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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 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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