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.
What Type Of Vitamin D Is Best
Vitamin D comes in two major forms, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 .
The human body can absorb and process both forms. However, as vitamin D3 occurs naturally as your bodys response to sunlight, its generally considered the preferred form of supplementation.
Vitamin D3 supplements are typically made using lanolin, a type of wax extracted from sheeps wool. However, at BetterYou, we use a plant-origin source of D3 in our Vegan Health Oral Spray and Vegan DLux 1000 Oral Spray.
Drug Interactions Of Vitamin D2 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.
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Should Everyone Get Their Vitamin D Levels Checked Generally No
Karl Insogna, MD, director of Yale Medicines Bone Center
Most people should be fine. Testing is important only for certain populations: for people who are institutionalized for patients with a gastrointestinal disorder or osteoporosis those who have had weight loss surgery those on anti-convulsant medications and children who are immobilized and not outside and active. If youre over 70, I recommend getting your levels checked at least one time.
People whose cultural or religious beliefs require them to be fully clothed, especially if theyre living in northern climates, and whose dietary habits include little or no dairy , may also be vitamin D-deficient and should be tested.
A Stronger Immune System
The human bodys immune system plays an important part in its ability to fight off viruses and disease-causing bacteria, as well as infections. When the immune system is weak, a person is more likely to become sick and develop the disease. A stronger immune system, however, helps to prevent the frequent occurrence of illness. A review paper published by the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research explains that the cells of the immune system contains vitamin D receptors. The particular cells that contain these receptors include antigen-presenting cells, T cells, and B cells. This means that vitamin D is able to assist with the action of the immune system and, according to the review paper, may also help to reduce the risk of obtaining an infection.
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Good Sources Of Vitamin D
From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
But between October and early March we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight. Read more about vitamin D and sunlight.
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods.
- fortified foods such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals
Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.
In the UK, cows’ milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it is not fortified, as it is in some other countries.
The Difference Between Vitamin D Vitamin D2 And Vitamin D3
Vitamin D is actually available in two forms: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, and the main difference really is just the source. While D2 is manufactured from plants and fungi , D3 is created from animal products and is the kind most similar to that which is naturally made by the body through sunlight exposure. Because of this familiarity, most doctors and nutritionists recommending supplementing with vitamin D3.
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Is Vitamin D2 The Same As Vitamin D3
Vitamin D2 and D3 are slightly different. Both forms raise your blood vitamin D levels, and both can treat and prevent rickets from vitamin D deficiency. However, studies have found that vitamin D3 effectively raises blood vitamin D levels for a longer period than vitamin D2.
Additionally, vitamin D2 and D3 are derived from different sources. Vitamin D2 is plant-based. It is made by exposing ergosterol found in yeast to ultraviolet light. Vitamin D2 can also be found in some types of mushrooms. Vitamin D3 is sourced from sheep lanolin. It is made by exposing the lanolin to UV radiation to convert the cholesterol in lanolin to vitamin D3.
Vitamin D supplements can contain either vitamin D2 or D3. However, most over-the-counter preparations contain vitamin D3.
Is A Prescription Required For Vitamin D
Depending on the strength of vitamin D2 or D3 youre looking for, you may not need a prescription. Formulations that are available over-the-counter come in the following doses, which are measured in international units :
If someone has low vitamin D levels in their blood, their provider may recommend taking a more concentrated supplement for a short period of time to get their levels back up to a normal range.
While both vitamin D2 and D3 pills are available in this strength, many providers prescribe D2 because it is more readily available and easier to find. Interestingly, the same dose of D3 can be purchased without a prescription. But most pharmacies do not carry it, and many companies will only sell it to a licensed healthcare provider.
It is also important to know that while these extra high doses are sometimes used intermittently to boost vitamin D levels, it is a controversial approach. This is because there has never been strong evidence to show they are any more effective than smaller, more conservative doses.
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What Causes A Vitamin D Deficiency
As we get 80%90% of our vitamin D from sunlight, anyone who spends little time outdoors is at risk of becoming deficient.
And when we do venture out into sunny weather, many of us use SPF creams and cosmetics to protect our skin. However, the ingredients in these products block the UV rays that the skin needs to be able to produce vitamin D.
Around 1 billion people across the worldincluding around 10 million people in the UKare said to be deficient in vitamin D.
What Is Vitamin D2 Good For
It is no secret that vitamin D is an essential nutrient that the body needs to function properly.
What a lot of people dont know is that it is not just a single component. Instead, vitamin D is actually a family of nutrients that manifest in different forms.
The most common forms of vitamin D are vitamins D2 and D3. Each has its own benefits, but it is vitamin D2 that were particularly interested in. What is vitamin D2 good for?
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Which Drugs Or Supplements Interact With Vitamin D
Vitamin D should be used with caution with mineral oil because mineral oil slows down the absorption of Vitamin D and reduces its therapeutic benefits.
Thiazide diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide and chlorthalidone should be used with caution in people with hypoparathyroid taking Vitamin D, because thiamine diuretics may increase calcium levels.
How To Take Vitamin D3
Use Vitamin D3 ) exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use only the recommended dose of cholecalciferol.
It may be best to take cholecalciferol after a meal, but you may take this medicine with or without food.
Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device .
The chewable tablet must be chewed before you swallow it.
To take a disintegrating tablet, place it on your tongue and do not swallow the tablet whole. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing. If desired, you may drink liquid to help swallow the dissolved tablet.
The cholecalciferol wafer is usually taken only once per week or once per month. Follow your doctor’s dosing instructions very carefully. The wafer must be chewed before you swallow it.
While using cholecalciferol, you will need frequent blood tests. You may also need x-rays.
Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with this medicine.
Cholecalciferol may be only part of a complete program of treatment that also includes dietary changes and taking calcium and vitamin supplements. Follow your doctor’s instructions very closely.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, light, and heat.
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Before Taking This Medicine
You should not use cholecalciferol if you have had an allergic reaction to vitamin D, or if you have:
high levels of vitamin D in your body
high levels of calcium in your blood or
any condition that makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients from food .
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
kidney disease or
an electrolyte imbalance.
Certain forms of cholecalciferol may contain ingredients you should know about, such as peanut or soybean oil, sugar, aspartame , or certain food dyes. Ask a doctor before using cholecalciferol if you have allergies, diabetes, or phenylketonuria .
Too much vitamin D could harm an unborn baby or a nursing baby. Ask a doctor before using Vitamin D3 if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Your dose needs may be different during pregnancy or while you are nursing.
Do not give cholecalciferol to a child without medical advice. Your child’s dose will depend on age, weight, diet, and other factors.
Is Vitamin D3 Better Than Vitamin D2
Studies show that Vitamin D3 is far more important for our health than Vitamin D2. So either choose a Vitamin D3 supplement, or one which contains optimal levels of both forms. Vitamin D2 on its own is not enough.
Experts used to think that vitamins D2 and D3 were of equal importance for human health. But this was based on outdated studies of rickets in children. These days, we know lots more about Vitamin D. And it is clear that D3 is far more important and more effective for our health and wellbeing.
We need to look at how the body absorbs Vitamin D to understand why Vitamin D3 is more important. There are lots of biological processes involved. A specific enzyme in the liver helps Vitamin D3 metabolise into the bioactive form of Vitamin D. This process takes much longer with Vitamin D2.
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What Is Vitamin D And How Do I Get It
Vitamin D is an important ingredient in many different cellular processes in the body. It is well-known for keeping our bones strong, but it also plays a role in other functions, including:
Calcium and glucose metabolism
There are two natural sources of vitamin D:
1) Food: There are only a small number of foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Some of the best sources include:
It is more common to find foods that are artificially fortified with vitamin D, like cereals and milk.
2) Sunlight: Our body can actually make its own vitamin D! When we are exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun, our skin uses the sunlight to make the vitamin from scratch.
Most people have adequate levels of vitamin D through these two sources. After all, it takes only 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure a day for your body to make enough of it. But some people choose to take supplements to keep their vitamin D levels at a normal level especially if they have or are at risk for low levels of it.
What Happens If I Overdose
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of vitamin D can cause serious or life-threatening side effects.
Overdose symptoms may include nausea, loss of appetite, thirst, urinating more or less than usual, body aches, stiffness, confusion, or irregular heartbeats.
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Should Elderly Persons Take A Vitamin D Supplement
To answer this question, we need to reflect on what is probably the most important principal of drug therapy which is, the possible risks of therapy must outweigh its possible benefits.
In the case of vitamin D this risk/benefit ratio is skewed far in favor of benefits. Vitamin D has many therapeutic benefits ranging from maintaining bone metabolism and strength to reducing the prevalence of colon cancer.
Toxicity can include non-specific symptoms such as anorexia, weight loss, polyuria and heart arrhythmias. The primary toxicity concern is elevated serum calcium concentration which can lead to vascular and tissue calcification with subsequent damage to kidneys, blood vessels and the heart. Risks are minimal, especially at recommended doses and most reports suggest a toxicity threshold for vitamin D of 10,000 to 40,000 International Units per day and serum concentrations of 200-240 ng/mL. for that severe toxicity to occur. Those doses and concentrations are not recommended but highlight the fact that at more reasonable doses and concentrations discussed below toxicity is not a big concern for most patients.
So, with possible benefits being great, and possible risk minimal, many elderly people are appropriate candidates for vitamin D supplementation.
What Other Factors Can Lead To Vitamin D Deficiency
- Age: The skin’s ability to make vitamin D lessens with age.
- Mobility: People who are homebound or are rarely outside are not able to use sun exposure as a source of vitamin D.
- Skin color: Dark-colored skin is less able to make vitamin D than fair-colored skin.
- Human breast milk: A woman’s breast milk only contains a small amount of vitamin D. Often infant formulas also only include a small amount of D also. Therefore infants are at risk of not receiving enough vitamin D. This is especially true for infants who are only fed breast milk.
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Get Your Levels Checked
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend routine vitamin D screening in asymptomatic adults, therefore, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you think you may have a vitamin D deficiency.
Before you start taking vitamin D3 supplements, ask for a blood test to check your levels. That way, you know you’re taking a dosage that is both adequate and safe for your needs.
Similarities Between Vitamin D2 And Vitamin D3
While their chemical makeup and sources differ, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 have much more in common. When ingested, both vitamin D2 and D3 have to pass through the liver and kidneys, where they get processed into the active, usable form of vitamin D. Both forms of vitamin D are readily available as over-the-counter oral supplements. However, high doses of vitamin D2 are only available through a prescription.
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The Many Benefits Of Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 can have an impact on as many as 2,000 different genes within the body, and has a direct role on far more aspects of health than many might realize.
Vitamin D receptors are found in nearly every cell, and as soon as D binds to a receptor, it turns genes on or off, prompting changes at the cellular level. Studies completed over the last two decades have proven that this process turns off cancer-causing genes, turns on immunoprotective genes, and even tells cells which vitamins and minerals to absorb. This all has a great effect on many important body processes, including:
Strong bones are a result of good vitamin D3 intake because it helps regulate and control the bodys ability to absorb phosphorus and calciumtwo compounds that provide density and strength to the skeletal system and teeth.
Vitamin D3 stimulates the pancreas and triggers the process to make insulin. This is key for managing blood sugar levels more effectively and can help diabetics better control the disease.
Lower blood pressure
A study from Boston University found that those with high blood pressure experienced a drop in numbers when vitamin D levels were increased. D3 actively reduces the concentration of renin, an enzyme secreted by the kidney that has an affect on blood vessels.
Possible cancer prevention