There are a couple of reasons why I thought that this was an important article to write. For starters, did you know that while around 40 percent of Americans are Vitamin D deficient, a whopping 76 percent of those within the Black community are? Not only that but those who are considered to be obese are 70 percent more likely to have this deficiency than those who aren't. And just why is this the case within our specific ethnic demographic? It's actually linked to the fabulous thing that we all have called melanin. Since we've got so much of this natural pigment in our system, that makes it much more difficult for us to synthesize this nutrient via the sun. As a result, we're at a higher risk for having a weaker immune system, fragile bones, extreme fatigue, back pain, hair loss, muscular discomfort and even depression-related symptoms.
That's not all, though. As more and more studies are coming out about COVID-19, what researchers have also discovered is a part of the reason why Blacks may be more susceptible to being diagnosed with a more severe case of the virus is also due to a lack of Vitamin D in our bodies. This is partly due to the fact that something else that Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to is respiratory infections. So, what a lot of medical professionals are recommending, is that we up our Vitamin D intake.
To me, both of these reasons are valid enough to offer up a few tips on ways that you can get more Vitamin D into your own body. Are you ready to do just that?
Step into the Sun
The most natural and probably easiest way to get more Vitamin D is to spend more time in the sun. Just how much? Well, folks with less melanin are advised to be outside in the midday sun for 10-30 minutes, a few times a week. Those with melanin? 30-45 minutes is beneficial.
Aside from the fact that it can get Vitamin D into your body, natural sunlight is also able to help to reduce your stress levels, strengthen your immunity and even help you to lose weight. Interesting, right?
Use Natural Light Throughout the Day
If your schedule makes it difficult for you to take a break in the middle of the day or to eat lunch outdoors a few times a week, definitely consider opening up your window treatments so that the sun can shine through your windowpanes. It's another relatively easy way to get some Vitamin D. Plus, going with natural light instead of overhead lighting can significantly reduce your monthly energy bill in the process. A win all the way around.
3. Take a Vitamin D Supplement
If you're a supplement taker, you can always add Vitamin D to your list. How much is going to make a real difference in the quality of your health? Well, a lot of medical professionals recommend that you take a pill or capsule that offers you around 600 units per serving on a daily basis. Something that I personally do is take a vitamin that contains calcium, magnesium and zinc (it's a great nerve relaxer and sleep inducer) that has Vitamin D3 (a form of Vitamin D that makes it easier for the body to absorb calcium and magnesium) in it.
4. Consume Some Cod Liver Oil
Listen, I don't know if grandma knew about all of this Vitamin D info or not but some of us remember growing up and having to swallow a teaspoon of cod liver oil (which literally comes from the liver of codfishes).
It was nasty, for sure. Still, what's a trip about it is cod liver oil's an oil that is good for you on a few levels. It helps to decrease inflammation levels in the body; strengthen immunity; lower blood pressure; help to prevent plaque build-up around your arteries; improve vision; elevate brain function; reduce anxiety levels; fight upper respiratory illness; maintain bone density and yes, give you a good fill of Vitamin D.
If you do decide to go this route, just make sure to consult your doctor before taking it if you are pregnant and that you avoid combining it with fish oil, if that is already a part of your daily regimen. The reason why is because, while cod liver oil is good for you, it can be rather potent. Besides, too much of a good thing can sometimes bring about side effects (in this particular case, nosebleeds and heartburn) that you wouldn't expect. By the way, the best place to find cod liver oil is at your favorite local health store or website.
5. Eat Foods That Are High in Vitamin D
Another way to get more Vitamin D into your body is to eat foods that are high in it. Some of those include fish (like tuna, salmon and sardines), shiitake mushrooms, egg yolks, yogurt, almond milk, orange juice, fortified cereals, oatmeal, beef and cheese.
6. Buy a UV Lamp
Something else that can help to boost your Vitamin D are UV lamps. UV stands for ultraviolet and what they do is imitate the sun and how it affects your system. Why would you want to go this route instead of just going outside? Well, a lot of it has to do with your location. If you happen to live in a climate where the sun isn't out as much, a UV lamp can be a pretty awesome alternative. Medical News Today has a list of five different UV lamps that you might want to check out, if you're interested in getting one.
7. See Your Doctor
This last tip could certainly be the first too. If either you want to be absolutely sure that your Vitamin D levels are good or, after trying all of these things, you're still experiencing some of the symptoms that I discussed at the top of the piece, you can always take what is known as a Vitamin D status test. It's a type of blood test that checks for your 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. If they happen to be below a certain standard, it could mean that you are deficient or even that you've got an underlying health issue like kidney or liver disease. Yes, that can sound semi-frightening at the mere thought of the possibility, yet you won't know until you know…so go. Because the sooner you know how much Vitamin D you need, the sooner you can get to feeling strong and better. Especially while COVID-19 is still around.
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