So we all know how important a balanced diet is- one filled with tons of vitamins, minerals etc etc right? Sure, it’s something we have been taught since grade school- remember the food pyramid days? Well, let’s not revert back to that thinking babes, a lot of what we were taught then doesn’t necessarily fly for everyone today, but thats a whooolllleeee other topic. So, okay. Back on track. Vitamins.
Most of you may know that we can get vitamin D from the sun- all you sun worshipers out there are sure to know this fact! And some of you may also know that many calcium supplements ALSO contain vitamin D because D is essential for the absorption of calcium in your body.
But did you also know that many people are vitamin D deficient and they don’t even know it? Yep! D is essential for your absorbing calcium, it promotes bone and cell growth and helps reduce inflammation. So, if you are an active person, you need to be getting enough of the D! (NOT that D- I know you probably went there, I know I did).
When you are working out and staying very active, your bones need to build themselves back up (as we age, we start to lose bone and exercise helps build strong, healthy bones for years to come). Calcium and vitamin D are essential in this process. Here are the most common signs for vitamin D deficiency:
Difficulty thinking clearly
Bone and joint pain
Frequent bone fractures (!!)
Muscle soreness and weakness
Unexplained/ Prolonged fatigue
None of those symptoms sound fun, and they all would put a major damper on a healthy lifestyle…right? Right! So if you are prone to any of the above symptoms, get a blood test, and ask your doctor about it…OR just start incorporating more vitamin D into your life and see if that helps.
Another shocking fact about vitamin D is that scientists have found that it can help you lose weight! And that not getting enough of it can cause you to gain weight/have trouble dropping pounds. How does this work?
Well….receptors in your brain need vitamin D to keep hunger in check and to maintain high levels of the mood-boosting chemical, serotonin. And like I have already said, D helps your body absorb calcium, which is an important weight-loss nutrient. When your body lacks calcium, it can experience a major increase in the fatty acid synthase, which converts calories into fat. You don’t want to be converting calories into fat!! You want to be burning them! Keep your body in a fat-burning state with vitamin D, not a fat-storing state.
BUT, getting vitamin D naturally isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially if you are vegan. Getting it from the sun is OK, but it puts you at risk of skin damage and skin cancer, sooo that’s not good either. Wearing sunscreen (which you should ALWAYS DO) blocks absorption of vitamin D. And if you live somewhere that isn’t always sunny and warm, you won’t have as many opportunities to get D from being outside. SO, therefore, the best way to get vitamin D is through food and supplements. Foods high in vitamin D are:
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
Milks (including almond milk)
Breakfast cereals (that are fortified with vitamin D)
Yogurt (that are fortified with vitamin D)
Orange juice (that are fortified with vitamin D)
SO, if you don’t find yourself eating foods like the ones on the above list daily, you may need to consider a supplement. A calcium/D combo is a good bet. Consult a professional for more information!
I am always looking for the best ways to improve my health and wellness while optimizing the hard work I put in at the gym. If you put in the hard work, but don’t also focus on creating the healthiest cleanest diet for yourself, what’s the point? You don’t need to be perfect day in and day out, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t put thought and care into what goes inside your body.