The Many Benefits of Vitamin D, the Sunshine Vitamin.

December 19, 2014

Even if you live in the cloudiest corner of the country, the sun still shines sometimes. The joy felt when basking in the sunshine is universal, but there is likely a biological reason. Vitamin D is a mineral that humans absorb from sunlight and is essential for a healthy life. Many people, however, feel as though they do not receive enough Vitamin D to truly benefit, making Vitamin D supplements a popular option.

Commonly known as "the sunshine vitamin," Vitamin D is known for its bone-boosting properties, among many others. Millions of Americans take Vitamin D supplements to enhance various parts of their lives. From promoting healthy bones to strengthening the body's ability to take in calcium, Vitamin D has the power to take your health in a new direction.

First and foremost, Vitamin D is well-known for boosting the immune system. Evidence supports claims that this nutrient interacts with many different cells within the immune system, indicating that a deficiency can actually make you more likely to fall ill, and more often. If you are prone to colds, coughs, and general illness, Vitamin D may be able to help.

Studies also suggest that elevated levels of Vitamin D can help reduce your risk of contracting multiple sclerosis, or MS. MS is increasingly rare in close proximity to the equator, lending support to the idea that prolonged or intense exposure to the sun, and thus the sunshine vitamin, can be beneficial to your body's long-term health in preventing MS. If you live far from the tropics or simply don't have the ability to spend large amounts of time outdoors in order to obtain Vitamin D the natural way, vitamin supplements can work to keep you healthy.

If Alzheimer's disease runs in your family, Vitamin D could be an asset to improving or maintaining your mental state as you age. While doctors aren't sure what causes Alzheimer's, how to cure it or how to prevent it from getting worse, there is substantial evidence that Vitamin D deficiency is linked to cognitive functioning later in life. A recent journal article detailed a study in which nearly 1,700 older adults were monitored for a period of five years for dementia symptoms and Vitamin D levels. After five years, over 180 patients showed signs of dementia and in almost all cases, these patients had lower than average Vitamin D levels, most levels so low as to be considered unhealthy. The doctors performing the tests admit that these results are observational and do not prove definitive correlation or a guaranteed treatment option, but could lead to interesting conclusions in those looking to prevent early signs of mental aging or Alzheimer's onset.

Whether you love the sun or your home is at your desk indoors, getting the right amount of Vitamin D is crucial to your overall physical and mental health. While appropriate intake can keep bones strong, aid in calcium absorption, and even support your body's natural processes, deficiencies can cause serious side effects, from a weakened immune system to the potential for memory loss later in life. If you feel as though you need a boost beyond what your time outdoors can do for you, taking all natural Vitamin D supplements can help you feel better now while providing support for a healthy future later.