We all hear about different vitamins, but most of us are not totally sure what they do or their importance. The same is true about vitamin D, so what exactly are the benefits of vitamin D? Read on for a full explanation…
- Why Is Vitamin D Important
- What Does Vitamin D Do?
- How To Get Vitamin D?
- Dietary Sources Of Vitamin D
- Vitamin D Deficiency
- 6 Signs You May Be Vitamin D Deficient
- Vitamin D Side Effects
- Vitamin D Levels
- Vitamin D Toxicity
- Choosing The Best vitamin D supplements
- Conclusion – Vitamin D Benefits
Why Is Vitamin D Important
In order for your body to absorb calcium you need vitamin D, the result is stronger bone growth.
When you don’t have enough vitamin D in your diet this can result in soft bones and for children this is commonly called rickets.
In adults this lack of vitamin D can result in fragile bones called osteomalacia.
A deficiency in vitamin D is associated to the development of breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and other maladies.
People who have a lot of vitamin D in their diets will experience the vitamin D benefits such as being; less likely to become sick, according to some studies.
They will also have a lower likely hood of specific diseases such as autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, heart disease, high bloodpressure, flu, neuromuscular diseases, and osteoporosis have all been associated with a lack of vitamin D intake.
Vitamin D helps to regulate the immune and neuromuscular systems. It also helps the overall life cycle of cells in the human body.
What Does Vitamin D Do?
How Vitamin D is Formed
The importance of vitamin D is evident as your body makes it, it self. This occurs when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
This means that in a colder climate vitamin D production by the body is limited.
An example of this, is in the US people living south of the line drawn from Los Angeles to Columbia, S.C., get a sufficient amount of sunlight to produce vitamin D all year round.
Dark And Light Skin
For those with darker skin their skin absorbs less sunlight. This means a darker skinned person gets less vitamin D when exposed to sunlight than a person with lighter skin.
How To Get Vitamin D?
The two types of Vitamin D are D2 and D3. In the past these two types of vitamin D were considered the same. More research has revealed that the best type of supplemental Vitamin D to take orally is D3. This is the same vitamin D that comes from the exposure of sunlight.
The two types of Supplemental vitamin D are:
- Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2)
- Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)
The best place to get vitamin D as explained earlier is from exposure to the sun – getting it from a tanning bed is also an option.
Research seems to suggest that that vitamin D that comes directly from the body is better than vitamin D3.
Difference Between Vitamin D2 and D3
Research says Vitamin D3 is the best vitamin D and 87% more efficient at raising and maintaining Vitamin D, it also produces 2 to 3 times more stored Vitamin D than D2.
Vitamin D3 is able to convert into a more active form 500 times faster than D2. Vitamin D2 has a shorter expiry date than D3 and it doesn’t bind as well with protein – which makes it less effective.
Dietary Sources Of Vitamin D
Animal vs Plant Vitamin D
What’s important to understand is that plants and Animals both provide different types of vitamin D. Plants provide D2 and Animals provide D3.
Some of the Animal based products that contain vitamin D3 are:
Fish such as :
Other foods are:
- Egg yolk
- Raw milk
Vitamin D Deficiency
Your Vitamin D deficiency will increase if you are on a diet that is low on vitamin D or you’re not getting enough sun. For instance people that have allergies to milk or have a strict vegan diet, may be more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
One of the most common diseases associated with Vitamin D deficiency is rickets. This disease is a result of bone tissues not properly mineralizing – which leads to bones becoming soft and various deformities.
6 Signs You May Be Vitamin D Deficient
Although the only real way to know if you are vitamin D deficient is from a blood test there are still some signs that could indicate this. These signs are a good indication that you may want to test your vitamin D levels.
(1) – A Feeling Of Being Heavy-Headed
The hormone Serotonin is what causes happier moods, it rises when you have more exposure to bright light and falls when you have less sunlight.
There has been a study done on elderly patients that suggested that those that were depressed had the lowest levels of vitamin D.
(2) – Natural Aging
It’s known by health professionals that with age the skin produces less vitamin D when exposed to the sun. The kidneys also convert vitamin D into the required form more slowly. It’s also not uncommon for older people to spend more time in the house.
(3) -You Have A Lot Of Muscle Or Overweight Or Obese
Because vitamin D is fat soluble meaning your body fat absorbs it like a sink. This means that if you are overweight or have a lot of muscle you will need more vitamin D.
(4) – Aching Bones
Dr. Holick, has found that a lot of patients visiting their doctors for aches and pains, especially those who are also fatigued, will often wrongly be diagnosed as having fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
In a lot of cases he says, this is a classic sign of vitamin D deficiency – where the vitamin D deficiency causes a problem that prevents calcium from being put in the bones properly. This is what causes throbbing and aching bone pain.
(5) – A Sweaty Head
It’s known amongst physicians that a sweat head can be signs of vitamin D deficiency due to neuromuscular irritability.
(6) – You Have Problems With Your Gut
Having problems with your gut such as a gastrointestinal condition can directly affect how your body intakes Vitamin D because of its fat soluble attributes.
Other gut conditions to look out for can be:
- Celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Vitamin D Side Effects
Generally you will find that there are no side effects from taking vitamin D by mouth or when injected into muscles. Side effects may only occur if too much is taken.
Taking too much Vitamin D can lead to weakness, fatigue, sleepiness, headache, loss of appetite, dry mouth, metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, and others.
Excessive amounts of Vitamin D such as 4000 units daily can be unsafe. This may lead to more calcium in the blood than needed.
Vitamin D Levels
What Do Your Vitamin D Test Results Mean?
A vitamin D test is used to determine whether the level of Vitamin D in your blood is healthy.
The recommended levels of Vitamin D have changed over the years from 40 – 60, to now 50 – 70 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), for best results. Anything under 40 ng/ml is a low vitamin D intake.
This amount increases when treating cancer to 70-100 ng/ml.
Professionals have identified many different illnesses that vitamin D can prevent. These include cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many more.
Vitamin D Toxicity
As mentioned earlier Vitamin D toxicity is rare, but if it occurs it can be very serious.
The cause of vitamin D overdose or toxicity also known as hypervitaminosis D occurs when you have excessive amounts of vitamin D in your body.
Causes Of Excessive Vitamin D
The most common cause of too much vitamin D is through the consumption of too much vitamin D supplements.
It’s very uncommon to take too much vitamin D by way of your diet or sun exposure. The reason for this is that vitamin produced through these channels is regulated by the body. Foods that have been fortified with vitamin D also don’t contain enough vitamin D to cause a problem.
As touched on previously too much vitamin D will cause a buildup of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia). This can cause a loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, weakness constant urination, kidney problems.
Treatment Of Excessive Vitamin D
When too much vitamin D have been taken a doctor is likely to prescribe medication fluids that are injected into the vein such as Corticosteroids or Bisphosphonates.
What is considered too Much Vitamin D?
Upto 50,000 IU’s (international units) everyday for a number of months according to health professionals can cause toxicity.
The recommended dietary daily allowance is 600 IU. So it is clear to see the aforementioned is easily in excess of this.
Generally the only time that high doses of vitamin D is used is when treating vitamin D deficiency and it will be given with doctor supervision for a prescribed time.
The chance of vitamin D toxicity increases if a person is suffering from liver or kidney conditions, or if you take thiazide-type diuretics.
Choosing The Best vitamin D supplements
According to reports in the US 77 % of adults are low on vitamin D. But as explained previously some vitamin D is better than others.
Steps for Supplementing:
1. The first thing you need to do is find out your vitamin D levels.
2. Choose the right supplement. Reports have shown that some supplements have far more vitamin D in them than the packaging may suggest. A USP verification seal, indicating the supplement has gone through voluntary independent quality testing, is a good way to determine how much Vitamin D is in the supplement.
3. The best pill type to choose according to medical professionals is not a great concern, although coated gel pills can sometimes prohibit vitamin D absorbed from the pill. Your diet can also effect how well your body is able to absorb vitamin D from a supplement.
4. Finally as explained previously choosing the best type of vitamin D is also important, this is D3 not D2.
Vitamin D and it’s benefits to the body are very evident as explained above. Unfortunately many people are unaware of the connection between vitamin D and our a ability to absorb calcium.
Here are some foods again that contain vitamin D:
- Egg Yolk
- Milk (fortified)
- Cereal (fortified)
- Yogurt (fortified)
- Orange juice (fortified)
Here are some of the diseases and sicknesses that can be prevented by the right vitamin D intake:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
- High Blood Pressure
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED, Impotence)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Osteoarthritis (OA)
- Skin Cancer
- Celiac Disease
- Fatty Liver
- Vitamins and Calcium Supplements
- Allergy (Allergies)
- Pregnancy (Week By Week, Trimesters)
- Asthma in Children
- Vitamins & Exercise: Heart Attack Prevention Series
Conclusion – The Benefits Of Vitamin D
So, avoiding a number of illnesses and conditions are some of the many benefits of vitamin D. Taking the right amonts of vitamin D is important for regulating calcium and phosphorus absorption, this also leads to maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
If you must supplement, a good sunbed is highly recommended, but best of all good natural sunlight. Where this is no other option taking supplements can be an alternative, but you should always consult a doctor first. Again the best type of supplementary vitamin D is D3 and not D2.
It’s also important to consider some of the things that may cause vitamin D deficiency such as:
- Using sunscreen
- Not going out side
- Being in the office for longer hours
- Living in a city that has hgh rise builds that block the sun.
All the information relating to vitamin D show that it is a vital vitamin for your long term health. Ensuring you understand it and taking the right amounts will certainly help you avoid a lot of health risks. If you have children understanding the importance of this vitamin is also very useful.