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
Who Should Not Take Vitamin D3
People with heart problems or kidney disease should speak to their healthcare provider before taking vitamin D3, as it may worsen these conditions.
Patients who are taking certain medications should also check with their healthcare provider, as vitamin D3 may interact with the medication.
People who have had kidney stones should avoid high doses of vitamin D3, as it could increase the risk of developing another kidney stone.
What Happens When Your Vitamin D Is Low
When vitamin D levels are low, there are some noticeable changes in the body, says Konstantin. Low vitamin D levels can lead to decreased energy levels, low mood, and potentially frequent bouts of illness. Checking for nutritional deficiencies can rule out any underlying issues that might be causing your lowered energy levels or even exhaustion and allow you to supplement based on what your body requires.
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Will You Live Longer If You Take A Multivitamin Every Day
Although plenty of people take a multivitamin every day, some medical experts have proclaimed that doing so is a waste of money, as is evidenced by a 2013 editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The authors argued that there aren’t enough benefits to outweigh potential harms caused by certain vitamins and thereby deemed the practice to be ineffective.
But there’s also some evidence that taking a multivitamin every day can indeed have a positive impact on your longevity. For example, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2015, women without a history of cardiovascular disease who took a multivitamin with minerals for a period of three years or longer were less likely to die from heart disease than women who didn’t. However, more research is needed.
Another study found that there’s “limited evidence” of taking multivitamins “for the prevention of cancer or ,” so your mileage may vary.
Play A Role In Reducing Cancer Death
Scientists are paying increasing attention to vitamin Ds possible role in warding off cancer. A past review of 63 observational studies that analyzed the potential connection between vitamin D and breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer yielded promising results, suggesting that vitamin D may be an easy and low-cost way to help reduce cancer risk.
The VITAL study also looked at the effect of vitamin D supplements on cancer. The nutrient was not found to reduce the risk of cancer overall for participants. Yet those who developed cancer had a 25 percent lower death rate when they were taking vitamin D. The findings also pointed to a possible reduction in cancer risk for African Americans, though the researchers say that further study is needed.
Because of conflicting science and a dearth of randomized controlled trials, the NIH doesnt yet recommend vitamin D supplements to help reduce the risk of cancer.
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How Much Vitamin D Should I Take A Day
Vitamin D is super-important for multiple health areas including bone health, immune system function, and heart health. However, you are probably asking yourself, how much vitamin D should I take a day? After all, everyone is different, and we know that some people get more sun than others. Also, did you know that your level of body fat and genetic factors can also play a role? And how much vitamin D is too much? Well, lets dive in!
What Should Ones Vitamin D Level Be
This question has been hotly, hotly debated. At this time, it depends on whom you ask.
The Institute of Medicine believes a blood level of 20-40 ng/mL should be adequate. The Endocrine Society, the American Geriatrics Society, and some other expert groups recommend a level of at least 30 ng/mL.
As noted above, the party line which I consider reasonable is that most people dont need their vitamin D level checked. In the absence of certain health problems, a low vitamin D level is unlikely in someone who takes a daily supplement.
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What Is Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as a steroid hormone in the body.
There are two types of vitamin D in the diet:
Vitamin D2 : is found in some mushrooms.
Vitamin D3 : is found in oily fish, fish liver oil, and egg yolks.
D3 is more potent in these two types and raises blood levels of vitamin D by almost twice as much as D2.
A large amount of vitamin D can also be produced on your skin when exposed to UV rays from the sun. Any excess vitamin D is stored in your body fat for later use.
Every cell in your body can absorb vitamin D. This vitamin is involved in many processes, including bone health, immune function, and cancer prevention.
Where To Buy The Cheapest Vitamin D Supplements
There are many different forms of vitamin D supplement available, from tablets and capsules to sprays, gummies and even teas.
Prices vary from less than 1p to more than 30p per dose depending on what format you pick.
Own-brand vitamin D tablets from pharmacies, discount stores and supermarkets are usually cheapest, and buying larger packs or multi-buy offers can also help keep costs down.
We’ve rounded up the cheapest prices we could find for vitamin D supplements in a ‘high strength’ 25mcg format, as this is one of the most commonly available high-street doses:
- Cheapest tablets: Asda High Strength Vitamin D tablets 25mcg, 180 pack – £1.15 , available from Asda.
- Cheapest spray: VitSpritz Vitamin D3 Oral Spray orange flavour 25mcg, 30ml bottle – £9.95 , available from Sainsburys, or Boots Vitamin D 25mcg peppermint spray, £6 for 15ml . Available from Boots.
- Cheapest gummy vitamins: Boots Vitamin D gummies, blackcurrant flavour 25mcg, 30 pack – £2 on offer – currently half-price but otherwise often on 3 for 2, available from Boots. Also consider: Aldi Vitawell Vitamin D gummies, blackcurrant flavour 25mcg, 30 pack– £2.29 , available from Aldi.
Prices correct as of 26 November 2021. Price per dose rounded up to nearest pence.
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How Thinking About Vitamin D Has Changed
For the first 20 years I was a doctor, I hardly ever checked anyone’s vitamin D levels. We knew people with very low levels were at higher risk of ‘thinning’ of the bones . So we did used to prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements for people at high risk of breaking a bone.
Occasionally we’d check someone’s blood levels of vitamin D and discover they were very low – so we’d give them a single injection of very high-dose vitamin D. But that was about it.
In the last decade, there has been a complete revolution among doctors in our attitudes to vitamin D. Once we started measuring it, I certainly discovered at least half my patients were short of vitamin D and one in six patients were severely deficient. So we started recommending supplements routinely for anyone at risk of osteoporosis as well as other conditions .
But on 5th October 2018 a new study on vitamin D and osteoporosis was published which is likely to change our thinking again.
What Can Taking A Multivitamin Every Day Do For Brain Health
The human brain is an amazing organ. It is responsible for the function of bodily systems and regulates our breathing, heartbeat, and consciousness, as noted by Live Science. That’s not even close to all of the things your brain does, either!
Fortunately if you take a multivitamin every day, you could be doing some good for your noggin. “Severalstudies have found that multivitamins can improve memory in older adults,” reported Healthline. That’s important, given the damage diseases like dementia can do to memory later in life.
Daily vitamin supplementation can also have an impact on how you feel as well. “These supplements may also improve mood,” Healthline noted. “Research reveals links not only between poor mood and nutrient deficiencies but also between multivitamins and better mood or reduced depression symptoms.” And while some studies came to a different conclusion, there appears to be enough evidence that supports the link between brain health and taking multivitamins.
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Different Sources Of Vitamin D
Its also called the sunshine vitamin because exposure to sunlight is the best way to get vitamin D. Due to less exposure to sunlight and the protective benefits of sunblock that also block our ability to synthesize vitamin D, supplements have gained popularity as a way to ensure adequate vitamin D levels when diet is not enough.
There are two ways to get supplements of vitamin D and that includes vitamin D2 which comes from plant sources or vitamin D3 which comes from animal sources.
In a study from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, researchers sought to clear up the confusion regarding vitamin D2 and D3 and whether they work equally well to maintain vitamin D levels.
Q: Why Is Vitamin D Important
A: Research I have done in this area has found that people with low blood levels of vitamin D have a greater risk of a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, diabetes or high blood pressure later in life. In pregnant women, low vitamin D levels are linked to pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and adverse pregnancy outcomes. No matter your age or stage of life, having adequate vitamin D levels is important.
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How To Buy Vitamins
Supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration or USDA. So how do you know youre getting safe supplements?
Patton recommends doing the following before buying:
- Consult your doctor. Before adding any supplements, make sure you talk to your doctor to make sure you need them and that they wont interact with any medications.
- Look for third-party testing. Some companies will send their products to an outside company to verify that the ingredients are accurate.
- Look for the USP seal. The United States Pharmacopeia is an independent, nonprofit organization whose goal is to supply safe, quality products.
- Consider ingredients. Stick with the basics. Vitamins with added ingredients or claims arent necessary and can cause side effects.
So while supplements can be helpful, be mindful of your diet and what you eat. Dont use supplements to replace healthy eating, says Patton.
Vitamin D Strengthens Your Bones
Vitamin D is famous for its bone-building and strengthening powers. vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium in your gut, which ultimately allows for normal mineralization of your bones,Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook, tells Health. Basically, the calcium that benefits your bones wouldn’t be able to do its job without vitamin D. You need vitamin D for bone growthand to prevent bones from becoming brittle. When teamed with calcium, it can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that signifies that the density and quality of bone are reduced, she adds.
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You May Upset Your Stomach If You Take A Multivitamin Every Day
While your stomach is a pretty strong organ, sometimes you can become nauseated when you take a multivitamin every day, says registered dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller. “Not everyone will be affected by taking a multivitamin on an empty stomach,” she explained to The List. “However, if you do suffer from nausea when taking a multivitamin on an empty stomach, try taking it with a meal.” She added that you can also take your multivitamin in the afternoon instead of the morning, after you’ve been up for a while and eaten several meals.
Additionally, if you have pre-existing stomach issues, you might find yourself struggling with heartburn thanks to your vitamin, cautions Kostro Miller. “If you have GERD and/or too much stomach acid, making your stomach work on a vitamin without any other food can give you heartburn and other GERD symptoms,” she continued. So once again, take it after you’ve eaten.
If you notice any disturbance in your gut because of your multivitamin, Kostro Miller suggests taking gummies or powder instead of a pill.
What Foods Have A Lot Of Vitamin D In Them
According to the NHS, fatty fish such as salmon, trout and tuna have a high Vitamin D content. Also egg yolk contains vitamin D. In addition, some brands of cereal and orange juice have added vitamin D.
It is important to note that the Vitamin D amount varies between products so do check the label.
It is also important to note that taking high doses of vitamin D3 can cause harmful effects so it is best to speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking supplements.
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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.
Should Everyone Stop Vitamin D
It’s important to put this new study into context. It didn’t look at babies and children under 5, so does nothing to undermine the current Public Health England guidance that they, along with pregnant women, should take a daily supplement. People who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency because they cover up for religious reasons or don’t get outside at all should also continue to take supplementation.
In addition, this study was only looking at the impact of vitamin D on bone health. In recent years, we’ve discovered that vitamin D regulates at least 1,000 genes in the body – affecting blood vessels, immune system, muscle strength and more. Tiredness and muscle pains are the most common symptoms, but low levels have been linked to an increased risk of depression, heart disease and even multiple sclerosis.
As yet, there haven’t been any large scale studies looking at whether taking a vitamin D supplement, if you’re at risk of deficiency, protects against any of these. But vitamin D at the recommended levels doesn’t appear to have any adverse side effects: so if Vitamin D supplements does offer any protection at all, the risk: benefit ratio is likely to come down in favour of taking them.
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Reduce The Risk For Type 2 Diabetes
Observational studies in cell models suggest that vitamin D may help increase insulin sensitivity, boost beta cell function, and lessen inflammation all potential benefits for reducing the risk of and helping manage type 2 diabetes, notes an article published in March 2014 in Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America.
But vitamin D supplementation was not found to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in a randomized, controlled clinical trial involving more than 3,600 participants that was published in June 2019 in the New England Journal of Medicine, despite prior observational studies suggesting that it could. A dose of 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day did not result in a significantly lower risk of diabetes compared with a placebo.
What Is The Ideal Time To Take It
Taking vitamin D with a meal can enhance its absorption and increase blood levels more efficiently.
However, theres limited research on whether taking it at night or in the morning may be more effective.
The most important steps are to fit vitamin D into your routine and take it consistently to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Try taking it alongside breakfast or with a bedtime snack as long as it doesnt interfere with your sleep.
The key is to find what works for you and stick with it to ensure youre meeting your vitamin D needs.
Taking vitamin D with a meal can increase its absorption, but studies on specific timing are limited. For best results, experiment with different schedules to find what works for you.
Supplements can be an effective way to boost your blood levels of vitamin D, which is crucial to your health.
Taking vitamin D with food can enhance its effectiveness, as its fat-soluble.
While the best timing has not been established, scientific data to confirm anecdotal reports that supplementing at night may interfere with sleep is unavailable.
Current research suggests you can fit vitamin D into your routine whenever you prefer.
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