Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for humans. Without it, we would not survive. It plays a crucial role in bone health, immune system function, blood clotting, heart health and many other functions. There are two forms of vitamin D: 1) ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), which is found naturally in sunlight; and 2) cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), which is mostly created in a lab. Both forms of D are essential co-factors in the regulation of Calcium and Phosphorous levels, which are vital to proper bone health. Vitamin D is also known to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
There are many reasons why the body can become deficient in vitamin D. For example, people who are typically clothed in the winter months have a harder time synthesizing vitamin D from sunlight, especially if they live in northern states during the winter. In addition, individuals who are at home all day, such as office workers, might be deficient in vitamin D because they are not exposing large amounts of skin to the sun. Many people consume too much of a certain type of food, such as cheese, which can prevent the body from properly absorbing the nutrients it requires and may lead to a deficiency.
Looking at the entire picture, it is clear that we should all consider focusing on how to get more vitamin D in our diet and supplement routine. Taking a daily vitamin D supplement or multivitamin is a good start. It is also important to consume foods that naturally contain vitamin D, such as certain types of fish, egg yolks, and fortified milk or orange juice. While the sun is not the best way to get vitamin D (unless you just want a sunburn and possible skin cancer), it can be a good source if you do not consume any of the above-mentioned foods or take a supplement regularly.
There are a few different types of D available to consumers. The two most common types are D2 and D3. D2 is known as ergocalciferol and it is available in dietary supplements and fortified foods. D2 is plant based, which means that it is not found in animal products.
D3 is known as cholecalciferol and is the type of D that our bodies produce when exposed to sunlight. It is also available in dietary supplements and fortified foods. Many people prefer D3 over D2 because it is more bioavailable, which means that it can be absorbed and used by the body with greater efficiency.
There are various benefits to taking a vitamin D supplement. First and foremost, it helps maintain healthy bones. As we age, our bones tend to lose density. This can lead to osteoporosis, which increases the risk of fractures.
In children, a vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, a condition that causes soft or weakened bones. In adults, it can cause osteomalacia, a condition that causes a person’s bones to weaken.
In addition to building bones, vitamin D is also beneficial for maintaining normal nerve function. It is also known to play a role in the immune system by decreasing the likelihood of getting sick or fighting off an infection. Vitamin D may even help the body fight off cancer.
Vitamin D deficiency is a major problem in the United States. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that all adults consume around 600 IU of vitamin D each day. Since many people do not get enough vitamin D from their diet or through sun exposure, they may benefit from taking a supplement.
In some cases, elderly individuals may require more than the standard recommendations. For example, individuals who are over the age of seventy and confined to their homes may require up to 1000 IU of vitamin D each day. In addition, people with limited sun exposure due to illness or the weather may require more of the vitamin.
It is also important to keep in mind that taking too much of a supplement can be harmful. For example, the NIH reports that adults need to be cautious of consuming more than 4000 IU of vitamin D per day. If you are over the age of fifty, it is recommended that you not exceed this amount. If you are younger than this, you should not exceed 3000 IU each day.
Vitamin D supplements are easy to find in local drugstores, grocery stores, or online. It is important to remember that you should always read the labels of any supplement you plan on taking and follow instructions as directed.
In addition to taking supplements, it is important to get outside and stay there for at least fifteen minutes a day. Our bodies were meant to have regular sun exposure in order to function properly. Some people enjoy taking their supplements while sunbathing because they get the best of both worlds.
If you are taking supplements and still not getting the recommended amount of vitamin D, there is another option. Talk to your doctor about taking a drop of oil that contains vitamin D.
As with most things, getting the right amount of vitamin D is simply a matter of balancing what is beneficial for you with what might be harmful.
Sources & references used in this article:
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- Physiology and biochemistry of vitamin D-dependent calcium binding proteins (M Gross, R Kumar – American Journal of Physiology-Renal …, 1990 – journals.physiology.org)
- Morphology and biochemistry of bone remodeling: possible control by vitamin D, parathyroid hormone, and other substances (WE Huffer – Pathology Reviews· 1989, 1989 – Springer)
- Vitamin D: molecular mechanism of action (…, EUIBAE JEUNG, Y Zhong, D Ajibade… – Annals of the New …, 2007 – Wiley Online Library)
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