(Natural News) Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s synthesized in the skin after exposure to sunlight. While technically considered a hormone, vitamin D is paramount for optimal health. Unlike most other essential nutrients, vitamin D can only be found in a handful of foods such as fatty fish, certain mushrooms, eggs, and fortified foods, making the sun the most important source of vitamin D.
These days, however, most of us tend to spend less time outdoors which may explain why more than a third of the world population suffers from low levels of vitamin D. Below you’ll find ten reasons why you should soak up some sun on a daily basis to protect your health.
Improves muscle function
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to loss of muscle mass and strength. Scientists found that an active form of vitamin D in the blood (vitamin D3) could improve lower limb strength. Volunteers who participated in the study showed greater power and speed after vitamin D3 supplementation.
Reduces the severity of asthma attacks
When added to a usual asthma treatment, vitamin D may lower the risk of severe asthma attacks by half.
Helps to prevent and treat Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Some studies, however, found that maintaining proper vitamin D levels may slow down the progression of the disease while lowering the risk by up to 62 percent.
Improves heart health
While taking vitamin D supplements doesn’t seem to have the same heart-protective effect as spending more time outdoors, adequate vitamin D in your blood may slash the risk of a heart attack or chronic heart failure.
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Prevents certain types of cancer
Multiple studies have shown that maintaining high blood vitamin D levels may reduce the risk of developing several types of cancer. Furthermore, it may also slow down the progression of the disease and lower the mortality rate.
Protects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
When scientists compared vitamin D levels in people who have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease with the levels of healthy individuals, they found that blood levels were about one-third lower in the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s group.
Positively effects hundreds of genes to prevent disease
Researchers found that vitamin D influences the activity of more than 200 genes. These genes include IRF8 (which has been associated with MS) and PTPN2 (which has been linked to Crohn’s disease and type 1 diabetes).
Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
As stated by Public Health England, everybody should take a daily vitamin D supplement during the colder months to promote bone health and prevent osteoporosis.
Lowers mortality risk
If vitamin D could lower the risk of heart failure and prevent cancer, it only makes sense that it will help you live a longer life. Authority Nutrition reported on one study that looked at 50 randomized controlled studies. They found that people taking vitamin D supplements slightly reduced the risk of premature death by 6 percent.
Can help you shed some pounds
Next to preventing a host of clinical conditions and diseases, low vitamin D levels have been associated with obesity. In a 2-year lasting clinical trial, researchers analyzed the effect of vitamin D levels on body weight. By the end of the study, the researchers concluded that 83 percent of the obese participants achieved a healthy BMI.
As you can see, maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D through sun exposure, vitamin D-rich foods, or high-quality supplements, is crucial for optimal health.