In the award winning show Game of Thrones, winter is everything. People in northern climates suffer a similar fate – plagued by different demons and dragons. As winter approaches, the days become shorter, the sun becomes weaker, and participating in outdoor activities is near impossible due to frigid weather. Unfortunately for denizens of the north, one of the necessary vitamins for our body comes from sunlight. Vitamin D is responsible for a substantial number of body processes including bone metabolism, health of the heart and blood vessels, immune system strength and much more. Being deficient can lead to considerable health consequences.
Northern Climates & Ties to Autoimmune Disease
Did you know that people living in northern climates have a higher risk of autoimmune disease? A lack of Vitamin D may very well be the culprit. An important component of the immune system is the T cell. Sound familiar? You may have heard those afflicted with HIV and AIDS lack an adequate amount of T helper cells. As T cells mature, they are taught to attack invading pathogens and to leave the body’s cells alone. Vitamin D has an integral role in this education at the cellular level. When the vitamin is deficient, it is speculated that the T cells mature with an affinity for attacking parts of the body. This may lead to a wide variety of auto immune conditions.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to other conditions as well. Many people are familiar with conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Without Vitamin D, the body struggles to absorb and utilize calcium for bones. This can cause soft, brittle bones, and eventually osteoporosis. It has also implicated in particular cancers and cardiovascular disease. The research continues to grow on many potential implications.
Ways to Address This During Winter
For one, spend more time in the sun. Technology leads many to become hermits. Sitting in dark rooms all day with laptops and televisions is a growing, unhealthy trend. People don’t need to go outside for hours on end to get sufficient Vitamin D, nor do they need to go out during peak UV hours. Find a comfortable time to go for a walk or participate in other activities. A high quality Vitamin D supplement is a good idea in conjunction with this strategy. This is even more important when the amount of sunlight available is limited.
Vitamin D deficiency may be more prevalent than is estimated. It is easy to understand why. There are strategies you can utilize to curb this health issue. Winter is just around the corner. Be prepared!