Humans require sunlight too!
Nature’s original plan was that plants and humans would get sunshine. Plants still do, but in our modern world, humans get very little. Most of us live and work indoors, drive to work and, when outside, have been conditioned to cover up and apply sunscreen. Sunshine delivers healthful energetic waves plus it stimulates our skin to turn cholesterol into vitamin D. A good quality far infrared sauna can replace some of the energetic waves, but without significant su n exposure, it is hard to get sufficient vitamin D.
Why do we care? Never mind occasional media nonsense based on poorly structured studies, vitamin D is useful for more than just bones. It protects against issues such as: arthritis, asthma, depression and obesity, dementia, many cancers, prevention of colds and flu, autoimmune diseases, hardening of the arteries and allergies. It also helps heart health, teeth, fertility and benign breast lumps. The following stat from a study should get our attention: there was 80% less breast cancer among women whose blood levels of vitamin D were above 60 ng/ml compared to the wimpy 20 ng/ml level some docs still say is okay. (I wish the cancer charities would use some of the millions they raise to spread more prevention information like this.) There is also a 5 times risk of diabetes if vitamin D is low.
All ages. Of course, children need vitamin D to build their bones, but experts also say that it seems likely that in children, deficiency of Vitamin D may well be “THE [that emphasis was in the original article] leading cause of cancer, type 1 diabetes, asthma, allergies, eczema, and possibly epidemic autism.” At the other end of the age spectrum, seniors are 3 times more likely to be dependent (versus independent) if low in D. Adequate vitamin D has also been shown to reduce death from “all causes.”
How it works. Few nutrients have as much impact on our health as vitamin D. Nearly every cell in the body has a receptor for vitamin D and it may control how 1,000 or more of our genes behave…meaning that vitamin D can turn on the good ones and turn off those that are harmful. It also helps DNA repair and reduces inflammation. As you likely know, it is also important for getting calcium absorbed. (But, not everyone knows that Vitamin K2 is needed to assure that the calcium gets into the bones, not the arteries.)
Deficiency. Medical journals worldwide show that we’re not getting enough Vitamin D. Pregnant women and their breastfed babies are deficient. More than a third (36%) of healthy young adults are low even by what are now considered low standards. A Stanford study said that elderly folks are more fragile because they aren’t getting enough. Perhaps as much as 80% of those with chronic illnesses are deficient. Even people living in sunny US states can have low blood levels and those with dark skin are at greater risk.
Sources. We always prefer to get our nutrients from food, but that wasn’t the plan with vitamin D because food is a poor source. Some vitamin D naturally occurs in eggs, fatty fish, and of course cod liver oil. The amount of vitamin D3 added to milk is small and many adults avoid milk for health reasons. That means most people will need to take vitamin D3 supplements.
For details on vitamin D dosage, safety and testing of blood levels, visit this vitamin D supplement page in the Healthy by Nature Library.