Happy last day of February! Our team wishes you a prosperous month of health, safety, and love. As spring is approaching us, the days start to get longer, and our nights get shorter. What does this mean? More daylight for us, yay! This spring will be the perfect time to be out in the sun to get some vitamin D in as it won’t be too hot nor too cold.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation throughout a person’s body. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and cells. Lupus can affect various organs and parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, blood vessels, lungs, and brain. (You can read about this further in our January blog post or at Lupus.org).
What are the causes?
What causes Lupus is still unknown. However, healthcare providers think it may be a combination of many these underlying factors:
- Environment - potential triggers are smoking, stress, and exposure to silica dust
- Genetics - a person may be at a higher risk of experiencing the condition if there is a family history of Lupus
- Hormones - abnormal hormone levels such as increased estrogen levels
- Infections - diseases like Cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr are currently being studied by healthcare providers as they believe these two diseases could be related to the cause of Lupus.
- Medications - long-term use of drugs like hydralazine (Apresoline), procainamide (Procanbid), and quinidine.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Lupus differ depending on the person. Symptoms typically start to show between the teenage years and into the 30s, when an individual enters adulthood. Here are some of the common symptoms:
- Red rashes (most often on the face known as the “butterfly rash”)
- Pain or swelling in joints
- Hair loss
- problems with lungs, kidneys, thyroid, or GI tract
- Muscle pain
- Chest pain when taking a deep breath
- Pale/purple fingers or toes
- Swelling in legs or around eyes
- Swollen glands
- Mouth ulcers
- Feeling extremely tired
Symptoms may go away; however, new symptoms may show at any time. A flare is a term used when a person starts to experience any of the symptoms listed above. It can range from mild to severe.
What are the treatments?
Currently, there are no treatments for Lupus, but medications and a change in one’s lifestyle can help control it. Some of the lifestyle changes recommended are:
- Avoid excess exposure to UV light
- Having a healthy diet
- Taking vitamin D, calcium, and fish oil could help reduce symptoms
- Exercise regularly
- Quit Smoking/prevent smoking
Now let’s get into the main reason why vitamin D is vital as we approach the spring season!
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is one of the main contributions to building strong bones and maintaining them. Vitamin D can also help increase muscle mass and strength. Our bodies produce vitamin D3 when we get exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D3 is essential to each individual, but our friends diagnosed with Lupus may have to lessen their exposure to the sun.
Vitamin D is not a vitamin but a pro-hormone. Pro-hormones are a precursor of a hormone which means that it plays a significant role in the life cycle of human cells. Vitamin D helps treat or prevent autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure, among others. Furthermore, it helps regulate your immune system and the neuromuscular system and can support lung function and cardiovascular health.
Everyone must get enough vitamin D because deficiencies can often be a factor in many cancers such as breast, colon, prostate, heart disease, and depression.
Those who do live in areas with ample sun can sit outside for 30 minutes twice a week to absorb plenty of vitamin D and be aware and careful about harmful UV rays. Those who live in areas with lots of sunlight can also sit by a window with sunlight to absorb vitamin D.
Why is Vitamin D crucial to everyone?
You may be wondering if you should be mindful of your vitamin D levels and intake if you do not have Lupus. Yes, Vitamin D is critical for those without Lupus as well. Vitamin D can help regulate insulin levels, support diabetes management, and can even have chances of protecting your body against Type 1 Diabetes.
A lack of vitamin D can cause a person’s bones to have deformities; the most common in children are rickets. For adults, bone pain can be caused by the condition known as osteomalacia.
Does Vitamin D protect your body from viruses?
Vitamin D helps to boost our body’s immune system, while it creates a natural protection against viruses and bacterium. It is paramount to note the way an abundance of vitamin D can help to prevent an inflammatory response in your body which has been a common pattern for some infected with the coronavirus.
Vitamin D and its relation to the coronavirus have been surging a connection. Research from doctors globally, and from institutions like Harvard Medical School, have explained the likelihood of one being less susceptible to testing positive for COVID-19 due to their vitamin D levels.
With this said, we at Inspira are focusing on ways to help you be aware of your vitamin D levels, intake, potential deficiency, and benefits of increasing your input, as spring and summer are right around the corner. Taking advantage of opportunities, you have to get an hour of sunlight per day, like taking a walk, to increase activity levels, ultimately helping to boost your immune system are paramount for your health.
Although there are many ways to increase your intake, the one way we encourage you to implement vitamin D this spring and summer is to get one hour or more per day out in the beautiful sunlight without sunscreen. For our Lupus warriors affected by the sun more than the average individual, be mindful of the amount of sun exposure, and keep it limited. We advise keeping your sun exposure designated to the amount healthiest for your body type. In case too much sunlight harms your body type, a few other ways you can implement vitamin D are food and supplements.
Suggested Vitamin D intake:
- For adults 70 and younger- 600 IU each day
- For adults over 70- 800 IU each day
Foods with lots of vitamin D and vitamin D3:
- Pork Chops
- White beans
How Vitamin D supports immune health:
- Overall longevity
- Healthy pregnancy
- Energy, mood, and mental clarity
- Strong bones
- Vision health
- Muscular health
Can the sunlight increase your mood? Yes, it’s true! Sunlight is a great mood booster! Sunlight increases the level of serotonin in your body. Serotonin is a chemical that enhances our mood, which helps us to stay calm and focused.
For those who live in northern climates or are unable to stay out in the sun for at least 30 minutes, it is crucial to take supplements or eat food high in vitamin D. Those with darker skin may also need to because their skin absorbs less vitamin D from sun exposure.
Overall, with most people working remotely, we uplift you to appreciate the beauty outside of your home. You’re not only resting your body but your mind as well. Health is indeed our wealth so take a step outside, a walk, a jog, have a meal, have fun, and get some sun!
This Web site may contain general information relating to various medical conditions and potential treatment. Please note that no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for the advice provided by a doctor or other qualified health care professionals. Customers or patients should always consult with a doctor or other health care professionals for medical advice or information about diagnosis and treatment.
If you have Lupus or have genes that are positive for Lupus, please consult your doctor or a health care professional as some of the foods listed may or may not be beneficial to your health.
Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Lupus. Symptoms and Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lupus/symptoms-causes/syc-20365789
Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing. “Treatments for COVID-19”
Braun, Peter. “Vitamin D and Sun Exposure: How to Optimize Your Levels.” Inside Tracker.
Solomon, Sheryl Huggins. “What Is Vitamin D? Functions, Sources, Deficiency Signs,
Dosage, and More.” 6 Aug. 2020, https://www.everydayhealth.com/vitamin-d/
Peterson, Amberlee Lovell. “7 Health Benefits of Sunlight.” https://selecthealth.org/blog/2020/07/7-health-benefits-of-sunlight
Scaccia, Annamayra. “Saratonin: What You Need To Know.” 19 Aug, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin#functions