The 13 Essential Vitamins
At the most basic level, vitamins are essential organic substances your bodys cells require to function, grow, develop and heal properly. There are 13 essential vitamins: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins, B6, B12, biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamine. A major deficiency in any one of these vitamins could lead to serious health problems.
Healthy People Wont Reduce Their Fracture Risk By Taking Calcium And Vitamin D Supplements Sarah Leyland
We know that healthy people living in the community wont reduce their fracture risk by taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, Leyland says. However, people who may not be getting enough such as those who are housebound or live in sheltered accommodation can benefit from these supplements.
Still, researchers havent found clear evidence of that, either. One meta-analysis examining the prevention of fractures in community, nursing home and hospital inpatient populations concluded that vitamin D alone is unlikely to prevent fractures in the doses and formulations tested so far in older people. And some evidence suggests that high doses can actually result in an increased number of fractures and falls. One randomised study found that high-dose monthly vitamin D supplements increased the risk of falls among the elderly population by 20-30% compared to those on a lower dose.
D for disease
There is also conflicting research on the relationship between vitamin D and other diseases, even ageing.
One main claim is that vitamin D supplements will boost the immune system. Adrian Martineau, professor of respiratory infection and immunity at The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, who leads a research group on the effects of vitamin D on health, has found that vitamin D plays a role in improving respiratory infections.
One study found that vitamin D helps decrease the risk of respiratory infections though only slightly
What Happens If I Take Too Much Vitamin D
Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body . This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.
Do not take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.
Children aged 1 to 10 years should not have more than 50 micrograms a day. Infants under 12 months should not have more than 25 micrograms a day.
Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor.
If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.
You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
Page last reviewed: 03 August 2020 Next review due: 03 August 2023
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What Are The Symptoms Of Too Much Vitamin D
Armeen Poor, MD, is a board-certified pulmonologist and intensivist. He specializes in pulmonary health, critical care, and sleep medicine.
Vitamin D is a key nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium to help build strong bones. Its also important for your immune system, nervous system, and muscles. A deficiency in this vitamin has also been linked to mental illnesses such as depression and seasonal affective disorder .
About 40% of Americans may be deficient in vitamin D, with Black and Hispanic adults facing the highest risk of deficiency. Many people can benefit from increasing their vitamin D intake to sufficient levels through sun exposure, diet changes, orif neededsupplementation as recommended by a physician.
While a deficiency of this nutrient is a very common problem, its also possiblebut rareto have too much vitamin D. Too much vitamin D, also known as vitamin D toxicity or hypervitaminosis D, can pose a number of serious health risks. This is why it’s important to discuss any supplementation with your doctor to ensure you aren’t ingesting a potentially harmful mega dose.
Benefits Of Testing Your Vitamin D Levels
If youâre experiencing any of the symptoms of vitamin D insufficiency noted aboveâor are experiencing signs of too much vitamin Dâyour intake may be imbalanced in some way. Testing your vitamin D levels can help you determine if your levels are normal or if you may need to make adjustments and have a discussion with your healthcare provider.
Our at-home vitamin D test kit lets you check your levels easilyâit only requires a simple finger prick blood sample, and shipping is free both ways. Plus, youâll get to conveniently view your results on our secure, online platform just days after the lab receives your sample.
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How Do You Know If You Are Vitamin D Deficient
Without a blood test , it can be hard to tell. Early signs of vitamin D deficiency are subtle if they even exist. You may not show any symptoms at all, according to experts.
But vitamin D deficiency can cause accelerated skin aging and dry skin, according to Dr. Raman Madan, a dermatologist at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital. And over time, severe deficiency can result in muscle weakness and bone fractures, says Paul Thomas, a registered dietitian nutritionist and scientific consultant at the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements.
Studies have also found that prolonged vitamin D deficiency can cause bone-related diseases in adults and children.
All that said, the only way to truly know if you are vitamin D deficient is to get a blood test through your doctor, says Thomas.
Not all medical professionals, however, think routine testing for vitamin D is a good idea.
Good Sources Of Vitamin D
From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
But between October and early March we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight. Read more about vitamin D and sunlight.
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods.
- fortified foods such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals
Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.
In the UK, cows’ milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it is not fortified, as it is in some other countries.
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What Is Your Current Vitamin D Status
If you are already at an optimum level for vitamin D, this personalized maintenance dose will keep you at optimum.
But if you are currently deficient in vitamin D, a maintenance dose is not really enough to overcome your deficiency. Eventually it would, but it might take between six months and a year before you would reach optimum vitamin D blood levels.
That is why we recommend that people who are vitamin D deficient should take a larger dose of vitamin D for 60 days, to quickly bring their vitamin D blood level to optimum. See vitamin D deficiency treatment.
The best way to know your vitamin D status is to take a vitamin D blood test. This is also the only way to be certain of your new vitamin D status once you start supplementing. We recommend a blood test three months after starting supplementation, and thereafter once a year.
If you dont take a blood test, you can estimate your vitamin D status, but because people vary in the way their bodies make and use vitamin D, your estimate may not be completely accurate.
Symptoms Of Too Much Vitamin D
Generally, when you have consumed too much vitamin D, youll experience symptoms that will let you know that all is not well in your body. These vitamin D overdose symptoms are mainly the result of too much calcium accumulating in the blood a condition known as hypercalcemia.
The symptoms include:
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How Is A Vitamin D Deficiency Diagnosed
Your doctor can order a blood test to measure your levels of vitamin D. There are two types of tests that might be ordered, but the most common is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D, known as 25D for short. For the blood test, a technician will use a needle to take blood from a vein. You do not need to fast or otherwise prepare for this type of test.
Vitamin D Is Associated With Levels Of Both Serotonin Important For Mood Regulation And Melatonin Which Regulates Our Sleep
Evidence suggests there may be a relationship since vitamin D is associated with levels of both serotonin, important for mood regulation, and melatonin, which regulates our sleep. Low levels of either hormone could contribute to SAD symptoms. Researchers have yet to carry out a definitive randomised control trial, however, and the exact mechanism by which vitamin D bolsters the hormones is unknown. One theory is that vitamin D receptors which are found in many parts of the brain and concentrated in the hypothalamus, a region involved in our circadian timing play a part in controlling the bodys hormone levels.
Research has found that vitamin D plays a wider role in our mental health, from depression to schizophrenia, as well as in brain development, but how it plays a role also remains unclear. A meta-analysis published earlier this year found that while there is a correlation between lower vitamin D levels and depression, that didnt necessarily mean D caused depression.
Again, perhaps depressed people just went out less and got less sunlight.
If studies are inconclusive, though, perhaps that doesnt reflect on the importance of vitamin D. Perhaps its the fact that most of them are based on supplements, not sunshine.
Some experts believe that vitamin D is most effective when its from the sun, not supplements
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When Vitamin D Supplements Are Helpful
During the fall and winter, when the suns rays arent at an angle that will produce vitamin D in the skin, its good to give your child a vitamin. Most over-the-counter childrens vitamins contain 600 IU of vitamin D, which is the recommended daily allowance set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for kids 1 year old and older.
Children who are obese, who have dark skin, who rarely go outside or who wear clothing that covers most of their skin may need supplements to ensure they have adequate levels of vitamin D all year round. Some medications, such as anticonvulsants, as well as over-the-counter health aids like St. Johns Wort, can interfere with the way our bodies metabolize vitamin D. Certain conditions, such as celiac disease, can also interfere with absorption of vitamin D. Discuss your childs medical history and lifestyle with your pediatrician, and make sure to them about any medicine or herbal supplements your child takes. Your pediatrician can then determine your childs daily vitamin D requirement.
There are risks if kids take in too much vitamin D from supplements and food, including an increased chance of developing kidney stones. Parents need to calculate the amount of vitamin D their child gets from fortified milk, other food, and vitamin supplements to make sure the total amount does not exceed:
- 1,000 to 1,500 IU a day for infants
- 2,500 to 3,000 IU a day for children 1 to 8 years old
- 4,000 IU a day for children 9 years and older
Why Is Vitamin D So Important
Vitamin D is one of many vitamins our bodies need to stay healthy. This vitamin has many functions, including:
- Keeping bones strong: Having healthy bones protects you from various conditions, including rickets. Rickets is a disorder that causes children to have bones that are weak and soft. It is caused by a lack of vitamin D in the body. You need vitamin D so that calcium and phosphorus can be used to build bones. In adults, having soft bones is a condition called osteomalacia.
- Absorbing calcium: Vitamin D, along with calcium, helps build bones and keep bones strong and healthy. Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis, the loss of bone density, which can lead to fractures. Vitamin D, once either taken orally or from sunshine exposure is then converted to an active form of the vitamin. It is that active form that promotes optimal absorption of calcium from your diet.
- Working with parathyroid glands: The parathyroid glands work minute to minute to balance the calcium in the blood by communicating with the kidneys, gut and skeleton. When there is sufficient calcium in the diet and sufficient active Vitamin D, dietary calcium is absorbed and put to good use throughout the body. If calcium intake is insufficient, or vitamin D is low, the parathyroid glands will borrow calcium from the skeleton in order to keep the blood calcium in the normal range.
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How To Combine Vitamin D And Vitamin K Properly
Recent studies clearly demonstrate that vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 are essential to good health. Deficiencies in both these vitamins are extremely common, which is why more and more people are taking vitamins D3 and K2 as a daily dietary supplement.
It’s very important to know that if you take vitamin D3 regularly over a long period, you definitely need to take vitamin K2 as well. This raises the question of how these two key vitamins should best be combined in order to promote health and vitality.
What Is Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency means that you do not have enough vitamin D in your body. Vitamin D is unique because your skin actually produces it by using sunlight. Fair-skinned individuals and those who are younger convert sunshine into vitamin D far better than those who are darker-skinned and over age 50.
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The Latest Research On Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D supplements have long been touted as important to bone health. The problem is that several studies have found that they dont live up to the hype. Vitamin D supplementation doesnt prevent fractures or falls, or have any effect on bone mineral density that is clinically meaningful, according to large review of over 81 clinical trials published in October 2018 in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. 30265-1″ rel=”nofollow”> 4)
Nor was vitamin D supplementation found to reduce the risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular death in a randomized, controlled clinical trial involving over 25,000 participants that was published in January 2019 in The New England Journal of Medicine. Yet researchers found that those who developed cancer had a 25 percent lower death rate when they were taking vitamin D. The findings also included a possible reduction in cancer risk for African Americans, which researchers wrote warrants further study.
Meanwhile, though observational studies have suggested a link between low vitamin D levels and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a randomized, controlled clinical trial published in June 2019 in The New England Journal of Medicine did not support that conclusion. Vitamin D3 supplementation at a dose of 4,000 IU per day did not result in a significantly lower risk of diabetes compared with a placebo.
Still, before you dispose of your supplements, speak with your doctor.
What Other Factors Can Lead To Vitamin D Deficiency
- Age: The skin’s ability to make vitamin D lessens with age.
- Mobility: People who are homebound or are rarely outside are not able to use sun exposure as a source of vitamin D.
- Skin color: Dark-colored skin is less able to make vitamin D than fair-colored skin.
- Human breast milk: A woman’s breast milk only contains a small amount of vitamin D. Often infant formulas also only include a small amount of D also. Therefore infants are at risk of not receiving enough vitamin D. This is especially true for infants who are only fed breast milk.
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Can You Get Enough Vitamin D Alone From The Sun
Some people will get enough vitamin D from sunlight. However, it depends on wherever they live on the planet, the time of year, the time of day, and also the color of their skin.
People who live closer to the equator are more exposed to the sun. In the northern hemisphere, an individual might not get enough vitamin D from daylight throughout the winter.
The sun is usually strongest between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. In the summer, a person does not need to be in the sun for long during this time to make enough vitamin D.
The amount of melanin in a persons skin affects the amount of vitamin D they can produce. Fewer melanin results in clearer skin, which does not protect as well against harmful ultraviolet rays.
People with more melanin in their skin are better protected from the sun, but take longer to make vitamin D. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Mexican-Americans and non-Hispanic blacks are more likely that Trusted Source has vitamin D deficiency.
These varied factors make it difficult to recommend how much sun a person should get to produce the vitamin D their body needs.
Recommended Daily Allowance
The recommended dietary intake of vitamin D is difficult to assess because it depends on exposure to the sun. It varies from person to person depending on wherever they live and also the time of year, among different factors.