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.
If You Dont Get Enough Vitamin D
- Your bones can become weak and can break
- Children can get rickets, a disease that prevents their bones from growing properly, delays their growth, and causes problems with their immune system
- Adults can develop osteomalacia, a disease that weakens the bones and makes them hurt, and also causes fractures
- Older adults can get osteoporosis, which doesnt cause pain, but makes the bones thin and easy to fracture
The best way to know if you are getting enough vitamin D is to have a specific blood test. Otherwise, you may not know that youre not getting enough vitamin D until you start having symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency. The vitamin D test is very expensive, so its not routinely done.
How Much Vitamin D3 Should You Take
Vitamin D is a necessary vitamin for the human body, and its particularly important for protecting against osteoporosis and osteoporosis. This vitamin comes from exposure to the sun, and its best to get it from the sun. Some foods also contain vitamin D, but the body doesnt produce enough of this vitamin to make up for vitamin D deficiency. There is a recommended daily amount for vitamin D, but the RDA is different for children and adults. The RDA is a general guideline for people between the ages of 1 to 70. For adults, the RDA for vitamin D is about 10 micrograms. For children between the ages of 1 to 18, the RDA for vitamin D is about 20 micrograms. However, if you are at risk for vitamin D deficiency, you should take more. The RDA for people who are at risk for vitamin D deficiency is about 20 micrograms. For pregnant women, the RDA for vitamin D is about 30 micrograms. Although its not considered dangerous to get too much vitamin D, you should also be aware of the side effects of too much vitamin D. These include increased risk of getting an infection, kidney stones, and bone pain. In addition, if you get too much vitamin D, you could develop hypercalcemia, which is a condition that involves having too much calcium in the blood.
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What Happens If You Do Not Have Enough Vitamin D
If you do not have enough vitamin D, your body doesnt absorb calcium in food. If the body does not absorb calcium from food, bones become a source of calcium. The body is always seeking the level it needs and takes calcium where it can get it. The result: loss of calcium from bone.
The average healthy person loses about 500 milligrams of calcium every day from bones and replaces it with the same amount of new calcium. When someone is vitamin D-deficient, calcium is not replaced adequately, which leads to weak and fragile bones.
What Does Vitamin D3 Do
Vitamin D3 is such a powerful vitamin that its been found to be twice as effective at raising levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream, according to an April 2020 Healthline article.
If you dont get enough vitamin D, you may develop a weakened immune system and have poor hair growth along with higher levels of inflammation.
Other signs of vitamin D deficiency include:
- Muscle aches or weakness
If youre consuming less than 200 IU daily, you may be at risk of becoming deficient. This risk is especially common in pregnancy. But, women who are intentional about their vitamin D intake can help their babys growth. Research shows pregnant women with higher levels of vitamin D in their system may contribute to better brain development and higher IQ scores for their child.
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Is Taking A Vitamin D3 Supplement A Good Idea
Vitamin D3 supplements arent for everyone, but they may be a good idea for some people.
A vitamin D3 supplement could be beneficial if youre vegan or lactose intolerant, if you have dark skin, if you dont get a lot of sun, or if you have certain medical conditions, says Yawitz. That being said, its always best to talk with your doctor before starting any supplement.
As she points out, taking high doses of vitamin D3 can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, dehydration, kidney stones, kidney failure, irregular heartbeat, and other health problems. Again, talking to a medical professional can help you determine if a vitamin D3 supplement may be right for you.
What Other Drugs Will Affect Cholecalciferol
Certain medications can make it harder for your body to absorb vitamin D. If you take other medications, take them at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after you take cholecalciferol.
Other drugs may affect cholecalciferol, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
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Muscle Problems That Are Thought To Be Caused By Statins
Its possible that muscle aches and pains that are often thought to be caused by statins are actually caused by a lack of vitamin D. Too little vitamin D can cause muscle weakness and tenderness in the bones these muscle problems seem very similar to the ones linked to statins.
Because a lack of vitamin D is so common, its likely that many people who are taking statins dont have enough vitamin D.
Your doctor can check if you have enough vitamin D in your blood using a simple blood test.
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Can I Take Vitamin D3 Everyday / How Much Should I Take
Yes, you can take daily vitamin D supplements. There are some dosages that are designed for once weekly or once monthly dosing, so it is important to go over this with your healthcare professional. Many Americans are vitamin D deficient, but should we all be taking the same amount? The answer is no. The appropriate dose for your supplementation will depend on your health status, your sun exposure, whether or not you are pregnant, and your age, just to name a few factors. Consult your physician or pharmacist for a recommendation.
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Vitamin D: The Sun Vitamin
The primary source of vitamin D is sunlight. Our skin produces vitamin D after sun exposure, depending on the suns intensity and angle. People who live closest to the equator have the best exposure to vitamin D. In regions farther from the equator, particularly in the winter, the sun’s rays are less effective.
Why Do I Need Vitamin D And How Do I Get It
You can get vitamin D in three ways: through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements. Your body forms vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. But too much sun exposure can lead to skin aging and skin cancer, so many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources.
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Vitamin D Can Fight Inflammation
Vitamin D is beneficial to the immune system because it helps regulate the production of cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that are used by the immune system to communicate with other cells, and when they are produced in the wrong amounts or at the wrong time, they can cause inflammation.
Vitamin D can also help reduce the risk of infections by promoting the production of white blood cells and increasing the efficiency of T-cells. A lack of Vitamin D has been linked to an increased susceptibility to infection, so maintaining healthy levels might help keep you from getting sick.
What Problems Does Vitamin D Deficiency Cause
Severe vitamin D deficiency can also lead to other diseases. In children, it can cause rickets. Rickets is a rare disease that causes the bones to become soft and bend. African American infants and children are at higher risk of getting rickets. In adults, severe vitamin D deficiency leads to osteomalacia. Osteomalacia causes weak bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness.
Researchers are studying vitamin D for its possible connections to several medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis. They need to do more research before they can understand the effects of vitamin D on these conditions.
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Does Vitamin D3 Give You Energy
Increasing vitamin D intake is thought to improve energy. A clinical trial was done examining fatigue levels in patients who were identified as vitamin D deficient. These patients were given vitamin D3 supplementation to increase blood levels of vitamin D, and the results showed a significant improvement in fatigue levels. Scientists have shown this may be due to vitamin Ds effect at the cellular level where it augments mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in skeletal muscle. This decreases muscle fatigue.
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need
Daily requirements depend on your age. We measure vitamin D dosage in micrograms or International Units .
Intake recommendations for vitamin D are developed by expert committees in the National Institute of Medicine. These reference ranges are used as benchmarks to plan and assess nutrient intakes for healthy people.
The Recommended Daily Allowance, or RDA, is the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all of healthy individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, the RDA for vitamin D is:
- Infants : 10 mcg or 400 IU
- Children and adults: 15 mcg or 600 IU
- Seniors over age 71: 20 mcg or 800 IU
The upper limit for daily intake is around 4,000 IU. Too much vitamin D may cause excess calcium build-up in the blood. Symptoms of calcium buildup include:
Over time, too much blood calcium, known as hypercalcemia, can lead to weakened bones, kidney stones, or high blood pressure.
Your needs may change seasonally. During the winter months your vitamin D needs are higher for a few reasons. First, the days are shorter so there is less sunshine. Also, when most people go outdoors in the winter they wear hats, coats, and gloves, which restrict sunlight from penetrating the skin.
To prevent vitamin D deficiency, the average person must spend about 20 minutes in the sunshine with 40% of the skin exposed each day.
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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!
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Improves Cognitive Function And Prevents Dementia
Vitamin D is essential for brain development, and a lack of it has been linked to cognitive problems and dementia. A 2017 study published in the journal Neurology found that people with vitamin D deficiency were more likely to experience a decline in cognitive function over a six-year period than those who had sufficient levels of the vitamin.
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Choosing Vitamin D Supplements
Because itâs inadvisable to expose skin to excess UV rays and it can be challenging to get enough vitamin D from food, one way to boost vitamin D intake is with supplements.
There are two forms of vitamin D supplements: ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol . While some experts prefer D3 supplements, there is no strong evidence to believe that one is better than the other when consumed in nutritional doses. At high doses, D2 may be less potent.
Vitamin D supplements come in capsule, gummy, liquid, or chewable tablet forms. Vitamin D is also often found in multivitamins and calcium supplements. Whichever you take, itâs important to read labels so that you know how much youâre getting.
Most vitamin D supplements provide 400 IU per dose, which is several hundred IU shy of the RDA. But most individuals get some vitamin D naturally from sun exposure and by consuming fortified foods.
It is also important to make sure youâre not getting too much vitamin D. The upper limit for children over age 9 and adults is 4,000 IU per day. Too much vitamin D can be harmful. Signs of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, and weight loss.
Excess vitamin D also can cause damage to kidneys and increase the levels of calcium in the blooda condition called hypercalcemia that can cause confusion, disorientation, and problems with heart rhythm.
What Does Vitamin D3 And K2 Do In The Body
Vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 are two vitamins essential to the human body. Vitamin D3 is essential for maintaining bones and supports the immune system. Vitamin K2 supports the processes of vitamin D3 and activates proteins. For this reason, vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 should be taken together, as they support each other.
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Elm & Rye Vitamin D3 Supplements
Image courtesy Elm & Rye
We highly recommended the vitamin D3 capsules from Elm & Rye as a starting point for the best natural remedy to get your levels back to good working order. Elm & Rye doesn’t like to see people suffer unnecessarily, so they have a line of natural supplements that include capsules or gummies to get your health back on track.
While we do love so many of the Elm & Rye supplements, today we’re sharing their D3 capsules and D3 gummies so that you can rest easier knowing you’re taking a GMO-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free D3 supplement for your vitamin D deficiency.
Not all supplements are made equal. Elm & Rye usually submit their products to third-party laboratories for testing and evaluation. Then they make the data public for full transparency.
In all of their products, they only utilize genuine and high-quality components. There are no extra additions, fillers, or fluff in these supplements. These substances work together to produce a superior recipe and approach for your daily routine.
What Supplement Should I Take If I Am At Risk Of Low Vitamin D
The UK government recommendation stays at a minimum of 10µg vitamin D a day for vulnerable groups like the over 65s, people with darker skin and those who cover a lot of their skin for religious reasons, etc.
They just recommend that you take it all year round, and not just in autumn and winter.
We hope this guide has helped you determine which vitamin D supplement is best for you.
As always, this information cannot replace medical care, so please check with your doctor before trying any new supplements.
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Drug Interactions Of Vitamin D Vs D3
Vitamin D2 and D3 each are metabolized by the liver to 25D, and therefore the potential drug interactions are similar for both forms. Vitamin D may increase the serum levels of aluminum when taken with aluminum hydroxide, a common antacid, and therefore the combination should be avoided. Thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide, may increase the chance of vitamin D raising calcium levels in the blood to a dangerously high level. Patients on both thiazide diuretics and vitamin D supplementation should be monitored for this effect by their healthcare provider. Some drugs may decrease the absorption and effectiveness of your vitamin D supplement. Bile-acid sequestrants, such as cholestyramine, are an example of a drug which will impair vitamin D absorption. Vitamin D and cholestyramine should not be administered at the same time.
The following table may not be a complete list of drug interactions. Please consult your pharmacist or healthcare provider for more information and a complete list of interactions.
Coverage And Cost Comparison Of Vitamin D Vs D3
Vitamin D2 in prescription form is commonly covered by most commercial and Medicare insurance plans. The over-the-counter formulations are typically not covered by commercial or Medicare insurance plans. The price can vary greatly depending on dosage. The average cost of the 50,000 IU dose for 12 weeks of therapy is $54. With a coupon from SingleCare, this price drops to as low as $2.
Vitamin D3 is over-the-counter, and therefore is typically not covered by insurance plans. The price varies depending on dose. D3 can cost as much as $50 per one month supply, but if your doctor prescribes the medication you can get it for as low as $8 with a SingleCare discount coupon.
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