The powerful sun hormone Vitamin D benefits are crucial for our health and well being. Vitamin D hormone is necessary for every part of our body and every daily function, from sleep to digestion, the health of our teeth and gums to our ability to heal. I would rate oxygen as the most important nutrient for our bodies and Vitamin D a close second.
It is important to remember that “Vitamin” D is actually a hormone, not a Vitamin. It is not something we get from our food unless you are a nocturnal animal like a bat or rat. Animals with feathers make Vitamin D in their fur from the sun and when they prune themselves they ingest Vitamin D but the original source was the sun.
Since Vitamin D it is a powerful hormone the blood levels need to be monitored carefully. There is no “dose” in a supplement that is right for everyone. What is important is how much you have circulating in your bloodstream.
The Evolutionary Advantage Of Vitamin D
The sun hormone Vitamin D helps all animals metabolically adapt to changing seasons. Thousands of years ago we had farming communities, a pastoral lifestyle and lived in huts. In the summer months of Northern and Southern latitudes the sunshine nourished our ancestors who spent most of the day outside. The days were long and food was abundant during summer. Vitamin D increased our metabolism so we had the energy to farm and gather food. Our ancestors built up Vitamin D levels up until the beginning of winter and it was enough to last the entire year. Then when the cold weather came in and the days became short and our food sources dried up, Vitamin D benefits helped our ancestors and other animals hibernate. Vitamin D reduced our metabolism, helped store food as fat to survive the winter. The seasonal adaptations guaranteed our survival. And during the winter when we and the other animals hibernated we slept 18 hours a day. An important Vitamin D benefit is good, reparative sleep.
That Was Then, What Are The Vitamin D Benefits In Modern Times?
Our lifestyles are different from our pastoral ancestors. We have moved into houses with air conditioning and doing more office work and wearing sunscreen. Our children don’t go outside to play or swim as much. We have become a Vitamin D deficient society. Is it a coincidence that we are also seeing a pandemic of sleep apnea and sleep disturbances in the last 40 years since we moved indoors and started using sunscreen?
The World Health Organization has declared United States to be a sleep deprived nation with fewer than 30% of the population getting less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep. Even young, healthy, fit women are having trouble going into reparative, deep, slow wave and REM sleep. Even if you sleep for 8 or 10 hours but you don’t get into deep sleep during that time, you don’t get repaired physically or mentally. We still need to keep our Vitamin D levels up even though we are no longer hibernating.
Vitamin D Benefits For Teeth And Gums
Vitamin D benefits include strong teeth and bones that are resistant to decay and gum disease. Low Vitamin D has been linked to tooth decay in children and gum disease in adults. In addition, Vitamin D is necessary for absorption of Calcium in the intestine. Calcium is necessary for strong teeth and bone that are resistant to decay and gum disease.
Healthy Vitamin D Levels Also Keep Our Vitamin B Levels Robust
When we are Vitamin D deficient, we are likely to be Vitamin B deficient as well. There are 8 different Vitamin B’s and they all do different things, including helping us go into deep sleep. These 8 Vitamin B’s are:
- Thiamine (Vitamin B-1)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2)
- Niacin (Vitamin B-3)
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B-5)
- Vitamin B-6
- Biotin (Vitamin B-7)
- Folate (Vitamin B-9)
- Vitamin B-12
These 8 Vitamin B’s are made by 4 ancient species of gut bacteria and rely on Vitamin D to remain in a healthy balance. Dysbiosis is when the bacteria in our gut and mouth are not in a healthy balance and make us sick. If the microbiome in our gut gets dysbiotic from a lack of Vitamin D, this gut dysbiosis affects our sleep, ability to digest food properly and can cause dysbiosis of the mouth as well, creating an environment for gum disease. Vitamin D benefits, therefore, include a healthy mouth, good digestion and good sleep.
So What Should You Do To Get Vitamin D Benefits?
You should never start supplementing with Vitamin D pills unless you are under the guidance of a knowledgeable medical professional. Remember that Vitamin D is a powerful hormone and too much Vitamin D can also make you sick. In addition, since Vitamin D affects Vitamin B levels, both chemicals should be closely monitored with blood tests.
For now, as we are going into summer months, try to get natural Vitamin D by being outside between 11 am and 2 pm, when UVB rays are at their peak. UVB is what makes Vitamin D in the skin. Try to expose as much of your skin as possible and be strategic about sunscreen. Avoid sunglasses for at least 20 minutes so that your eyes and retina know you are in the sun and they send a message to the brain to create serotonin, the chemical that makes us feel good. Happiness is another Vitamin D benefit.
If we can impact our children and get them to play outside in the sun and swim in the pool and get a good night’s sleep, you can give a framework that is not about blood draws and pills. Your child should be calm, happy, ready for school in September from getting enough sleep and not jumping all over the furniture and screaming.
Stay Out In The Sun, Are You Crazy, What About Skin Cancer?
Of course, liberal sun exposure is not good for everyone. Mother nature thought of that too! We have a built in safety protective chemical called melanin. Sun exposure signals the skin to make melanin to make us darker, block production of Vitamin D and protect us. Because too much Vitamin D is not good we have this natural protective mechanism to slow the production of Vitamin D.
The people who cannot make melanin cannot tan and are therefore at risk for severe sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer. People with this skin type in a sunny environment must use sunscreen or clothing to protect the skin. It is not the sun exposure that causes skin cancer, it is the damage of sunburn that leads to skin cancer. “Don’t burn your skin” is still good advice.
Listen to your body, embrace the sun and remember that deep restorative sleep, nose breathing, good nutrition and a calm internal demeanor are the foundations for good health.
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