Did you know that over a billion people are vitamin D deficient globally? Or that in the United States alone, nearly 77% of adults are? Learn why these numbers mean so much and why you need more of the sunshine vitamin in your life stat!
1. It keeps your bones strong.
Who doesn’t want strong, healthy bones? According to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, expert dermatologist, nutritionist, and founder of Perricone MD, there’s a tightly intertwined connection between vitamin D, calcium, and a lesser-known substance in our bodies called parathyroid hormone (or PTH). Essentially, what PTH does is it regulates the amount of calcium in our bloodstream, and when levels are low, the thyroid gland secretes more PTH to raise them up. Long story short, if you have high levels of vitamin D, it inhibits this secretion, thereby preventing the loss of calcium from your bones.
Kathy Kaehler, celebrity trainer and founder of food program Sunday Set-Up, adds that vitamin D helps our bones absorb this calcium as well.
2. It helps you maintain a slim, trim waistline.
Even with a normal calorie intake, it’s extremely challenging to meet our vitamin D needs from the foods we consume, a problem that’s only made worse by eating less, notes internationally recognized robotic and bariatric surgeon Joseph J. Colella, M.D., F.A.C.S. “Vitamin D deficiencies may also increase our appetites, making that diet nearly impossible to sustain.”
3. Low levels can lead to osteoporosis.
Yep, it’s that calcium connection again! “Low vitamin D levels leads to osteoporosis, which may seem like no big deal until your softened spine is hunched over and you can’t stand up straight, or you get a broken hip just from stepping down too hard off the curb one day, warns board-certified dermatologist and founder of Art of Dermatology, Dr. Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH.
4. It may ward off depression.
Paul Alexander Budnick, M.D., founder and medical director of the DreamBody Medical Centers, says vitamin D increases the levels of serotonin in our bodies, which then boosts our happiness. A study done at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center backs up this claim, finding that those with higher levels of vitamin D are at a lower risk for depression, and vice versa.
5. It can help you drop those extra pounds.
We touched on this in number two, but when you have enough vitamin D, fat cells actually slow their efforts to make and store fat, points out Lori L. Shemek, PhD, CLC, NC, a health expert for the ABC show Good Morning Texas and author of the best-selling book “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn.” You’ll eat less and feel more satisfied too. “With adequate vitamin D levels, our bodies produce more leptin, the hormone released from our fat cells that tells our brains we’ve had enough to eat.”
6. It boosts your immunity.
Turns out, vitamin D works to activate your immune systems, therefore boosting and strengthening it as well, explains Dr. Budnick. Board certified neurosurgeon Dr. Larry McCleary adds that adequate levels of vitamin D are also associated with a lower incidence of autoimmune disorders.
7. It can reduce the risk of cancer.
Believe it or not, studies have shown that vitamin D’s beneficial effects extend to reducing the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, informs Dr. Perricone.
Now that we've convinced you how important it is, here are three ways to ensure you're getting enough vitamin D, according to Today Show contributor, Joy Bauer:
- Eat vitamin D-rich foods like wild salmon, sardines, shrimp, skim and low-fat milk, and fortified yogurt.
- Take a multivitamin which provides at least the Daily Value, 400 IU (though many doctors recommend up to 2000 IU).
- Enjoy a little safe sun on your hands, 15 minutes a few times each week.