Wed12022020

Last updateWed, 18 Nov 2020 1pm

Lifestyles

Are You Vitamin D-ficient?

Vitamin DficientAs the weather starts to become cooler and COVID-19 cases increase, people will be more inclined to stay indoors during these frigid, nippy months. But despite the comfortability and safety to staying indoors, it is not entirely efficient to devote all of your time under a roof since it can result in vitamin D deficiency.

According to WebMD, Vitamin D, a.k.a. The “sunshine vitamin”, is produced by the body in response to being exposed to sunlight. It supports strong bones and can protect against a plethora of long term health problems.

Karen Pesce, Ph.D, Professor of Biology said, “Vitamin D can help increase absorption of calcium in the bones. In the brain, there are receptors for vitamin D which may influence behavior as well as cell signaling pathways that involve calcium.” She adds, “One way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure since ultraviolet light can convert precursors in the skin to vitamin D3 and another way would be by eating vitamin D rich foods like fish but taking supplements is probably the best way to make sure that someone has sufficient levels of vitamin D.”

When an individual lacks the proper amount of vitamin D, their bone tissue can lack the ability to properly mineralize. This can amount to bone pain and skeletal deformities. Similarly, low blood levels of vitamin D can amount to cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children, and even cancer.

Junior communication student, Kayla Kennedy, has encountered vitamin D deficiency first hand. She said, “I actually didn’t know I was lacking vitamin D until my doctor had me take a blood test. When my test results came back it showed my vitamin D levels were low so she prescribed me a supplement. Vitamin D deficiency is dangerous because it can lead to thin, brittle, and misshapen bones.”

As intimidating as this sounds, adequate amounts of vitamin D can restrict these abnormalities from occurring.

Professor of Psychology, Michele Van Volkom, Ph.D, has a few recommendations for combating vitamin D deficiency.

“The sun does remain our best source of vitamin D, so getting outside even for a little bit of sunshine can help. Taking a short walk, even if it is chilly out, can help elevate mood and decrease stress levels, both of which are so important during the pandemic. If we are not able to get enough vitamin D from the sun, we can also get enough vitamin D from a healthy diet that includes good sources of protein such as fish or eggs. Any type of milk that is fortified with vitamin D can also help. So, my advice is to get outside safely, and soak up some sunshine...your mind and body will thank you for it!” said Van Volkom.

Taking advantage of the weather when temperatures are suitable is an excellent way to get your recommended dose of Vitamin D. Emily Vasquez, a junior Biology student, is appreciative of the weather and takes walks whenever she can.

“In the past year of my life, walking outside has become a thing I try to do daily. I love walking especially in the evening when the sun is beginning to set. Being warm because of the natural sun puts me in a better mood,” said Vasquez.

Aside from obtaining vitamin D from the sun or from supplements, food can serve as a great way to get your dosage as well. Fortified foods (such as milk, cereal, yogurt, and orange juice) have added vitamin D in them, making them nutrient rich. Proteins such as salmon, sardines, egg yolk, and shrimp also contain high amounts of vitamin D.

Not only does Vitamin D enhance a person’s mood but it can also influence weight loss and prevent risk of heart disease. One study from the Cambridge University Press noted that individuals who took a calcium and vitamin D supplement daily were able to suppress their appetite more easily than those who were taking a placebo supplement. Another study from the Oxford Academic reported that people who were overweight who took a daily vitamin D supplement improved their heart disease risk markers.

With temperatures dropping more and more as the winter approaches us, people must find ways to obtain vitamin D that suit their lifestyles. Whether that would be spending more time outside, taking supplements, or just eating foods that are vitamin D rich, there are plenty of ways to ensure a healthy body and a healthy mind.

 

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