The Benefits of Vitamin D: A Guide for Students in Nutrition Diploma Programs

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Vitamin D is a tiny little wonder-worker that is critical to maintaining optimum nutrition. Sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is essential to many aspects of our health, and new research is just revealing that there might also be links between not having enough vitamin D and an increased risk for developing cancer. With the range of known benefits increasing, suggested daily intake has been tripled to 600 IU per day while the upper limit has been raised to 4,000 IU daily.

Unfortunately, an estimated one billion people around the world are vitamin D deficient. On the positive side, nutritionists can play a role in reversing this by educating their clients about the benefits of vitamin D, as well as good sources of it. What exactly are the benefits and the best ways to get more of the vitamin? Keep reading to find out the answers!

Sufficient Vitamin D Levels Increase the Benefits of Regular Exercise and Make It Easier

As a graduate of a nutrition diploma program, you may find yourself advising your clients on matters such as weight loss and steps towards achieving long-term health. It’s already quite common knowledge that regular exercise is beneficial in these areas, but maintaining optimal levels of minerals and vitamins including vitamin D plays a vital role in complementing and reaping the potential gains from physical activity.

If a client happens to be striving for weight loss, then vitamin D may prove to be a handy helper as higher levels of the molecule activate the production of leptin, known as the hormone of energy expenditure. Leptin works to stem appetite by sending signals to the brain and stomach which inhibit hunger and could thus stem excess snacking and lead to the consumption of smaller food portions, resulting in a higher probability of weight loss success.

Vitamin D can also make exercising itself easier by improving muscle function, reducing physical fatigue, and improving recovery. This can lead to higher effectiveness during an exercise session and also to being more ready to hit the gym, the track, or the yoga mat the next day.

Vitamin D Can Help Improve Overall Health From Fortifying Bones to Preventing Disease

Of course, to be able to engage in many types of exercise, strong bones are a must—something vitamin D can help with too! For starters, vitamin D assists with the absorption of a lot of important minerals like calcium and phosphorous which happen to be critical for building bone. Not having enough of the vitamin has in fact been shown to exacerbate bone weakening and lead to problems like osteoporosis.

Vitamin D doesn’t just help with maintaining healthy bones, but additionally prevents heart disease, and reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

How You Can Advise Clients to Increase Their Vitamin D Levels After Your Nutrition Diploma Program

With so many people deficient in vitamin D, being able to advise clients on how to up their levels is something any holder of a certificate in nutrition should have down to a tee. Not many foods are naturally rich in this long-term health promoter, so it’s usually consumed via supplements or in foods that have been fortified. Along with dairy products like milk, breakfast cereals and orange juice are some food products that tend to have vitamin D added. As it so happens, the law in Canada dictates that milk must be fortified. Other possible sources of vitamin D through food are fatty fish like salmon and tuna. Though it may sound less than appetizing, a spoon of fish liver oil a day is also a good way to increase those vitamin D levels.

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Salmon and other fatty fish are a good source of vitamin D, along with egg yolks and mushrooms

Some basking in the sunshine, one of the better-known ways to increase vitamin D levels and also the source of its nickname, might seem a more pleasant approach. Exposure to the sun doesn’t actually equate to soaking up vitamin D, but rather triggers our bodies to produce its own vitamin D from cholesterol. That doesn’t mean that going out regularly to absorb some rays is a surefire way to ramp up vitamin D levels, though! For one, sunlight at northern latitudes has weaker production-triggering rays. In addition, too much exposure to the sun can lead to sunburn and an increased risk of developing skin cancer, so in the end diet and other supplements might just be unavoidable.

Are you interested in becoming a nutritionist and helping clients achieve top health?

AAPS offers quality nutritionist training in Ontario!