“Get out in the sunshine to get your Vitamin D.”
I’ve often heard this thinking, and in some ways it’s true. But what if I told you that it’s only part of the story.
Let me explain…
Vitamin D is a unique hormone that belongs to a group called the steroid hormone family. This family is known for developing partnerships with other hormones. Some of Vitamin D’s favourite partnerships are with Vitamin A, thyroid hormone and variations of growth hormone.
Basically this means that Vitamin D is very important to our bodies!
Most people know it helps absorb calcium from food, and it helps in the formation of bone and teeth in children. But here are some more things you might not know! Vitamin D:
plays a critical role in slowing or preventing many types of arthritis;
reduces the likelihood that you’ll have a heart attack or stroke;
improves the release of insulin and the response of muscle and liver to insulin, which means that normal levels of Vitamin D may help prevent diabetes;
helps you develop a healthy immune system during childhood;
plays a key role in regulating cell growth and differentiation, which may prevent cancer; and
is critical for fertility, glucose control, reducing high blood pressure, and ameliorating seasonal affective disorder.
Most people mistakenly think they get enough Vitamin D from casual sun exposure or diet. Unfortunately, this is not true. Our changing culture and increased technology use have lured most of us indoors. This means we rarely get enough sun exposure to fill our Vitamin D requirement.
So what happens when you don’t get enough?
Your brain is often the first in line to detect early symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, in the form of severe fatigue. Some other signs include:
Joint pain and/or swelling
Muscle pain, cramping and/or weakness
Uncontrolled weight gain
High blood pressure
Poor concentration and memory
Bowel and/or bladder problems
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to seasonal depression; fibromyalgia; Parkinson’s Disease; Alzheimer’s disease; arthritis; osteoporosis; obesity; diabetes; heart disease; autoimmune disease; and cancer.
Those most at-risk of Vitamin D deficiency include women; people of colour; obese people; breastfed infants; and it becomes more common as people age.
But the good news is that Vitamin D deficiency is easily corrected with a little sun, a vitamin supplement and adjustment of diet!
In his book ‘The Vitamin D Cure’, Dr James Dowd has developed a five-step ‘cure’ to give you the Vitamin D you need.
Find out how much Vitamin D you need
Sun and supplement your way to great D levels. You can do this by:
Maximising your safe sun exposure
Using sunscreen only after you have gotten your fill of Vitamin D
Taking Vitamin D supplement
Making sure children especially get enough Vitamin D, and they often need more than adults do
Staying away from too much Vitamin A when you are supplementing with Vitamin D
Reduce your acid excess by changing your diet
Have a diet high in potassium, magnesium and calcium
Make a habit of consuming a handful of nuts (10 to 12 each day)
Fill your bowl with bananas, which will help you to remember to eat one a day
Minimise eating cheese
Seldom eat grains
Consume lots of green, leafy vegetables and fruit that are rich in magnesium and potassium
Use good Himalayan salt in your cooking and avoid pre-salted food
Remember that ‘take away’ is only for special occasions
You might need other supplements – consult with your health practitioner
Add a little exercise
Contact a health professional if you have any concerns about your Vitamin D levels.
Source: ‘ The Vitamin D Cure’ (2008) by James E. Dowd M.D. & Diane Stafford