Vitamin D is an important part of our overall health because it is involved in bone strength, immunity, blood pressure health, mood and skin health.
Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, is the only vitamin we can get from the sun. When the sun hits our skin our body is able to convert molecules in our body into vitamin D. We can also get it from foods like salmon, tuna and small amounts from cheese, egg yolks, or mushrooms.
Most people in the US are vitamin D deficient, especially those who avoid sun exposure, are elder, and have high amounts of melanin.
As we age our body is not able to produce the same amounts of vitamin D from the sun.
Melanin displays a protective effect against the sun's UV rays which reduce the body’s production of vitamin D from the sun.
Why is vitamin D important?
Bones: The main function of vitamin D is to absorb calcium which keeps our bones strong. Aging increases the risk of developing osteoporosis weakening our bones. Both vitamin D and calcium can help reduce this risk. Vitamin D is also needed to help strengthen our muscles which in turn supports balance leading to less risk of bone fractures and falling.
Immunity: Vitamin D plays a key role in our immune system function. It is needed to fight off bacteria and viruses which can harm our health. Vitamin D also activates important cells involved in our immune system.
Hypertension: Vitamin D may be effective to treat high blood pressure. There is an enzyme in our kidney called renin which acts to raise blood pressure. Vitamin D helps to inhibit the enzyme so blood pressure can stay low.
Skin & Mood: Since vitamin D is needed for our brain to function properly some studies have linked depression to low levels of vitamin D. Going outside to absorb some sunlight can help to improve your mood. Vitamin D may also help to reduce skin aging by working as an antioxidant which helps fight damage to cells. However it is important to use sunscreen due to the risk of developing skin cancers like melanoma. This may limit the amount of vitamin D you get which is why it may be important to include a supplement of vitamin D in your diet.
Give yourself permission to do self care your way. For more tips and to never miss an update, sign up for Shevolve Nutrition newsletter.