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Top 5 Benefits Of Vitamin D And How To Get More Of It In Daily Life

Top 5 Benefits Of Vitamin D And How To Get More Of It In Daily Life

Vitamin D or the “Sunshine” vitamin has become quite popular in the world of essential vitamins. In fact, recently, vitamin D has gained a reputation for being a miracle nutrient of sorts— boasting benefits of improving physical and mental well-being. But as more research emerges, just how vast the vitamin’s value is has become the subject of scientific debate.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in a small group of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. It can affect as many as 2,000 cells in the body. Technically, vitamin D isn’t a vitamin, but a type of hormone; it helps the body absorb calcium from food and plays a role in keeping bones strong, healthy and dense. It is difficult to get from food sources alone, but most people can synthesize it in their skin when exposed to UVB light, which is present in sunlight.

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5 Vitamin D Benefits

According to Dr. Robert Heaney, professor of medicine at Creighton University, [1] nearly every cell in the body needs vitamin D to function. It serves a variety of functions including maintaining optimal bone and muscle health, as well as having favorable effects on mental health and overall brain functioning. Below are five vitamin D benefits:

1. Helps fight disease and illnesses within the body

  • It assists in reducing your risk of developing multiple sclerosis, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association [2]
  • It decreases your chance of developing heart disease, according to 2008 findings published in Circulation [3]
  • It helps to reduce the likelihood of developing the flu, according to 2010 research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [4]
  • It assists in reducing the risk of cancer. Research [5] suggests that sufficient vitamin D levels in adulthood may significantly reduce the risk for many types of cancer, including colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate. Vitamin D is one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer-cell growth, and reduces the risk of cancer by increasing calcium absorption and cell differentiation, while reducing metastasis (the spread of cancer from one organ to another).

2. It helps fight depression

Research has shown that one of vitamin D’s benefits  is that it can play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study [6], scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms. Researchers also found a correlation between those who struggle with anxiety and depression and vitamin D deficiency.

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3. It can reduce the risk of developing Type II diabetes

Type 2 diabetes can lead to some devastating long-term complications, including nerve damage, heart disease, eye damage, vision loss, and kidney failure. Recent evidence suggests that vitamin D may play a significant role in reducing the risk for developing type 2 diabetes [7]—especially in those who are predisposed for developing this disease. Several studies have shown improvements in beta cell function and insulin sensitivity with higher levels of vitamin D. A recent study calculated the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and found those with the highest baseline levels of vitamin D had a 38 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with the lowest vitamin D levels.

4. It increases bone density and muscle function

When you think of strong bones, calcium most often comes to mind. Calcium is the major player when it comes to bone health and increasing bone mineral density, but vitamin D is an important factor in how your body absorbs and processes calcium [8]. Vitamin D is essential in ensuring calcium deposition occurs in bones, which makes them stronger and healthier. Additionally, vitamin D deficiency is relatively common in athletes and is associated with muscle weakness [9] and atrophy [10], specifically Type 2 muscle fiber atrophy. Skipping out on this vitamin is essentially  just as bad as skipping time at the gym.

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5. It promotes healthy hair and vibrant skin

This is the most superficial of all of the vitamin D benefits however, let’s face it, we all want to look young and hot and vitamin D is our ticket. “Vitamin D is a key ingredient for beautiful looking skin,” says New York dermatologist Dennis Gross, M.D. [11]. “Skin, like all organs, needs vital vitamins to function properly—and vitamin D is one of them.” Having sufficient vitamin D in the skin helps minimize acne, boosts elasticity, stimulates collagen production, enhances radiance, and lessens the appearance of fine lines and dark spots.

Getting Vitamin D

Very few foods contain copious amounts vitamin D naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified –especially foods containing calcium–with this vitamin. A short list of foods [12] that contain vitamin D and that should be incorporated into your diet include:

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  • salmon
  • sardines
  • egg yolk
  • shrimp
  • milk (fortified)
  • cereal (fortified)
  • yogurt (fortified)
  • orange juice (fortified)

Sensible sun exposure (without sunscreen for up to ten minutes at a time) and supplements are two other ways to boost vitamin D intake. As with all things, there are side effects to taking in too much of the vitamin–especially for those with certain sensitivities– so always consult a medical professional before making any serious changes to your health regimen.

Featured photo credit: Theme Farmer via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Dr. Robert Heaney
[2] Journal of the American Medical Association
[3] Circulation
[4] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
[5] Research
[6] study
[7] type 2 diabetes
[8] calcium
[9] muscle weakness
[10] atrophy
[11] Dennis Gross
[12] foods

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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

It’s always fun to do something new, but often we fall into the trap of spending our weekends the same way.

If you’re stuck in the same old routine, it might be time to try something new.

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What should I do today? No ideas?

Everything listed here is something you can easily do no matter where you live, and even on a tight budget! Try out one of these 30 new things today, you’ll be happy you did.

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Try Out These 30 New Things To Do Today

  1. Visit a suburb in your city that you’ve never been to before, or somewhere you haven’t explored much.
  2. Learn ten phrases in a new language–what about Japanese, Italian or Portuguese?
  3. Listen to a genre of music you haven’t tried before–perhaps Jazz, Punk or Blues?
  4. Have a picnic in your local park complete with a packed lunch and your animal friends.
  5. Start a daily journal to write your thoughts in.
  6. Try a new cuisine–what about French, Lebanese or Korean?
  7. Visit your local library and borrow some books for the weekend.
  8. Plant some flowers in your garden. If you don’t have one, try an indoor potted plant.
  9. Visit a local museum or art gallery and view their latest exhibition.
  10. Learn a new skill–what about sewing, gardening or cooking? You’ll be surprised what you can learn in an afternoon.
  11. Say hello to a neighbor you don’t usually talk to.
  12. Make a card for a friend and send it to them with a handwritten note.
  13. Learn how to cook a new dish for dinner. We all get tired of eating the same thing, why not try making something new?
  14. Re-read an old favorite book. Don’t leave it gathering dust on your book shelf; get it out and read it all over again.
  15. Research the culture of a different country online–what about India, Guatemala or Sweden?
  16. Go for a walk or bicycle ride around your neighborhood.
  17. Watch a classic film like Casablanca, The Godfather or The Wizard of Oz.
  18. Make a photo album of a recent holiday you took. Don’t let your memories get lost on your computer hard drive; make a special keepsake album of your trip.
  19. Visit your local farmers markets and pick out some fresh produce. Farmers markets are full of delicious fresh fruit, veggies and more. Find your local market and take a visit.
  20. Plan a day trip to somewhere outside your city–it might be the seaside, mountains or another city!
  21. Check out what community events are running in your area and attend one.
  22. Make a birthday present for a friend. Handmade gifts are personal and much more special than anything you could buy from a store.
  23. Attend a play at your local theater. Support your local theater and have a fun night out at the same time.
  24. Volunteer with your local nature conservation society to plant some trees. Conservation societies are always looking for helping hands; do your bit and plant some trees.
  25. Be a tourist in your own city and visit all the popular tourist sites you’ve likely never been to (don’t forget your camera!)
  26. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to recently and have a good long chat.
  27. Put on your favorite song and dance your heart out. You might be surprised at how much fun you have!
  28. Invite some friends over for a BBQ. There’s nothing better than an afternoon spent with good friends and good food.
  29. Try out a new form of exercise like Pilates, tennis or swimming.
  30. Organize a clothing swap with your friends. You’ll have a great time, and save some cash and the environment all at the same time!

Now that you’ve read my list of 30 new things to try today, my question for you is, “what new things will you try today?”

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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