Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient. Unfortunately, many Americans – even those who eat a good diet – are vitamin D deficient. Typically, we get a vitamin D boost from the sun, but during the winter months when the days are shorter and we are spending more time inside, our levels are falling, putting our health at greater risk. Most people do not fully understand the significant ways that vitamin D affects our bones, brain, body and overall health. Here are six good reasons we should all be taking vitamin D.
- Immunity – Vitamin D receptors are found all over the body, including the immune cells. Research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is part of the seasonal nature of cold and flu outbreaks – less sunlight means less vitamin D, which leads to lower immunity and more illness.
- Bone Health – It’s well-documented that vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of calcium, and it’s been shown to greatly reduce fracture risk in two ways. First, it helps with the formation of stronger bones; second, Vitamin D helps improve balanceand prevent falls by enhancing muscle contraction.
- Heart Health – Research has demonstrated an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels in the blood andhigh blood pressure. In other words, the lower the vitamin D, the higher the blood pressure. The excess strain and resulting damage from high blood pressure causes the coronary arteries serving the heart to slowly narrow and harden, greatly increasing the risk of a heart attack.
- Mental Health – When it comes to being happy, the scientific evidence is clear. The lower your vitamin D levels, the more likely you are to feel blue. Low levels of vitamin D have long been associated with a higherincidence of depression. Interestingly, when vitamin D3 supplements were compared to anti-depressants in a 2014 study, the positive effect of vitamin D3 on mood was comparable to the effects of the anti-depressants.
- Weight Loss – When you don’t have enough vitamin D, you feel hungry all the time, no matter how much you eat. That is because low levels of vitamin D interfere with the effectiveness of leptin, the appetite hormone that tells you when you are full. When vitamin D is replenished and back to normal levels, leptin’s actions are restored, thus creating feelings of satiety and aiding in weight loss.
- Cognitive Function – In the past few years, many studies have linked shortage of vitamin D with cognitive impairment in older men and women.Research has demonstrated that vitamin D has a variety of neuroprotective roles, including helping to rid the brain of beta-amyloid, an abnormal protein that is believed to be a major cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, an international study (the largest to date) shows that seniors with very low levels of vitamin D are at twice the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.