One Size Does Not Fit All: Your Guide to Vitamin D and Its Benefits
Everyone knows that getting an adequate amount of sunshine is important for your general wellbeing. There’s even a psychological disorder that can occur during the winter months that can be directly linked to the lowered amount of sunshine and Vitamin D that you get during the cold season (Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for those interested). We can all agree that Vitamin D is an important part of your health. But it can be a little confusing why.
First, Vitamin D is one of four fat-soluble vitamins that humans need to survive. The symptoms of low levels of Vitamin D include fatigue, depression, bone and muscle pain and tiredness, and frequent illness. It functions in our body like a hormone, meaning that every cell in our bodies has a receptor for vitamin D. This fact makes it incredibly important for us to get enough Vitamin D, but a 2011 study into Vitamin D levels suggests that more than 1 billion individuals are Vitamin D deficient, including 41.6% of Caucasian Americans and 82.1% of Black Americans.
This measurable level of discrepancy in Vitamin D levels in different races is for a few reasons. First, individuals with dark skin are naturally predisposed to having lower Vitamin D absorption via the sun due to the nature of dark skin. Dark skin was developed as an evolutionary adaption that prevented individuals from developing symptoms of Vitamin D buildup (just as dangerous as a deficiency), as well as other serious symptoms of overexposure to sunlight such as skin cancer.
Light skin developed in areas that experienced less sunlight through the year (such as areas in the north where cloudy days and rain are more common), and these individuals absorb more vitamin D via sun exposure than those with dark skin. Even so, many people aren’t spending enough time in the sun or eating enough Vitamin D to maintain adequate levels in their bodies, meaning that they turn to supplements to help maintain healthy levels of this important vitamin. While there are, of course, downsides to too much of a good thing (Vitamin D toxicity can be very dangerous if not diagnosed and treated in time), the upsides are far more appealing.
The science behind Vitamin D can be confusing, as well as the different reasons that you might have a deficiency or surplus. Educating yourself on Vitamin D as well as other vitamins is the best way to prevent the nasty symptoms that come with a deficiency. We are happy to do whatever we can to help you out of a bind, the natural way.