With so many messages telling us to avoid direct sun exposure to protect our skin from harmful UV rays, it’s easy to miss out on an important nutrient. Vitamin D is responsible for helping our bodies use calcium from our diets, making it essential for strong bones. Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, a disease that leads to soft bone tissue and skeletal deformities; however, research increasingly suggests that vitamin D plays a role in protecting us against a wide range of diseases and health problems. Recent studies have shown that vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, and glucose intolerance, and heart disease.
In our diets, vitamin D is found in fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy and grain products, and our bodies manufacture vitamin D when our bare skin is exposed to sunlight. For people who follow a strictly vegan diet, work indoors during daylight hours, or live in a northern climate, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D. This powerful little vitamin is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because of the role that sunlight plays in making our own vitamin D—but this vitamin helps you maintain a sunny mood, too. If you find that you feel happier and more relaxed after time spent sunbathing, you’re not alone. Vitamin D has been shown to be a natural mood elevator that combats seasonal forms of depression like SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and more persistent forms of depression.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include muscle weakness, joint and bone pain, fatigue, sleep disruption, headaches, and digestive issues. If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from vitamin D deficiency, a simple blood test will let you know where your levels are. Healthy adults should have a vitamin D level of 20 to 50 nanograms/milliliter. If your level is less than 12, you are considered deficient. If the risk of melanoma has you leery of heading outdoors without sunscreen, don’t worry—experts say a fair-skinned person can produce an average of 10,000 IU of vitamin D in just 10 minutes of exposure in a tank top and shorts. So, get out and enjoy the healthful benefits of the vitamin D by catching a few rays this summer.
Dr. James Dowd is a rheumatologist, and the author of “The Vitamin D Cure” who serves the needs of patients suffering from vitamin D deficiency and many forms of arthritis in lower Michigan. Through his research, and his work through the Arthritis Foundation of Michigan, Dr. Dowd has made groundbreaking discoveries regarding the role vitamin D plays in optimum health and disease prevention. Take advantage of the health benefits of vitamin D by calling Dr. James Dowd today at 1.810.225.7553 to get started, or or click here to make an appointment online.