There’s a lot of talk about Vitamin D lately – do we have enough? What role does it play in our lives? And how much time SHOULD we really spend in the sun??
While this blog is certainly not a Vitamin D thesis, I hope it provides you with enough information to lead you to do your own research in several areas (especially when I give information that goes against what you may have previously heard for years…..)
Vitamin D is a group of fat soluble secosteroids which functions like a hormone within our body and every single cell of ours has a receptor for it (therefore, you should understand straight away that it’s pretty important). It increases absorption of calcium, magnesium and phosphate. That’s it’s basic write up.
What you should also know, is that Vitamin D contributes to cell repair and metabolism, improves cell immunity and destroys free radicals. These functions improve the overall health and immunity of the entire body. Pretty important so far?
Your body makes Vitamin D from cholesterol when we expose it to sunlight – more specifically, UVB rays (the rays responsible for burning the skin). This part is important as I see everyone parading around telling people to use SPF on their skin 24/7. When you have completely covered yourself from the sun’s rays, you’ve eliminated the possibility of absorbing UV rays. And UV rays aren’t always the “bad guy” that they’ve been portrayed as. You need sun exposure. NEED IT. How much exposure will depend on your birth skin tone, the medications you’re currently taking, the foods you’re eating, where you’re living and what areas of the body are being exposed the most (you didn’t realise these things were all a factor did you?!!).
Low levels of Vitamin D are often a contributing factor when we become sick from colds and flus. Several studies have shown a link between low Vitamin D levels and respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis (also, what else is a recently discovered respiratory illness??? Yep, Covid).
Things that can block Vitamin D absorption are:
- celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- gut dysfunction
- cystic fibrosis
- weight loss surgery (for the treatment of the above mentioned obesity!!)
- extended medication use
- certain cancer treatments
- liver/kidney disease
Fatigue and tiredness are also common (but relatively overlooked) symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. Other common symptoms of deficiency are:
- bone & back pain
- impaired wound healing
- hair loss
- bone loss
- muscle pain
As previously mentioned, almost everyone will promote the use of SPFs as a daily product especially if you’re having certain treatments or using certain products. But how can you possibly get the required amount of sunlight exposure if you’re constantly covered up? We are so worried about sun spots, melanoma and skin cancers that we don’t give our body the opportunity to make it’s own Vitamin D (so we need supplements, but we don’t take them). There are definitely ways to get sun exposure without risking being burnt or overdoing it. There are times of the day where UV levels are lower; you could face your back to the sun for 10 minutes and have your face shielded; you could use a hat instead of sunscreen….there are many ways to get daily sun exposure. If in doubt – check with your health practitioner.
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common and relatively easy to “fix” so if you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, consult with your health practitioner and perhaps introduce a decent oral supplement.