Vitamin D is produced naturally by the body when skin is exposed to adequate sunlight. However, sunlight intensity is relatively poor during fall and winter, and people today are spending less and less time outdoors. These combined factors mean that the vast majority of people are unable to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D without assistance from foods or supplements. Unfortunately, this can lead to a variety of serious health problems. Here are five reasons to increase your vitamin D intake.
Reducing Cancer Risk
Research has recently shown that no matter which form cancer takes or what a person’s nutritional status is like, most cancer victims share one thing in common: Low vitamin D levels. While regular screenings and early detection always give the best odds of overcoming cancer, especially if you have a family history of the disease, increasing your vitamin D intake may also have a profound protective benefit.
Vitamin D deficiency has been closely linked to bone fractures, osteoporosis, and poor bone density. It’s common knowledge that low calcium intake is a prime factor in these issues, but a study performed in 2010 shines new light on the subject.
On its own, high calcium intake is insufficient for supporting strong, healthy bones. Instead, the mineral relies on adequate levels of vitamin D to work. This is because vitamin D allows calcium to be absorbed and utilized properly by the bones. Without it, calcium just circulates through the bloodstream, which can increase the risk of atherosclerosis.
Vitamin D is important for preventing the formation of fat in muscle tissue and for maintaining muscle mass. Furthermore, a deficiency may increase the development of body fat and promote muscle weakness.
A study from 2010 discovered that people who had less than 29ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) of serum vitamin D, a clinical deficiency, had 24 percent more fat in their muscle tissue than people without a deficiency.
Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which may help prevent diabetes. A study performed on insulin-resistant Asian women discovered that supplementing with 4,000 IU of the nutrient each day caused considerable improvements in insulin sensitivity, which backed up a previous study stating that increased vitamin D status was linked to a lower diabetes risk.
Low vitamin D status is associated with heart disease while good vitamin D status can help promote a healthy heart. One study involved over 1,700 people with an average age of 59 years old who did not currently have heart disease. Their heart health and vitamin D levels were evaluated once at the study’s start and again five years later.
At the five-year follow-up, researchers found that 120 participants had suffered a cardiovascular event during that time. It was determined that the people with the lowest vitamin D levels were considerably more likely to experience one or more of these events. The results of the study suggest that sufficient vitamin D intake may drastically reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.