Danger Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
I am ready to say so long to the gloomy winter and hello summer sun, but not just for the instant mood lift. My littles have been cooped up for many months and even though I bundle them up and send them out to play as often as possible, they are not reaping the rewards of summer sun. I hope this post can show you why our bodies desperately need Vitamin D.
Our bodies absorb Vitamin D in two main ways – exposing our skin to sunlight and by taking Vitamin D supplements. Though there are some foods high in Vitamin D, you cannot get enough through food alone. The best way to get the optimum amount of Vitamin D Is exposing your bare skin to direct sunlight (UVB rays). Sitting in a car and letting the sun shine in on you while driving, doesn’t cut it. Unfortunately, the glass blocks those special rays and your body can not produce Vitamin D. It is easy to be in the direct sun during the summer or if you are vacationing to a warmer climate. You don’t need to burn or even tan to produce the beneficial vitamin. It is estimated that over one BILLION people worldwide are deficient and over 75% of American children 12 and under are either insufficient or deficient. I was shocked to learn this but growing up in Michigan, during the cold winter months, my body rarely sees the sun from November to April.
I find the deficiency numbers staggering because as I walk into my local drugstore I can see the SUNBLOCK aisle stretching nearly the entire length of the store. It has definitely grown since when my grandma was a little girl. I watch my friends cover their kiddos in the white cream throughout the day unknowingly BLOCKING all those beneficial UVB rays. I am not suggesting sending those babies out to play all day without protection because allowing our skin to burn can definitely cause damage and has been proven to lead to cancer. But while the risk for cancer has grown, sunscreen products do not seem to be the clear answer. Sunscreen, in every form, is found in almost every store around the world, yet the risk is still there. Often the most dangerous forms of skin cancer are detected in places where the sun does not reach, between your toes for example.
So what can be done?
Be intentional to get sun on your bare skin for short periods of time. Don’t sun bath for long periods of time, move to the shade to relax. Find a sunscreen that is full of beneficial nutrients to the skin versus toxic chemicals. Change your diet to REAL foods and eliminate processed junk. Those who have modified their diet and have eliminated grains, polyunsaturated or hydrogenated oils notice a much higher resistance to the sun. I can definitely attest to this. My littles rarely wear sunscreen yet they never burn. If we happen to be going to a place where extended sun exposer is unavoidable, I will use a natural zinc oxide based cream but those times are very few. I found this so intriguing because my kids are outside all the time, mostly with very few clothes on and barefoot. I used to be concerned until I read Dr. Axe’s book “Eat Dirt”, now I send them out to play and know their little dirty feet are pulling microbes from the ground that will benefit their immune systems.
Why is it so important?
You must have ample amounts of Vitamin D for your body to absorb calcium. I am sure we have all seen the commercials about calcium enriched breakfast foods for “strong bones” in kids. Calcium is so important to our body and bones, without it, children have soft, fragile bones and adults suffer from osteomalacia.
Here is a real world example of how lack of Vitamin D and calcium can affect children:
My son’s best bud was over playing at our house over the summer, he fell from the monkey bars on our swing set and he came running in crying holding his arm. I was so worried and after a long night in his mother’s arms, she knew it must be more serious than a bump or bruise. It turns out, he actually fractured his elbow. His pediatrician told them that it was imperative to get more calcium into his diet because it was a pretty significant break. The need for calcium in our daily lives is very important, however if our bodies are not getting the adequate amount of Vitamin D, it will not and cannot absorb the calcium we are consuming. This knowledge is crucial.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to several kinds of cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain and other conditions. It’s definitely a bad deal and sometimes our bodies do not let us know there is a big problem until something major happens. It is very important that we take control over our health to protect and heal ourselves.
Inflammation – this is a big No-No for those with any form of autoimmune disease. Lack of Vitamin D can cause inflammation in the body. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition or maybe just have symptoms of soreness or achy joints, you definitely need to get in the sun and cut out inflammation causing foods. According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine “Researchers have found that the deficiency may negatively impact immune function and cardiovascular health and increase cancer risk.” I found this fascinating because exposing 25 percent of our skin to sunlight for 10 minutes a day and a minimum of 3 times a week will help maintain our Vitamin D levels. However, people with beautiful ebony skin may need a little bit more. This should encourage us to get outside as often as possible and send our little ones out to play even more.
What do we do during the cold months?
When you do not have direct access to the sun for an extended period of time, you will need to supplement. You may want to get your blood levels checked to make sure you are in the optimum range, if not, hit the beach before the winter and start taking a high quality Vitamin D supplement.
These foods provide Vitamin D also:
While these foods do provide Vitamin D, your diet alone is unlikely to give you all you need. According to the Vitamin D Counsel, adults need 10,000 IU/day and children need 2,000IU/day per 25lbs of body weight. Those are some big numbers and I can totally understand why there would be such a large percentage of people deficient in Vitamin D. With the increase in technology, and so many more people living in large cities, adults and children struggle to get enough sunlight. So plan to take a walk, ride your bike, or just plain get outside to enjoy the sun, you’re worth it!