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What Does Vitamin D3 Do For Your Health? Are You Getting Enough Of This Sunshine Vitamin?

Did you know that there is ONE CRUCIAL VITAMIN juicing can't help you with, no matter how much or how often you juice?

A vitamin that can make or break your family's long term health...

I am referring to vitamin D, the one vitamin we seldom discuss. A unique nutrient that is actually both a vitamin and a hormone!

And a huge percentage of folks (in fact, up to 90% of elderly people and 75% of our kids) may be deficient in this vital vitamin! Apart from the deficiencies seen in the general population, 4 groups of people are even more likely to show low levels of vitamin D when tested:

  • Elderly people
  • Overweight people
  • Heavy drinkers
  • Darker-skinned folks

Few of us are aware of this huge deficiency issue or the absolutely vital role vitamin D might play in our long term health.

Countless studies have been done or are underway, pointing to the possible role of vitamin D in...

Reducing body fat mass

Preventing a whole range of cancers

Aiding hormonal balance

Preventing insulin resistance

Keeping your heart healthy

Working with calcium for bone health

Preventing strokes

Reducing muscle weakness

Regulating blood pressure

Lowering inflammation

Preventing depression

Helping to sidestep fatigue

Preventing diabetes

Preventing falls in older folk

Aiding cognitive function

Helping with immune regulation (possibly reducing the risk for developing autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis)


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What are the best food sources of vitamin D?

This is the one vitamin our fruits and veggies can't help us with. Unfortunately dietary sources of this vitamin are fairly scarce. It is mainly found in fortified dairy products and cereals, as well as in fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna, mackerel, in eggs and in cod liver oil. And that's about it as far as food sources are concerned.

How to get more vitamin D...your body's own 'sunshine vitamin' factory

Luckily our bodies can produce vitamin D - and lots of it! However, for this to happen we need roughly 20 minutes of sun exposure between 10am and 2pm daily, specifically exposure to UVB rays. The minute UVB rays hit your skin, your body can begin to produce vitamin D. This is why vitamin D is called the 'sunshine vitamin'.

The fact that vitamin D can be such a mood lifter, makes it a 'sunshine' vitamin in another sense too! :-)

However, as most of us use sun block these days (and with good reason), we don't get this major benefit from our sun exposure. In fact, sunscreen can reduce your body's production of vitamin D by as much as 90%! Dermatologists tend to feel that the risk is too high to advise going without sun block for the 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure we need to top up our vitamin D.

The darker your skin, the longer your sun exposure would need to be to produce enough vitamin D.

Where you live also plays a role. People who live in the northern USA or in Europe, won't be able to produce vitamin D from sun exposure during the fall and winter months. You must have exposure to UVB rays (so-called tanning rays) to be able to get your vitamin D up to an adequate level.

The role of vitamin D in weight loss, metabolic syndrome and body fat mass

A steady, healthy level of vitamin D seems to play a significant role in all areas of weight loss and weight gain, including metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and fat storage. Overweight folks seem to need a higher intake of vitamin D, as body fat is something of a gathering place for the nutrient. This increases the body's overall vitamin D needs.

Research by CL Rock and others(1) indicate that weight loss and fat loss may follow a higher intake of vitamin D.

In a study published in the Nutritional Journal(2), researchers Amin Salehpour and others show their findings that supplementation with vitamin D3 can lower body fat mass in overweight individuals.

Other studies such as those by Foss(3) show a possible link between seasonal changes in sun exposure, the resultant lowering in vitamin D levels and obesity. This can play a role in metabolic syndrome, weight gain and an increase in body fat.

Vitamin D and your muscles

Researchers are noting a correlation between vitamin D levels and muscle strength(4), the level of fat in muscles and muscle power! Imagine improving your physical performance and strength training ability by making sure that you stock up on the sunshine vitamin!

Not only does this spell good news for younger folks, but elderly people can benefit greatly. Muscle weakness and the resultant falls can have a huge impact on the quality of life of older folks. If muscle strength can be improved and protected in such a relatively simply way, it can help to keep aging at bay, maintaining mobility and independence for longer.

Do you need vitamin D supplements?

The easiest way to find out if you are getting enough vitamin D, is to have your level of the nutrient tested from time to time. The optimal level to aim for is 50-70 ng/ml.

If your sun exposure isn't ideal, supplementation can help. There are two forms available. The one is called ergocalciferol or vitamin D2. The other is cholecalciferol or vitamin D3. The D3 one is basically identical to the vitamin D your body produces, so it is the best form to use.

One caution: Don't just jump into taking vitamin D3 on your own. Please discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist first and let them do a lab test if necessary. Too much vitamin D can also create problems and folks with certain healthy issues may need to avoid extra vitamin D.

You may find that you get enough sun during the summer months to ensure that you remain within the optimal range. It often happens that folks only need to take a supplement during the winter.

Also remember that this is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it will be better absorbed if you take it with your main meal which is likely to include some healthy fat.

Sorry folks, but unfortunately there is no juicing recipe solution for this one! :-(

On second thought... never mind that. Let's enjoy a fun, sunny, fruity juice that goes well with sitting outside for a dose of the sunshine vitamin. Here goes...


On a side note...

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Golden Sun-Catcher Juice

3 Thick slices pineapple (wash before cutting)
2 Oranges
1 Nectarine
2 Kiwi fruit

Method:
1. Wash oranges and kiwi fruit
2. Peel pineapple slices, discarding skin
3. Peel oranges, discarding skin. Never juice with peel. Segment as necessary
4. Halve the nectarine and discard the pit
5. Peel kiwi fruit thinly, discarding skin. Halve
6. Juice and pour over crushed ice
7. Garnish with 2 mint leaves and serve

Servings:
1 Large or 2 medium


> From the juicing for health desk of Rika Susan

References:
1. Rock CL et al. 'Weight loss is associated with increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in overweight or obese women'. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Nov;20(11):2296-301. doi: 10.1038/oby.2012.57. Epub 2012 Mar 8
2. Amin Salehpour et al. 'A 12-week double-blind randomized clinical trial of vitamin D3 supplementation on body fat mass in healthy overweight and obese women'. Nutrition Journal 11:78 2012.09.22 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-78
3. Foss YJ. 'Vitamin D deficiency the cause of common obesity'. Med Hypotheses. 2009 Mar;72(3):314-21. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2008.10.05. Epub 2008 Dec 2
4. Grimaldi AS et al. '25(OH) vitamin D is associated with greater muscle strength in healthy men and women'. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jan;45(1):157-62. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31826c9a78



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