Vitamin D is essential for a stable mood, however since technically our body does not produce vitamin D on its own, we need to ingest it by either supplement intake or exposure to the sun’s UVB rays. Once these rays are absorbed by our skin, our liver and then kidneys are involved in the steps to produce a bioavailable form of the vitamin that the body can use.
According to Harvard Medical School’s research and published article on Healthbeat, there are 9 factors that can influence a person’s vitamin D level:
The latitude where you live – Higher latitudes mean low sun angles during winter. Shorter days and clothing that covers much of the body during cold months also limits UVB exposure.
Air pollution – Fossil fuels and wood scatter and absorb UVB rays, providing us with less amounts of readily-available UVB rays.
Sunscreen use – Theoretically, sunscreen users have lower absorption of vitamin D.
Skin colour – Melanin is the substance in skin that makes it dark, and it competes for UVB absorption. Darker-skinned people require more UVB exposure than light-skinned people in order to generate the same amount of vitamin D.
Skin temperature – Warm skin is a more efficient producer of vitamin D than cool skin, so on a warm and sunny day, your body makes more vitamin D.
Weight – Fat tissue sops up and ‘stores’ vitamin D for a rainy day. However obese people have also been found to be low on vitamin D absorption qualities.
Age – As the skin ages and lowers its function, so does its ability to absorb the sun’s UVB rays efficiently. The older, the higher the consideration for a vitamin D supplement should be.
Gut health – Vitamin D that is consumed as a supplement, is absorbed by the small intestine immediately; therefore, the healthier the gut and digestive system (stomach juices, pancreatic secretions, bile from the liver, intestinal wall) the better vitamin absorption.
Organ health – Healthier liver and kidneys means better vitamin absorption as well. Those with compromised organs – whether due to unhealthy lifestyle choices such as heavy drinking – will have a higher need for vitamin D supplementation. •
To learn what your body’s vitamin D levels are, visit your health care practitioner and ask for a blood test. Better to be safe than sorry!•
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