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Benefits Of Vitamin D Supplementation

It Can Help Prevent Bone Diseases Such As Osteoporosis

Supplements: The health benefits of vitamin D

Its clear that vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium. Without enough vitamin D in the body, there will not be enough of calciums active form, the hormone calcitriol, according to the NIH. Calcium absorption allows the body to maintain a sufficient level of that element as well as phosphate, both of which promote the growth and maintenance of healthy, strong bones.

Thats why getting enough vitamin D is critical for warding off bone diseases, such as rickets in children, osteomalacia in adults, and osteoporosis in older adults, says the NIH. Rickets is marked by soft and weak bones in children. It is rare in the United States and is typically associated with developing countries, but an inadequate level of vitamin D from lack of sun exposure or diet can affect children anywhere in the world, research shows. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of rickets include pain in the spine, pelvis, and legs, as well as delayed growth and muscle weakness.

Meanwhile, osteomalacia refers to softening of the bones due to vitamin D deficiency. Its signs include dull, aching pain in the legs, hips, pelvis, ribs, and back, though the condition often doesnt present symptoms in its early stages, the Mayo Clinic notes.

What Are The Benefits Of Taking A Vitamin D Supplement

Its not always easy or feasible to consume a well-balanced and varied diet. Between juggling a busy schedule with minimal time for healthy food preparation, food allergies and intolerances, dietary preferences, and cultural eating habits, many of us fall short of meeting the nutritional recommendations for several key vitamins and minerals. Even if you cook at home and try to eat a healthy diet, you may be deficient in certain micronutrients because some essential vitamins and minerals are only found in a few food sources or are only present in low concentrations.

Vitamin D is a prime example of a vital nutrient that is not found in many common foods in the standard American diet, nor is it necessarily well absorbed when consumed in food sources. Rather, exposure of the skin to sunlight is the primary means by which the bodys vitamin D levels are increased, as exposure to UVB rays stimulates the production of vitamin D.

However, as the hours of daylight dwindle in the winter and the sun becomes less intense, it becomes increasingly difficult to meet your vitamin D needs. Because vitamin D plays several key physiological roles, it may be advisable to take a vitamin D supplement. Keep reading for our helpful primer on the functions and benefits of vitamin D, foods high in vitamin D, and whether vitamin D supplementation may be useful.

Vitamin D Supplements: What Parents Should Know

Getting enough vitamin D is essential so kids bones can grow strong and their immune systems can ward off illness.

Vitamin D gets into the body through absorption of sunlight and ingestion of food. From April through the end of October, spending just 15 to 30 minutes outside in the middle of the day with hands and face exposed will stimulate the skin to make all the vitamin D your child needs. In fact, on a sunny summer day, a child wearing a bathing suit can generate 10,000 to 20,000 international units of vitamin D after 15 to 30 minutes. In a neat biological trick, a persons body cant overdose on vitamin D created by the sun.

Foods such as salmon, sardines, tuna, cod liver oil, egg yolks and shiitake mushrooms contain a lot of vitamin D. Many kids dont seem to love these vitamin D superfoods, so luckily store-bought milk is often fortified with vitamin D, as are many cereals and even orange juice. Not all dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, however, so make sure to read the labels.

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Osteomalacia & Bone Health

Vitamin D3 supplements are effective for treating osteomalacia.

Vitamin D maintains calcium and phosphorus balance in the body. Specifically, it promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption from the gut, calcium reabsorption in the kidney, and calcium mobilization in bone .

Osteomalacia and rickets attributable to vitamin deficiency are preventable with an adequate nutritional intake of this vitamin. Varying doses and treatment regimes have been described with the aim is to achieve a blood level between 20 and 50 ng/mL .

Additionall, low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with lower bone mineral density, mineralization defects, and an increased risk of bone loss or fracture in both men and women .

Evidence supports the use of vitamin D and calcium supplements at the recommended doses for bone health in older people who are at risk of deficiency. Studies suggest this combination may reduce bone fractures .

Advice For Infants And Young Children

Vitamin D

The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that babies from birth to 1 year of age should have a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if they are:

  • formula-fed and are having less than 500ml of infant formula a day, as infant formula is already fortified with vitamin D

Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.

You can buy vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D at most pharmacies and supermarkets.

Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing vitamin D.

See the Healthy Start website for more information.

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Vitamin D Supplement Benefits

Boosting your intake of this vitamin via supplementation can contribute to benefits, such as:

  • Support for bone health, including by assisting in calcium absorption
  • Supporting a healthy body weight
  • Boosting immune function
  • Possibly helping to protect against cancer

1. Supports Bone Health

Vitamin D plays an integral role in bone metabolism. In addition to increasing calcium absorption, vitamin D is also involved in the metabolism of phosphorus, another key mineral that supports bone health.

According to one study in the Journal of Mid-life Nutrition, low levels of vitamin D were associated with decreased bone mineral density in women. For this reason, taking a vitamin D and calcium supplement is often recommended for those at risk for bone loss, including postmenopausal women.

2. Enhances Immunity

If you find yourself feeling under the weather more often than usual, you may want to consider adding a natural vitamin D supplement into your routine.

Vitamin D is important for the function of immune cells, and increased susceptibility to infection is one of the hallmark signs of deficiency. One study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that low levels of vitamin D were linked to a higher risk of upper respiratory infections, such as the cold or flu.

3. Helps Prevent Deficiency

Taking a vitamin D supplement is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent a vitamin D deficiency.

4. May Help Protect Against Cancer

5. Boosts Weight Loss

6. Improves Mood

Sunlight And Vitamin D

Although the sun is your best source of vitamin D, it can be challenging to meet your daily needs this way, especially during the winter. People with dark skin and older adults may also struggle to get enough vitamin D because their skin doesn’t make enough of it when exposed to sunlight.

If you suspect a vitamin D deficiency, your healthcare provider can order a simple blood test to check your vitamin D levels.

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Lowers The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

If you have diabetes in your family or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, you might want to consider taking more Vitamin D. Recent studies have shown a link between Vitamin D deficiency, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. You may be able to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by overcoming insulin resistance.

The cells in the pancreas that produce insulin have alpha-hydroxylase enzymes and VDRs, which are important in determining glucose tolerance and resistance to insulin.

Vitamin D deficiency can also reduce the secretion of insulin from the pancreas, which might cause insulin resistance and modify how the body responds to glucose. Given these findings, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor to see if taking extra Vitamin D improves your overall health.

How Do Food Sources & Supplements Compare

Study shows Vitamin D has many benefits

Its essential that we intake the optimum amount of vitamin D daily to avoid deficiencies, and the unwanted symptoms that come along with that. Adults require at least 10 micrograms a day, and depending on your diet this can be tricky to achieve. For example, if you were to try and get all your daily vitamin D from eggs, youd have to eat 6 everyday! Whereas our vitamin D oral sprays deliver above your daily dose, with the D4000 offering a maximum strength supplement for those that need it. This makes it extremely efficient and easy to achieve your daily levels in seconds.

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Is Vitamin D The Same As D3

Vitamin D3 and its counterpart, D2, are both forms of vitamin D.

  • Vitamin D2: Found in plant sources, mushrooms and yeast, and supplements
  • Vitamin D3: Found in animal products and produced by your body from sunlight

Both types of vitamin D provide the same benefits and contribute to your overall vitamin D level.

That said, when it comes to selecting a supplement, you’ll always want to choose D3 over D2.

Vitamin D3 is easier for the body to absorb, so it raises your vitamin D levels more effectively, says Taylor Moree, a registered dietician at The Nutrition Clinic for Digestive Health.

How Does Vitamin D Work

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is both a nutrient and acts as a hormone, explains Melissa Prest, D.C.N., R.D.N., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Its main function is to help the body absorb and regulate calcium and phosphorous, ensuring theyre available to strengthen bones and teeth, she adds. It also aids in the absorption of magnesium, which supports muscle and nerve function as well as energy levels.

Vitamin D boosts the immune system, too, by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines, a molecule that signals inflammation, explains Heather Mangieri, R.D.N., a sports and wellness dietitian in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

There are two main types of vitamin Dvitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 naturally occurs in some plants, whereas vitamin D3 is found in some animals and produced by human skin via sunlight exposure. Mangieri explains that D3 is considered the more potent form of the vitamin because it has been shown to raise levels higher and for a longer period of time than D2.

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Improves Cognitive Function And Prevents Dementia

Vitamin D is essential for brain development, and a lack of it has been linked to cognitive problems and dementia. A 2017 study published in the journal Neurology found that people with vitamin D deficiency were more likely to experience a decline in cognitive function over a six-year period than those who had sufficient levels of the vitamin.

How To Get More Into Diet

All about Vitamin D. Benefits of VItamin D. Vitamin D3

While spending time in the sun is the best option for warding off vitamin D deficiency, you can also increase your intake of vitamin D-rich foods to maintain your vitamin D status. Aim for one to two servings of vitamin D foods per day, and try to include a good mix of vitamin D vegetables, dairy products and fatty fish to get in a broad array of important micronutrients in addition to vitamin D.

For those who dont consume fish, it can be a bit tricker to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. However, there are still many available options of vitamin D foods for vegetarians and vegans alike.

Aside from fatty fish and liver, vitamin D can also be found in sources like eggs and mushrooms, as well as fortified products like cereal, juice and dairy.

Vitamin D supplements are also available and can provide a megadose of vitamin D to help you meet your needs in just one serving. If you have a deficiency, discuss with your doctor to see if a vitamin D supplement is necessary or if you can meet your needs through vitamin D foods alone.

If you do decide to take a vitamin D supplement, opt for a high-quality, food-based multivitamin whenever possible, and find a form that uses vitamin D3 instead of vitamin D2 to help maximize absorption.

Ready to start incorporating more foods with vitamin D into your diet to ensure you get your daily dose? Here are a few healthy and delicious recipes using foods rich in vitamin D to get you started:

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Vitamin D And Diabetes Prevention

The belief that vitamin D status may influence the development of type 2 diabetes seems reasonable. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to high levels of inflammatory markers, impaired pancreatic beta-cell function , and insulin resistance all of which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

While observational studies suggest that individuals with low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, research remains mixed on whether vitamin D supplementation lowers the risk of diabetes.

What Research Says About Vitamin D And Health

Although research on vitamin D abounds, its effect on human health remains uncertain. Thats largely because the majority of vitamin D studies either are on animals or were conducted in small groups of people. Most important, the majority of research on the nutrient is observational, meaning that the findings dont point to a definite cause-and-effect relationship between vitamin D and the potential health benefit being studied.

Studies that do produce likely causal results are conducted with a randomized, controlled model, in which researchers eliminate the risk of bias and account for potentially conflicting factors, notes George Washington University. Large randomized, controlled trials are considered the gold standard for research, and unfortunately, there havent been many on vitamin D supplementation and its various possible health benefits.

With research limitations in mind, heres an in-depth look at what vitamin D can, may, and definitely won’t do for your health.

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Other Health Benefits Of Vitamin D

Although research on vitamin D and diabetes remains inconclusive, vitamin D has many health benefits for the body. The most important is its ability to help your body absorb calcium, which is essential for normal bone mineralization.

In children, a vitamin D deficiency can cause the rare disease known as rickets, which can lead to delayed growth, bowed legs, and weakness due to softening of the bones. In teens and adults, vitamin D deficiency can cause osteomalacia that also causes muscle weakness and bone pain. Long-term deficits in vitamin D and calcium can lead to osteoporosis .

Your nerves and muscles also need vitamin D to function, and your immune system needs vitamin D to fight viruses and bacterial infections.

Studies have found that long-term vitamin D deficiency may lead to inflammatory diseases, including the autoimmune conditions rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, as well as inflammatory bowel disease . However, more research is needed to confirm this.

Vegan Sources Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D benefit in advanced colorectal cancer

Vitamin D sources include food which may be excluded from a vegetarian or vegan diet. Therefore, those who avoid these sources of vitamin D may be more likely to develop low levels. Vitamin D is one of the supplements that vegans should take, because it is present in meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Vegan supplements are designed to provide the gap in nutrients that people following a plant-based diet may experience. Whilst vegetarians may exclude meat and fish, they can still obtain this nutrient from eggs and dairy products, as well as others such as cereals and breads. However, vegetarians may wish to take vegetarian supplements to support their diet.

The majority of our vitamin D is sourced from Lanolin, which is derived from the wool from sheep. While our vitamin D supplements are suitable for vegetarians, some vegans may not wish to supplement using this vitamin D source.

At BetterYou, we have a vegan-friendly version for our Vegan Vitamin D Spray. We use a vegan source of vitamin D called D3V®. This is sourced from algae, and is vegan approved by the Vegetarian Society.

Other vegan sources of vitamin D include milk alternatives fortified with vitamins and minerals, mushrooms, cereals and juices.

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How Can I Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency

The best way to prevent vitamin D deficiency is to ensure youre getting enough vitamin D in your diet and/or through sun exposure. But be careful about being in the sun for too long without sunscreen. Excessive sun exposure puts you at an increased risk for skin cancer.

The amount of vitamin D you need each day depends on your age. The average daily recommended amounts are listed below in micrograms and International Units .

Age / Life Stage

You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods. Be sure to check the nutrition labels to find out if a food has vitamin D. Foods that often have added vitamin D include:

  • Cows milk and soy, almond and oat milk.
  • Breakfast cereals.
  • Other dairy products, such as yogurt.

Vitamin D is in many multivitamins. There are also vitamin D supplements.

Talk to your healthcare provider if youre concerned about getting enough vitamin D.

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