While we’ve blogged about vitamin D before, its importance to our health makes it a topic that deserves continued discussion. Here today to remind us why it’s a good idea to be aware of our vitamin D levels is Shar from the Dahn Yoga team.
For years vitamin D was simply thought of as a nutrient that helped bones absorb calcium. It was known to be important for young people, whose bodies are still developing, and older women who face a high risk of osteoporosis. However, outside of these groups, it was not considered to be very important.
This all changed in recent years, as numerous studies have connected low levels of the nutrient to everything from heart disease, to diabetes to cancer. Despite these findings, many people still have unacceptably low levels of vitamin D. This could leave many individuals at risk of serious chronic diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that about one-third of adults have insufficient levels of vitamin D. However, the number could be significantly higher. This estimate is based on current recommendations for vitamin D blood levels. As evidence continues to emerge connecting the nutrient to a wide range of health areas, experts have suggested that people may need to maintain higher levels than previously thought.
However, it may be difficult for people to get the vitamin D their body needs. The Institute of Medicine recommends that the average adult consume 600 international units of vitamin D per day. But there is only a small handful of foods that contain the nutrient. These include fish, mushrooms and fortified foods like milk and some cereals.
Sun exposure is another way individuals can increase their blood levels of vitamin D. While it is called a vitamin, it actually has more in common with hormones and is produced naturally in the skin following exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
The sun is actually the main source of vitamin D for most people. However, individuals still typically don’t spend enough time with their skin exposed to ultraviolet rays to maintain adequate levels. Many people are rightly concerned about the dangers of skin cancer and therefore cover up whenever they are outside.
So what can you do to maintain healthier vitamin D levels? The first step is to talk to your doctor about testing. A simple blood test is all that is needed to find out if you have low levels of the nutrient. If this screening reveals that you have sufficient levels, simply continue doing what you are doing.
However, if it shows that you are deficient, it may be time for some lifestyle changes. Taking a nutritional supplement may be the quickest fix to the problem. Exercise may be another good way to maintain higher levels. This is true for several reasons.
First, studies have shown that obese people tend to have less vitamin D in their blood. Other investigations have indicated that physical activity appears to stimulate vitamin D production. Finally, if you choose to exercise outdoors, it will likely enable you to spend more time in the sun.
Given the wide range of health areas affected by vitamin D, you really cannot afford to ignore your levels any longer. Get yourself tested and take steps to get more vitamin D if you are low.
About the Author
Dahn Yoga is one of the largest yoga and tai chi companies in the world with its own unique style and brand of yoga. Dahn Yoga is rooted in the rich history of an ancient Asian mind-body practice, Sun Do, and in the wisdom of the Chun Bu Kyung.
Have you tested your vitamin D levels lately? Do you believe we’re in a vitamin D deficiency epidemic, as popular Natural Health professional Dr. Joseph Mercola claims in his sunlight benefits report (read Screw Apples. Sunlight Works Better for more info).