8 Benefits of Vitamin D

(Originally published on my LinkedIn as an article.)

As I write this, I’m sitting in Boston where sunset will occur at 4:39 p.m. I use the term “sunset” lightly since there hasn’t been much sun.

Without my Vitamin D3 supplement, I’d likely be deficient, and may even experience the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

5-30 minutes each day (depending on your skin tone) of soaking up the sun’s rays can feel great. It’s also nature’s way of providing us Vitamin D, which is linked to major health benefits.

I’m aware of some recent studies about Vitamin D and how it might not be the magical vitamin previously thought.

I’m in the pro-Vitamin D camp and can personally attest to some of the benefits below.

Have you experienced any of these benefits, or another benefit not on the list? Let me know in the comments below!

8 benefits associated with Vitamin D:

1. Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is more common in the Winter, especially with people living farther north (like New England!), where we experience shorter daylight hours. One thing in common with people diagnosed with SAD? Low levels of Vitamin D! This may be a great justification for a trip to a warmer climate.

2. Supports Bone Health: As we age, we are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones). Vitamin D stimulates what’s called osteoblastic activity and increases bone mineralization. [1] That means Vitamin D has been shown to strengthen your bones and reduce the risk of fractures.

3. Optimizes Muscle Function: Some studies have shown Vitamin D regenerates muscle tissue. Other studies show a loss of muscle function and performance in people who are Vitamin D deficient. [2]

4. Strengthens our Immune System: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. 😉 You likely already know Vitamin D boosts the immune system. Studies have shown it does this by not only improving our innate immunity against various infection [3], but—if you do get sick–how fast you recover.

5. Reduces Fibroids: Last year, as some of you know, I had two surgeries for fibroids (one was a monster!). Turns out they are quite common–according to the National Library of Medicine 80% of black women and nearly 70% of white women have fibroids. Nobody told me Vitamin D can help shrink fibroids, and I wish I had known a decade ago! In fact, I started my supplements last year after my surgeries and was able to shrink another small one. One recent study in Fertility and Sterility addresses the power of Vitamin D to shrink fibroids. In the study 1610 black women aged 23-35 were given either a smaller or larger dose of Vitamin D. The women with the higher dose experienced a 9.7% reduction in the rate of fibroid growth.

6. Lower Rate of Autoimmune Diseases: A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that people who took Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids had a significantly lower rate of autoimmune diseases compared with people who took a placebo. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroid disease, and psoriasis. Read the full study here: https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj-2021-066452

7. Extend Longevity: A fascinating study found Vitamin D can increase telomere length. Some scientists believe longer telomeres (which have been compared to the plastic tip at the end of a shoelace…but think end of a DNA strand) equates to a longer lifespan and health span.

8. Possibly Reduces Risk of Cancer: The research for this is still in its early days but: “Mounting evidence suggests a biological plausibility for anti-carcinogenic effects of vitamin D.” [4]

Have you gotten your Vitamin D today?

[1] Holick M.F. Optimal vitamin D status for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Drugs Aging. 2007;24:1017–1029. doi: 10.2165/00002512-200724120-00005.

[2] Janssen H.C., Samson M.M., Verhaar H.J. Vitamin D deficiency, muscle function, and falls in elderly people. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2002;75:611–615.

[3] Vazirnia A., Liu P.T. Vitamin D and the Inate Immune Response. In: Litonjua A.A., editor. Vitamin D and the Lung. Humana Press; New York, NY, USA: 2012. pp. 59–84.

[4] Krishnan A.V., Feldman D. Mechanisms of the anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory actions of vitamin D. Annu. Rev. Pharmacol. Toxicol. 2011;51:311–336. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010510-100611)

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