However, it’s not clear yet if Vitamin D can reduce your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
What is known is that no vitamin can prevent heart disease if you don’t control your other risk factors, such as a poor diet, smoking, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D acts as a hormone, regulating more than 200 genes throughout the body. It’s pretty impressive. For example:
- Keeps abnormal cells from multiplying in the tissue of your breasts and colon
- Helps regulate blood pressure in the kidneys
- Helps regulate blood sugar levels in the pancreas
What causes vitamin D deficiency? Who does it affect most?
Your body produces vitamin D on its own, particularly when you’re out in the sun. But, because people are spending less time outdoors today, and using more sunscreen when they’re out, there is a general deficiency among the entire American population.
- Obesity is an important factor because fat cells absorb vitamin D and keep it from circulating throughout the bloodstream.
➡ People with darker skin have a built-in natural sunscreen called melanin, which keeps the skin from synthesizing vitamin D.
➡ Women have lower vitamin D levels than men because they tend to have more body fat than men, they spend a bit more time indoors, and tend to wear hats and sunscreen more often than men.
➡ Age also plays a role in vitamin D deficiency. As people get older they absorb less vitamin D from their diet and produce less vitamin D in their skin.
➡ Geography also plays a part. If you live farther away from the equator, you aren’t exposed to enough ultraviolet light, so your body is unable to make vitamin D from November to February.
It only takes 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure on your face, arms, legs or back twice each week without sunscreen to stimulate enough vitamin D production.
Excessive sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer, so it’s important to use sunscreen and limit your use of tannin.
Sources of Vitamin D:
Getting about 10 minutes of moderate summer sun exposure can supply you with 3,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D, which is the equivalent of drinking about 30 glasses of milk!
Good Dietary Sources of Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is often added to many foods:
- Milk, cereal, and baking flour are all products that contain “added” vitamin D.
Other good sources Include:
- Salmon 4oz: 400IU
- Milk 1cup: 50-75IU
- Tuna 3oz: 200IU
- Eggs: 20IU each
- Mushrooms 3oz (half cup): 2700IU (organic, UV treated)
Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency:
- People with vitamin D deficiency may experience bone pain and muscle weakness.
- Vitamin D deficiency in adults will cause osteomalacia, a softening of the bones.
You need sun exposure to make vitamin D, but…
How Much Is Too Much?
Your body stores fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, but excessive sun exposure will not cause vitamin D toxicity. It would be extremely difficult to get too much vitamin D from foods, even fortified foods unless you take way too much cod liver oil.
Taking large doses of vitamin D supplements, however, can lead to vitamin D toxicity that causes:
➡ loss of appetite
➡ weakness and weight loss
➡ muscle pain
➡ mood disorders
➡ abdominal pain
➡ kidney stones
➡ High levels of vitamin D in your body can also raise your blood levels of calcium, which can result in mental confusion and an abnormal heart rhythm.
➡ It may also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.