Get healthy with Vitamin D!
You’re working hard to stay your fittest and healthiest year round. But the endless san francisco rainstorms have got you down. Want a little help getting your positive attitude and fitness motivation back on track? Start by adding a little more Vitamin D to your life!
For decades vitamin D was associated only with bone-building calcium and healthy strong teeth. Today, we are beginning to understand just how important vitamin D really is to our overall health and that many of us are not getting enough of it. This small and mighty vitamin is a fierce multitasker – and has been linked to everything from reduced cancer risk, improved mental health, and even a longer life. In recent studies, researchers have found that a lack of the vitamin may be the primary culprit in depression, heart disease, pregnancy problems, birth defects, skin and other cancers, and multiple sclerosis. Even more impressive is the vitamin’s fitness benefits. Several studies have drawn a connection between vitamin D levels and improved athletic performance, reduced belly fat, and improved muscle building.
So, are you getting enough? Having your vitamin D levels checked on a regular basis can help you reap all the wonderful benefits. Ask your doctor to have your levels checked every year during your physical. Have your blood levels measured, especially if you have a family history of heart disease, cancer, or depression. If you are extremely low, or you fit into any of the below categories, your doctor might want you to start monitoring your vitamin D levels regularly:
Vitamin D deficiency Risk Factors:
- You live in a northern latitude where there isn’t enough sun to boost your vitamin D levels adequately.
- You have a blood level that’s below 20 ng/ml.
- You are lactose intolerant and unable to digest dairy products fortified with vitamin D.
- You are obese. Greater amounts of fat under the skin change the way your body handles vitamin D. If you’ve had gastric bypass surgery, you are unable to use the part of the upper small intestine where vitamin D is absorbed.
- You stay indoors covered up most of the time.
- You have dark skin. More melanin in the skin prevents some vitamin D production from the sunlight.
Deficient or not, you need a lot of the vitamin to enjoy the incredible body benefits. The Harvard School of Public Health, recommends a daily amount of vitamin D for adults from 200 IU to at least 2,000 IU, possibly more. Unfortunately it’s a lot harder to actually get your recommended dose. According to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, experts believe that up to 77 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient (defined as having blood levels of less than 30 nanograms per milliliter). With the growing global concern of vitamin D deficiency, it’s important to learn how to get more of this vital vitamin.
But how do we come up so short, especially since vitamin D is one of the few vitamins our bodies can actually make? Sunlight converts a cholesterol-like substance naturally found in the skin into D. Problem is, soaking up the sun does more harm than good. For your body to produce enough of the vitamin from the sunshine, you’d need direct sunlight on a huge portion of your body for at least 15 minutes a DAY. Soaking up those direct rays risks serious sun damage – and wouldn’t be much help in keeping you healthy. Plus, as Harvard researchers have found if you live south of the line between San Francisco California and Richmond New York (what scientists call the 37th parallel), you’re skin can only make enough vitamin D during the summer – and even then production may be affected by clouds or other factors.
If you think you can eat your way out of vitamin D deficiency, think again. Vitamin D is naturally present in only a few foods and in small amounts. To reach the recommended 200-2000 IU, you’d have to chew 13 ounces of fish or 80 eggs EVERY DAY to meet your needs. Fortunately, there’s a simpler way to get your D up without baking in the sun or eating fish all day long: A vitamin D supplement. It’s not often that nutrition experts say it’s better to get a vitamin from a pill than from food, but D is an exception. Supplements are the easiest, cheapest, and safest way to make sure you’re getting enough. Can you get too much? It’s possible, but extremely unlikely. The safety margin on vitamin D supplements is huge. You’d have to ingest 10,000 IU every day for six months in order to overdose. It’s much more likely you’re not getting enough, and an even better reason to develop a healthy vitamin D habit.
Fearless Fitness Challenge Of The Week: Get MORE Vitamin D in your life!
This vital vitamin may be difficult to get, but follow these guidelines and you’ll be sure to benefit.
How to Get More Vitamin D in your life:
- Take a daily multivitamin or a vitamin D supplement that provides at least 1,000 IU.
- Seek out food sources of vitamin D. Try to eat foods that have been fortified with vitamin D during the manufacturing process and foods that contain vitamin D naturally. Read the nutrition labels to see if vitamin D has been added (make sure the label reads “D3.”) Some fortified foods include milk and breakfast cereals. Natural sources of vitamin D are found in fish: salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are excellent sources. Egg yolks, margarine, cheese, and beef liver also have small amounts of vitamin D.
- Get your blood levels measured, especially if you have a family history of heart disease, cancer, or depression. If you are extremely low, your doctor might recommend higher doses of D.
- Improve your access to sunshine, with care. Make sure not to get too much, you do not want to burn or over-expose your skin. Try to go into the sun for 10 to 20 minutes twice a week with sunscreen on your face only. Or 2 to 3 minutes several times a week. Vitamin D is stored in your body, and careful, but systematic exposure should be beneficial.
Vitamin D is a tiny vitamin that packs a large punch when it comes to our health. Don’t miss out on all it’s wonderful benefits! This week you’re challenge is to use the tips above to develop a healthy Vitamin D habit and live a longer life!
I don’t know about you…. but I could always use a little more sunshine 😉 Hope to see you in class and at the Lombardi Sports Event this week!