What Is Vitamin D And Why Is It Important
Vitamin D belongs to the family of fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are absorbed well with fat and are stored in the liver and fatty tissues.
There are two main forms of vitamin D in the diet:
- Vitamin D2 : Found in plant foods like mushrooms.
- Vitamin D3 : Found in animal foods like salmon, cod and egg yolks.
However, sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D3. The UV rays from sunlight convert cholesterol in your skin into vitamin D3 .
Before your body can use dietary vitamin D, it must be activated through a series of steps .
First, the liver converts dietary vitamin D into the storage form of vitamin D. This is the form that is measured in blood tests. Later, the storage form is converted by the kidneys to the active form of vitamin D thats used by the body .
Interestingly, D3 is twice as effective at raising blood levels of vitamin D as vitamin D2 .
The main role of vitamin D in the body is to manage blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are important for healthy bones .
Research also shows that vitamin D aids your immune system and may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers .
A low blood level of vitamin D is linked to a greater risk of fractures and falls, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, several cancers and even death (
For instance, an analysis of five studies examined the link between vitamin D blood levels and colorectal cancer .
Vitamin D Supplements: What Parents Should Know
Getting enough vitamin D is essential so kids bones can grow strong and their immune systems can ward off illness.
Vitamin D gets into the body through absorption of sunlight and ingestion of food. From April through the end of October, spending just 15 to 30 minutes outside in the middle of the day with hands and face exposed will stimulate the skin to make all the vitamin D your child needs. In fact, on a sunny summer day, a child wearing a bathing suit can generate 10,000 to 20,000 international units of vitamin D after 15 to 30 minutes. In a neat biological trick, a persons body cant overdose on vitamin D created by the sun.
Foods such as salmon, sardines, tuna, cod liver oil, egg yolks and shiitake mushrooms contain a lot of vitamin D. Many kids dont seem to love these vitamin D superfoods, so luckily store-bought milk is often fortified with vitamin D, as are many cereals and even orange juice. Not all dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, however, so make sure to read the labels.
Dr Deborah Lee Of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy Highlights The Importance Of Taking A Daily Vitamin D Supplement Following The Nhs Latest Recommendation
Did you know we should all be taking a daily supplement of vitamin D?
In April 2020, the NHS issued a statement, based on recommendations from Public Health England , that we should all consider taking 10 mcg/day vitamin D as a supplement, to keep our bones and muscles healthy.
This advice has been issued now, largely because of the restrictions imposed by quarantine and lockdown. However, many people remain unaware.
The guidance is for everyone including pre-school children, and the elderly. It applies to us all, and not just to those in specific high-risk or vulnerable groups.
It also states there is no evidence taking extra vitamin D will reduce the risk of the coronavirus.
Why is vitamin D so important for our health? and why and how, should we follow this recommendation?
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Usual Adult Dose For Osteoporosis
Calcium – General Range: 1000 mg to 1300 mg dailyVitamin D – General Range: 200 international units to 800 international units dailyNote: While much larger vitamin D dosages have been recommended as a single agent, many calcium-vitamin D combination supplements will contain approximately 200 international units to 400 international units of vitamin D per dose.
Vitamin D Respiratory Infections And Covid
UK scientists warn that you should not take high levels of vitamin D, to prevent or treat COVID-19.
In a publication in the journal Nutrients, the authors reviewed the current medical evidence and suggest that vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of influenza, COVID-19, and deaths.
The authors present evidence to suggest that higher levels of vitamin D in the population will reduce the risk of acute respiratory tract infections including influenza, COVID-19, and pneumonia. They suggest additional vitamin D should be started now, to raise levels before the onset of the winter.
The authors are suggesting a higher vitamin D dosing regime than is currently recommended in the UK. They also comment that people on vitamin D supplements should also consider taking additional magnesium because magnesium helps activate vitamin D.
However, caution is needed. The available evidence comes from observational studies only, and these do not prove causation. High levels of vitamin D can be harmful.
PHE have recommended we all take a low dose vitamin D supplement to ensure adequate vitamin D levels for our general health.
If there is an additional benefit for COVID-19 or other respiratory infections, this would be a bonus.
This new NHS advice, for the general public to take daily vitamin D supplements, is endorsed, for example, by The British Nutrition Foundation, The Nutrition Society, and the Royal Osteoporosis Society.
For more information
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What About Sun Exposure
The DRIs for vitamin D are set based on the assumption of minimal sun exposure. This was necessary because of public health concerns about skin cancer due to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Currently, there is a lack of information about whether sun exposure may be experienced without increasing risk of cancer.
Many people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. However, season, time of day, cloud cover, smog, skin pigmentation, and sunscreen use are all factors that can affect the amount of ultraviolet radiation received and thus vitamin D synthesis.
The DRI values have been set at levels that ensure that sun exposure is not necessary in order to obtain enough vitamin D.
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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Q: Do Some People Naturally Have Lower Vitamin D Levels Than Others
A: People with darker skin pigmentation tend to have lower levels, as do people who use sunscreen, dont spend much time outdoors, or are overweight or obese. This is because vitamin D is fat soluble, so it gets trapped in fatty tissue and cant be used by the body as it should be. Gastrointestinal surgery, like gastric bypass, makes it difficult to absorb vitamin D. And as we age, we dont absorb vitamin D well, and we produce less.
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.
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Reduces Risk Of Heart Disease
Vitamin D insufficiency has been linked to a variety of illnesses, including high blood pressure, heart disease, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, strokes, and heart attacks. Vitamin D levels may be increased to help prevent heart illness and its symptoms from developing.
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining good cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and dental health. Furthermore, since it may assist with weight reduction and proper body weight, it might also help to reduce the negative consequences of obesity and excessive body fat on cardiac disease. For further details about Vitamin D benefits, consult your doctor.
Calcium / Vitamin D Dosage
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on May 23, 2022.
Applies to the following strengths: 600 mg-10 mcg 600 mg-20 mcg 250 mg-10 mcg 600 mg-5 mcg 232 mg-200 intl units 117 mg-3.325 mcg 250 mg-3.125 mcg 500 mg-3.125 mcg 500 mg-5 mcg 315 mg-6.25 mcg 200 mg-6.25 mcg 200 mg-6.25 mcg 250 mg-5 mcg 600 mg-3.125 mcg 500 mg-2.5 mcg 500 mg-15 mcg 500 mg-10 mcg 315 mg-5 mcg 600 mg-12.5 mcg 250 mg-6.25 mcg 250 mg-12.5 mcg 105 mg-3 mcg 100 mg-3 mcg 1000 mg-10 mcg/30 mL 500 mg-12.5 mcg/5 g
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Which Foods Contain Vitamin D
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, egg yolks, red meat, liver and certain mushrooms that have been grown in sunlight or UV light all contain vitamin D.
Other foods are fortified with vitamin D, such as some breakfast cereals, yoghurt drinks and fat-based spreads.
But it’s hard to get enough from food alone a salmon fillet contains around 13mcg vitamin D , boiled eggs only have 1.6mcg, and a bowl of fortified cereal around 2.5mcg.
Why Wearing Sunscreen Can Affect Vitamin D Absorption
While wearing sunscreen daily is key to help prevent sunburns, premature aging, and skin cancer, this healthy habit can also affect how much vitamin D your skin synthesizes from the sun.
To get your fix, aim to spend 10 to 15 minutes outdoors without sunscreen, Foroutan says. It can help get your levels where they need to be, she says, echoing information from Harvard Health Publishing.
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What Other Drugs Interact With Vitamin D
If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist first.
- Vitamin D has known moderate interactions with at least 25 different drugs.
This document does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist.
What Is The Vitamin D Status Of Canadians
Vitamin D status can be measured in two ways – vitamin D dietary intakes, and vitamin D blood levels. It is the blood level data that gives a true picture of the vitamin D status in the body. Vitamin D is unique in that there is another source besides diet and supplements, namely, sunlight. So even if dietary intakes do not appear to be adequate, overall vitamin D status may be much different.
Dietary intake data were collected in the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey . At a national level, there seems to be a very high prevalence of inadequate vitamin D intakes from food sources
Data on vitamin D intakes from food and supplement sources combined show a lower prevalence of inadequate vitamin D intakes, although still above 50% .
However, estimates of inadequate intakes of vitamin D must be interpreted with caution because the reference values to assess adequacy assume no vitamin D is contributed to the body by sun exposure. For this reason, data on vitamin D intakes from food and supplement sources cannot stand alone and consideration must be given to serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin-D D) levels, a well-established biomarker for vitamin D status.
Health Canada continues to recommend that people over the age of 50 years take a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 International Units .
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What Are The New Dris For Calcium
The DRIs for calcium are based on evidence related to bone health, largely from the results of calcium balance studies. Calcium balance, which can be positive, neutral or negative, compares total calcium intake with urinary and fecal excretion of calcium. It is used to determine the accumulation and level of bone mass.
The DRIs for calciumFootnote 1, which can also be found in the DRI tables, are as follows:The DRIs for calcium
|Adequate Intake rather than Recommended Dietary Allowance.|
The IOM report states that there are no additional health benefits associated with calcium intakes above the level of the new RDA.
Total calcium intake should remain below the level of the new UL to avoid possible adverse effects. Long-term intakes above the UL increase the risk of adverse health effects, such as kidney stones.
Strengthens Teeth And Bones
Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin that aids in the management and absorption of calcium as well as being essential to your bones and teeth.
Calcium is the most prevalent mineral in humans. The bulk of this element is found in our bones and teeth. Calcium intake should be enough to keep your bones and teeth healthy. Inadequate calcium intake can lead to joint pain, early-onset osteoarthritis, and tooth loss.
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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.
Vitamin D And Calcium: Updated Dietary Reference Intakes
The U.S. Institute of Medicine released its report on the review of the Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin D and calcium on November 30, 2010. The review was jointly commissioned and funded by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
The decision to commission the IOM review reflects the government’s goal of ensuring that Canadians benefit from the most up to date health and nutritional advice.
The IOM report states that there is no additional health benefit associated with vitamin D or calcium intakes above the level of the new Recommended Dietary Allowance . Health Canada reminds Canadians that total nutrient intake should remain below the level of the new Tolerable Upper Intake Level to avoid possible adverse effects.
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Final Thoughts About Vitamin D3
In general, most people need between 600 and 800 IU of vitamin D per day to maintain healthy blood levels. However, some people may need more or less than this, so it’s important to speak to a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient for overall health, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough. If you’re not sure how much you need, speak to a healthcare professional to find out. They can help you determine the right dose for you based on your individual needs.
Lowers The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
If you have a history of diabetes in your family or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, increase your Vitamin D intake. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes have been linked to insufficient vitamin D in recent studies. You may be able to avoid the development of type 2 diabetes by resolving insulin resistance.
Alpha-hydroxylase enzymes and VDRs, both of which contribute to glucose tolerance and resistance, are present in the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to reduce the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas, which can lead to insulin resistance and altered glucose responses in people. Given these findings, its worth discussing with your doctor whether taking more Vitamin D would improve your general health.
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People Who Should Not Opt In
You should not opt in to receive the vitamin D supplement if:
- you are already taking, or are prescribed, a vitamin D supplement by your GP or healthcare professional
- you are already taking, or are prescribed, a medication that contains vitamin D by your GP or healthcare professional
- you are under the age of 18
- you have a medical condition or treatment that means you may not be able to safely take as much vitamin D as the general population
If you are one of the following groups or have any of the following medical conditions, you should not opt in through this process and you should speak to your GP or healthcare professional at your next appointment. There are some groups who need to be particularly careful including those under the care of a renal, endocrinology or cancer specialist. This could include people with high vitamin D levels, kidney stones, too much parathyroid hormone, cancer , severe kidney disease and a rare illness calledsarcoidosis.