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What Do We Need Vitamin D For

Where Can I Buy It

Why Do We Need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D supplements are widely available from supermarkets and chemists. They may be just vitamin D or part of a multivitamin tablet.

The ingredient listed on the label of most Vitamin D supplements is D3, the one made by your skin. Vitamin D2 is produced by plants.

Vitamin drops are available for babies.

Vitamin D Can Help Prevent Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

While studies are not conclusive, vitamin D may be helpful for preventing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, says Newgent. One such study, published in 2006 in the journal Diabetes Care, found that while vitamin D on its own did not effectively lower the risk of an overabundance of sugar in the blood, a combined daily intake of > 1,200 mg calcium and > 800 IU vitamin D could effectively lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Important Notes Regarding Supplementation

Effectiveness:research comparing the two types of vitamins shows that vitamin D2 tends to be less potent. This means larger doses may be needed to achieve the same effect. It’s generally safe to supplement with 1000 to 2000 IU, or 25 – 50 mcg, of vitamin D2, although it’s best to speak with a physician before beginning any new supplementations.

Individuals in the obese category: We recognize that weight can be a very personal topic for many of us. Weight is not necessarily the best indicator of health, but research indicates that individuals that fall into the obese category are at a greater risk for insufficient vitamin D. This is believed to be due to the extra fat cells that store the vitamin D. Although many possible mechanisms for why this deficiency is observed have been reported.

Multivitamins: remember that these can also contain vitamin D. Consider this when calculating total intake.

Timing of consumption: vitamin D is best absorbed with fat-containing foods. For optimal absorption of vitamin D, supplements can be taken with food.

Supplement type: there is no difference in the absorption of vitamin D supplements if they are liquid, chewable, or tablets.

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Can Vegans Take A Vitamin D Supplement

Vegans can be more susceptible to a vitamin D deficiency. The double whammy of not getting enough sunlight during the winter months and not being able to eat most of the food sources of vitamin D can make it a little more difficult.

However, even with meat, dairy and eggs off the menu, there are still natural vegan sources of vitamin D like mushrooms for vitamin D2 and lichen for vitamin D3.

As these are limited, a vitamin D supplement is recommended. Especially for vitamin D3 as we dont think many vegans will be chowing down on some lichen!

What Is The Difference Between Vitamin D2 And D3

Why do we need Vitamin D?

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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Help Protect Against Heart Disease And Stroke

Is vitamin D heart-healthy? A prior review of 19 studies linked adequate vitamin D to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. Yet the VITAL study, a large, randomized clinical trial study involving more than 25,000 participants and published in January 2019 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found no risk reduction for strokes, heart attacks or cardiovascular deaths in people who took 2,000 IU supplements daily.

How Can I Help Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency

The goals of treating and preventing the lack of vitamin D of treatment and prevention are the sameto reach and keep an adequate level of vitamin D in the body. Your healthcare provider will let you know if you need to take or keep taking vitamin D supplements. If so, they will also let you know how much you should take. You might also want to consider:

Eating more foods that contain vitamin D: See the vitamin D food sources table included in this article. Keep in mind that foods alone usually don’t meet the daily recommended levels of vitamin D.

Getting some exposure to sunshinebut not too much: Exactly how much sun exposure is needed isnt clear. 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure two to three times a week to the face, arms, legs or back may be all that is needed to absorb a suitable amount of vitamin D. You might need more sun exposure if:

  • You are older.
  • You have a darker skin color.
  • You live in northern climates.

The use of sunscreen, and standing behind a window, prevents vitamin D from being produced in the skin. However, you should remember that too much sunshine increases the risk of skin cancer and ages the skin. That is why taking an appropriately dosed D supplement is far safer than intentionally getting routine sun exposure.

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Do I Need To Take A Vitamin D Supplement

There are people who are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency than others, for instance those who arent outdoors very much, people who wear high factor sun cream all the time, older people, and those with darker skin or a higher BMI. People taking certain medications or with certain liver and kidney problems may also not produce enough vitamin D.

Having said that, its thought that most people in the UK probably do need to take a vitamin D supplement over the Winter months, because the sun isnt strong enough and were all wearing our woollies! The NHS reckons 1 in 5 Brits arent getting enough vitamin D between September and March.

Are Supplements A Good Idea

Why You Need Vitamin D

With minimal sunshine, and not too many foods with vitamin D, supplements can be a smart option, Quershi says.

The dietitian recommends vitamin D drops for young children, because theyre easy to consume, and says pills are a common form of supplements for adults.

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You want to make sure it says vitamin D3, Qureshi explains. That is the one thats more bioavailable for your body. Most vitamin supplements will be D3.

Individuals who are already taking multivitamins should check the contents most will include the nutrient.

If you have vitamin D in that supplement, then youre covered, Qureshi said.

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Can Medications Cause A Vitamin D Deficiency

Yes. Vitamin D levels can be lowered by certain medications. These include:

Always tell your doctor about the drugs you take and any vitamin D supplements or other supplements or herbs/alternative health products that you take.

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.

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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 Do I Get The Vitamin D I Need


Dont run out to the drug store to buy vitamin D pills just yet. Your body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sun, and it is estimated that most people need 1,000 to 1,500 hours of sun exposure throughout the spring, summer, and fall to obtain the necessary amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is very common and on the rise. This is mostly due to vigilant sun protection, since sunscreen with SPF 30 reduces vitamin D production by 95%. Of course, as a dermatologist I am not advocating for prolonged sun exposure, but small amounts can go a long way, as the skin produces vitamin D that can last at least twice as long the vitamin D you take in through foods or supplements. Vitamin D can also be obtained through other sources, including fatty fish , foods fortified with vitamin D , beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Of course, vitamin D supplements are needed for people most at risk for deficiency, including breastfed infants, older adults, people with limited sun exposure, darker skinned individuals, and overweight individuals.

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How Is Vitamin D Different From Other Nutrients

To get a better understanding of vitamin D and scientists long-held fascination with its functions, it’s first good to know that not all vitamins and minerals operate in the body alike.

We’re discovering that vitamin D behaves much less like a vitamin and much more like a hormone, says Robin Foroutan, RDN, an integrative dietitian at the Morrison Center in New York City and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That means vitamin D acts as a messenger rather than a participant in metabolism, potentially affecting everything from weight to how organs function.

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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How Can I Ensure That My Body Gets Enough Vitamin D

We meet our daily vitamin D needs in two ways:

  • exposure to the sun: by exposing your skin to the sun for 15 to 20 minutes in late morning or in the afternoon, you ensure that your body has an adequate daily intake of vitamin D
  • consumption of foods that are rich in vitamin D, including:
  • oily fish, such as herring, sardines, salmon and mackerel
  • certain mushrooms, such as chanterelles, ceps and morels
  • dairy products fortified with vitamin D
  • egg yolk
  • offal
  • meat .

To ensure that your body has an adequate intake, you are advised to eat a varied, balanced diet all year round, and to have two servings of fish per week, including one of oily fish.

Did you know?

In France, the main foods that contribute to vitamin D intakes in the population are fish and dairy products , which respectively account for 19% and 25% of vitamin D intakes in adults, and 12% and 40% of intakes in children between the ages of 11 and 17. For children under 10 years old, dairy products are the main contributors, meeting 63% of their vitamin D needs.

Can You Get Vitamin D In The Shade

Why do we need vitamin D, and whats the best way to get it?

The sun and its UV rays can be dangerous for your skin, UVA and UVB rays are out to get you and even more during the summer. So can you produce Vitamin D in the shade? Unfortunately not, we need to be in direct sunlight in order to produce an optimal amount of vitamin D.

Thats why you need to make sure you are taking the right precautions before going out in the sun, starting with wearing SPF. A broad-spectrum SPF will protect your skin from UV rays and minimise the sun damage on your skin long term. You also want to make sure youre not staying in the sun for too long, or to take breaks if you can. Staying in the sun in slots of 15-30 minutes is best and you need to make sure you go in the shade if possible and also rehydrate and getting enough water.

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The Evidence On Extra Vitamin D

We know that people with low vitamin D levels are at risk for health problems, but the question is, if you treat the low vitamin D, can you prevent those issues? says Erin Michos, M.D., an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. And there havent been any trials showing this is the case.

A review of 21 clinical trials involving 83,291 people with an average age of 66, published just last week in JAMA Cardiology, found that taking vitamin D supplements for at least one year didnt significantly reduce the risk of cardiac events such as heart attack and stroke, or death from any cause.

A key limitation: Few of the trials focused specifically on the effects of supplements on cardiovascular disease, but instead on issues such as bone density.

For this and other reasons, the researchers say that more studies on older adults, with a focus on heart-related conditions such as heart failure, would be of interest. Still, they write, The findings suggest that vitamin D may not confer cardiovascular protection and may not be indicated for this purpose.

Theres other recent research, too. An early 2019 study of more than 25,000 people 50 or older, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily for five years failed to decrease the incidence of cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Are We Taking Too Much Vitamin D

Well, another of my beliefs is that the tendency in the vitamin field to take unnaturally large levels of isolated nutrients is misguided. As mentioned in my book Health Secrets, I believe we should think of nutritional supplements a lot like drugs. We dose high initially until the deficiency is fulfilled, then we should roll back to a lower dose, closer to what food might contain in an ideal state, and skip the weekends , in order to remind our bodies to both store the nutrients and to use them efficiently.

I, like most others in this field, jumped hard onto the vitamin D bandwagon and was often taking up to 10,000IU daily. But recently something dawned on me that I would like to share. When we get vitamin D from the sun it is not technically in an active form. How much vitamin D will be activated from the stores in the liver and skin is to be determined by the kidneys. The kidneys monitor the blood for levels of potassium and sodium, which tells it if it is summer or winter, since in a traditional diet found in ones environment, foods will be higher in sodium in the colder months and higher in potassium in the warmer months .

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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?

The basics

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.

Broken bones


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