What Is Vitamin D And Where Do You Get It
Before learning about Vitamin D benefits, you must first understand what it is and where it comes from.
Vitamin D3 is a member of the family of compounds known simply as Vitamin D, which also includes vitamins D1, and D2. These vitamins are often referred to as the sunshine vitamins because the body produces all of these compounds naturally when it is exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, chemically very similar to Testosterone, Estrogen, and Progesterone, which is one reason why the body relies on it so much for overall health. D vitamins are fat-soluble, which means that they are stored within the liver and other fatty tissues when they arent used and are secreted when the body needs them.
To gain Vitamin D benefits, the recommended daily intake is between 400 and 4,000 IU, but some experts recommend even more, up to 10,000 IU per day. Lab tests have shown that many Americans are severely deficient in Vitamin D, which leads to many unhealthy consequences, as outlined below.
Your skin color is also a factor. Melanin in the skin, which is associated with darker skin tones, absorbs and blocks UV light from reaching the cells that produce Vitamin D. Thus people with darker complexions tend to require more UV light and may need more relative sunlight exposure to generate the same endogenous Vitamin D levels.
Even Without Convincing Evidence Why Not Take Them Anyway
Despite questions about the overall benefit of these supplements, many doctors began prescribing them routinely in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The logic may have been that with so little known about how to best treat this new infection and a long track record of safety for these supplements, why not?
But there are significant hazards to consider. These include side effects, allergic reactions, interactions with other drugs, the cost of unnecessary supplements, and the dangers of taking too much. For example:
- High doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea or stomach upset. There have also been concerns that high-dose vitamin C supplementation may interfere with blood thinners or cholesterol-lowering medications.
- High doses of vitamin D can cause severe symptoms, such as stomach upsets, kidney injury, and pancreatitis, and may even be life-threatening.
That said, people with nutritional deficiencies should receive supplements. Zinc or vitamin D deficiencies are not rare, and may contribute to poor immune function. Therefore, even without specific evidence linking supplement use with improvement among people with COVID-19, these supplements may be appropriate for people in whom deficiency is suspected or confirmed. For example, a person with little sun exposure and a diet low in dairy products may be likely to have vitamin D deficiency. A simple blood test can confirm or rule out vitamin D or zinc deficiency.
How Much Vitamin D Does My Child Need
Vitamin D is measured in international units .
- Babies younger than 1 year old need 400 IU of vitamin D a day. Baby formula has 400 IU per liter, so babies who drink at least 32 ounces of formula each day get enough. If your baby drinks only breast milk or gets less than 32 ounces of formula each day, ask your health care provider about giving your baby a vitamin D supplement.
- Kids older than 1 year need 600 IU or more of vitamin D a day. Health care providers often want healthy kids to take 600 to 1,000 IU daily.
Some kids might need more vitamin D, such as those who:
- have certain medical problems
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Why Would A Doctor Prescribe Vitamin D
Vitamin D prescriptions might be on the rise. One study found that testing for vitamin D deficiencies and subsequent prescriptions of the fat soluble vitamin increased more than sevenfold between 2008 and 2013. Why the huge increase? Researchers believe that it was due to a global increase in awareness of patients who are vitamin D deficient, rather than an actual increase in need.
So why would a doctor prescribe vitamin D supplementation? There are several reasons, but it starts with the vitamins accessibility.
Supplements : Vitamin D
Vitamin D is involved in many of your bodys functions. There are two forms in the diet, D2 and D3. It can also be produced in your skin when exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D deficiency is a problem all over the world.
However, its pervasive in young women, infants, older adults, and people who have dark skin .
About 42% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient. However, this rate rises to 82% in Black people and 70% in Hispanics, which systemic problems likely play a role in .
If you have access to strong sun all year, then occasional sun exposure may be enough to fulfill your vitamin D requirements.
However, if you live far north or south of the equator, your vitamin D levels may fluctuate depending on the season. The levels may go down during the winter months due to a lack of sufficient sunlight .
In that case, you may need to rely on your diet for vitamin D as well as on vitamin D thats stored in body fat (
- intensify bone loss
- increase the risk of fractures
In children, a severe vitamin D deficiency can cause delays in growth and rickets, a disease where the bones become soft.
Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency is linked with several cancers, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, and thyroid problems .
Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent worldwide but occurs at higher rates in specific populations. A deficiency in vitamin D is linked to various health problems.
How much vitamin D you need depends on many factors. These include:
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Getting Enough Vitamin D
You can get vitamin D from:
Include vitamin D from foods or a supplement every day.
If you are between 2 and 50 years old:
- eat foods that contain vitamin D every day or
- take a daily supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D
If you are 51 years of age and older:
- take a daily supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D
- you can continue to eat foods that contain vitamin D as part of healthy eating
Why Is A 25
Your doctor may request a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test for several different reasons. It can help them figure out whether too much or too little vitamin D is causing bone weakness or other abnormalities. It can also monitor people who are at risk for having a vitamin D deficiency.
Those who are at high risk of having low levels of vitamin D include:
- people who dont get much exposure to the sun
- older adults
- babies who are breastfed only
- people who have had gastric bypass surgery
- people who have a disease that affects the intestines and makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, such as Crohns disease
Your doctor may also want you to do a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test if theyve already diagnosed you with a vitamin D deficiency and want to see if treatment is working.
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Health Benefits Of Vitamin D
Why Supplements Might Help Prevent Or Treat Covid
While science can show whether a drug is effective, we may not always know why. When antibiotics were first discovered in the 1920s, there was limited understanding of the biology involved. But lacking an explanation for their benefit did not discourage doctors from recommending these highly effective treatments.
If its less clear whether a drug works, biologic plausibility that is, a logical and well-understood reason why the drug should work increases the expectation that it might.
So, what suggests that vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and melatonin might help work against any virus?
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has long been promoted as a key player in healthy immune function.
- Zinc may have antiviral activity, whether by improving immune cell function that counters viral infections or by reducing the ability of viruses to multiply.
- Some evidence suggests that combining vitamin C and zinc may limit the duration and severity of cold symptoms.
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Q: Whats The Link Between Vitamin D And Heart Health
A: That isnt entirely clear. We know that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for heart disease, but at this time, we do not know whether treating low vitamin D with supplements can prevent a heart attack. There are a number of large clinical trials studying this now. Part of the problem with finding the answer is accounting for the many factors involved in heart disease. For example, maybe people who develop heart disease are also getting less physical activity outdoors. It may not be low vitamin D levels causing the heart disease.
Will a Daily Vitamin Help Keep Your Heart Healthy?
Is a daily vitamin necessary? Get the answer from Johns Hopkins physician Edgar Miller III.
What Does Vitamin D Do For You Why It Might Be A Scam For Most People
As winter approaches, here’s what to know.
Vitamin D is an immensely popular supplement. Known as the sunshine pill for its supposed ability to mimic the effects of sunshine on health, vitamin D supplements are a billion-dollar industry.
People take it when they feel tired or sad, and are worried the cause is vitamin D deficiency, maybe as a result of not getting enough sun . They also take it because vitamin D is associated with reduced risk for hundreds of common diseases, conditions, and viruses.
Swallowing down a vitamin pill is an easy way to stay healthy and prevent scary health conditions. But as vitamin Ds popularity continues to soar, an increasing number of researchers warn that the science just doesnt support the hype.
Thats not to say the vitamin isnt helpful at all but taking it as a supplement doesnt always help you in the way that you might want it to. At the same time, a growing number of people are taking too much vitamin D eager for benefits that likely wont happen.
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Risks Of Getting Too Much Vitamin D
If you take excessive amounts of vitamin D supplements, you may get too much of it. However, this is unlikely to happen through diet or sun exposure because your body regulates the amount of vitamin D produced through sun exposure.
Vitamin D toxicity can lead to an increase in your blood calcium levels. This can result in a variety of health issues, such as (
Is Too Much Vitamin D Bad For You
Taking vitamin D likely isnt going to do you any harm even if its not leading to the preventative results you want, according to Jenkins research. People who take 600 to 1,000 international units of vitamin D have sufficient blood levels of the vitamin, it suggests. This is particularly reasonable, says Wolf, especially in colder climates during the winter.
But here the water gets muddy once more: Its not clear if taking vitamin D pills are entirely responsible for raising blood levels of the nutrient.
Having a decent vitamin D level in the blood is correlated with good health, Jenkins says. But you have to question: Can these levels be explained biochemically, by the supplement, or is it a much more complex lifestyle reason that is leading to higher vitamin D levels?
To complicate matters further, theres conflicting data over what counts as a normal or safe level of vitamin D in the blood.
In the VITamin and OmegA-3 Trial , 2,000 IUs of Vitamin D a day was pegged as the safety limit. In that study, the researchers settled on that number in part because previous studies focused on much smaller amounts. VITALs findings became a hot topic of conversation: It found that vitamin D was associated with a 25 percent reduction in cancer deaths, although the authors cautioned that they found signals of its benefits, not causation. The data have since been used to underpin a number of other studies looking at similar topics.
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Vitamin D Side Effects And Interactions
According to Dr. Lukyanovsky, the following are potential side effects of vitamin D supplements:
- Weight-loss medicines, including Alli
- Questran, LoCholest, or Prevalite
- Seizure medicines, including phenobarbital and Dilantin
Its possible to consume too much vitamin D. If your daily intake of vitamin D far exceeds the recommended dietary allowance can lead to vitamin D toxicity, which causes build up of calcium in the blood , nausea, and vomiting.
As with any medications, you should always seek medical advice from your healthcare provider before you take a vitamin D supplement, even if its over-the-counter. Not only is it possible for the supplements to interact with other medications you are taking, or affect conditions you might have, but you need to know the right dose of vitamin D for you, too.
What Are The Side Effects Of Vitamin D3
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives difficult breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop taking cholecalciferol and call your doctor at once if you have:
- chest pain, feeling short of breath
- growth problems or
- early signs of vitamin D overdose–weakness, metallic taste in your mouth, weight loss, muscle or bone pain, constipation, nausea, and vomiting.
Less serious side effects may be more likely, and you may have none at all.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Whats The Evidence That Supplements Are Helpful For Covid
Though COVID-19 is a new illness, a few clinical trials have explored the possibility that supplements may be effective. And, unfortunately, most of the evidence is unconvincing.
For example, a few observational studies link lower blood vitamin levels with a higher risk of testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 . But studies like these cannot prove that vitamin D protects people against infection. Further, a randomized controlled study of people with moderate to severe COVID-19 who received a high dose of vitamin D showed no benefit.
Similarly, a 2021 study of zinc and vitamin C demonstrated no benefit for people with mild COVID-19. In this study, people whose symptoms did not require hospital admission were randomly assigned to receive
- only vitamin C, 8,000 mg/day
- only zinc, 50 mg/day
- both supplements at the doses above
- neither supplement.
The researchers found that people receiving the supplements, whether individually or combined, had no improvement in symptoms or a faster recovery when compared with otherwise similar patients receiving neither supplement.
Proponents of melatonin for COVID-19 have encouraged researchers to perform trials of this supplement, but so far convincing evidence of benefit is not yet available.
How Vitamin D Supplements Work
Vitamin D helps control how much calcium and phosphate you absorb from food. Calcium is essential for bone health. Phosphate is needed for healthy bones, teeth, muscles, nerves, and basic bodily functions.
Vitamin D supplements come in two forms:
- Vitamin D2 is naturally found in some plants.
- Vitamin D3 is naturally found in animals and is produced by the skin when its exposed to sunlight.
You can meet your vitamin D needs with either form. But healthcare providers generally suggest vitamin D3 supplements. That’s because it:
- Raises your overall vitamin D level more than D2
- Lasts longer in the body than D2
Vitamin D3 supplements are sold as capsules, soft gel tablets, gummies, and liquid drops.
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What Do We Know About Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important role in the body: It helps the body absorb calcium. Getting enough calcium is essential for your bone health not getting enough can put you at risk of problems like osteoporosis or rickets. Vitamin D can come from several sources, including supplements, diet, or exposure to ultraviolet-B radiation from sunlight. But the reasons why people take vitamin D often have nothing to do with its relationship to calcium.
Vitamin D came to prominence in the publics mind on the back of several small studies that showed it could benefit health beyond your bones. Taking the supplement could reduce the risk of a number of illnesses and conditions, including type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and high blood pressure, they claimed.
For years, it seemed the supplement was riding high, Dr. Myles Wolf, professor at Duke University School of Medicine, argued in a recent JAMAeditorial. But randomized clinical trials designed to validate these small studies claims changed all that. The trials just didnt bear out the studies findings.
Based on the results of those clinical trials, we shouldnt expect that vitamin D supplementation will have any benefits beyond supporting skeletal health because the body of clinical trial data do not support these broader claims, Wolf tells Inverse.
In a 2018 review, Jenkins and his colleagues evaluated 179 published studies that looked at the health benefits of multivitamins, calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin D.