Sunlight And Vitamin D
The easiest way to get vitamin D is by exposing your skin to direct sunlight, specifically, ultraviolet B rays. The more you expose your skin, the more vitamin D your body produces. You only need to spend about half as much time as it takes to turn pink and get sunburn. This means if you are fair-skinned and normally start to turn pink in 30 minutes, you only need 15 minutes of pre-sunscreen sun exposure to produce the vitamin D3 your body needs. The darker your skin, the more time you need in the sun to produce vitamin D. The amount of vitamin D you get from sun exposure depends on the time of day, your skin tone, where you live, and how much skin you expose.
Why You Need It And How To Get It
What does your body make with help from the sun that plays a key role in bone health? The answer is Vitamin D, and your skin produces it by using sunlight. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, a building block for your bones. Vitamin D and calcium work together to regenerate bone cells, keeping your bones strong and healthy.
Vitamin D plays other roles in keeping your body healthy and functioning well. It may help:
- Your immune system fight invaders like bacteria and viruses
- Protect against some types of cancers
- Protect against Type 2 diabetes by improving your blood glucose metabolism
Many people do not get enough vitamin D. Low levels can contribute to weak bones or osteoporosis. If you have low vitamin D levels, your symptoms might include fatigue or muscle pain, weakness or cramps. Or, you may have no signs or symptoms at all.
It is rare but possible to get too much vitamin D, which can be very harmful to your body. It is hard to get too much vitamin D from food alone, but you might get too much vitamin D if you take too much in the form of a supplement. The only way to determine your vitamin D level is through a blood test ordered by your primary care provider.
Relationship Between Vitamin D And Cholesterol
There is a quite significant relationship between vitamin D and cholesterol inside the body. Both of them are required by the body to perform all of its proper functions. To put the relationship simple, there will be no vitamin D without any cholesterol in your body. However, the requirement of vitamin D inside the body does not necessarily put us into a requirement of high cholesterol level.
Our body produces cholesterol in the liver and also gets it from the food sources we consume. One of the major functions of cholesterol in our body is its role in synthesis of vitamin D. it means, the absence of cholesterol contributes to the absence of vitamin D, which is essential for our growth. The biggest and most affordable source of vitamin D is sunlight. Upon exposure to sunlight, therefore, the body is able to synthesize its own vitamin D with the help of body cholesterol.
Since cholesterol and vitamin D work hand-in-hand in the production, there is also a connection in dietary sources between vitamin D and cholesterol. This means food sources containing or which are loaded with high cholesterol are high in vitamin D simultaneously. This is one of the reasons why we should pay attention to our cholesterol level before taking in some foods rich in vitamin D. Cod liver oil and eggs are good sources of vitamin D, but those are also a couple of foods which have been researched to contain high level of cholesterol respectively.
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How Much Vitamin D Do You Need
In healthy people, the amount of vitamin D needed per day varies by age. The chart below shows the often-cited recommendations of the Institute of Medicine, now the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It is important to know that these are general recommendations. If your doctor is checking your blood levels, he or she might recommend higher or lower doses based on your individual needs.
If you have osteoporosis, your doctor might suggest a blood test of your vitamin D levels. The amount of vitamin D supplement can be customized for each person, based on the results. For many older patients, a vitamin D supplement containing anywhere between 800 to 2000 IUs daily, which can be obtained without a prescription, can be both safe and beneficial. It is important to speak with your doctor about your individual needs.
|People by age|
*refers to adequate intake vs recommended dietary allowance of the other age groups.
Advice For Adults And Children Over 4 Years Old
During the autumn and winter, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough for the body to make vitamin D.
But since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
Between late March/early April to the end of September, most people can make all the vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet.
You may choose not to take a vitamin D supplement during these months.
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The Role Of Vitamin D3
Another surprising thing about vitamin D3? Its not actually a vitamin, but a pro-hormone. Its considered a pro-hormone because the body is able to produce it on its own by absorbing sunlight on the skin.
Other vitamins and nutrients are unable to be produced by the body and therefore must be obtained via diet and supplements. The body needs to store a healthy amount of vitamin D in order absorb phosphorous and be able to maintain normal levels of calcium. In fact, vitamin D is essential to many functions in the body:
- Vitamin D is necessary for the maintenance of strong bones and healthy teeth.
- Keeping a healthy store of vitamin D gives added protection to such diseases as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.
- Helps with diabetes management and maintaining healthy insulin levels.
- Vitamin D offers immune support as well as protection to the nervous system and the brain.
- Vitamin D is essential to the health of the lungs and cardiovascular system.
- Helps inhibit the development of cancer.
Vitamin D And Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body does not use insulin properly and blood sugar levels can rise above normal. Researchers are looking into whether vitamin D can help regulate blood sugar levels. In addition, vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, and calcium helps manage sugar in the blood. Studies have found people with vitamin D deficiency have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, but the link is not conclusive. More research is needed to determine if vitamin D supplementation can help people with type 2 diabetes.
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How Is A Vitamin D Deficiency Diagnosed
Your doctor can order a blood test to measure your levels of vitamin D. There are two types of tests that might be ordered, but the most common is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D, known as 25D for short. For the blood test, a technician will use a needle to take blood from a vein. You do not need to fast or otherwise prepare for this type of test.
Synthetic Analogs Of Vitamin D
Maxacalcitol is the first analog found to have a wider therapeutic window than 1,252D3.
Calcipotriol is derived from calcitriol was first discovered during trials involving the use of vitamin D for treating osteoporosis.
Dihydrotachysterol is a synthetic form of vitamin D that many consider superior to natural D2 and D3. It becomes active by the liver without needing to go through hydroxylation in the kidneys.
Paricalcitol is also derived from calcitriol. It is the first of the new vitamin D analogs to be approved for secondary hyperparathyroidism and differs from calcitriol in that it lacks the exocyclic carbon 19 and has a vitamin D2 side chain instead of a vitamin D3 side chain.
Tacalcitol is a derivative of vitamin D3. It is known to hinder keratinocytes in the skin.
Doxercalciferol D2) is a prodrug and must be activated in vivo. It is less toxic than 1 D3 when administered chronically.
Falecalcitriol 2-26, 27-F6-D3) is approved for secondary hyperparathyroidism in Japan. It is more active than calcitriol because of its slower metabolism.
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Vitamin D And Weight Loss
Obesity is a risk factor for low vitamin D levels because the more weight you carry, the more vitamin D your body requires. Studies have also shown vitamin D deficiency may increase your risk of becoming obese later in life. One small study found women with low levels of vitamin D might be more prone to gain weight. Vitamin D and calcium may act as an appetite suppressant as well.
May Help Prevent Cancer
Getting enough vitamin B6 may lower your risk of developing certain types of cancer.
The reason why B6 may help prevent cancer is unclear, but researchers suspect that its related to its ability to fight inflammation that may contribute to cancer and other chronic conditions (
More research that includes randomized trials and not merely observational studies is needed to assess the exact role of vitamin B6 in cancer prevention.
Summary Some observational studies suggest a link between adequate dietary intake and blood levels of vitamin B6 and a decreased risk of certain types of cancer, but more research is needed.
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Why Do We Need Vitamin D
Unlike most other vitamins, our body is able to make its own vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sunlight. It converts this vitamin into an activated form that the body can use.
Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and regulates the amount of phosphate in the body. These actions are essential for strong and healthy bones, reducing risk of bone deformations or fractures.
Though vitamin D is best known for its role in bone health, it is thought that it also has other important functions in the body. These may include brain development, muscle function , and immune function.
People At Risk Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Some people will not make enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.
The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that adults and children over 4 take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if they:
- are not often outdoors for example, if they’re frail or housebound
- are in an institution like a care home
- usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors
If you have dark skin for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background you may also not make enough vitamin D from sunlight.
You should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.
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Its Very Individual How Much Sun Exposure A Person Needs Roberta Bivins
Its very individual how much sun exposure a person needs during summer, depending on the pigment in the skin to the amount of fat in the body and how quickly your body makes new bone. Its incredibly complicated, she says.
Thats why the best way to determine if you have low vitamin D is not by symptoms alone, but with a blood test arranged through your medic.
Then there is the question of exactly what level of supplementation people need. Reid says theres no danger in taking over-the-counter vitamin D of less than 25 nanomols per day.
US and Canada guidelines suggest taking 15 micrograms of vitamin D supplements each day, but some believe its not enough
But with supplements offering doses as high as 62.5 micrograms available over the counter, there are concerns around the risk of excessive vitamin D levels, which can, in rare cases, cause side effects, including nausea and vomiting. In the long term, some studies suggest too much vitamin D can increase risk of cardiovascular disease, although the research isnt conclusive.
But others argue that even more vitamin D is needed.
With such conflicting results, its unsurprising that medical experts themselves are deeply divided over the benefits of widespread supplementation. Some even argue that vested interests are propping up the billion-dollar vitamin industry, with Spector calling vitamin D supplements a pseudo-vitamin for a pseudo-disease.
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If You Take Any Group Of Patients With Almost Any Disease Their Vitamin D Levels Will Be Lower Than In A Healthy Individual Ian Reid
Ian Reid, professor in medicine at the University of Auckland, believes that diseases cause low vitamin D levels, as being unwell often leads to spending less time outdoors exposed to sunlight, rather than vice versa. If you take any group of patients with almost any disease, their vitamin D levels will be lower than in a healthy individual. This has led some to hypothesise its low vitamin D developing the disease, but theres no evidence to prove it, he says.
Some experts believe people who are unwell have low vitamin D levels because they spend less time outdoors, not that their low levels cause health problems
Researchers have found that higher vitamin D levels are associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer it plays a role in stemming the formation of new blood vessels and stimulating better communication between cells. Vitamin D also has been found to help maintain normal levels of calcium in the colon, which slows growth of non-cancerous but high-risk cells.
Other studies, including of the link between vitamin D and liver cancer,breast cancer and prostate cancer, suggest there is good reason to think that low vitamin D plays a part in the spread of cancer cells. But taking supplements would then, surely, help stave off cancer and a recent meta-analysis failed to find that supplementation reduced cancer risk.
D for depression
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Vitamin D Boosts Weight Loss
Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if youre trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease. You can find a great selection of vitamin D supplements on .
In one study, people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The scientists said the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite-suppressing effect.
In another study, overweight people who took a daily vitamin D supplement improved their heart disease risk markers.
Many factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through the sun alone. These factors include:
- Being in an area with high pollution
- Using sunscreen
- Spending more time indoors
- Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
- Having darker skin.
These factors contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people. Thats why its important to get some of your vitamin D from sources besides sunlight.
The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults include:
- severe bone or muscle pain or weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a low chair, or cause you to walk with a waddling gait
- stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips
Doctors can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a simple blood test. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may order X-rays to check the strength of your bones.
May Promote Eye Health And Prevent Eye Diseases
Vitamin B6 may play a role in preventing eye diseases, especially a type of vision loss that affects older adults called age-related macular degeneration .
Studies have linked high blood levels of circulating homocysteine with an increased risk of AMD .
Since vitamin B6 helps reduce elevated blood levels of homocysteine, getting enough B6 may lower your risk of this disease .
A seven-year study in over 5,400 female health professionals found that taking a daily supplement of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid significantly reduced AMD risk by 3540%, compared to a placebo .
While these results suggest that B6 may play a role in preventing AMD, its difficult to tell if B6 alone would offer the same benefits.
Research has also linked low blood levels of vitamin B6 to eye conditions that block veins that connect to the retina. A controlled study in over 500 people found that the lowest blood levels of B6 were significantly associated with retinal disorders .
Summary Vitamin B6 supplements may reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration . Additionally, adequate blood levels of B6 may prevent issues that affect the retina. However, more research is needed.
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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.