Vitamin D can play an important role in keeping you youthful by boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation and protecting against some forms of cancer. Vitamin D also helps keep bones healthy and assists in the absorption of calcium. Are you getting enough Vitamin D?
What Makes Vitamin D Different?
Vitamin D is different from other vitamins in that your body actually manufactures it with the assistance of sunlight. Other vitamins are ingested through the foods we eat or with dietary supplements. Once the body gets Vitamin D, chemical processes in the liver turn it into a steroid hormone that boosts many facets of our health and well-being, including playing an important role in slowing the aging process. Officially named 25(OH)D, this is the substance measured during blood tests to check Vitamin D levels. The hormone then becomes activated Vitamin D, or calcitriol, and goes on to help the cells throughout your body communicate and function.
How Can Vitamin D Help Keep Me Young?
There are two types of age. Your chronological age is how old you actually are in years, while biological age is how old your body is. Optimum Vitamin D levels have been shown to delay the shortening of biological age indicators called telomeres. Telomeres are caps at the end of your chromosomes that protect your body’s DNA from damage. Along with sufficient omega-3 and folic acid and healthy nourishing habits like exercise and meditation, Vitamin D has been found to extend telomere length, in effect slowing biological aging.
What Happens in Vitamin D Deficiency
A lack of enough Vitamin D has been linked to a number of diseases and conditions, including cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. A severe lack of this vitamin can result in rickets or osteomalacia, conditions causing bones to become weak, brittle and thin.
What Can Cause a Deficiency of Vitamin D?
There are several reasons associated with the body’s decreased production of Vitamin D. Though most of us are now aware of the protection sunscreen provides against skin cancer – and premature aging of the skin – the SPF in sunscreen also blocks UVB radiation, hindering the ability of the skin to synthesize Vitamin D from the sun. People also spend increasing amounts of time indoors sitting in front of computers and televisions rather than outside getting their Vitamin D – not to mention exercise! Additionally, our body’s ability to produce Vitamin D declines with age, making it all the more important that we either try to eat foods rich in this nutrient or take a daily supplement.
How Can I Get Enough Vitamin D?
Just 15 minutes of sunlight is enough for most adults to manufacture a sufficient amount of Vitamin D. To reduce risk of melanoma caused by dangerous (and non-Vitamin D producing) UVA rays, the best time to expose your skin to the sun is around noon when the ratio of beneficial UVB rays to UVA rays is highest. You can also get the vitamin from fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel, as well as from cod liver oil. Look at the labels on whole milk, orange juice, cereal and yogurt to see if they are fortified with Vitamin D. Supplements are the easiest way to get Vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about how much Vitamin D would be right for you.