Vitamin D: Benefits Dosage Information And Warnings
Vitamin D3 provides a range of health benefits, from bone health to immunity support. Learn more about its benefits, dosage information, and warnings.
7 minute read
Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin that your skin produces in response to sunlight exposure. It can also be consumed through a variety of animal and plant-sourced foods. Vitamin D3 is known to support bone health, but it also supports the immune system to protect you from environmental and seasonal threats.
With increased concerns over sun exposure, there has been an increase in vitamin D3 deficiency, which can affect immune function. Taking supplements of vitamin D3 helps you maintain healthy levels to support immune function, bone health, and overall health.
The Best Vitamin D3 Supplement
I personally formulated my vitamin D3 supplement to include vitamin K2. The tandem of D3/K2 works together to ensure calcium absorption reaches your bones, instead of your blood.
Due to the stability of vitamin D it can be taken in a couple different forms. You can get Vitamin D3/K2 in liquid form. Each drop supplies 1,000 IUs of vitamin D to support your bone health, heart health and immune system. Liquid Vitamin D3/K2 is easy to use and can be added to your favorite beverage or food. Vitamin D3/K2 in capsule form offer 10,000 IUs of bioavailable vitamin D3 in each capsule to ensure proper absorption. Vitamin D3/K2 has 45 mcg to discourage calcium buildup in the arteries and soft tissue.
Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it gets stored in our body and too much can build up over time. If you are supplementing with high doses , I recommend getting your blood levels checked every 3 -6 months while supplementing. You can test your vitamin D levels at home through My Labs for Life.
Sub-optimal vitamin D insufficiency is a major problem around the world. Getting enough vitamin D without the sun is challenging since it is the way your body naturally produces this essential vitamin. While some sun exposure is healthy and totally recommended, however too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Take care of your skin when youre in the sun and be sure to supplement with vitamin D3.
Other Vitamin D Considerations
Some people also turn to supplements to increase their vitamin D intake, but whether that’s necessary for most people “is a big area of controversy in medicine,” Dr. Ford said.
Many people get their blood tested for vitamin D deficiency, but that’s not always necessary. “Unless there are specific reasons for concern, there’s no general recommendation for testing and screening,” Dr. Ford said.
Even if you do get tested, the results might not be accurate. “Vitamin D testing is not necessary for most people, and that’s because there isn’t a reliable test or acceptable reference rangethat’s why it seems like everyone these days has a low vitamin D level,” Dr. Elliott explained.
Additionally, it’s possible to get too much vitamin D as well. “While acknowledging that signs and symptoms of toxicity are unlikely at daily intakes below 250 mcg , the noted that even vitamin D intakes lower than the might have adverse health effects over time,” the NIH stated. These effects could include dehydration, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, serious issues such as cardiac arrhythmias, soft tissue calcification , or even death.
In short, if you’re worried about your vitamin D levels, you might want to consider spending the recommended amount of time in the sun or adding more vitamin D-rich foods to your diet before adding another supplement to your daily medicine routine.
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Advice For Adults And Children Over 4 Years Old
During the autumn and winter, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough for the body to make vitamin D.
But since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
Between late March/early April to the end of September, most people can make all the vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet.
You may choose not to take a vitamin D supplement during these months.
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.
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The Benefits Of Vitamin D
Beyond COVID-19, vitamin D can help fight critical illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It can also help control infections and reduce inflammation. And what makes it so effective in limiting the loss of bone density is that it helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus, both critical for building bone.
Not only does it help in the long term with major diseases and physical ailments, vitamin D also contributes to your mental health, as proper vitamin D levels have been associated with improved mood and reduction in symptoms of depression.
Cofactors For Vitamin D3
Include foods in your diet that provide nutrients that act in a synergistic way to help with the absorption and utilization of vitamin D. Magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin K, zinc and boron are all cofactors necessary to metabolize vitamin D3. Magnesium levels have the greatest effect on vitamin D3 to exert a positive benefit and may have a role in vitamin D’s effect on the immune system. Nuts, beans and fish are good sources of magnesium.
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What Does Vitamin D Do
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin available via ultraviolet rays , a few foods and supplements.
Vitamin Ds main purpose is to regulate calcium and phosphate to keep your bones, teeth and muscles strong and healthy. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets in children and osteomalaciathe softening of the bonesin adults. Meanwhile, preliminary research suggests getting enough vitamin D is associated with a lower risk of certain diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and improved mental health.
Vitamin D And The Sun
The body makes vitamin D when skin is exposed to the ultraviolet light from the sun. During the winter months in New York the UVB rays are not adequate to make enough vitamin D. In addition, as we age, our bodies are less able to make vitamin D from sun exposure. The most important factor that blocks the body’s ability to make vitamin D, is the use of sunscreen to protect skin from sun damage. For all of these reasons, especially the importance of protecting your skin, it is recommended that people use sunscreen and get vitamin D from foods and/or supplements.
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Supports Your Immune System
If youre finding yourself under the weather too often, that may be a sign that your vitamin D levels are suboptimal. Vitamin D works hand-in-hand with your body to modulate immune activity. Think of vitamin D as a light switch in your body, turning on or off genes and processes that your body needs for a healthy immune system.
Active vitamin D is sent to different areas of your body, including your bones, intestines, colon, brain, and immune cells, which all have Vitamin D receptors. The active vitamin D binds with these receptors and promotes vitamin D responsive genes, essentially turning them on to facilitate a healthy immune system response.
Can You Get Too Much Vitamin D
Too much vitamin D can cause toxicity that results in nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness and weight loss. It can also raise blood calcium levels, causing mental status changes such as confusion and heart rhythm abnormalities.
Sun exposure is unlikely to result in vitamin D toxicity. Other compounds produced in the skin protect the body from synthesising too much vitamin D during periods of prolonged sun exposure. Vitamin D toxicity is likely to occur from overdose of vitamin D supplements. People taking vitamin D supplements should never exceed the recommended dose and should be made aware of the side effects of vitamin D overdose.
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Should Everyone Get Their Vitamin D Levels Checked Generally No
Karl Insogna, MD, director of Yale Medicines Bone Center
Most people should be fine. Testing is important only for certain populations: for people who are institutionalized for patients with a gastrointestinal disorder or osteoporosis those who have had weight loss surgery those on anti-convulsant medications and children who are immobilized and not outside and active. If youre over 70, I recommend getting your levels checked at least one time.
People whose cultural or religious beliefs require them to be fully clothed, especially if theyre living in northern climates, and whose dietary habits include little or no dairy , may also be vitamin D-deficient and should be tested.
Climate And Vitamin D
Your body can only synthesize vitamin D3 from UVA rays from the sun. However, the further away from the equator you live, the lower the amount of UVA rays you get from the sun to make vitamin D in your skin. For example, if you live in Minnesota, you are not exposed to the same level of UV rays that you would in Texas. Let me tell you why.
UVA rays have a wavelength of 315 to 400 nanometers, however they arent as damaging as UVB and UVC rays. UVC rays are completely blocked by the atmosphere and never make it to the Earths surface. UVB rays are biologically active, but cannot penetrate beyond the top layers of the skin. The UVA wavelengths are so long they can penetrate deep into your skin and into cholesterol to make vitamin D3.
The closer you live to the equator, the shorter distance they have to travel through the atmosphere. Remember, the equator is the closest point of the Earth to the sun.
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Can Taking Too Much Vitamin D3 Hurt You
Although vitamin D is essential for good health, taking too much of it can be harmful. Vitamin D toxicity can cause nausea, vomiting, weakness, and poor appetite. It can also lead to more serious problems such as kidney stones and heart arrhythmias.
If you take too much vitamin D, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and get some rest. You may also want to see your doctor to be sure that you are not experiencing any other health problems.
Vitamin D2 Vs Vitamin D: Whats The Difference
When looking at nutrition facts or vitamin D supplement options, you may notice vitamin D listed in two forms: D2 and D3.
- Vitamin D2 is found in plant-based sources like mushrooms and yeast.
- Vitamin D3 is found in animal-based sources like salmon, eggs and milk.
Research suggests D2 and D3 are equally effective in boosting vitamin D levels. Both are well-absorbed in the intestines, says Tan, who recommends and opting for whatever is most easily available.
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How Vitamin D Supplements Work
Vitamin D helps control how much calcium and phosphate you absorb from food. Calcium is essential for bone health. Phosphate is needed for healthy bones, teeth, muscles, nerves, and basic bodily functions.
Vitamin D supplements come in two forms:
- Vitamin D2 is naturally found in some plants.
- Vitamin D3 is naturally found in animals and is produced by the skin when its exposed to sunlight.
You can meet your vitamin D needs with either form. But healthcare providers generally suggest vitamin D3 supplements. Thats because it:
- Raises your overall vitamin D level more than D2
- Lasts longer in the body than D2
Vitamin D3 supplements are sold as capsules, soft gel tablets, gummies, and liquid drops.
What Is Cholecalciferol
Cholecalciferol is vitamin D3. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
Vitamin D is also essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. The function of the immune system is to prevent or limit infection.
Cholecalciferol is used as a dietary supplement in people who do not get enough vitamin D in their diets to maintain adequate health.
Cholecalciferol may also be used for purposes not listed in this guide.
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Top 18 Vitamin D Foods
In food sources, vitamin D is available in two different forms. Vitamin D3 can be found in animal-based foods, such as fish, while vitamin D2 is found in other sources, such as mushrooms.
Vitamin D3 is considered the more active form. This is the type most often used in vitamin D supplements and multivitamins because it has been found to be more effective at increasing serum levels of vitamin D.
Which foods contain vitamin D, and how much do you need to eat? Here are a few of the top sources to help you meet your daily requirement:
How to Boost Absorption:
Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it ideally needs to be consumed with fat in order to have optimal absorption.
If you are going to eat a food source of vitamin D, its best to combine it with a fat source, too, like ghee, coconut oil, nuts, seeds or fish, to help with absorption.
How Many Vitamin D Foods to Eat:
Aim for one to two servings of vitamin D foods per day. 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.
Vitamin D in Mushrooms:
Vitamin D in Dairy Products:
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Vitamin D Can Help Strengthen Muscles
Along with its bone-building abilities, vitamin D is also influential in strengthening muscles, according to a 2018 study in the Journal of the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Lack of vitamin D in the body can increase the risk of having weak muscles, which in turn increases the risk of falls,” Lana Nasrallah, MPH, RD, clinical dietician at UNC Health, told Health. This is especially important for the elderly. “Vitamin D may help increase muscle strength thus preventing falls, which is a common problem that leads to substantial disability and death in older adults,” Nasrallah said.
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Drug Interactions Of Vitamin D2 Vs D3
Vitamin D2 and D3 each are metabolized by the liver to 25D, and therefore the potential drug interactions are similar for both forms. Vitamin D may increase the serum levels of aluminum when taken with aluminum hydroxide, a common antacid, and therefore the combination should be avoided. Thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide, may increase the chance of vitamin D raising calcium levels in the blood to a dangerously high level. Patients on both thiazide diuretics and vitamin D supplementation should be monitored for this effect by their healthcare provider. Some drugs may decrease the absorption and effectiveness of your vitamin D supplement. Bile-acid sequestrants, such as cholestyramine, are an example of a drug which will impair vitamin D absorption. Vitamin D and cholestyramine should not be administered at the same time.
The following table may not be a complete list of drug interactions. Please consult your pharmacist or healthcare provider for more information and a complete list of interactions.
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Getting Vitamin D From Food
Most foods dont contain much vitamin D so its hard to get enough vitamin D from food alone.
Foods which contain vitamin D include:
- oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout
- liver and fish liver oil
- foods with vitamin D added such as most fat spreads, some breakfast cereals and some plant-based alternatives to milk. Check the labels.
- infant formula which has vitamin D added to make sure babies get enough.
As most of these foods are animal products, its harder to get vitamin D from food if you are vegan or vegetarian. Plant-based sources of vitamin D include sun-exposed mushrooms and fortified foods such as vegetable spreads, breakfast cereals and plant based dairy alternatives.
In the UK, cows’ milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it isn’t fortified, as it is in some other countries. There are some yoghurts which have been fortified, but check the label as they can also be high in saturated fat and so should be avoided.
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Are Vitamin D And D3 The Same
Vitamin D has two main forms: D2 and D3. You can absorb both types in your body, but studies have shown that vitamin D3 raises your levels more effectively than vitamin D2. “I personally recommend over-the-counter supplements that contain vitamin D3,” says Dr. Lacey. You can also take a cod liver oil supplement if you’d prefer that to a pill.
“The Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin D for children 1 to 18 years, pregnant women, and nonpregnant adults through age 70 years is 600 international units. After age 70, it is recommended to increase to 800 international units,” says Dr. Lacey. “If your levels are severely low, there is a prescription-strength dose of vitamin D.”