Benefits Of Vitamin D And Omega 3
We all celebrate and love sunny days and another benefit is the vitamin D we get from the sun. Vitamin D provides many health benefits including helping fight against inflammation and heart disease. The natural way to get vitamin D is to absorb it through direct sun exposure on our skin (ie. not through clothing or sunscreens) for 20 minutes every day. However, nowadays, very few of us have adequate levels of vitamin D in our bodies.
When our bodies become deficient in vitamin D, we can become more susceptible to a variety of illnesses including colds, flu, asthma, diabetes and chronic pain. Some studies have shown links between vitamin D deficiency and up to 46% of all cancer deaths1.
With winter often being cold and flu season, vitamin D has been found to reduce your chances of getting colds and flu by almost 100%. With sufficient vitamin D, your immune cells are better able to recognize invaders and respond to an infection. In one study, only 1 of 104 test subjects developed either a cold or flu during the winter season after supplementing with vitamin D2.
Other studies have found that vitamin D can have a helpful effect in those with clinical depression by enhancing their mood and reducing negative symptoms3. In addition, those with chronic pain and fatigue have shown benefits when supplementing with vitamin D.
In terms of dosage, you can generally use your body weight as a guide. For every 40lbs of body weight, you can take 1000IU of vitamin D. For example, if you weighed 200lbs, you could then take 5000IU of vitamin D daily. There are very few risks to taking vitamin D. However, if you are taking any prescription medications, especially any calcium channel blockers, cholesterol medications, corticosteroids, prednisone, medication for irregular heart rhythms or psoriasis you should consult with your family doctor first before supplementing with vitamin D.
Another supplement with far ranging health benefits is omega 3. A rich source of natural omega 3 and its components EPA and DHA are found in fish. Ideally, we should strive for a healthy balance between omega 3 and omega 6 of 1:14. However, with today’s diet, we often have too much omega 6 in our bodies and not enough omega 3, even sometimes being greater than 10:1 omega 6 to omega 3.
While omega 6 has been linked to issues such as cancer and inflammation, omega 3 does the opposite and can help with reducing risk of cancer and inflammation5, much like vitamin D. Omega 3 acts by being broken down and converted into components that inhibit the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase (COX) which is responsible for sparking the inflammatory process in your body. Omega 3 is also important in helping against diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
When deciding how much omega 3 to take via supplements, the average adult can generally take 1-2g per day. There are very few risks to supplementing with omega 3. However, if you are taking any prescription medications, especially blood thinners or medications to help control your blood sugar levels, you should consult with your family doctor first before starting any supplementation with omega 3. Other sources of omega 3 include flaxseed oil and cod liver oil. However, the omega 3 found in flaxseed oil is a different form for which the health benefits are not as clear. Cod liver oil is also another option but typically has lower concentrations of EPA and DHA.
1. Jemal A. Cancer Statistics. CA Caner J Clin. 2007 Jan-Feb;57(1):43-66
2. Aloia J. Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D. Epidemiology and Infection. 2007;vol 135(7):1095-1098
3. Stewart Leavitt. Vitamin D – A Neglected “Analgesic” for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain. Pain Treatment Topics. 2008
4. Eaton. Paleolithic Nutrition Revisited: A Twelve Year Retrospective on its Nature and Implications. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997;51:207-216
5. Maroon JC. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil) as an Anti-Inflammatory: An Alternative to Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for Discogenic Pain. Surgical Neurology. 2006;65(3):326-331