Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients and hormones that your body needs, and is one of the least understood in terms of how to get it, and what it does. We hope to shed some light on the matter here, with a focus on what you’re experiencing if you are running a Vitamin D deficit, and steps you can take to try and turn things around.
Vitamin D is a little different than the other vitamins you might be familiar with. It’s broken up into two types, a nutrient, and a hormone. The nutrient is similar to other vitamins and can be found in certain foods that are known for their higher than normal levels of Vitamin D. The hormone is a bit trickier, because the body needs exposure to the sun’s rays in order to trigger the reaction and create it on its own.
With other vitamins you simply start eating foods that contain the nutrient you’re focusing on, or you take a whole foods multivitamin so that you’re covered. But with Vitamin D it’s best to have your body make if for you, since that way you don’t have to go out of your way to eat certain foods, and you can start the process today if you want, and if conditions are right.
Learn about the benefits of Vitamin D and why it is so important in keeping you healthy.
If you’re not getting enough Vitamin D, your main concern is that your body is not getting what it needs to function at optimal levels. The biggest system in your body that is affected by a Vitamin D deficiency is your immune system. And since there is a trickle down effect when your immune system is struggling, you can quickly leave yourself open to a host of diseases and conditions you would otherwise be impervious to.
In order to live your best life you need everything firing on all cylinders, and you need to give the body a fighting chance in this world. This means covering all of your antioxidant needs, and Vitamin D is an important antioxidant when it comes to feeling good. You’ll have to admit that what you’re really after with all of this healthy living is to feel good, and there is perhaps no other vitamin that can get you there than Vitamin D. Contrarily, it’s hard to feel as good as you can if you’re not getting enough of it.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
If you are running low on Vitamin D you might not even know it until it’s too late, especially if you’re chronically low on it, and have been for several years. You might view it as just your normal state when in fact you could feel much better and have more energy with a few tweaks. Some of the more severe signs that you might be low on it are that you develop cancer or a neurological condition.
Signs that may present themselves before conditions become drastic are a feeling of fatigue in your muscles, psoriasis, or diabetes. If you come down with any of these conditions it’s best to have your doctor check your Vitamin D levels to see where you’re at.
If you notice that you get depressed easily, or that you’re just not feeling as chipper as you think you could be, you might be low on your Vitamin D. Likewise, you can assume that if you don’t get much sun on a day to day basis, and have been avoiding it for years, you are likely low, since it is not necesarrily easy to make up the loss by eating food.
Testing Your Vitamin D Levels
It’s not easy to test your Vitamin D levels on your own, and if you suspect that they’re low it’s best to have your doctor run a test so you know where you stand. You can then take steps to up your levels and go back to get retested to see if you are making progress. A blood test is the only way to determine how much Vitamin D you’re presently making, and it’s worth finding out so that you can confirm whether or not you are. Of course you can still take the natural steps of eating better foods and getting more sun without knowing for sure whether you’re low or not.
What you don’t want to do is start taking a Vitamin D supplement on the suspicion that you aren’t getting enough Vitamin D, and before you try the all natural methods already described. It’s possible, but not likely, that you could get too much Vitamin D if you get carried away with the supplements. Many people will also find that they don’t need to supplement their diet if they are eating the right foods and getting more sun.
Causes of Low Vitamin D
There are two major causes of Vitamin D deficiency: improper diet and lack of exposure to the sun. The first can be corrected by getting more Vitamin D foods into your body, and the other requires getting more sun into your life and perhaps breaking through some misconceptions on whether or not the sun is bad for you.
It may be true that too much sun can lead to cancer and other skin damage, but too little can be just as hazardous to your well-being. The body needs the sun in order to produce the Vitamin D hormone, so by hermitting yourself out of the sun’s rays, or slathering on sunscreen anytime you are in the sun you are robbing the body of its ability to produce this essential hormone that has been shown to increase your feelings of calm, and add so many positive benefits to your life.
How to Get More Vitamin D
We’ve developed a list of Vitamin D-rich foods for to easily start getting more of this nutrient into your life. You can also make an effort to get out and into the sun more often so that your body can produce it naturally. To do this you’ll need to be smart. Too much sun is not good, and neither is too little. Listen to your body and go slow. If you are not used to being in the sun, start off with just a few minutes, and gradually build up until you can spend 10-15 minutes in the sun without feeling like you’re burning.
If you live in an area that doesn’t get much sun for long stretches of time, like during the winter, you have to make sure to get out there when it is sunny out, and you’ll need to go in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest in order to reap the benefits. When it’s the summertime you simply reverse this and avoid the sun when it’s so strong, opting for earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon to catch your rays of Vitamin D.
Like all things, it’s best to take it slow. You don’t have to make up any gaps in your Vitamin D levels overnight. Pick one Vitamin D food that you enjoy and start eating more of it. Spend a few minutes in the sunshine and see how you feel. It’s about taking small steps and gauging how your body feels, rather than going for a total overall and thinking that you’ve got the problem solved.
Note sure what to eat? See the foods highest in Vitamin D.
Always take a well-rounded approach to your vitamin needs. There is no magic bullet when it comes to optimal health, so a strong focus on any one vitamin is not the key to your success. You may find that it’s best to work on each one individually, and you’ll gradually work your way up to the point where you’ve got them all covered. In that case Vitamin D is a great place to start, providing nearly instant results from day one.
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