Standing outside and absorbing the sunlight is probably one of the easiest things you can do. Oh wait…sitting outside absorbing the sunlight is probably easier, or maybe lying flat is the easiest. Anyways, up to 90% of American adults are believed to have mild vitamin D deficiency. If that percentage shocked you, it is thought that one billion people worldwide have low levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency may not seem like a big deal, but having low levels of this nutrient can lead to a variety of health complications. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to several autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, hypertension, and various infectious diseases. People who work indoors or people who live in northern regions of the world, where year-round sunlight isn’t as prevalent, are at a high risk for developing vitamin D deficiency.
What Is Vitamin D?
Every cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor, and our bodies make most of the vitamin D on their own, as opposed to relying on food sources. Vitamin D is stored in the liver and fatty tissues, but excess body fat can absorb vitamin D and prevent it from being used. This is why overweight people tend to have lower levels of vitamin D.
When UV-B sunrays hit the skin, a substance in the skin converts them into vitamin D3. Vitamin D becomes a hormone in the body, specifically a precursor to a steroid hormone. It helps to protect us from certain cancers and has a beneficial impact on blood pressure, mood, brain function, and immune function.
The Problem With Fortified Vitamin D Foods
Most foods that are fortified with vitamin D or other dietary supplements contain ergocalcifero, which is a type of vitamin D2 that cannot be absorbed by the body. Additionally, the body cannot convert vitamin D2 to do what it needs.
Vitamin D in Mushrooms
Mushrooms are unique, in regards to vitamin D. They are one of the only plant-based sources of vitamin D, which is usable and easily absorbed by the body. Mushrooms mimic human skin in the way that they absorb more vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Portobello and maitake mushrooms are excellent shources of vitamin D.
Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Identifying the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can be difficult because they are often subtle. Muscle weakness or bone pain can indicate vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes, however, people will not experience any symptoms, which can be harder to detect the deficiency. Causes for vitamin D deficiency are detailed below.
Doctors encourage people to use sunscreen, due to the rise in skin cancer cases in recent years. Even if you put on SPF 8 sunscreen, the body’s ability to make vitamin D from sunlight is decreased by 90 percent. Additionally, the standard, doctor-recommended SPF 30 sunscreen reduces the body’s ability to make vitamin D by roughly 99 percent. We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t put sunscreen on, especially if you are in the sun all day, but we are saying that you should use a natural, safe brand that doesn’t harm your skin or the ocean.
Lack Of Sun
This is somewhat linked to the excessive use of sunscreen. It is important for the skin to receive direct sun exposure. More people are also spending more time indoors than outdoors. Exercise happens in the gym, people work indoors, and a lot of people spend their free time relaxing in their homes, movie theaters, or places that are shielded from natural sunlight. People are not getting enough sun exposure!!! The human vitamin D system begins with the skin, so get out in the sun.
Recommended Sun Exposure
People with pale skin are recommended to have 15-20 minutes of direct sun exposure every day. People with darker skin need to spend about 40 minutes in the sun every day to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.
It’s integral to get sufficient sun exposure every day because vitamin D deficiency has been linked to the following health problems:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Chronic pain
- Autoimmune diseases