Vitamin Ds Many Health Benefits
Vitamin D helps regulate and protect your immune system and allows your body to better absorb calcium.
Calcium is essential to maintaining strong bones and teeth. Children and adults who dont get enough Vitamin D may develop serious bone problems because their bodies cant absorb adequate amounts of calcium.
Getting enough Vitamin D has been linked to the following health benefits:
- The prevention of cancer
Shouldnt A Healthy Diet Supply Enough Vitamin D
Consuming plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables is excellent advice, but plant-based sources provide very little vitamin D. Even if you ate portabella mushrooms, the best vegetable source, youd need to eat about 50 cups every day to get enough.2
There are other foods with vitamin D, like fish and eggs, but for most people, they arent sufficient. Research shows that on average, men consume only 34% of the daily recommended amount, while women get even less at just 28%.2
Lack of vitamin D in the diet isnt a new problem. In the early 1900s deficiency was so commonplace there was a rickets epidemic, which is why most dairy products and breakfast cereals are voluntarily fortified with vitamin D. This may be adequate to prevent significant illness, but it still falls far short of the recommended daily amount because a cup of milk only gives you 15%, while a serving of cereal adds just 10%.2
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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Signs Of Deficiency And Toxicity
Vitamin D deficiency may occur from a lack in the diet, poor absorption, or having a metabolic need for higher amounts. If one is not eating enough vitamin D and does not receive enough ultraviolet sun exposure over an extended period , a deficiency may arise. People who cannot tolerate or do not eat milk, eggs, and fish, such as those with a lactose intolerance or who follow a vegan diet, are at higher risk for a deficiency. Other people at high risk of vitamin D deficiency include:
- People with inflammatory bowel disease or other conditions that disrupt the normal digestion of fat. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that depends on the guts ability to absorb dietary fat.
- People who are obese tend to have lower blood vitamin D levels. Vitamin D accumulates in excess fat tissues but is not easily available for use by the body when needed. Higher doses of vitamin D supplementation may be needed to achieve a desirable blood level. Conversely, blood levels of vitamin D rise when obese people lose weight.
- People who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, which typically removes the upper part of the small intestine where vitamin D is absorbed.
Conditions resulting from prolonged vitamin D deficiency:
Symptoms of toxicity:
- Weight loss
- Irregular heart beat
- Hardening of blood vessels and tissues due to increased blood levels of calcium, potentially leading to damage of the heart and kidneys
What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by specific medical conditions, such as:
- Cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease: These diseases do not allow the intestines to absorb enough vitamin D through supplements.
- Weight loss surgeries. Weight loss surgeries that reduce the size of the stomach and/or bypasses part of the small intestines make it very difficult to consume sufficient quantities of certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These individuals need to be carefully monitored by their doctors and need to continue to take vitamin D and other supplements throughout their lives.
- Obesity: A body mass index greater than 30 is associated with lower vitamin D levels. Fat cells keep vitamin D isolated so that it is not released. Vitamin D deficiency is more likely in obese people. Obesity often makes it necessary to take larger doses of vitamin D supplements in order to reach and maintain normal D levels.
- Kidney and liver diseases: These diseases reduce the amount of an enzyme needed to change vitamin D to a form that is used in the body. Lack of this enzyme leads to an inadequate level of active vitamin D in the body.
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Uv Levels In Victoria
As shown in the table below, from mid-August to April, average UV levels in Victoria are three and above for much of the day. This level of UV increases the risk of overexposure and skin damage, and sun protection is recommended. Using good sun protection should not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.From May to mid-August, average UV levels in Victoria are low . During this time, sun protection is not recommended, unless you work outdoors, are near highly reflective surfaces , or are outside for extended periods.
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.
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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.
Is Sun Exposure Enough To Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D is nicknamed the sunshine vitamin because your body can only produce it when your skin is exposed to sunlight. But to get enough sunshine for effective vitamin D production, you need to spend at least 20 minutes outside with 40% of your body exposed between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. And, except during the summer months, you need to be in an area of strong southern sun, like Southern California or Florida.1,2 Are you going for a walk on the beach every day?
Even if you are, youre probably taking appropriate precautions like wearing a hat and sunscreen. SPF 15 blocks about 95-98% of the necessary UV rays, and research shows that even SPF 8 dramatically reduces vitamin D production.3 Does that mean you should go without sunscreen? Definitely not. The American Academy of Dermatology says its not worth the risk of cancer to even try getting the recommended amount of vitamin D from sun exposure.4
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Why We Need Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and phosphorus from your diet and use these minerals to keep your bones, teeth and muscles strong. This helps prevent falls as you get older.
Vitamin D may have other roles in the bodys immune system and heart health too.A lack of vitamin D can cause bone problems such as rickets in children and muscle weakness and painful or tender bones in adults.
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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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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.
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need
From about late March/early April to the end of September, the majority of people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin.
Children from the age of 1 year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Babies up to the age of 1 year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
A microgram is 1,000 times smaller than a milligram . The word microgram is sometimes written with the Greek symbol followed by the letter g .
Sometimes the amount of vitamin D is expressed as International Units . 1 microgram of vitamin D is equal to 40 IU. So 10 micrograms of vitamin D is equal to 400 IU.
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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.
Too Much Of A Good Thing: Overdoing Vitamin D
It’s important to not overdo vitamin D supplements since taking unsafe amounts of it can have negative effects on your health, like kidney problems, kidney stones, or hypercalcemia, a toxic condition where there is too much calcium in the blood. Generally, taking more than 4,000 IU per day is considered too much.
This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor before you take a supplement, and also ask for a test. If you think you get a decent amount of sun, eat foods with vitamin D regularly, and your levels are healthy, your doctor will likely say you don’t need any extra.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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Telltale Clues That You Might Be Deficient
How often are you dealing with frequent illness, tiredness and fatigue, bone and back pain, or muscle cramps2? Surprisethese common complaints could be your bodys way of saying it needs more vitamin D! And even if you might not be experiencing any serious health challenges, theres a good chance youre still falling short of the optimal amount of vitamin D.
In fact, vitamin D deficiency is becoming widespread, even among groups not previously considered at-risk.5 Its estimated that nearly half of adults arent getting enough through sun exposure and diet, and it only gets harder with age. That means over 100 million American adults arent getting the vitamin D their bodies need to function optimally.2
7 risk factors for low vitamin D:2,7
Vital Functions Of Vitamin D
- Brain Health
- 9 Vital Functions Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D, which is technically a hormone rather than a vitamin, is a crucial nutrient. Unfortunately, many Americans even those who eat a good diet are vitamin D deficient.
Typically, we get a vitamin D boost from the sun, but because we are wearing more sunscreen and spending more time INSIDE our levels are falling, putting us at greater health risks. In fact, there is research linking vitamin D deficiency to over 200 diseases.
Although most people think of vitamin D as just the sunshine vitamin, they often do not fully understand the significant ways that vitamin D affects your brain, body and overall health. Here are just a few:
Vitamin D receptors are found all over the body, including the immune cells. Research has clearly shown that vitamin D deficiency is part of the seasonal nature of cold and flu outbreaks less sunlight means less vitamin D, which leads to lower immunity and more illness.
Its well-documented that vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of calcium, and its been shown to greatly reduce fracture risk in two ways. First, it helps with the formation of stronger bones second, Vitamin D helps improve balance and prevent falls by enhancing muscle contraction.
Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it helps to regulate kidney function and plays a very beneficial role in treating kidney disease.
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What Does Research Say About Vitamin D
Although research on vitamin D abounds, its effect on human health remains uncertain. Thats largely because the majority of vitamin D studies either are on animals or were conducted in small human populations. Most important, the majority of research on the nutrient is observational, meaning that the findings dont point to a definite cause-and-effect relationship between vitamin D and the potential health benefit being studied.
Studies that do produce likely causal results are conducted with a randomized controlled model, in which researchers eliminate the risk of bias and account for potentially conflicting factors, notes George Washington University. Large randomized controlled trials are considered the gold standard for research, and unfortunately, there havent been many on vitamin D supplementation and its various possible health benefits.
With research limitations in mind, heres an in-depth look at what vitamin D can, may, and definitely won’t do for your health.