun exposure without it in small doses.
If you’re eating a healthy diet and getting enough sun exposure, but still coming up short on the vitamin D front, it might be time to talk to your doctor about taking vitamin D as a supplement. Popular options include multivitamins that contain vitamin D or a vitamin D pill on its own.
Certain vitamins like zinc, magnesium, K, and Omegas not only help your overall health, they complement vitamin D and help to ensure that your body can adequately absorb it. It’s one thing to eat vitamin-rich foods and take vitamin D as a supplement, but your body’s ability to absorb it all is paramount.
With so many options to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D, it should be simple to begin working some of them into your daily routine. If you think you’re experiencing some of the symptoms of low vitamin D, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test and how you can work towards attacking the cause.
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