Vitamin D is one of the most critical nutrients for optimal health, and vitamin D deficiency is a global pandemic. Nearly every cell in the body has receptors for vitamin D—this means that every tissue and organ system needs vitamin D to function optimally. Furthermore, virtually every modern-day disease (e.g., diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease) has been linked to vitamin D deficiency. Some key benefits of vitamin D include:
- Bone and joint health – vitamin D is critical to calcium absorption. Without sufficient levels of both, the body’s ability to build new bone is diminished, increasing the risk for bone disease (e.g., osteoporosis).
- Pain- Research shows taking vitamin D can help reduce pain and speed healing times. Some studies suggest low levels of the crucial vitamin makes the experience of pain worse.
- Cardiovascular health – vitamin D supports blood vessel relaxation and flexibility, supporting healthy blood pressure levels. Low vitamin D can also promote the accumulation of calcium in arterial walls, a risk factor for heart disease.
- Mood support – vitamin D is involved in the production of serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter in the brain.
- Healthy gene expression – sufficient vitamin D levels support our body’s ability to activate health-promoting genes and “switch off” genes that promote disease.
- Reducing the risk of certain cancers – sub-optimal levels of vitamin D may be a risk factor for breast, colon, prostate, pancreatic, and ovarian cancers. Research shows you can reduce your risk of all cancers combined by up to 70% by having blood levels of vitamin D at 40ng/ml or higher.
- Immune system support – vitamin D supports the immune system’s ability to protect the body from bacteria and viruses. Thus, healthy vitamin D status is one of your body’s best defenses against cold and flu.
- Healthy weight – fat cells are better able to burn calories with sufficient vitamin D levels. Additionally, vitamin D supports the functioning of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone.
- Healthy blood sugar levels – low vitamin D levels are associated with increased insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
- Brain health, including memory and cognition – vitamin D can help offset inflammation in the brain, which is associated with age-related cognitive decline. Healthy vitamin D status is also associated with better memory and cognitive performance.
It is difficult to obtain appreciable amounts of vitamin D from food alone. It is also difficult to get sufficient amounts from sunlight exposure, depending upon things like age and geographic location. Even if you spend time in the sun, keep in mind that the protection you get from sunscreen also prevents your body’s ability to produce vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D supplement is the best way to ensure healthy vitamin D levels—and in turn, maximize health throughout your entire body.
I recommend 10,000IU in the winter and 5,000IU in the summer for most people with optimal blood levels being around 80-120ng/ml.
Vibrant health depends on vitamin D.
Here is to making the rest of your years, the best of your years,