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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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