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How Much Vitamin D Is Good

The Final Verdict On Vitamin D

Good Question: Will taking a Vitamin D supplement help prevent coronavirus?

No bones about it, the endocrinologists we interviewed agree with our dermatologist.

“Just being outdoors, you get a fair amount of sun exposure and some sun-related generation of vitamin D, says Dr. Insogna. Because skin cancer, particularly melanoma, can be such a devastating disease, it’s best to use sunblock when outdoors in strong sunlight for any prolonged length of time. Because this may limit the amount of vitamin D you get from sun exposure, make sure your diet includes sources of vitamin D from foods or supplements, he says.

Both your skin and your bones will thank you.

Vitamin D And Osteoporosis

In the past, scientists have become very excited about other ‘antioxidant’ vitamins, particularly vitamins A, C and E and their role in preventing heart disease. The thinking went something like this: people who eat lots of fruit and veg are less likely to have heart attacks fruit and veg are high in antioxidant vitamins antioxidants are a good thing because they mop up ‘free radicals’ which can damage DNA so if people don’t get their vitamins through fruit and veg, giving them in supplement form will be just as good. In fact, when the studies were done, topping up with supplements didn’t cut heart disease risk at all.

The new study shows a similar result for vitamin D, at least as far as fractures, falls and bone density are concerned. There is no evidence that taking supplements cuts the risk of fractures or falls, or improves bone density. So doctors need to question whether they should be prescribing to people at risk of osteoporosis, and we all have to go back to the drawing board to protect ourselves.

For strong bones, calcium is also important. Dairy products, seeds, pulses, tofu, tinned fish with bones and some green leafy vegetables are all good sources. Interestingly, calcium supplements don’t appear to help much, and recent research suggests they may actually increase the risk of heart attack, so doctors are much more wary about prescribing these too.

Can You Get Enough Vitamin D From The Sun Alone

Some people will be able to get enough vitamin D just from sunlight. However, it depends on where in the world they live, the time of year, the time of day, and their skin color.

People who live nearer the equator get more sun exposure. In the Northern Hemisphere, a person may not get sufficient vitamin D from sunlight during 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 out in the sun for very long during this period to make enough vitamin D.

The amount of melanin a persons skin contains affects how much vitamin D they can make. Less melanin results in lighter skin, which does not protect as well against harmful ultraviolet rays.

People with more melanin in their skin have better protection 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 black people are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency.

These varied factors make it difficult to recommend how much sunlight a person should get to make the vitamin D that their body needs.

The Vitamin D Council gives some examples:

  • At noon during summer in Miami, someone with a medium skin tone would need to expose one-quarter of their skin to sunlight for 6 minutes.
  • At noon during summer in Boston, someone with a darker skin tone would need to expose one-quarter of their skin to sunlight for 2 hours.
Age
  • egg yolk
  • beef liver

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Normal Vitamin D Levels

According to the , the following are the minimum amounts of vitamin D a person needs per day:

Age
10 micrograms or 400 international units
170 years15 mcg or 600 IU
71+ years20 mcg or 800 IU

People who are pregnant or breastfeeding also need 15 mcg or 600 IU of vitamin D per day.

Doctors use blood tests to determine if someone has adequate levels of vitamin D. They measure vitamin D using one of two measurements: nanomoles per liter or nanograms per milliliter .

The following table provides for low, normal, and high vitamin D levels for the average adult in nmol/ml and ng/ml.

Level
30 nmol/l or 12 ng/ml or below
Adequate50 nmol/l or 20 ng/ml or above
High125 nmol/l or 50 ng/ml or above

A person can talk to their doctor to get a better understanding of what their blood test results mean.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, both vital minerals for building strong bones.

Without adequate vitamin D, a person may develop soft, weak, or brittle bones. This conditions such as rickets in children, or osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults.

Vitamin D also contributes to the health of muscles, nerves, the brain, and the immune system.

Evidence suggests vitamin D may help to prevent some medical conditions, including some types of cancer.

The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be subtle , but the classic symptoms are bone aches and muscle weakness.

Supplements : Vitamin D

How much of Vitamin D should I take?

Summary

Vitamin D is involved in many of your bodys functions. There are two forms in the diet, D2 and D3. It can also be produced in your skin when exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D deficiency is a problem all over the world.

However, its pervasive in young women, infants, older adults, and people who have dark skin .

About 42% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient. However, this rate rises to 82% in Black people and 70% in Hispanics, which systemic problems likely play a role in .

If you have access to strong sun all year, then occasional sun exposure may be enough to fulfill your vitamin D requirements.

However, if you live far north or south of the equator, your vitamin D levels may fluctuate depending on the season. The levels may go down during the winter months due to a lack of sufficient sunlight .

In that case, you may need to rely on your diet for vitamin D as well as on vitamin D thats stored in body fat (

  • intensify bone loss
  • increase the risk of fractures

In children, a severe vitamin D deficiency can cause delays in growth and rickets, a disease where the bones become soft.

Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency is linked with several cancers, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, and thyroid problems .

Summary

Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent worldwide but occurs at higher rates in specific populations. A deficiency in vitamin D is linked to various health problems.

How much vitamin D you need depends on many factors. These include:

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How Much Vitamin D Should I Get From The Sun

In addition to wondering how much vitamin D should I take, many people wonder how much vitamin D should I get from the sun.

Theres a reason that vitamin D is referred to as the sunshine vitamin. Sunlight exposure on our bare skin is the single best way to get enough vitamin D. Unfortunately most people today dont spend enough time in the sun, due to factors like working long hours inside, living in cold climates, being afraid of sunburns, etc.

In order to get enough vitamin D naturally from the sun its important to get outside and expose your skin to sunlight, without sunscreen. Aim to spend about 1020 minutes in the sun daily with as much of your bare skin exposed as you can, which will help your body produce vitamin D. You will absorb the most sunlight between about 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Melanin is a substance that affects how light or dark your skin color is. The amount of melanin you have in your skin also affects the amount of vitamin D you can produce, so the fairer your skin, the more easily you can make vitamin D. If you have dark skin, you will likely need more time in the sun, roughly 40 to 60 minutes daily, to make enough vitamin D.

Eating vitamin D-rich foods like eggs, raw milk and fish can also helps improve your blood levels of vitamin D.

Effects Of Vitamin D Supplementation On Mental And Physical Well Being

The use of vitamin D supplementation has been examined for its effects on mood outcomes, particularly in healthy persons. In one study , 250 healthy women were randomized to daily vitamin D or a placebo for a period of one year. Both groups received supplemental calcium during the trial. Findings indicated no difference in mood scores between the two groups. In addition, changes in vitamin D levels were not correlated to changes in mood scores. Results suggested that the dose of vitamin D may have been insufficient to cause a significant treatment difference between groups. randomly assigned 44 healthy persons to varying doses of vitamin A plus one of the following: 400 IU of vitamin D/day or 800 IU of vitamin D/day, or a placebo for a period of five days. The Positive and Negative Affect Scale was used to assess mood at the end of the five days. Results showed enhanced positive affect for the vitamin D treatment groups when compared to the placebo group . In addition, although both vitamin D treatment groups experienced a reduction in negative affect when compared to the placebo group, it was not statistically significant. Although the study demonstrated positive benefits in persons who were healthy, the effect on persons with depression or mood problems was not explored.

Also Check: How Does Vitamin C Support The Immune System

What Does Sunlight Have To Do With Getting Enough Vitamin D

There are health benefits of sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to sunshine, or rather, the ultraviolet B radiation that the sun emits. The amount of vitamin D that your skin makes depends on such factors as:

  • The season: This factor depends a bit on where you live. In areas such as Cleveland, OH, the UV-B light does not reach the earth for six months out of the year due to the ozone layer and the zenith of the sun.
  • The time of day: The sun’s rays are most powerful between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • The amount of cloud cover and air pollution.
  • Where you live: Cities near the equator have higher ultraviolet light levels. It is the UV-B light in sunlight that causes your skin to make vitamin D.
  • The melanin content of your skin: Melanin is a brown-black pigment in the eyes, hair and skin. Melanin causes skin to tan. The darker your skin, the more sun exposure is needed in order to get sufficient vitamin D from the sun.

Additional Guidance For Babies Young Children And Pregnant Women

Good Luck Trying to Get Vitamin D from Foods

Babies and young children

  • breastfed babies from birth to 1 year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D to make sure they get enough
  • as infant formula is fortified with vitamin D, formula-fed babies should not be given a vitamin D supplement until they are having less than 500ml of infant formula a day
  • children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D

You can buy vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Please do not buy more than you need.

Also Check: Do Vitamin B12 Shots Work

Impact Of Other Factors On Vitamin D Status

Individuals obtain vitamin D either exogenously, from dietary sources, or endogenously, from activation of a subcutaneous vitamin D precursor by ultraviolet rays . Dietary sources can be obtained through naturally-occurring vitamin D in foods, fortification of foods with vitamin D, and a vitamin D supplement. As vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, metabolism requires normal digestion and absorption of fat. Subcutaneous synthesis is stimulated by exposure to sunlight though this effect varies based on the amount and duration of exposure, latitude, season, and race .

Optimal vitamin D status is hampered by several factors. The limited number of naturally rich foods with this nutrient causes some groups to be at risk for inadequacy . The optimal daily requirement for various age groups is under scientific debate . The current Adequate Intake , which is part of the Dietary Reference Intakes , is 200 IU/day for both women and men from infancy to age 50 400 IU/day for those between 5170 years and 600 IU/day for those > 70 years . Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended increasing the daily intake of vitamin D to 400 IU/day for all infants, children, and adolescents .

Help Protect Against Heart Disease And Stroke

Is vitamin D heart-healthy? A prior review of 19 studies linked adequate vitamin D to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. Yet the VITAL study, a large, randomized clinical trial study involving more than 25,000 participants and published in January 2019 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found no risk reduction for strokes, heart attacks or cardiovascular deaths in people who took 2,000 IU supplements daily.

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How Much D3 For Kids

While the recommendation is for children to receive 200 IU of vitamin D daily, children with a vitamin D deficiency may require much more vitamin D3 to raise their levels. Because children grow quickly, they may be more likely to become deficient than adults. One strategy is to give them high doses of vitamin D3, up to 14,000 IU per week, or

What Does Research Say About Vitamin D

Good sources of Vitamin D

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 human populations. 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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Improve Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder

While vitamin Ds potential role in helping prevent or manage clinical depression is still unclear because of limited research, researchers believe that a person’s vitamin D level may indeed play a role in the risk of seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. People with seasonal affective disorder appear to produce less vitamin D, which may affect the activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Serotonin is the same chemical that your brain pumps out when you go on a long run, eat a piece of chocolate, or hold the hand of the person you love. Its a feel-good hormone. So when the serotonin level is thrown off you may feel blue or be at a greater risk for mood disorders, notes an article published in June 2015 in World Psychiatry.

Foroutan points out that healthcare providers may prescribe vitamin D supplements to help treat seasonal affective disorder.

Vitamin D Toxicity: How Does It Happen

Vitamin D toxicity implies that vitamin D levels in the body are so high that they cause harm.

Its also termed hypervitaminosis D.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. In contrast to water-soluble vitamins, the body has no easy way of getting rid of fat-soluble vitamins.

For this reason, excessive amounts may build up inside the body.

The exact mechanism behind vitamin D toxicity is complicated and isnt fully understood at this point.

However, we know that the active form of vitamin D functions in a similar way as a steroid hormone.

It travels inside cells, telling them to turn genes on or off.

Usually, most of the bodys vitamin D is in storage, bound to either vitamin D receptors or carrier proteins. Very little free vitamin D is available (

  • Sufficient: 2030 ng/mL, or 5075 nmol/L
  • Safe upper limit: 60 ng/mL, or 150 nmol/L
  • Toxic: above 150 ng/mL, or 375 nmol/L

A daily vitamin D intake of 1,0004,000 IU should be enough to ensure optimal blood levels for most people.

Summary

Blood levels in the range of 2030 ng/mL are usually considered sufficient. The safe upper limit is considered to be about 60 ng/mL, but people with symptoms of toxicity usually have levels above 150 ng/mL.

Recommended Reading: What Time Is Good To Take Vitamin D

Can Vit D3 Cause Hair Loss

Both vitamin D deficiency, as well as vitamin D excess, may cause hair loss, Chacon explains. A 2020 study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that vitamin D deficiency may also play a role in the development and severity of androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness.

What Does Your Diet Have To Do With Getting Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D good for senior citizens

Vitamin D doesnt occur naturally in many foods. Thats why certain foods have added vitamin D. In fact, newer food nutrition labels show the amount of vitamin D contained in a particular food item.

It may be difficult, especially for vegans or people who are lactose-intolerant, to get enough vitamin D from their diets, which is why some people may choose to take supplements. It is always important to eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups. The vitamin content of various foods is shown in the following table.

Vitamin D content of various foods

Food
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce6

It is important to check product labels, as the amount of added vitamin D varies when it is artificially added to products such as orange juice, yogurt and margarine.

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