Vitamin-D or calciferol is one of the most important dietary substances that we need. Vitamins are specific chemicals that our bodies need, but cannot produce on their own. Vitamin-D behaves more similar to a hormone however. We need to make sure that we are getting enough vitamin-D as it travels to many parts of our body through our bloodstream and is very important for multiple aspects of health. So in this blog post we are going to dive into what vitamin-D does, how to get it, and what things it can help with in our health.
Vitamin-D is often associated with sunshine. While it is true that sunshine is a great source of vitamin-D, but that does not tell the whole story. Vitamin-D comes from both our diet and the sun, however both of those sources bring an inactive form. Both our liver and our kidneys are needed to fully activate vitamin-D. After it has been activated its job is to promote calcium absorption from our diets. Calcium is important for the function of both our bones and muscles. Vitamin-D plays a direct role in bone growth and keeping them strong and healthy. Another job of vitamin-D is regulating inflammation and immune response. Right now, it is estimated that one third of Americans are vitamin-D deficient, and research is showing that it has health impacts over our whole body. With all of these roles in the body, let’s dig into some daily things that can be improved by having enough vitamin-D
Vitamin-D helps with cardiovascular health and diabetes
Vitamin-D is rapidly being more prescribed as a means to assist with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There are multiple studies that have shown that people who have deficient vitamin-D are much more likely to be at risk for these conditions. An article published in the manuscript of Current Treatment Options for Cardiovascular Medicine explored this further. It made sure to state that current research estimates that one third of Americans are vitamin-D deficient. While the article called for more randomized control studies to be published before established dietary guidelines can be issued, it did confirm the relationship of vitamin D to these conditions.
Another reason to get enough Vitamin D is for less joint pain.
Vitamin-D has well known responsibilities in the health of our bones, but many people wonder if it can be used as a treatment for the discomforts associated with arthritis. An article published in early 2019 in the journal Nutrients investigated this exact question. The findings of showed that Vitamin-D was not very effective at preventing the onset of osteoarthritis, but it did play a role in the prevention of joint pain onset. The article stated that the studies that showed the greatest improvement with vitamin-D supplementation, were the studies that specifically sought participants who were deficient in vitamin-D. So it makes sense that someone who already does not have enough, would do better when the missing piece is added.
Vitamin-D could help with COVID-19
The undeniably largest healthcare topic of the last year has been COVID-19. Something that has been more prominent in medical research is the relationship between COVID-19 infections and Vitamin-D deficiency. Many people already understand that COVID-19 infections are much more serious with underlying health conditions, and that absolutely includes vitamin-D deficiency. While the relationship is not entirely known, there is a strong statistical relationship between patients with vitamin-D deficiency and much more severe COVID presentation. This includes not only severity of symptoms, but also mortality rates. This makes sense, given that in recent years more medical research has shown the relationship between vitamin-D and immune health. The take away appears to be that ensuring sufficient vitamin-D is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vitamin-D is a great anti-inflammatory
Inflammatory diseases seem to be something that I bring up in almost every blog post. They are something that I want both the patients of CVC, and the general public to be increasingly aware of. Our daily choices, like diet, stress and activities, either lead us to increase or decrease inflammation. Having sufficient vitamins is absolutely a choice for decreasing excessive inflammation. Inflammatory diseases that relate to vitamin-D deficiency include Asthma, Liver disease, Kidney disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and hypertension. An excellent resource that details how vitamin-D relates to inflammatory disorders, was published in the journal of inflammation research, and it stated, “Growing evidence suggests that vitamin-D deficiency might be one of the most important environmental factors for prevalence, relapse rate, and progression of MS.” Even for patients who do not have these disorders, getting sufficient vitamin-D is imperative for prevention of inflammatory disorders.
Vitamin-D and depressive disorders.
Depression is a topic that comes with a great degree of gravity. It is influenced by many factors including diet and sun exposure. Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that comes with the prolonged time spent indoors during the winter seasons. Treatments usually involve UV lamps and dietary changes. Overwhelmingly patients suffering from seasonal affective disorder demonstrate a correlation with vitamin-D deficiency. Despite being well documented it is something that increasingly more people suffer from, due to workplace and lifestyle changes.
After detailing all of these instances that Vitamin D can help with health, let’s end by detailing some of the best ways to get it. The most obvious way is skin exposure to sunlight. The inactive form of vitamin-D is put together in our skin after being exposed to UV-B radiation. In everyday terms, this means that between 5-30 minutes of sunlight exposure, without sunscreen is sufficient. Excessive sunlight brings other health concerns, and so the other effective means of getting vitamin-D is through the diet. The best source of vitamin-D is fatty fish. Fish like trout and salmon contain the most vitamin-D, but aren’t something that many people enjoy eating. Mushrooms and eggs also contain vitamin-D in smaller amounts. Most Americans are probably getting their vitamin-D through fortified foods like cereal, baby formula and nut products, but we want to encourage most of our patients to seek vitamin-D through naturally occurring sources. Finally, Vitamin-D can easily be taken as a dietary supplement. Vitamin-D also sometimes labeled D3, is relatively inexpensive and very available. Discussing things in our diet is a passion of ours at Concho Valley Chiropractic so if this is something that interests you we would love to see you.