Calcium And Vitamin D: A Partnership
Calcium and vitamin D is the dynamic duo that works together to strengthen and protect your bones. For years, healthcare providers have recommended that postmenopausal women take calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease that is a major cause of devastating fractures in old age.
Research linking calcium supplements to heart attack and stroke caused many to take vitamin D supplements alone for prevention.
Calcium supplements can increase calcification in the arteries and predispose people, especially women, to heart disease, he says. Thats why we always prefer dietary calcium. However, some people get adequate dietary calcium but are low in vitamin D.
Protect Against Respiratory Infections
Increase your level of vitamin D if youre deficient, and you may find that you get fewer respiratory infections than usual.
One review of 25 randomized controlled trials involving about 11,300 people suggests that participants who were vitamin D deficient saw a 12 percent reduced risk for respiratory infections after taking a vitamin D supplement, though not every study saw a clear benefit from supplementation. Researchers published their findings in February 2017 in BMJ.
The main limitations? Researchers werent sure whether participants had received a flu vaccine or were diagnosed with the respiratory ailment chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , which are two confounding factors that may have skewed the results.
An accompanying editorial cautions readers to take the findings with a grain of salt, and the authors argue against standard year-round vitamin D supplementation and call for additional research.
Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
It’s not easy to spot vitamin D deficiency. Some people might feel tired or get aches and pains.
But others may not have any symptoms until it’s too late, for example bowed legs or poor growth in children.
Your doctor can carry out a blood test to check your levels, but if you’re worried about your exposure to the sun or it’s winter you should start taking a supplement.
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Asthma Eczema Allergies And Vitamin D
Vitamin D is ineffective for allergies, eczema and asthma
A Canadian Study suggests that vitamin D supplements are an ineffective treatment for asthma, allergies or the skin condition eczema in children or adults. According to previous research, low vitamin D levels were linked with atopic conditions. Researchers decided to determine if this was true by analyzing data from more than 100,000 people. Results found no statistically significant differences in rates of asthma, allergies or eczema between people with low or normal levels of vitamin D.
How Vitamin D Works
Calcium is essential for bone health. Phosphate is needed for healthy bones, teeth, muscles, nerves, and basic bodily functions.
Vitamin D comes 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 D3 supplements. That’s because it:
- Raises your overall vitamin D level more than D2
- Lasts longer in the body than D2
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Sun Exposure During Winter Months
The Ultraviolet Index measures the level of ultraviolet radiation. Throughout winter, particularly in the South Island, the UVI is usually less than 3 .
When the UVI is 3 , skin damage occurs after about an hour in those people with sensitive or fair skin. However optimal vitamin D can still be produced in a few minutes if at least the face, arms and legs are exposed.
NIWA provides a year round daily guide of the UV throughout New Zealand.
What Is The Difference Between Vitamin D2 And D3
Vitamin D2 and D3 are the two most important forms for your health.
There are 2 main forms of vitamin D:
- Vitamin D2 made by plants, with wild mushrooms and those grown under a UV light being the best source
- Vitamin D3 made by our skin when we are exposed to enough sunlight. Animal products like fish, meat, eggs and dairy as well as a vegan-friendly fungus called lichen also naturally contain this type of vitamin D
Fortified foods can contain either form.
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Gummies Vs Sprays Vs Tablets: What’s The Best Way To Get Your Daily Dose
Vitamin sprays and gummies have gained popularity in recent years as they can be more palatable and convenient, especially if you struggle with swallowing pills.
They tend to be more expensive, which can really add up when you’re taking daily supplements for a number of months.
If you opt for the cheapest tablets we’ve found, taking a daily supplement from October to March will cost you just £1.15, whereas with the cheapest gummy it would be around £12 total. Opting for big brand formulations will be even pricier.
What Are The Main Differences Between Vitamin D And D3
The term vitamin D is kind of a misnomer because you will not find anything labeled simply as vitamin D in a pharmacy vitamin aisle. Rather, your choices will be vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 . Generally, when one mentions vitamin D, the implied selection is vitamin D2. For the purpose of this article, when vitamin D is mentioned, it will refer to vitamin D2. The names can be confusing, because many times, patients go into the pharmacy looking for vitamin D and are surprised that there is a D2 and a D3.
Vitamin D comes from plant sources, such as wild mushrooms, as well as fortified foods, such as milk or cereal products. Its strength is typically measured in international units, which is abbreviated as IU on labeling. The 50,000 IU capsules are prescription only, while lower strengths are available over-the-counter. Vitamin D is less expensive to produce and therefore is the form most commonly found in fortified food products.
Vitamin D3 mainly comes from animal sources such as fish oil, fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces vitamin D3. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin. Its strength is also measured in international units. All forms of vitamin D3 are available over-the-counter.
|Main differences between vitamin D and D3|
|Who typically uses the medication?||Infants, children, adolescents, and adults||Infants, children, adolescents, and adults|
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Vitamin D And Statins
There has been some debate around whether statins could stop us making enough vitamin D because statins lower cholesterol. In reality, we have more than enough cholesterol to make vitamin D, even if you take statins. Its more important to make sure youre getting enough time in sunlight or getting enough vitamin D from foods or supplements.
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.
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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.
What You Can Do Now
If youre concerned about vitamin D deficiency, ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level, says Dr. Deal. If the level is low and your provider starts you on supplements, you need repeat testing in eight to 12 weeks to make sure the level is not too high or too low.
If testing shows your vitamin D level is normal, you need repeat testing every two to three years unless you have major changes in your overall health.
Different diseases need different doses of vitamin D. If you have chronic kidney disease or parathyroid disease, ask your kidney specialist or endocrinologist about the type and dose of vitamin D you need.
If youre pregnant or breastfeeding, Dr. Deal recommends you keep taking vitamin D supplements as long as your doctor prescribes them. The supplement is linked to healthy development for you and your baby.
For bone health, be sure to stay active and remember to eat a calcium-rich diet. Consult with your doctor frequently to make sure youre taking the right steps to current bone health.
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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.
It’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone. So you can take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during autumn and winter.
Between late March to the end of September, most people can get all the vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet.
You do not have to take a vitamin D supplement during these months.
You can get Vitamin D supplements from pharmacies. They are available as a tablet, including a chewable tablet and a tablet that dissolves in your mouth.
You should take vitamin D supplements with a large meal to help your body absorb the vitamin D.
How Much Vitamin D Is Enough
Adults and children over the age of one need 10mcg of vitamin D per day. This is the same for everyone, including people at risk of vitamin D deficiency and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Babies up to one year old need 8.5-10mcg of vitamin D per day. Find out more about how you can reach this from the NHS.
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How Do You Ensure You Have Enough Vitamin D
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 international units for most people ages 1 to 70, according to the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. For people over the age of 70 its 800 IU, and for infants its 400 IU.
But its not easy to get that much vitamin D through diet and sunlight alone. The average amount of the nutrient that an individual gets from food and drink rarely exceeds 288 IU per day. Even drinking milk fortified with vitamin D will get you only 100 IU per 8-ounce glass, and the same goes for most plant-milk substitutes that are fortified with vitamin D.
Thats why many people take vitamin D supplements. The Endocrine Society recommends that adults take 1,5002,000 IU per day in supplements to avoid vitamin D deficiency, and 1,000 IU per day for infants and children. Yet recommendations vary widely. Keep in mind that there can be too much of a good thing with vitamin D, which is why the FNB set an upper limit of 4,000 IU per day in supplementation for people over age 9 and 1,0003,000 IU for infants and children up to age 8, depending on age. Dosages beyond those increase the risk for death, cancer, and cardiovascular events, as well as falls and fractures in seniors.
Your Vitamin D Supplement Might Not Be As Effective As You Think
Your Vitamin D Supplement Might Not Be As Effective As You Think Your Vitamin D Supplement Might Not Be As Effective As You Think
As awareness around the importance of vitamin D for a bunch of different aspects of our health grows, more and more people might consider adding a supplement to their daily routine. Seems like an easy enough investment in your health, right?
While the right vitamin D supplement can totally help you get your levels to an optimal place , you won’t reap much benefit from popping the wrong form of the important nutrientor too little of it. And, sad but true: Research actually suggests that many of us might be making one or both of these supplement mistakesand that they’re keeping us from achieving the vitamin D status we need to feel our best.*
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Vitamin D Is Crucial For Immune Health
The surprising role it plays for your body’s immune system and how it can ward off respiratory infections.
Vitamin D is important for many functions in your body, not just your bone health.
The global coronavirus pandemic definitely left people wondering how to keep themselves well. You know that social distancing, working from home and staying inside in general is one way to protect yourself — but are there other measures you can take?
Boosting your immune system is one of the best things you can do because it is your body’s key defense when it comes to fighting a virus. Even if you are exposed to a virus, the coronavirus or others, if your immune system is strong, you have a better chance of not getting sick. Vitamin C is a popular choice for supporting immunity, but another key nutrient for your immune system is vitamin D. Once thought as the vitamin for strong bones, vitamin D actually does a lot more for your body — including support your immune system.
Studies suggest that vitamin D can help prevent respiratory infections or reduce the severity of them, especially if you have a deficiency. They jury’s out on how exactly it can protect you from the coronavirus, but some medical experts recommend taking a vitamin D supplement to help boost your immune system.
Increased Awareness Surrounding Vitamin D
Cebulla told Medical News Today that in order to ensure individuals are getting the right amounts of vitamin D, doctors should be discussing vitamin D intake with their patients:
Studies show that traditional dietary counseling do not improve vitamin D intake/levels. So its important for doctors to make sure they communicate that vitamin D isnt something that comes from your diet, and extra attention is needed to make sure youre getting enough vitamin D.
Furthermore, Cebulla added that increased awareness surrounding vitamin D would lead to better vitamin D intake over the population.
We need a population that understands you get vitamin D from sun exposure, and if youre not getting sun exposure, then you need to supplement because youre not getting enough vitamin D from your diet, he said.
For now, evidence suggests that vitamin D supplements may help to maintain the levels of the vitamin our bodies need to promote bone health, modulation of cell growth and immune function.
But whether these supplements can promote additional health benefits remains to be seen.
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Q: Whats The Link Between Vitamin D And Heart Health
A: That isnt entirely clear. We know that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for heart disease, but at this time, we do not know whether treating low vitamin D with supplements can prevent a heart attack. There are a number of large clinical trials studying this now. Part of the problem with finding the answer is accounting for the many factors involved in heart disease. For example, maybe people who develop heart disease are also getting less physical activity outdoors. It may not be low vitamin D levels causing the heart disease.
Will a Daily Vitamin Help Keep Your Heart Healthy?
People At Risk Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Some people will not make enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.
The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that adults and children over 4 take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if they:
- are not often outdoors for example, if they’re frail or housebound
- are in an institution like a care home
- usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors
If you have dark skin for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background you may also not make enough vitamin D from sunlight.
You should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.