Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps our body absorb calcium, promote healthy bones and teeth, and regulate our immune system. It’s often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because our body creates it when we’re exposed to sunlight. But many people have difficulty getting enough vitamin D from exposure to the sun alone, especially in winter. Therefore for some of us it is necessary to take a vitamin D supplement to achieve optimal levels.
So what are the main benefits of vitamin D? Let’s take a look at 10 top benefits of this important nutrient.
1. Strengthens Bones and Teeth
Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in helping our bodies absorb calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth. Research has shown that having low levels of vitamin D can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones, in later life.
2. Improves Immunity
Studies have found that people with adequate levels of vitamin D are better able to fight off infections such as colds and flu than those who don’t get enough of the nutrient in their diets. This is because Vitamin D helps regulate our immune system by producing proteins called antimicrobial peptides that help fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
3. Helps Regulate Blood Pressure
Low levels of vitamin D can lead to higher blood pressure, which can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke if left unchecked over time. Adequate levels of vitamin D help keep your blood pressure at healthy levels, reducing your overall risk for cardiovascular-related health issues.
4. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is one of the body’s natural processes which helps protect us from infection and injury, but too much inflammation can be damaging to our health over time. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased inflammation in the body, so maintaining optimal amounts through diet or supplementation may help reduce the risk for chronic inflammatory diseases such as asthma or arthritis.
5. Improves Mental Health
Recent studies have shown that there may be a link between low levels of vitamin D and depression or anxiety symptoms in some individuals. It’s believed that this connection may be due to how vitamin D affects certain neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin which play a role in regulating mood and emotions.
6. Protects Against Cancer
Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with an increased risk for certain types of cancer including colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer among others. While more research needs to be done on this topic, it’s believed that adequate intake or exposure to sunlight could help reduce your overall risk for developing these cancers over time.
7. Improves Muscle Strength
Vitamin D plays an important role in muscle strength since it helps regulate calcium absorption into muscles tissues which allows them to contract properly during exercise or physical activity. Research has also shown that having low levels of this vital nutrient could lead to weaker muscles over time so getting enough through diet or supplementation may help improve muscle strength over time.
8. Boosts Brain Function
Studies suggest that having adequate amounts of vitamin d could help boost cognitive function by improving memory recall and alertness. Vitamin D helps regulate certain neurotransmitters like glutamate which play a role in learning and memory formation.
9. Lowers Risk Of Diabetes
There is evidence suggesting that low levels of this nutrient could increase your chances for developing type 2 diabetes since it helps regulate insulin production.
10. Decreases Risk Of Heart Disease
Maintaining adequate amounts through diet or supplementation has been linked with lower risks for heart attack and stroke. Vitamin D helps reduce inflammation within arteries therefore decreasing plaque build-up overtime.
Vitamin D supplementation
Besides sun exposure, Vitamin D supplements provide the most convenient way to ensure the adequate dosage is taken; however it is recommended that you get a lab test done first to determine your Vitamin D levels and then adjust your supplementation accordingly. The current international recommendation for Vitamin D intake stands at 400-800 IUs/day, however some people may need higher doses depending on their individual situation. Vitamin D supplementation can also be obtained through dietary sources such as cod liver oil or fortified foods. When supplementation is not enough to raise a severely low vitamin D level, a high dose injection is an option. For more information on how sun exposure affects vitamin D click here.
As you can see, there are numerous benefits associated with getting enough Vitamin D through diet or exposure to sunlight everyday! From strengthening bones and teeth, to reducing inflammation and improving mental health —this essential nutrient truly plays an integral role in keeping us healthy! For those who aren’t able to get enough naturally through foods rich in Vitamin D like fatty fish (such as salmon), eggs, mushrooms, and fortified milk, supplementation may be necessary depending on individual needs. Consulting with a medical professional would be a great way to ensure that your vitamin D level is optimal.
It’s that time of year again—cold and flu season is in full swing. This year we have 3 major culprits to worry about: RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), COVID-19 and Influenza. As a parent, it can be difficult to know when your child’s cold or flu is serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. After all, you don’t want to overreact and take your child to the ER for a minor illness, but you also don’t want to wait too long and risk their health. So, when should you take your child to the hospital for a cold or flu? Read on to find out.
One of the most common symptoms of both colds and flu is fever. A fever itself is not necessarily cause for alarm, but it can be a useful indicator of how serious your child’s illness is. For example, fevers caused by potentially dangerous illnesses like meningitis or sepsis will usually be quite high—usually 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 celsius) or higher. In contrast, fevers caused by minor illnesses like the common cold will usually be lower—between 101 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3-38.9 celsius). Of course, every child is different, so if you’re ever unsure whether your child’s fever is cause for concern, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and give your healthcare provider a call.
Fever can be beneficial
Fever may actually be beneficial to a child as it is a natural response of the immune system that helps to fight infection. Fever increases the body’s temperature, which in turn helps to kill bacteria and viruses. It also causes the body to release more white blood cells, which helps to fight infection. In some cases, fever may even help to shorten the duration of an illness. For these reasons, it is important not to treat fever too aggressively and instead allow the body to work naturally to combat infection.
Coughing and Sneezing
Another common symptom of colds and flu is coughing and sneezing. These symptoms are usually nothing to worry about—they’re just your body’s natural response to trying to get rid of the virus. However, if your child is having difficulty breathing or their cough sounds particularly harsh or wet, this could be a sign of something more serious, like pneumonia. If you’re concerned about your child’s coughing or sneezing, it’s always best to consult with their doctor.
For minor cough and sore throat, there are many effective naturopathic options. Some of my favorites include: Elderberry syrup, honey, propolis, nin jiom herbal syrup, Ivy leaf and thyme based syrups. If a cough/sore throat is particularly bad at nighttime children’s Advil and or Benadryl can help with symptom relief; however, it is a good idea to consult your doctor prior to usage.
Body aches are another common symptom of both colds and flu. Usually, these aches are nothing to worry about and will go away on their own in a few days. However, if your child seems especially uncomfortable or if they’re having difficulty moving around due to pain, this could be a sign that they have something more serious like rheumatic fever. As always, if you’re concerned about your child’s health, it’s best to consult with their healthcare provider.
Cold and flu season can be tough for parents who want to do everything they can to keep their children healthy but don’t want to overreact every time they get a little sniffle. Hopefully this article has given you some guidance on when to take your child to the hospital for a cold or flu. Remember: if you’re ever unsure, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and give your pediatrician a call. They would be more than happy to help you figure out whether or not your child needs medical attention.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that affects infants and young children. Although RSV is usually mild, it can sometimes lead to more serious health problems, such as pneumonia. There is no specific cure for RSV, but there are several natural treatments that can help relieve symptoms and speed up recovery. Here are 7 natural treatments for RSV:
Honey has long been used as a natural remedy for coughs and other respiratory infections. A 2012 study found that honey was more effective than dextromethorphan, a common cough suppressant, in relieving cough symptoms. Honey can also help thin mucus and make it easier to cough up. For added effect choose Manuka honey. Manuka honey has added antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Give your child 1-2 teaspoons of honey at bedtime or as needed throughout the day. Do not give honey to infants under 12 months old.
2. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation is a simple and effective way to relieve congestion and coughing associated with RSV. The steam helps thin mucus and makes it easier to breathe. Fill a bowl with hot water and hold your child’s head over the bowl with a towel over their head to trap the steam. Inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes, 2-4 times per day.
Running a humidifier in your child’s room can also help relieve congestion by adding moisture to the air. Just be sure to clean the humidifier regularly to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
4. Salt Water Gargle
Gargling with warm salt water can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the throat, which can make it easier to eat and drink. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and have your child gargle for 30 seconds 3-4 times per day. Spit the solution out after gargling. Another good option is a saline nasal spray from you local drug store. These products can be helpful in clearing out mucus and reducing inflammation from the upper respiratory tract.
Getting plenty of rest is crucial for helping your child recover from RSV or any other illness. Make sure your child gets plenty of fluids and take them out only when necessary so they can focus on getting better. If your child is having trouble sleeping due to congestion, an over the counter antihistamine or decongestant can be useful in the short-term. With these products you will have to be careful about age appropriate dosing so talk to your medical or naturopathic doctor first.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help shorten the duration of a viral infection. Vitamin C is a nutrient that is known to boost the immune system, and foods like oranges, grapefruits, and broccoli are high in this nutrient. Additionally, zinc is another mineral that is important for immunity and can be found in foods like seafood, beef, and pumpkin seeds. It is important to stay hydrated during a viral infection, so drink plenty of fluids like water, broth, and herbal teas.
7. Immune supporting supplements
There are many safe and effective immune supporting supplements for kids that can help shorten the duration of a viral infection. Some of the most popular and well-researched supplements include vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, elderberry syrup and probiotics.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps support the immune system. Zinc is also important for immune health, and probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help keep the gut healthy. For more information on these supplements and more check out my post on “5 natural ways to combat cold and flu season for kids”. All of these supplements can be safely given to kids to help them fight off a virus and recover more quickly. Consult with your naturopathic doctor for appropriate dosing.