There is more and more evidence surfacing within the medical community that confirms something most shift workers aren’t aware of. The lack of Vitamin D, particularly when absorbed through the skin (sunlight exposure) is wreaking havoc on shift workers bodies. Following is a list of disorders that are directly linked to Vitamin D deficiency. The list is long and it is concerning:
Obesity, Metabolic Disorder, Mood Disorders, Schizophrenia, Cardiac Disease, High Blood Pressure, Prostate Cancer, Dementia, Depression, and Osteoporosis
In an article penned by Dr. Josh Axe in August 2018, he lays out the importance of Vitamin D in maintaining good health.
The rate of Vitamin D deficiency is much higher than we realized
It is believed that up to 90 percent of adults in the U.S. have a vitamin D deficiency? Finally, some physicians are beginning to take this vitamin deficiency seriously; in fact, vitamin D is one of the most recommended supplements by physicians today in order to treat and/or prevent vitamin D deficiency symptoms.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Meaning that increased body fat has the ability to absorb vitamin D and keep it from being used within our body. Vitamin D is somewhat different than other vitamins because our bodies make most of our vitamin D on their own, rather than solely relying on food sources.
The way our bodies make vitamin D is to convert sunshine into chemicals that are used by the body. Hence the larger rates of vitamin D deficiency among shift workers.
Most adults are believed to be at least somewhat deficient in vitamin D, however, people with dark skin, people who live in northern regions of the world where less year-round sun exposure is experienced and those who are overweight have an even greater chance of experiencing vitamin D deficiency symptoms.
As the population of overweight and obese adults and children has risen steadily overthe past several decades, so has the incidence of vitamin D deficiency symptoms. Vitamin D deficiency is correlated with increased risks of developing common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension and various infectious diseases, as well.
Occupation is believed to play a large role in a person’s levels of Vitamin D
A 2017 study recently revealed that occupation can also play a big role in vitamin D levels. Researchers found that shift-workers, particularly first responders, health care workers and indoor workers are at a high risk of developing vitamin D deficiency due to reduced outdoor time and sunlight exposure.
The single most effective way to naturally increase your vitamin D levels and decrease your risk of developing health conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other vitamin D deficiency is by spending time in the sun, without sunscreen. Eating vitamin D-rich foods also helps improve your blood levels.
Although many people assume that the best way to acquire vitamin D is through drinking milk, eating fish or even taking supplements like cod liver oil, direct exposure to the sun is actually the best way to absorb this important vitamin.
When you sit in the sun unexposed, without sunscreen, for roughly 10 minutes, you likely absorb about 10,000 units of natural vitamin D. However, keep in mind that this amount differs from person to person, depending on skin tone.
Melanin is a substance that affects how light or dark your skin color is, and the more melanin you have in your body, the darker your skin color will be. Melanin gets released when we are exposed to the ultraviolet rays of sunshine. The more sunshine we receive, the more melanin is released in our skin. It’s believed that up to 90 percent to 95 percent of most people’s vitamin D comes from casual sunlight exposure. The amount of melanin you have in your skin affects the amount of vitamin D you can produce, so the fairer your skin, the more easily you can make vitamin D.
Sunscreen is blocking the absorption of Vitamin D
Not only are we failing to get enough time outdoors in the sun, but when we do, many of us wear sunscreen nearly the entire time. As the risk for developing skin cancer has also risen in recent years, doctors strongly encourage the use of sunscreen for children and adults, even through the winter months and when sun exposure is generally limited.
Alarmingly, some research shows that when you wear just sunblock SPF 8, you can reduce your body’s ability to make vitamin D by 90 percent. If you choose a sunblock with a higher SPF of 30 (which is the number normally recommended by doctors), you reduce your body’s ability by up to 99 percent. This results in further deficiencies because even though we spend time outdoors, the sunscreen doesn’t allow our bodies to convert vitamin D from the sun.
Top Vitamin D Sources
While some foods provide vitamin D, exposure to sunlight is still the very best way to get the vitamin D you need in order to prevent vitamin D deficiency symptoms. However, eating foods that are rich in vitamin D also helps you acquire more, so try adding these good-quality, natural sources of vitamin D into your diet regularly: (12)
- Sunlight: Aim to spend 10–20 minutes of unexposed time in the sun daily (between 1,000 and 10,000 IUs). The range is so wide as it depends on the time of year, how far from the equator you live and how much skin is exposed. If you have lighter skin, less time is needed. If you have darker skin or live farther north (in the Northern Hemisphere, like Boston), you need about an hour of sun in the summer to get about 1,000 IUs of vitamin D.
- Carp Fish
- Maitake Mushrooms (exposed to UV light)
- Portobella Mushrooms (exposed to UV light)
- Rainbow Trout
- Cod Liver Oil
- Raw Milk
Top 7 Health Benefits of Vitamin D
Contributes to Bone Health
Vitamin D plays a role in calcium absorption into the bones.A deficiency in vitamin D can result in the softening of your bones, which is called osteomalacia, or a bone abnormality called rickets. Additionally, a deficiency increases your risk for developing osteoporosis and experiencing fractures or broken bones.
Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels and Can Prevent Diabetes
Diabetesresults from a lack of insulin or inadequate insulin secretion, following increases in insulin resistance. Calcium is necessary for insulin secretion, and vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and utilization, therefore contributing to the regulation of insulin secretion.
According to a 2015 study published in Current Diabetes Reviews, vitamin D replacement has beneficial effects on all aspects of type 2 diabetes, including the incidence, control and complications of the disease. There is also mounting evidence linking low vitamin D levels to diabetes.
Protects Against Cancer
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms have been correlated with increased risks for cancer development, especially breast, colon and prostate cancers. According to research published in Frontiers in Endocrinology, vitamin D plays a role in factors that influence tumor growth, cell differentiation and apoptosis. Researchers have found that increased sunlight exposure and circulating levels of vitamin D are associated with the reduced occurrence and mortality in many types of cancer.
Vitamin D Combats Heart Disease
A growing number of research points to the fact that vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased risks for cardiovascular disease since it’s involved in regulating blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation.
Enhances the Immune System
Vitamin D helps with healthy cell replication and may play a role in protecting against the development of autoimmune conditionsin addition to less serious common colds and the flu.
Facilitates Hormone Regulation and Helps Improve Mood
Because it acts like a hormone within our bodies and affects brain function, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk for mood disorders, includingdepression, seasonal affective disorder, and severe mood problems experienced during PMS, insomnia and anxiety.
Helps with Concentration, Learning and Memory
Several studies have shown that vitamin D also affects our ability to make decisions, concentrate and retain information. Some studies have shown that people with lower levels of vitamin D perform poorly on standardized exams, may have poor decision making skills, and have difficulty with tasks that require focus and attention.
Wrapping It Up
Up to 90 percent of adults in the U.S. may suffer from vitamin D deficiency and vitamin D deficiency symptoms, which can lead to major health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease and cancer.
Two major causes of vitamin D deficiency symptoms are a lack of sun exposure and the use of sunscreen. When you sit in the sun unexposed, without sunscreen, for roughly 10 minutes, you likely absorb about 10,000 units of natural vitamin D. This is the most effective way to increase your vitamin D levels to prevent vitamin D deficiency symptoms.
There are also food sources of vitamin D, including fish, mushrooms exposed to UV rays, eggs and raw milk. Eating these foods can help increase your vitamin D levels, but sun exposure is the best way to avoid deficiency symptoms.
The most common signs of a vitamin D deficiency include weakness, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, weak bones and weak immune system, and vitamin D deficiency symptoms can include other health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and more.
If spending less than 30 minutes a day enjoying the sunlight, especially as a night shift worker, can improve your health dramatically, why wouldn’t you start today?