Avoid Excess Vitamin D
People taking vitamin D supplements may experience hypervitaminosis. Having too much vitamin D immediately increases your absorption of calcium and phosphorus, according to a January 2018 report in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. This increase creates a kidney-damaging calcium-phosphorus product. That product damages your vascular system by constricting your arteries and causing high blood pressure.
Additional symptoms of vitamin D toxicity range from heart problems to mental confusion. High levels of calcium can increase thirst and the need to urinate. They may also cause constipation.
Signs And Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
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Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin that has powerful effects on several systems throughout your body .
Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D functions like a hormone. Every single cell in your body has a receptor for it.
Your body makes it from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
Its also found in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, though its very difficult to get enough from diet alone.
For most adults, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D is around 600800 IU, but many experts recommend getting even more than that.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Its estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low blood levels of the vitamin .
According to one review, 41.6% of adults in the United States are deficient. This number goes up to 69.2% in Hispanic adults and 82.1% in African American adults (
Here are some of the most common risk factors for vitamin D deficiency:
People who live near the equator and get frequent sun exposure are less likely to be deficient, as their skin produces enough vitamin D to satisfy their bodies needs.
Most people do not realize that theyre deficient, as symptoms are generally subtle. You may not recognize them easily, even if theyre having a significant impact on your quality of life.
Stay Aware Of Your Risk
People at-risk for a vitamin D deficiency include those with lactose intolerance or milk allergy as well as those that follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. The authors of a January 2018 paper in the International Archives of BioMedical and Clinical Research noted that 91 percent of the older adults surveyed had a deficiency as well. At the other end of the spectrum, breastfed children have a greater risk than bottle-fed children.
Medical conditions that cause your body to poorly digest fat may also cause a deficiency. These conditions include Crohn’s disease, liver disease and ulcerative colitis. Individuals with obesity and patients with gastric bypass surgery also have significant risk.
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Why Is Vitamin D So Important
Vitamin D is one of many vitamins our bodies need to stay healthy. This vitamin has many functions, including:
- Keeping bones strong: Having healthy bones protects you from various conditions, including rickets. Rickets is a disorder that causes children to have bones that are weak and soft. It is caused by a lack of vitamin D in the body. You need vitamin D so that calcium and phosphorus can be used to build bones. In adults, having soft bones is a condition called osteomalacia.
- Absorbing calcium: Vitamin D, along with calcium, helps build bones and keep bones strong and healthy. Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis, the loss of bone density, which can lead to fractures. Vitamin D, once either taken orally or from sunshine exposure is then converted to an active form of the vitamin. It is that active form that promotes optimal absorption of calcium from your diet.
- Working with parathyroid glands: The parathyroid glands work minute to minute to balance the calcium in the blood by communicating with the kidneys, gut and skeleton. When there is sufficient calcium in the diet and sufficient active Vitamin D, dietary calcium is absorbed and put to good use throughout the body. If calcium intake is insufficient, or vitamin D is low, the parathyroid glands will borrow calcium from the skeleton in order to keep the blood calcium in the normal range.
Where Does Vitamin D Come From
Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun, though. Most kids and adults spend lots of time indoors at school and work. When outdoors, it’s important to protect skin to prevent skin cancer and skin damage from too much sun exposure.
Very few foods have vitamin D naturally. The foods with the most are fatty fish , liver, eggs and fish oils. Kids don’t eat these foods a lot. That’s why food companies add vitamin D to milk, yogurt, baby formula, juice, cereal, and other foods.
Adding vitamin D to foods is called “fortifying.” It’s helpful, but it still may not be enough.
To get enough vitamin D, children often need to take a multivitamin with vitamin D or a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is sometimes labeled as vitamin D3.
You can buy vitamin D pills, gummies, chewables, liquids, and sprays in stores without a prescription. Ask your child’s health care provider for advice on choosing the right one.
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Breakfast Foods High In Vitamin D
If you are unable to obtain enough vitamin D from sun exposure, there are foods containing this vitamin that can start kick-start your day. Many foods typically eaten for breakfast are fortified with vitamin D. Read labels to find out how much vitamin D is in the food you eat for breakfast.
Breakfast Foods Good for a Vitamin D Boost
Play A Role In Reducing Cancer Death
Scientists are paying increasing attention to vitamin Ds possible role in warding off cancer. A past review of 63 observational studies that analyzed the potential connection between vitamin D and breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer yielded promising results, suggesting that vitamin D may be an easy and low-cost way to help reduce cancer risk.
The VITAL study also looked at the effect of vitamin D supplements on cancer. The nutrient was not found to reduce the risk of cancer overall for participants. Yet those who developed cancer had a 25 percent lower death rate when they were taking vitamin D. The findings also pointed to a possible reduction in cancer risk for African Americans, though the researchers say that further study is needed.
Because of conflicting science and a dearth of randomized controlled trials, the NIH doesnt yet recommend vitamin D supplements to help reduce the risk of cancer.
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Can You Get Vitamin D Through Windows
While sunlight can pass through window glass, the UVB wavelengths in sunlight cannot, according to the NIH.
Because you need UVB exposure to jump-start the vitamin D production process, sunlight that passes through a window cannot increase your vitamin D levels, even if it strikes bare skin.
Bottom line: You won’t get any vitamin D from absorbing sunlight through windows or glass and you need direct sunlight for vitamin D.
How Much Vitamin D Is Enough
Adults and children over the age of one need 10mcg of vitamin D per day. This is the same for everyone, including people at risk of vitamin D deficiency and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Babies up to one year old need 8.5-10mcg of vitamin D per day. Find out more about how you can reach this from the NHS.
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Overdosing On Vitamin D
In the same way that too little vitamin D can be harmful to your health, consuming too much vitamin D can also have negative consequences. While overdosing on vitamin D, also called vitamin D toxicity, is rare, it can happen. Vitamin D toxicity occurs when amounts in the bloodstream become too high and can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, increased thirst, constipation, weakness, weight loss, confusion and disorientation, heart rhythm problems, kidney damage and possibly pancreatic cancer.
Vitamin D overdose is most often caused by overuse of supplements. Excessive exposure to sunlight cannot cause vitamin D toxicity because the body limits the amount of the vitamin that it naturally produces. The recommended upper limits for vitamin D consumption are listed below.
- Birth to 12 months 1,000 to 1,500 IU
- Children 1 to 8 years old 2,500 to 3,000 IU
- Children older than 9, teens, adults and pregnant and breastfeeding women 4,000 IU
Do not take more than the recommended amount without first discussing it with your doctor. Depending on your health, your doctor may recommend higher doses of vitamin D, but your doctor should check your blood levels regularly and adjust doses accordingly.
Essential Vitamins Your Body Needs: Vitamin C
Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits, is an essential vitamin and important for your body.
Why you need Vitamin C: Strengthens blood vessel walls promotes wound healing and iron absorption helps prevent atherosclerosis supports immunity serves as a key antioxidant.
Where to get Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, juices, melons, berries, peppers, broccoli, potatoes.
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How Often Do You Need To Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked
Doctors do not usually order routine checks of vitamin D levels, but they might need to check your levels if you have certain medical conditions or risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes vitamin D levels can be checked as a cause of symptoms such as long-lasting body aches, a history of falls or bone fractures without significant trauma.
Common Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Low vitamin D can cause leg cramps. Muscle spasms can occur in people with severe vitamin D deficiency, per Merck Manual.
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to muscle twitching by causing hypocalcemia, or low calcium levels. This leads to irritability of your muscle cells and involuntary contractions, aka twitching or spasms.
Muscle twitching related to vitamin D deficiency most commonly occurs in your hands, feet and face. In addition to twitching, you may experience muscle aches and progressive weakness. Muscle weakness and pain caused by vitamin D deficiency is called osteomalacic myopathy.
On the other hand, too much vitamin D can cause muscle pain because high levels of D can cause extra calcium absorption, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Other common vitamin D deficiency symptoms include:
- Frequent illness
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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.
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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Vitamin D Can Help Treat Hypertension
According to a 2019 review published in the journal Current Protein & Peptide Science suggests that vitamin D may play a role in treatment of high blood pressureone of the markers of cardiovascular diseasesays Newgent. According to authors of the review, even short-term vitamin D deficiency may directly raise BP and promote target organ damage. The researchers went on to add that, “due to the high correlation between vitamin D and hypertension, vitamin D supplementation therapy may be a new insight in the treatment of hypertension.”
What Kind Of Vitamin D Supplement Should I Take
There are two different types of vitamin D. Vitamin D2 mainly comes from plant-based foods like UV grown mushrooms, or fortified foods and dietary supplements. Vitamin D3 comes from animals and supplements. Youll get D3 from fish oil, butter, liver, and egg yolks.
Vitamin D is available in supplemental form as a liquid, tablet, or capsule. Some doctors will even give vitamin D injections. D2 typically requires a prescription to get, and D3 is commonly available for purchase over-the-counter. There is some debate about whether D2 is stronger than D3 seeking medical advice is the best way to make sure you get the right form and dosage that you need.
The best form of vitamin D to take as a supplement is D3 although, D2 is acceptable, says Tod Cooperman, MD, founder of ConsumerLab. D3 is less likely to result in errors on blood tests, and high doses may raise levels better. In terms of formulations, liquids and pills are generally both fine . My preference is liquid drops, as you can easily adjust the dose. Plus, you can put it right on food or in a beverage, which should remind you that vitamin D, which is fat-soluble, should be taken with foods that contain fats to improve absorption.
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Vitamin D And Safe Sun Exposure
UV levels vary depending on the time of year, and the amount of sun exposure you need varies accordingly.
The ‘daily sun protection times’ indicate when the UV level is forecast to be three or above. During these times, people are recommended to use a combination of sun protection measures .Check the free SunSmart app or the Bureau of Meteorology website for daily sun protection times for your location.
How Much Vitamin D And Calcium Do You Need
The Endocrine Society and The Institute of Medicine have suggested recommended daily allowances for vitamin D and calcium, as well as maximum daily consumption amounts that you should not exceed for your safety:
The recommendations come with two precautions:
Some people may need more than the RDA if they are:
Taking anticonvulsant medications, glucocorticoids, antifungals such as ketoconazole or medications for AIDS
Taking too much of either nutrient appears to be harmful, with:
Kidney stones associated with too much calcium from supplements
Very high levels of vitamin D potentially causing kidney and tissue damage
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Vitamin D Can Help Battle Depression
The sun can brighten up your mood, and so can vitamin D. According to a 2017 review article in the journal Neuropsychology, researchers found “a significant relationship between depression and vitamin D deficiency. While they acknowledged that more research is needed to define the exact workings of itsuch as, if low vitamin D levels are a cause or effect of depressionthe authors recommend screening for and treating vitamin D deficiency in subjects with depression noting that it is an easy, cost-effective and may improve depression outcome.
Treatment And Prevention Strategies
Vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 can be used for the treatment and prevention of VDD . In patients with extrarenal production of 1,252D, serial monitoring of 25D levels and serum calcium levels during treatment with vitamin D to prevent hypercalcemia is suggested . Primary hyperparathyroidism and VDD need treatment with vitamin D.
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Does Vitamin D Accumulate In Your System
All fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the fatty tissues of your body if you get more than you need, unlike water-soluble vitamins, which wash out in urine. Excess vitamin D accumulates in the fat and liver, providing you with a vitamin D source to draw on if your stores run low. However, too much vitamin D in the form of dietary supplements could cause health problems over time. You can’t overdose on vitamin D synthesized in the body from direct sunlight.
Who Is At Risk Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Some people are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency:
- Breastfed infants, because human milk is a poor source of vitamin D. If you are breastfeeding, give your infant a supplement of 400 IU of vitamin D every day.
- Older adults, because your skin doesn’t make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight as efficiently as when you were young, and your kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form.
- People with dark skin, which has less ability to produce vitamin D from the sun.
- People with disorders such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease who don’t handle fat properly, because vitamin D needs fat to be absorbed.
- People who have obesity, because their body fat binds to some vitamin D and prevents it from getting into the blood.
- People with chronic kidney or liver disease.
- People with hyperparathyroidism
- People with sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, histoplasmosis, or other granulomatous disease
- People with some lymphomas, a type of cancer.
- People who take medicines that affect vitamin D metabolism, such as cholestyramine , anti-seizure drugs, glucocorticoids, antifungal drugs, and HIV/AIDS medicines.
Talk with your health care provider if you are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. There is a blood test which can measure how much vitamin D is in your body.
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