Did you know that sunlight is extremely important to your health and well being? When we don't have enough sun exposure, we can suffer from a number of physical problems.
Especially in the winter, as the days are shorter and cooler, vitamin D is so beneficial to our health on every level. It has been shown to be a factor in fighting inflammation which is a culprit in so many diseases. It also helps boost our immune system which helps us fight off simple illnesses like cold, the flu, and viruses, but also serious diseases.
Vitamin D3 is produced by our skin's contact with the sun's UVB rays, and when we don't get enough, there is a cause for concern. It can lead to a number of serious illnesses including:
1. Osteoporosis - A lack of vitamin D can contribute to poor bone health. It also plays a role in how the body absorbs calcium and supports our metabolism. It is crucial that children get enough vitamin D to promote proper bone development and oral health.
2. Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - Many people suffer what some call "winter blues" this time of year. They may feel mood swings, anxious, lack energy, gain weight, or have difficulty concentrating. They may even blame it on the holidays, when in fact, it could be from a lack of time outdoors getting natural sunlight.
3. Heart disease - In some parts of the world more people die of heart disease in the winter than in the summer. Some believe it is connected to the low levels of vitamin D we get during the winter months.
4. Cancer - Though there is valid concern about too much sun, vitamin D that the sun provides can be helpful in reducing the risk of prostate and breast cancer. It's ability to fight inflammation may also be a factor.
5. Diabetes - Some in the medical field believe that a deficiency in vitamin D may actually contribute to Type ll diabetes. This key vitamin plays a role in how our body regulates blood sugar levels.
People with darker skin actually need even more vitamin D. Our skin is less likely to get sunburned which is great. However, the protection that our skin naturally has, also prevents us from generating as much vitamin D as we need.
The fact is that the best way to get our vitamin D is through contact with the sun in safe doses, however, that isn't always possible. So, what are our other options?
There are good sources of vitamin D nutrients found in certain foods. They include fatty fish such as wild caught salmon, mackerel, tuna, eggs, and beef liver. For those who can handle dairy, it can be found in many fortified dairy products.
Another option is to take supplements. While there is still much controversy around whether they actually work, many believe that their vitamin D levels improve when taking a supplement.
You may want to talk to your health care provider first, and definitely choose a high quality vitamin.
Even in cold temperatures, try and take advantage of getting outside for even just 10 -15 minutes to soak up the sun's rays. Then, eat foods rich in beneficial nutrients, stay active, and take a supplement, if you choose, for a healthy winter.
To your health,
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