One Study Estimates That Around 20% Of The Population In The Uk Has A Profound Vitamin D Deficiency
Few doubt the role that vitamin D plays in our bone health to regulate calcium and phosphate in the body, which is why those who have a vitamin D deficiency are particularly encouraged to address it. And that may be more people than you think: one study estimates that around 20% of the population in the UK has a profound vitamin D deficiency, for example.
A third of UK adults who supplement their diet with vitamins take vitamin D
But some experts say that people with healthy levels have no need of vitamin D supplements which would be most people. In other words, they argue that in healthy people, vitamin D is not, as some have hoped, a way to prevent disease.
So whats the reality?
Despite its name, vitamin D is not a vitamin. Instead, it is a hormone that promotes the absorption of calcium in the body. The challenge is that, aside from a few foods like oily fish, vitamin D is hard to find in the average diet. But in the presence of “ultraviolet B” rays, our skin can produce its own from a common cholesterol.
Vitamin D is found in only a few foods, like oily fish
There are two main types of D. The first is vitamin D3, which is found in animals including fish and is the kind the skin makes when exposed to sunlight. The second is vitamin D2, which comes from plant-based foods including mushrooms. Studies have found that D3 is more effective, and the conclusions of a 2012 meta-analysis argue that D3 is the preferred choice for supplementation.
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.
Should I Take A Vitamin D Supplement
There are a number of vitamin D supplements available. And while its often important to get certain nutrients from food, this rationale doesnt apply to vitamin D, according to Tan. The way we get vitamin D naturally is from UV exposure, she says. This is controversial, because UV exposure has risks as well.
To know if you need a vitamin D supplement, you first need a blood test to determine your vitamin D level. How much you might need to supplement depends on this number, says Tan. Only take a vitamin D supplement if recommended by your doctor based on the outcome of this blood test, and take only the recommended amount.
People who could be at risk for vitamin D deficiency include:
- People who live in climates with less sunlight.
- People who dont naturally get much sun exposure.
- Older populations who require more vitamin D daily.
- People with darker skin, as they dont synthesize vitamin D from the sun as easily.
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Doctors Best Vitamin D3
The Doctors Best brand has a reputation for high-quality supplements with low cost and good purity. Its vitamin D offering lives up to this standard fairly well.
It comes in two different dosages, 2000 IU and 5000 IU. These give you flexibility when it comes to dosing, both from person to person and throughout different times of the year.
You may want to do a lower dosage in the summer and a higher dose in the winter, for example.
It should come as no surprise that the only other ingredients are virgin olive oil, gelatin, and water. One downside to Doctors Best Vitamin D3 is that no independent lab testing is available to assay its purity, so youll have to rely on the overall reliability of the brand based on its other offerings.
Fortunately, Doctors Best has one of the best track records among the widely distributed low-cost brands, so odds are the dosing is accurate and there are no impurities present.
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
Importance Of Vitamin D
And yes, I mentioned only the most important studies which have been conducted all over the globe. There have been dozens of other studies and researches but all of them discovered the same thing. Vitamin D is essential for your health, or better said for your protection from gout and different types of arthritis. This vitamin is probably the most important type of vitamin our body needs to protect itself from these diseases.
I must add that vitamin D is essential for protecting kidneys, heart, preventing inflammation and gingivitis. As such, it is something you will have to consider even if you are not a gout sufferer. If you are, then this vitamin is even more important for you and it is definitely something to consider starting from today.
There will be plenty of additional studies and researches regarding gout and vitamin D, but at this moment, there is no any information regarding the matter. Scientists still dont know how actually this vitamin affects the human body when it comes to gout.
Where Does Vitamin D Come From
Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun, though. Most kids and adults spend lots of time indoors at school and work. When outdoors, it’s important to protect skin to prevent skin cancer and skin damage from too much sun exposure.
Very few foods have vitamin D naturally. The foods with the most are fatty fish , liver, eggs and fish oils. Kids don’t eat these foods a lot. That’s why food companies add vitamin D to milk, yogurt, baby formula, juice, cereal, and other foods.
Adding vitamin D to foods is called “fortifying.” It’s helpful, but it still may not be enough.
To get enough vitamin D, children often need to take a multivitamin with vitamin D or a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is sometimes labeled as vitamin D3.
You can buy vitamin D pills, gummies, chewables, liquids, and sprays in stores without a prescription. Ask your child’s health care provider for advice on choosing the right one.
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Is Vitamin D Deficiency An Epidemic No Its Not
Thomas Carpenter, MD, Yale Medicine pediatric endocrinologist and director of the Yale School of Medicines Center for X-Linked Hypophosphatemia
Based on the United States Dietary Association and National Health and Nutrition Surveys , the bulk of the population is not vitamin D-deficient. The population we tend to see vitamin D deficiency inand its typically in wintertimeare breastfed infants. Breast milk doesn’t have much vitamin D in it. That’s what spurred a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that every breastfed infant be given vitamin D . But if infants aren’t given multivitamin drops, they need to be given 200 IU a day of vitamin D for the first two months of life and 400 units a day afterwards until theyre drinking formula or milk, which are each fortified with vitamin D.
Vitamin D May Help Reduce The Risk Of Certain Cancers
Dr. Boyd points to various studiesmost of which are referenced on the National Cancer Institute’s websitethat provide some evidence that vitamin D may have cancer fighting powers. Evidence is increasing that vitamin D supplementation may improve cancer outcomes, he explains. The cancers for which the most human data are available are colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
The NCI specifically calls out a few reasons why researchers are interested in a link between vitamin D and a lowered risk of cancer. The organization points out that some research shows that incidence and death rates for certain cancers were lower among individuals living in southern latitudes, where levels of sunlight exposure are relatively high, than among those living at northern latitudes, though additional research needs to be done to find a specific causal or correlational link between more sunlight exposure and a lower risk of cancer. More experimental evidence, per the NCI, shows, that cancer cells and of tumors in mice, vitamin D has been found to have several activities that might slow or prevent the development of cancer cells and tumors in mice, including promoting cellular differentiation, decreasing cancer cell growth, stimulating cell death , and reducing tumor blood vessel formation .
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Help Prevent Bone Diseases Such As Osteoporosis
Its clear that vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium. Without enough vitamin D in the body, there will not be enough of calcium’s active form, the hormone calcitriol, according to the National Institutes of Health . Calcium absorption allows the body to maintain a sufficient level of that element as well as phosphate, both of which promote the growth and maintenance of healthy, strong bones.
Thats why getting enough vitamin D is critical for warding off bone diseases, such as rickets in children, osteomalacia in adults, and osteoporosis in the elderly.
Rickets is a rare disease in the United States. It is marked by soft and weak bones in children and is typically associated with developing countries, but an inadequate vitamin D level from lack of sun exposure or diet can affect children anywhere in the world, research shows. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of rickets include pain in the spine, pelvis, and legs, as well as delayed growth and muscle weakness.
Meanwhile, osteomalacia refers to softening of the bones due to vitamin D deficiency. Its signs include dull, aching pain in the legs, hips, pelvis, ribs, and back, though the condition often doesnt present symptoms in its early stages, the Mayo Clinic notes.
Consume Fatty Fish And Seafood
Fatty fish and seafood are among the richest natural food sources of vitamin D.
In fact, a 3.5-ounce serving of canned salmon can provide up to 386 IU of vitamin D about 50% of the RDI .
The exact vitamin D content of seafoods may vary depending on the type and species in question. For example, some research suggests that farmed salmon may contain only 25% of the amount of wild-caught salmon (
Fatty fish and seafood are among the foods highest in vitamin D, though exact vitamin content may vary depending on the type and source of the food in question.
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What Happens When You Take Your Daily Vitamin D3
When you take a Vitamin D supplement, the vitamin passes from your bloodstream into your liver.
From here, it goes to the kidneys where it turns into calcitriol.
It is then released back into your bloodstream and can now enter your bodys cells where it attaches to Vitamin D receptors.
At this point, it can get to work regulating the minerals calcium and phosphorous. Clever stuff!
How Does Vitamin D Affect Your Bones
A vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, higher doses of prednisone, an RA medication, also increase your risk for osteoporosis. This condition causes your bones to lose density and become weak, which increases your risk for bone fractures from incidents ranging from falls to bumping into objects. Talk to your doctor if you have arthritis and think you may be at risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis often develops without symptoms and requires a bone mineral density test for diagnosis.
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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.
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.
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Common Side Effects Of Vitamin D Vs D3
There are no common side effects to therapy with either vitamin D2 or D3. Side effects related to vitamin D are the result of hypervitaminosis D, an extremely rare condition that occurs when you intake too much vitamin D. This is sometimes seen in patients who take megadoses of vitamin D, leading to vitamin D toxicity. The result is a build up of dangerously high levels of calcium in the blood which can lead to nausea, vomiting, constipation, and frequent urination. If left untreated, irreversible renal failure can occur along with calcification of organs and soft tissues.
The following table lists side effects related to hypervitaminosis D, not normal vitamin D supplementation. More information on vitamin D toxicity may be obtained from your doctor or pharmacist, as this may not be a complete list.
Vitamin D Supplements: Are They Really Good For Our Health
There is no doubt that our bodies need vitamin D. It helps regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in our bones, helps our cells to communicate with each other, and helps strengthen our immune system. But can vitamin D supplementation really offer additional health benefits?
Previous research suggests it can. But other studies indicate that vitamin D supplementation does not do any more than promote bone and immune system health and is only useful for people who have a vitamin D deficiency.
We look at both sides of the argument in an attempt to determine whether vitamin D supplementation really is good for us.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. There are five forms of the vitamin D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5.
However, vitamins D2 and D3 appear to be the most important in the human body.
Sunlight is the the bodys main source of vitamin D. There is no set amount of time a person should spend in the sunlight to get a good amount of this vitamin. However, the Vitamin D Council state that you dont need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D.
The UKs National Health Service states that short bursts of sun exposure during summer months should be enough.
The energy from the sun changes a chemical in the skin to vitamin D3, which is then carried to the liver and the kidneys where it is made into active vitamin D.
The main function of vitamin D is to increase the intestinal absorption of calcium a process that is crucial for good bone health.
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