It’s cold outside but have you had your “SUNSHINE” vitamin levels checked? It has been reported that 75 percent of American teens and adults are Vitamin D deficient. The “sunshine” vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin which means it is stored in fatty tissue. It affects your brain, body, and overall health.
Besides being essential in the absorption of calcium and phosphorous for healthy bone formation, Vitamin D is also crucial in regulating the immune and neuromuscular systems. It also plays a role in regulating blood sugar, cancer prevention, and lung, heart, and kidney health. Low levels of Vitamin D can cause the “blues”, constant feelings of hunger, and cognitive impairment.
The natural source of Vitamin D is sunshine. The human body is designed to get the Vitamin D it needs by producing it when your bare skin is exposed to ultraviolet B rays (UVB) from sunlight. The more skin that’s exposed, the more Vitamin D is produced. The ideal amount of sun exposure that it takes for Vitamin D to be produced depends on skin type, what area of the country you live in, and the time of day you get sun exposure.
The other two ways for the body to get Vitamin D are through food and supplementation. Foods high in Vitamin D include tuna, salmon, liver, cheese, and eggs. It’s interesting to note that most of the foods that are high in Vitamin D are also high in cholesterol. Since vitamin D is synthesized from cholesterol, there are studies to show that Vitamin D deficiencies are common in those taking cholesterol lowering drugs and those on low cholesterol diets. In addition, Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and absorption may be compromised if healthy fat intake is too low.
There have been many studies looking at the correlation between low Vitamin D levels and breast cancer. According to an article written by Dr. John Cannell at vitamindcouncil.org, these are some of the results from combined studies, called meta-analysis, about the Vitamin D/Breast Cancer connection:
- Women who have had breast cancer and are vitamin D deficient are > two times more likely to experience a breast cancer recurrence.
- Studies that looked at breast cancer deaths found that vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased risk of death.
- When pooled together, study results showed that a woman with breast cancer was twice as likely to die if she was vitamin D deficient.
Knowing that Vitamin D plays such an important role in health, people might decide to take a supplement without having their levels checked. Even though you’re safe from getting too much Vitamin D from the sun, vitamin toxicity could happen with supplementation. Even though it’s rare, it can lead to high levels of calcium in the blood and cause severe side effects such as kidney failure and abnormal heart rhythms. So having your Vitamin D levels checked before taking a supplement is a smart idea.
Condensed from the Blog article from the Thermography center of Memphis for Dr. David Jensen