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It is officially Autumn! This time of year, brings along so many great things: sweater weather, football, leaves changing colors, cool air, pumpkin spice lattes. I could go on and on. But another thing this season brings us is more time indoors. Gone are the days of endless sunshine and a warm breeze. Now we are apt to spend more time inside, sheltering from the cold weather, overnight freezes and the blistery wind. We are not spending nearly as much time in the sun as we do during the warmer times of year. There are many benefits to sun exposure, one of which is getting vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins because it is needed in almost every process of our bodies. Without it, our immune system will be very weak, causing a whole host of illnesses and diseases.
The body has the ability of making its own vitamin D with sun exposure. It can take anywhere between 15 minutes to a few hours of sun exposure to our bare skin, in order for our bodies to produce enough vitamin D. But due to the weather, it is not as easy to get adequate enough time in the sun and we need to supplement. It ensures that a person is getting the correct vitamin D levels, regardless of sun exposure time. Vitamin D can also come from food sources, but it is very minimal. Some foods to eat to increase vitamin D levels are fatty fish, egg yolks and beef liver.
If a person does not get enough vitamin D, whether it through sun exposure, diet or supplementation, they become deficient. Vitamin D deficiency symptoms are fatigue, general aches and pains, interruption of sleep cycles, frequent infections, and bone weakness. Although, a person may not have any symptoms, they can still be quite deficient. A blood test is needed in order to determine a person’s vitamin D levels and just how much supplementation a person needs. Being deficient can also affect the function and efficiency of the heart, lungs, brain, and muscles.
Vitamin D comes in a few forms. The form that is most absorbable is Vitamin D3. The vitamin D2 form is a synthetic version, which will not be absorbed into the body as readily. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is not excreted from the body when the body has used all it needs. It can accumulate in the body, which is why it is very important to check levels every year, if not a few times a year. A person can have an excess amount of vitamin D in their body but it is much more common to have a deficiency.
Vitamin D needs other vitamins and minerals present in order to work properly. These are called cofactors. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the bloodstream and bones. It acts like a communicator with calcium and phosphorus. If vitamin D is not present, the calcium and phosphorus cannot be absorbed into the body properly, which can cause issues with bone strength. Magnesium is also needed to help vitamin D maintain proper calcium levels in the body. Without Magnesium, vitamin D cannot work properly.
Other important vitamins and minerals needed are zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin K. Zinc can be found in red meat, poultry and nuts. Vitamin A is found in bright orange fruits and vegetables, as well as dark, leafy greens. Vitamin K can be found in dark, leafy greens, too, as well as red meat and eggs. By following the Paleo diet, you will be able to get all these cofactors that are needed for vitamin D. Having these cofactors in your Paleo diet, along with supplementing vitamin D will set you up for a healthy start into the fall!