Monday, March 8, 2010

Vitamin D, or Why Sunshine is Crucial

Today, on the Health home page on Reuters, a headlining story is the importance of Vitamin D in today's society. As a matter of fact, vitamin D isn’t really a true vitamin. Actually, its structure more closely resembles a hormone, with its highest amounts being manufactured in your body naturally. Unlike other essential nutrients, your diet can’t really supply all the vitamin D you need. While milk and fish are rich in vitamin D, the most bioavailable source of this vitamin is sunlight.

A new study by Danish researchers has discovered that this most effective formulation--from sunlight--greatly increases immunity. When one is deficient in vitamin D, your bodies killer cells, or T cells, will lie dormant and, evidently, unaware of a harmful invader. The T cells rely on vitamin D to become active and fight an infection, so when you are deficient, your immune system is sluggish.
"When a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it extends a signaling device or 'antenna' known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D," said Carsten Geisler of Copenhagen University's department of international health, immunology and microbiology, who led the study. "This means the T cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won't even begin to mobilize."

Vitamin D has also been shown to play a critical role in nerve health and heart health, too—it’s responsible for regulating the blood pressure hormone rennin, and for combating elevated levels of C-reactive protein in your body. It even stabilizes your blood sugar and increases your insulin sensitivity...all while boosting your natural immune function.

It’s fairly easy to see how deficient—or even insufficient—levels of this crucial nutrient could pave the way to some disastrous consequences. That’s why, like me, you will probably be concerned to learn that seven out of ten American children—yes, that’s 70 percent of our young population—are dangerously short on vitamin D.

Today, many people have low levels of vitamin D due to increased time indoors. Since your body generates the majority of its vitamin D as a reaction to direct sun exposure, one easy way to boost your immune system is to get outside! My advice here is simple: go on a hike, take a bike ride, or have a picnic...because while you never need an excuse to enjoy all of the beauty that nature has to offer, now you most certainly have one. A very good one, at that.

No comments:

Post a Comment