There are a lot of people who try to offer nutritional advice these days.
From your own family, who may or may not have outdated ideas of what accounts for good nutrition, to doctors and other professionals on TV, who may or may not be trying to sell you something, there is a lot of conflicting information available on this topic.
For many people, getting nutrition advice from a naturopathic doctor who they trust is one way to help cut through the clutter and find good advice which is actually in their best interest.
Today we will take a closer look at vitamin D, an important nutrient which plays a big role in the healthy functioning of your body.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Vitamin D?
The name “vitamin D” is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s not actually a vitamin in the same sense as other vitamins, but a steroid hormone.
Sometimes called “the sunshine vitamin”, the body can create vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun.
However, getting enough sunshine to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D can be difficult, especially for those who live in cold climates (e.g. absolutely everyone in Canada) or are not able to spend enough time outdoors.
Benefits Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D supports a number of bodily systems and processes.
From your mood to your immune system, its role in the body cannot be understated.
Keep reading to learn more.
1. It’s A Great Mood Booster
Vitamin D has been shown to help control mood and works as part of a natural treatment for depression.
One 2008 study found that when individuals with depression took a vitamin D supplement, it helped to improve their symptoms.
Low levels of vitamin D have been found in individuals who were experiencing depression and anxiety.
2. It Helps Support A Healthy Pregnancy
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D can help ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.
A 2019 study in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health found pregnant folks with low levels of vitamin D were at a higher risk of giving birth prematurely and preeclampsia, or high blood pressure associated with pregnancy.
3. It Keeps Your Bones Healthy
Vitamin D plays an important role in keeping bones healthy and strong.
A 2018 article outlined the role vitamin D plays in regulating calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood.
In short, it helps to increase the amount of calcium the body can absorb, which contributes to strong and healthy bones.
4. It Helps Support Your Immune System
There is some evidence to suggest vitamin D may play a role in boosting the immune system and helping to fight off disease.
Research suggests it may help fight disease, lower the risk of multiple sclerosis, decrease your chance of heart disease and reduce the chances of developing the flu.
Further research is needed on these effects, especially as they relate to reducing risk of the flu.
5. It Helps With Weight Loss
Supplementing with vitamin D might be something to look into if you’re trying to lose weight.
In a 2009 study individuals who supplemented with calcium and vitamin D had greater success in losing weight than those who took a placebo.
Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
If you are not getting enough vitamin D, some of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency to watch for include:
- Stress fractures
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of hair
- Experiencing sickness or infection on a regular basis
- Slowed wound healing
- Bone pain and back pain
- Muscle pain
Extended vitamin D deficiency can lead to more severe complications, including:
- Some cancers, namely breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer
- Issues with pregnancy
- Heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions
- Autoimmune disorders
- Neurological disease
Sources Of Vitamin D
Although it’s widely known that exposure to sunlight can help the body to create vitamin D, this is often not enough, especially during the long, dark, cold winter months.
Some foods which are high in vitamin D which can help ensure you are getting enough include:
- Saltwater fish like salmon, tuna, herring and sardines; mackerel
- Beef and liver
- Egg yolks1
- Dairy: milk, cheese and butter
- Fortified milk and cereals
Taking vitamin D supplements is generally well tolerated as well, though it’s always a good idea to consult with your naturopathic doctor before beginning any new supplement.
Book An Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic
Are you worried about deficiency of vitamin D, or any other vitamin or nutrient?
Perhaps you are vegetarian, or vegan and worried about not being able to get enough vitamin D through diet and want guidance on supplementation.
Or you are experiencing some of the symptoms raised in this article and want help to pinpoint the precise cause.
Whatever the issue, the Mindful Healing Clinic can help.
I’m Dr. Maria, and I can assess your needs and any symptoms you’re experiencing, and create a plan for you to ensure you’re getting all of the nutrients you need.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic for more information, or to set up an appointment.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.