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There are hundreds of medical studies being carried out on the role of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, on your health. Many are showing interesting associations. As a naturopathic doctor, I have found that vitamin D is one of the particularly important nutrients since the body converts it into an active hormone that impacts many tissues and functions in the body. Below are nine examples of how vitamin D can help your body and mind.

1. Immune System

We also know that Vitamin D helps in the proper regulation of the immune system, and has been found to help stimulate production of antimicrobial substances within the body to fight against viruses and other microbes. Several studies have also found an association between Vitamin D deficiency and many auto-immune diseases. Keep your immune system in tune and ensure you have enough.

2. Skin

Our skin is where Vitamin D is produced once it is exposed to the sun. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with skin aging. Excess Vitamin D and excess sun exposure can also promote skin aging, so you need just the right amount. Specific skin conditions are also related to Vitamin D deficiency including psoriasis, spontaneous hives and forms of dermatitis.

3. Joints

One of the most common fears as we age is joint pain and joint health overall. We know from many animal and a few human studies that Vitamin D has a role in joint health. For instance, a small Indian study conducted on research study participants with osteoarthritis and Vitamin D deficiency found that Vitamin D treatment led to a significant improvement in both joint pain and joint function over the course of one year of treatment with vitamin D. Another Greek study found that Vitamin D deficiency is very common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and concluded that Vitamin D may help with pain relief in patients with RA.

4. Brain

Yes, you need Vitamin D for your cognitive health too. Many studies have found associations of cognitive decline and low Vitamin D. It is thought that Vitamin D and the hormone that forms from it help to protect the nerves in the brain as well as to help the brain properly send messages along its nerves. Studies have also found that Vitamin D promotes nerve development, and serotonin (a brain neurotransmitter) regulation which may have roles in the development and risk of Autism.

5. Bones

We all have heard the accepted benefit of Vitamin D for bone health. When you are deficient as a child, you are at risk of developing rickets. If you are deficient as an adult, you are at risk of developing a bone disorder called osteomalacia and may be at increased risk of low bone density (osteoporosis). If you have had a fracture or have tender muscles, bone pain and trouble walking, make sure to check your Vitamin D level.

6. Respiratory

Chronic lung diseases are associated with Vitamin D deficiency. Some studies show relationships with asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease and tuberculosis with Vitamin D levels. A recent Australian study conducted in the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research found that Vitamin D deficiency during lung development (at 16-20 weeks of pregnancy) may impact post-natal lung growth and increase the risk of developing lung disease.

7. Mood

In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, Vitamin D was given by injection to study participants diagnosed with both depression and Vitamin D deficiency. It concluded that there was a significant difference in improving the depressive state. Other studies are inconclusive on the role of Vitamin D in helping those with mood disorders, though many studies show that sunlight exposure and or bright light therapy may improve the outcome of overall mental health.

8. Muscles

A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association found that those with low Vitamin D have lower muscle mass, lower muscle strength and performance. The participants included independently living men and women between 40-80 years of age residing in the Netherlands.

9. Heart

Much investigation has found that low Vitamin D is associated with stiffer arteries, more calcification in the coronary arteries, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality and even alterations in the structure of the heart itself. Considering that heart-related disease is one of the most common problems in our world today, it is encouraging to know that we may be able to reduce our risk with proper levels of Vitamin D.

Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.