How Much Vitamin D Should I Take For Optimal Health
Your need for vitamin D goes up if any of these factors apply to you:
- You know youre already deficient in vitamin D
- You have dark skin
- Youre an older adult over 70 . Infants, children and older adults are all at risk for low vitamin D.
- You spend little time outdoors or always wear sunscreen when exposed to sunlight
- Youre a shift worker, health care worker or another indoor worker, which means you get little outdoor time and sunlight exposure
- Youre overweight or obese
- You are a nursing home resident or hospitalized patient
- You have a health condition, such as celiac disease, Crohns disease or cystic fibrosis, that interferes with absorption and processing of vitamin D in the intestines, kidneys or liver
- Breast-fed infants are also at risk for vitamin D deficiency, which is why supplementing is recommended
How much vitamin D should women take per day?
According to the USDA and National Institutes of Health, the standard recommendation of vitamin D that adult women should take in order to prevent deficiency is between 600 to 800 international units per day, depending on age. The exact number is debatable, and some experts feel that a higher dose of vitamin D, around 2,ooo to 5,000 IU per day, may be more beneficial.
How much vitamin D should men take per day?
The standard recommendation for adult men is also between 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D per day. Adults over 70 should supplement with more, at least 800 IU per day, while younger adults need at least 600 IU daily.
Is Vitamin D3 Better Than Vitamin D2
Studies show that Vitamin D3 is far more important for our health than Vitamin D2. So either choose a Vitamin D3 supplement, or one which contains optimal levels of both forms. Vitamin D2 on its own is not enough.
Experts used to think that vitamins D2 and D3 were of equal importance for human health. But this was based on outdated studies of rickets in children. These days, we know lots more about Vitamin D. And it is clear that D3 is far more important and more effective for our health and wellbeing.
We need to look at how the body absorbs Vitamin D to understand why Vitamin D3 is more important. There are lots of biological processes involved. A specific enzyme in the liver helps Vitamin D3 metabolise into the bioactive form of Vitamin D. This process takes much longer with Vitamin D2.
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.
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Vitamin D Benefits And Warnings
Although the research is still hazy, some people will benefit from taking vitamin D supplements, along with sufficient calcium intake, to promote their bone health. But they don’t require large amounts of vitamin D to get the benefit. “More is not necessarily better. In fact, more can be worse,” says Dr. Manson. For example, a 2010 study published in JAMA showed that intake of very high doses of vitamin D in older women was associated with more falls and fractures.
In addition, taking a supplement that contains too much vitamin D can be toxic in rare cases. It can lead to hypercalcemia, a condition in which too much calcium builds up in the blood, potentially forming deposits in the arteries or soft tissues. It may also predispose women to painful kidney stones.
If you’re taking vitamin D supplements, the take-home message is moderation. Taking too much can limit the benefits of the sunshine vitamin.
Selected food sources of vitamin D
Myth: Vitamin D Supplements Lead To Weight Loss
While there is a correlation between obesity and vitamin D deficiency, as the NIH notes, theres no scientific proof that taking a vitamin D supplement will help trim your waistline, says Michael Holick, MD, PhD, an endocrinologist and the director of the Bone Health Care Clinic at Boston University Medical Center.
A previous study found that when obese and overweight women brought their vitamin D levels up to a normal level with a supplement, while eating a low-calorie diet and exercising, they lost more weight than women who were also on a low-calorie diet and exercising but were unable to raise their vitamin D up to the ideal level. Still, the researchers agree that its too early to draw any conclusions that taking vitamin D can help you shed pounds, because its still unclear whether a low vitamin D status is a consequence of obesity or in some way involved in its cause.
Having sufficient vitamin D, though, may help people live healthier lives, which could in turn help a person lose weight. If bone aches and pains from a vitamin D deficiency keep you from exercising, and if vitamin D supplementation allows you to exercise more because you dont have those aches, that could help you be more active, says Dr. Holick.
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Are Sprays Better Than Tablets
There’s no evidence to suggest this is a more effective way to absorb vitamin D, despite what some companies’ marketing implies.
A randomised, controlled trial , concluded that sprays are just as effective as tablets, but not better.
Many of the volunteers did say that they preferred the spray to taking a tablet, which is understandable – supplement fatigue can kick in if you’re having to to take other medicines in tablet form daily.
If you’re more likely to stick to taking vitamin D regularly if it’s in spray or gummy form it might be worth forking out the extra cost – you can shop around for the cheapest deals using our pricing tips above.
Fact: Adequate Vitamin D Is Linked With A Lower Risk Of Certain Cancers
Individuals with very low vitamin D levels are thought to be at increased risk for breast, colon, kidney, lung, and pancreatic cancers, says Carol Fabian, MD, an oncologist at the University of Kansas Cancer Medical Center in Kansas City and the chair of its cancer prevention research program. The Cleveland Clinic notes, too, that vitamin D may help lower the risk for prostate cancer.
The most at-risk groups are individuals who are obese or have darker pigmented skin and have lower levels of vitamin D but are not supplementing, notes Dr. Fabian. Other factors can also drive up the risk. Most people who are obese do not exercise much, and obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are also risk factors for breast, colon, kidney, lung, and pancreatic cancers, says Fabian. While vitamin D deficiency may not be directly upping cancer risk, an association between the two exists in some cases.
That said, a review published in May 2020 in Seminars in Cancer Biology suggests that there is strong data supporting a protective effect of vitamin D against several types of cancer.
Right now, there are challenges to vitamin D and cancer studies, a review published in October 2018 in Trends in Cancer Research noted. For example, the amounts of vitamin D provided to study participants varies greatly from study to study, and men and women respond to vitamin D supplementation in different ways.
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How Much Vitamin D Should You Take Then
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you’re probably wondering how much vitamin D you should take in supplement form.
Before you even worry about dose, make sure your supplement contains vitamin D3 , which is significantly more effective at raising and maintaining vitamin D levels in the body than vitamin D2 .*
From there, research has demonstrated that supplementing with 1,000 I.U. of vitamin D3 raises the average adult’s serum D level by approximately 10 ng/ml, which means it takes 5,000 I.U. of vitamin D3 per day to raise your level to that goal of 50 ng/ml.*
In some cases of significant deficiency, though, it may take up to 10,000 I.U. of vitamin D3 daily to meet the mark,* Henderson says. Heck, according to Crouch, even a couple of months at 50,000 I.U. per week may be necessary to correct a major deficiency.*
Another special circumstance to consider here: Adults with overweight or obesity have vitamin D needs that are two to three times higher than those with a normal weight, so working with a health care provider to regularly monitor your vitamin D status and supplement regimen can ensure you truly get the amount of the nutrient you need to feel your best.*
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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Chewable Vitamin D For Children
It looks like a sweet treat, it tastes like a sweet treat, no wonder your kids will probably prefer chewable vitamin D capsules!
We stock a wide range of chewable vitamin D, such as Wellkid Peppa Pig Vitamin D Soft Jellies which contain the exact level of Vitamin D recommended by the Department of Health England.16
We also offer child and Teen Omega 3 Fish Oil Chewy Capsules with Vitamin D, so they get their all-important omega 3s along with their daily dose of vitamin D.
What Is The Difference Between Vitamin D
There are two forms of vitamin D. Vitamin D-2 or ergocalciferol and vitamin D-3, cholecalciferol. Both forms are biologically inert and must undergo two hydroxylations in the body for activation. The first occurs in the liver which converts vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D , also known as calcidiol. The second occurs primarily in the kidney and forms the physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D , also known as calcitriol.
There are a limited number of foods that are sources of these compounds. Vitamin D-2 is found mostly in mushrooms and fortified foods such as cereal. Vitamin D-3 is found primarily in animal-based foods such as fish, liver, eggs and America’s old favorite, cod-liver oil.
While both versions are effective in increasing vitamin D concentration in the body, vitamin D-3 is thought by many to be more effective in raising vitamin D levels. It is widely available as an inexpensive over-the-counter supplement in a variety of dosage forms and dosages.
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How Much Vitamin D Do You Need Per Day
Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as your body makes it when exposed to the sun.
Five to 15 minutes in the sun before 11am or after 3pm, without sunscreen, and with forearms and lower legs uncovered, should be enough exposure in the summer months. But during the winter there isn’t enough sun to make vitamin D this way in the UK.
This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Breastfed babies should also have between 8.5-10mcg a day. Babies on formula milk don’t need an additional supplement as it already contains vitamin D. You can find out more in our guide to vitamin D supplements for children.
Some foods, such as cereals, yoghurt drinks and mushrooms are also fortified with vitamin D, but these are usually low amounts, so it’s still worth opting for a supplement to ensure you get enough.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it’s best to have your supplement with food for optimum absorption.
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How Can I Get The Vitamins And Minerals I Need
It is usually better to get the nutrients you need from food, rather than a pill. Thats because nutrient-dense foods contain other things that are good for you, like fiber.
Most older people can get all the nutrients they need from foods. But if you arent sure, talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian to find out if you are missing any important vitamins or minerals. He or she may recommend a vitamin or dietary supplement.
If you do need to supplement your diet, look for a supplement that contains the vitamin or mineral you need without a lot of other unnecessary ingredients. Read the label to make sure the dose is not too large. Avoid supplements with mega-doses. Too much of some vitamins and minerals can be harmful, and you might be paying for supplements you dont need. Your doctor or pharmacist can recommend brands that fit your needs.
Are There Any Side Effects
There are few side effects to worry about, especially if youre only taking the recommended daily allowance. However, if you take too many supplements then something called vitamin D toxicity or hypervitaminosis D can occur. If this happens, then the main consequence is a build-up of calcium in the blood which can cause vomiting and nausea, muscle weakness and frequent urination. The toxicity would also escalate if its not dealt with and create issues in the bones and kidneys, such as the creation of calcium stones.
For this to happen, however, there would need to be a daily intake of about 60,000 IU over several months. This is 100 times higher than the recommended daily allowance of 600 to 800 IU per day so it would be quite hard to achieve by accident. Vitamin intake via the sun or foods doesnt contribute to this, as the body regulates any naturally occurring vitamins coming into the body.
Why Review The Dris For Vitamin D And Calcium
The DRIs for vitamin D and calcium were first published in 1997. Since that time, a significant amount of information has been published on vitamin D requirements and on the association of vitamin D with chronic diseases and conditions. Because of the availability of sufficient new and relevant scientific research to warrant a re-evaluation of the existing values, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and several U.S. government agencies co-sponsored a review of the DRIs for vitamin D and calcium.
The decision to commission the Institute of Medicine review reflects the government’s goal of ensuring that Canadians benefit from the most up-to-date health and nutritional advice.
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How Does Vitamin K2 Work
Vitamin K2 has been the subject of many scientific studies for several decades, but it was only the impressive studies of vitamin K2 conducted at the University of Maastricht that drew such attention to its enormous importance to our health.
Vitamin K2 controls the way that the mineral calcium is stored and used in the body. This is performed by the utilisation of vitamin K2-dependent Gla proteins, which can only be activated by vitamin K2.
Although vitamin D3 causes the formation of osteocalcin, only vitamin K2 can activate osteocalcin, the protein that stores calcium in the bones.
Vitamin K2 also activates matrix Gla protein , which is responsible for the regulation of calcium in the arterial walls. MGP is the most effective inhibitor of arterosclerosis and can only be activated by vitamin K2. A lack of vitamin K2 therefore leads inevitably to hardening of the arteries.
Without activated Gla proteins, calcium migrates uncontrollably from the bones into the arteries, where it promotes arterosclerosis. In the absence of vitamin K2, calcium circulating in the body that has been absorbed from food by vitamin D is also deposited in the soft tissues of the body and in the arteries, leading to arterosclerosis.
Vitamin D3 should therefore always be taken in combination with vitamin K2. These two vitamins work together synergistically and ensure that calcium obtained from food is deposited in the bones and not in the arteries.