Here, in the Great Lake states, it is just past the shortest daylight day of the year. December 21 is the day I dread. I feel as if I spend three months living in a cave as it is. My job (at this time, still a necessity) is on night shift. Add in the fact that there will be only be about nine hours of daylight (all of which I may miss) on this particular day, and that feeling of never really being awake hits me. I never put much stock into the power of sunlight for health. Then I lived the daylight deprived life that is night shift. Man! I had no idea!
The chem lab in your skin
Vitamin D has a lot of hype around it. Nutrition courses teach it as being an essential, fat soluble vitamin. The words “fat soluble” serve as a red flag pointing out that over doses are possible. It was discovered in the early twentieth century as scientists and doctors were studying nutritional deficiencies, and isn’t even a vitamin in the classic definition of the word. It is more of a hormone.
Ultra violet B waves from sunlight, or even full spectrum bulbs and some tanning beds, penetrate the skin to act as a catalyst to transform 7-dehydrocholesterol (a type of cholesterol present in the skin) into Vitamin D3. This D3 is then taken to your liver and kidneys where it is manufactured into usable vitamin D.
More than just strong bones
While it is fairly common knowledge vitamin D helps build strong bones, new research is shedding light on its promise in metabolism, prostate cancer prevention, diabetes prevention, and, yes…mood enhancement. Many new studies are surfacing to highlight these findings.
Check this Harvard article for highlights of recent research:
Vitamin D is fat soluble. This means it is taken up most efficiently with fat molecules. It also means it is stored in the body’s fat stores. This can, technically, lead to toxicity.
Normally, of course, vitamin D needs are met from the sunlight exposure manufacturing process. In the US, there are many who suffer from the deficiency. It shows its signs through stress fractures and more.
Vitamin D can be found in raw milk, fish and egg yolks, too. The safest form of D, other than the D made by the body itself, is Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).
Studies have shown D3 supplements can be taken in much larger amounts than its prescription counterparts. The Vitamin D council sets a safe upper limit for adults at 4000 iu per day.