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As the days get shorter and the nights get longer in the northern hemisphere, our bodies crave more and more of one thing - vitamin D. Let’s begin by talking about the important role vitamin D plays within our body and then we’ll dive into how we can use it to our advantage.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is created when we are exposed to the sun or consume vitamin D-rich foods. This powerful vitamin plays a role in maintaining proper cardiovascular health, regulating blood pressure and increasing antibacterial proteins in our bodies to boost our immune system. Vitamin D is also responsible for assisting our intestines to absorb calcium and phosphorus to build strong, healthy bones. Researchers have estimated that only 10 percent of calcium and 60 percent of phosphorus is absorbed when vitamin D levels are too low. So if you want to protect yourself from injury, make sure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D! The vitamin is also an immune and mood booster.
The Effects of Low Vitamin D:
The conditions most commonly associated with ow levels of Vitamin D are osteoporosis, and osteomalacia. Osteoporosis and osteomalacia both target the skeletal system. Osteoporosis is caused by bone loss, making the existing bone softer and more fragile and prone to breakage. Osteomalacia, on the other hand, is a softening of the bones leading to muscle weakness, and dull and aching pain in the back, pelvis, hips and legs. However, newer research has also demonstrated a connection between vitamin D deficiency and a weakened immune system. It has been shown to modulate our bodies’ immune response, and a deficiency of this vitamin has been shown to increase susceptibility to infection and autoimmune diseases. Links have also been established between vitamin D deficiency and diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and most recently, diabetes.
Vitamin D and Mood?
Interestingly, research shows that those facing depression commonly have low Vitamin D levels. At this time, there isn’t enough research to show that a vitamin D deficiency can cause depression, and studies examining the use of Vitamin D to combat depression have had mixed results. However, if you are one of the hundreds of millions of people who suffer from depression worldwide, it may be helpful to know that you’d also be more likely to have have low vitamin D. In addition to depression, there has been extensive research performed examining the relationship between Vitamin D and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Who is at Risk?
It is estimated that over one billion people in the world have either vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency. Some things that expose us to a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency are aging, obesity, having a darker skin tone (darker skin contains more melanin, which is thought to reduce the body’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight) and a lack of exposure to sunlight. The easiest way to boost vitamin D levels is to spend time outside in the sunshine. However, for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, this can be easier said than done, particularly in the winter months. There are not many food sources of vitamin D, though fish oils and fish such as trout, salmon and mackerel do contain it and some dairy products and cereals are fortified with it. If you have limited exposure to sunlight, have darker skin, are over 50 or any other risk factors for insufficient vitamin D intake, taking a vitamin D supplement is another option.
Ener-Life has formulated a new vitamin D3 supplement to help you support your immune system and overall health. The first vitamin D drink mix and one of the few that contains a plant-based source of vitamin D3, we created Ener-D with 1000iu of Vitamin D3 sourced from organic lichen and sprayed with medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil for optimum absorption (most vitamin D3 supplements come from sheep’s lanolin, which is washed in a detergent solution). We are proud to offer our unique new formula in two delicious, naturally sweetened, sugar-free flavours: Orange and Raspberry. Like all our other formulas, Ener-D is made with real fruit and vegetable powders and is vegan, non-GMO and gluten and caffeine-free. Available now in Canada and coming to the United States in early 2023.
 Aranow, Cynthia, MD, Investigator “Vitamin D and the Immune System”, Journal of Investigative Medicine, 2011 Aug: 59 (6) 881-886
 Penckofer, Sue, et al. “Vitamin D and Depression: Where Is All the Sunshine?” Issues in Mental Health Nursing, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2010By Lindsay Mustard. Lindsay is a Holistic Nutritionist, foodie and firefighter-in-training with a burning passion for health and fitness. In her nutrition practice, Lindsay works with clients to craft a unique plan that is tailored to their specific health goals using a natural, whole food and supplement approach.