What Are Good Sources Of Vitamin D
- Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines
- Red meat
- Fortified foods like breakfast cereals
- Dietary supplements
In some countries cows milk is fortified with vitamin D, which can provide a good source of intake. But in the UK this is not standard practice. Although you may be able to find a small minority of cows milk brands that have extra vitamin D included, it’s best to concentrate on the other dietary sources above if youre looking to increase your levels, says Dr McClymont.
How Is Vitamin D Deficiency Treated
The goals of treatment and prevention are the sameto reach, and then maintain, an adequate level of vitamin D in the body. While you might consider eating more foods that contain vitamin D and getting a little bit of sunlight, you will likely be told to take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. D2, also called ergocalciferol, comes from plants. D3, also called cholecalciferol, comes from animals. You need a prescription to get D2. D3, however, is available over the counter. It is more easily absorbed than D2 and lasts longer in the body dose-for-dose. Work with your doctor to find out if you need to take a vitamin supplement and how much to take if it is needed.
Q: Should People Consider Vitamin D Supplements
A: If the level of vitamin D in your blood is less than 20 nanograms per milliliter, your doctor may recommend taking a supplement. Many women already take calcium and vitamin D supplements together for bone health because vitamin D can help in calcium absorption, and they work best when taken together. Ask your doctor if supplements are right for you.
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You Have An Increased Need For Vitamin D
Growing children, pregnant women, and breast-feeding women need extra vitamin D because it is required for growth. So, vitamin D deficiency is more likely to develop in the following groups of people:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women. Vitamin D deficiency is even more likely to develop in women who have had several babies with short gaps between pregnancies.
- Breast-fed babies whose mothers are lacking in vitamin D, or with prolonged breastfeeding, as there is little vitamin D in breast milk.
What About Vitamin D And Covid
Throughout the pandemic theres been a lot of debate about whether vitamin D may be beneficial in those with Covid-19.
‘Research has shown that those most at risk from Covid-19 older adults, care home residents and Black, Asian and minority ethnic populations are also those statistically more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency,’ explains Dr McClymont.
‘But theres been no proven link between the two so far, and a large scale review of vitamin D in the context of Covid-19 concluded there was insufficient evidence to suggest using vitamin D to prevent or treat Covid-19.’
‘Its the governments advice that everyone in the UK supplements with a low dose of vitamin D during the autumn and winter months, when theres poor exposure to sunlight, especially those who are vulnerable.
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How Can I Get More Vitamin D
There are a few foods that naturally have some vitamin D:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods. You can check the food labels to find out whether a food has vitamin D. Foods that often have added vitamin D include:
- Other dairy products, such as yogurt
- Soy drinks
Vitamin D is in many multivitamins. There are also vitamin D supplements, both in pills and a liquid for babies.
If you have vitamin D deficiency, the treatment is with supplements. Check with your health care provider about how much you need to take, how often you need to take it, and how long you need to take it.
Does Being A Vegetarian Lower Cancer Risk
Itâs difficult to say whether being a vegetarian or a vegan lowers cancer risk. This is mainly because of the diversity within the vegetarian population.
Many studies of the cancer-vegetarian relationship conclude that diets rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, isoflavones , and carotenoids , seem to protect against disease, including cancer, when part of a health-conscious lifestyle.
An 11-year study in Germany examined colon cancer among 1,900 vegetarians. Researchers noted fewer deaths from cancers of the stomach, colon, and lung in study participants than in the general population — particularly among those who practiced some form of vegetarianism for at least 20 years. They suggested, however, that other factors, like body weight and amount of exercise, likely affected mortality rates in the vegetarians they studied.
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What Does Sunlight Have To Do With Getting Enough Vitamin D
There are health benefits of sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to sunshine, or rather, the ultraviolet B radiation that the sun emits. The amount of vitamin D that your skin makes depends on such factors as:
- The season: This factor depends a bit on where you live. In areas such as Cleveland, OH, the UV-B light does not reach the earth for six months out of the year due to the ozone layer and the zenith of the sun.
- The time of day: The sun’s rays are most powerful between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- The amount of cloud cover and air pollution.
- Where you live: Cities near the equator have higher ultraviolet light levels. It is the UV-B light in sunlight that causes your skin to make vitamin D.
- The melanin content of your skin: Melanin is a brown-black pigment in the eyes, hair and skin. Melanin causes skin to tan. The darker your skin, the more sun exposure is needed in order to get sufficient vitamin D from the sun.
Government Advice On Vitamin D And Covid
As a lot of us are spending more time indoors than usual due to COVID-19 restrictions, its now even more important to keep our vitamin D levels topped up.
The NHS recommends that everybody should be taking a 10mcg of vitamin D a day in the months between October and early March to keep your muscles and bones healthy.1 And thats advice for a normal year, where most of us would usually be out and about more.
You may have seen some reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of COVID-19 . However, while there are numerous trials currently taking place to see if there is a link between the two, there is currently not enough evidence that taking vitamin D can prevent or treat COVID-19.2,3,4
Vitamin D Side Effects Due To Drug Interaction
Often particular medication is not considered suitable for everyone. Therefore, individuals undergoing specific medical treatments should abstain from vitamin D supplements. People taking the following medicines should consult a doctor before taking vitamin D supplements:
- Phenobarbital and phenytoin
Some medications might adversely impact the sensitivity of the supplements and the medical conditions. Therefore, people with the following ailments must contact a doctor before taking the supplements:
- Primary hyperthyroidism
- Gastric ulcers
More often than not, these problems have passive effects such as weight loss or weight gain, mood fluctuations and changes in behavioural patterns.
Risks Of Vitamin D Deficiency In The Elderly
People with vitamin D deficiency are likely to experience ageing more rapidly than those with sufficient vitamin D intake.
In the elderly, a deficit of vitamin D is associated with an increased likelihood that the health problems one does experience may be difficult to treat and/or result in death more likely than without a vitamin D deficiency. Among other factors, this is because elderly people who have vitamin D deficiency are also more likely to experience cognitive impairment, compromised muscle function and are more prone to falls.
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Risk Factors For Vitamin D Deficiency
There are many reasons why your body may not have sufficient levels of vitamin D. Here are some common risk factors:
Darker skin tone: Your skins ability to synthesize vitamin D is greatly reduced if you have a naturally darker skin tone.9Limited sun exposure: UV rays are a major source of vitamin D, so limited time in the sun means lower levels of vitamin D. Sunscreen use, spending time indoors, and reduced sunlight in the winter months all contribute to lower vitamin D levels.10
Advanced age: As you age, your skins ability to produce vitamin D greatly decreases.11
Obesity: Lower concentrations of vitamin D in the body are associated with obesity, so if youre overweight you may need higher doses of vitamin D.12
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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Who Is At Risk For Vitamin D Deficiency
Being that the sun is the primary source of vitamin D, your exposure, or lack of it, will impact your risk for a deficiency.
The Endocrine Society recommends screening and treatment for individuals at risk, including older adults with a history of falls or nontraumatic fractures obese children and adults African-American and Hispanic children and adults pregnant and lactating women and people with musculoskeletal diseases, chronic kidney disease, hepatic failure, malabsorption syndromes, and some lymphomas. Ongoing monitoring is recommended for the elderly, people with disabilities, and hospitalized people as they have been shown to have a significantly higher risk.
Research has begun to focus on who is deficient or insufficient in their vitamin D levels. Finding a deficiency does not mean that vitamin D is the cause of any ongoing symptoms. It simply means that there is a possible relationship, and more studies need to be done to clarify the relationship between vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency and disease processes.
People with one of the fat malabsorption syndromes and people who have had bariatric surgery are often unable to absorb enough of the fat-soluble vitamin D.
Medications and medical conditions
Vitamin D And Uvb Radiation Protection: A Warning
it is important to note that one should never become sunburnt in oneâs efforts to spend time outdoors for the purpose of increasing oneâs levels of vitamin D. Going without adequate sun protection carries significant health risks. For example, it increases the likelihood of developing severe forms of skin cancer such as melanoma.
Becoming sunburnt as a result of spending time in the sun is never recommended. One should ensure that one always takes care to wear appropriate sun protection for oneâs skin type, as well as following the general recommendations, such as wearing high-factor sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.
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Treatment For Vitamin D Deficiency
Treatment for vitamin D deficiency involves getting more vitamin D — through diet and supplements. Although there is no consensus on vitamin D levels required for optimal health — and it likely differs depending on age and health conditions — a concentration of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter is generally considered inadequate, requiring treatment.
Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine increased the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D to 600 international units for everyone ages 1-70, and raised it to 800 IU for adults older than age 70 to optimize bone health. The safe upper limit was also raised to 4,000 IU. Doctors may prescribe more than 4,000 IU to correct a vitamin D deficiency.
If you don’t spend much time in the sun or always are careful to cover your skin , you should speak to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, particularly if you have risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.
The Truth About Vitamin D
No doubt you’ve seen the headlines promoting the negative side effects of low vitamin D levels. It’s important to read those stories carefully, since links don’t necessarily prove cause and effect. “There can be many other explanations for the associations observed,” says JoAnn Manson, MD, PhD, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts.
That said, not getting enough vitamin D can lead to negative health consequences. The good news? It’s relatively easy to get enough vitamin D. Certain foods, including fatty fish, can help you increase your levels, as can sunlight. Specifically, 15 minutes of sunlight on your hands and face each day can do the trick, Donald Ford, MD, a family medicine doctor at Cleveland Clinic, previously told Health.
Here are 27 reasons you should consider spending more time outdoors if your doctor mentions that your vitamin D levels are low.
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Osteoporosis And Bone Disorders
Perhaps one of the most well-known results of vitamin D deficiency is osteoporosis, a condition in adults where bones are weak and brittle due to a lack of calcium. Likewise, when children have low vitamin D levels for long periods of time, they are prone to develop a condition known as rickets, which is characterized by weakened bones and stunted growth.
Can Vitamin D Help You Lose Weight
The correlation between low vitamin D and weight gain is unquestionable. But can vitamin D help you shed some weight and perhaps keep it off? If evidence from a series of recent studies is something to go by, then yes â vitamin D supplementation can indeed improve your likelihood of losing weight and decreasing body/belly fat.
In one double-blinded study involving 218 obese and overweight female participants, all of whom were on an exercise program and calorie-limited diet, 114 were given a vitamin D supplement while the rest was the control group. At the end of the 12-month study, scientists discovered that participants who met their vitamin D requirements lost more weight than those who had lower-than-required blood levels.
The findings of the above study were backed by another 2018 clinical trial whose results were published in theInternational Journal of Preventive Medicine. In this study in which similarly obese and overweight women were put on a vitamin D supplement treatment for six weeks, researchers noted a significant reduction in the BMIs, waist circumference, and overall weight.
Together, these studies reiterated an earlier assumption about low vitamin D and weight gain. In particular, they suggest that vitamin D supplementation may, as part of a weight loss regimen combined with exercise, improve the chances of weight loss success.
The role of hormones
The advantage of lowering blood cholesterol
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Vitamin Deficiencies That Affect Tooth And Gum Health
- 03 Feb, 2021
When many people think about how their diet affects their teeth, they only consider whether the food they eat contains substances known to cause tooth decay. However, the foods you eat can also affect your teeth and gums from the inside out. When you do not eat enough foods that contain certain nutrients important for teeth or gum health, these vitamin deficiencies can damage your oral health.
Learn about three specific vitamin deficiencies that can affect your oral health.
Get Out In The Sunshine More
Most people can make enough vitamin D by simply being out in the sun every day for short periods of time with their hands, forearms or lower legs uncovered and without sun protection you dont have to go and sun it up in a bikini .
However, there is no definitive answer to how long you have to stay out in the sun for because everyone is different.
Skin colour and skin exposure play a big part in how much vitamin D your skin will absorb, e.g. people with dark skin such as those from an African, Caribbean or South Asian origin will need to spend longer exposed in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as somebody with lighter skin.
You also need to make sure you dont burn in the sun, so make sure you always have sun protection and sunglasses handy for when it gets super sunny and you can feel your skin getting red or burnt.
Please seek shade if you plan to be out in the sun for a long time the longer you stay in the sun unprotected, the greater your risk of skin cancer is.
Your body cannot make vitamin D with sunlight that shines through a window the glass will block the ultraviolet B rays from getting to your skin.15
If you think you are at risk, seek advice from a medical professional or ask your Doctor for a blood test to assess your Vitamin D levels. With your Doctors support, start taking a quality vitamin D3 supplement to meet UK Government guidelines.
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