VitaminD
Vitamins + Supplements

Vitamin D

What is Vitamin D and What Does it Do?

Vitamin D is one of the most versatile vitamins for improving your overall health. There are two forms of vitamin D: Vitamin D2, which is commonly found in foods, and Vitamin D3, which your body naturally creates through direct exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D3 is the only vitamin that your body creates on its own. Technically, D3 doesn’t even officially count as a vitamin since the definition of vitamin is that of an organic chemical that must be obtained from dietary sources. Vitamin D is actually produced in the human body as a result of exposure to sunlight. While egg yolks and fish contain some vitamin D, the body must first transform it before it can be of any use.

Vitamin D3 has been shown to improve overall health and is commonly used to treat conditions such as:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Underactive parathyroid glands
  • Diminished blood phosphate levels
  • Maintenance of pH levels in the blood

Natural absorption of vitamin D3 requires your skin to be in direct contact with sunlight. The widespread use of sunscreens, medical recommendations for limiting sun exposure, and increase in sun-related skin cancers, vitamin D3 deficiency is more prevalent than ever. As well, the darker your skin, the longer you need to be exposed to sunlight for your body to synthesize vitamin D3. Darker skin contains more melanin, which equates to greater protection against ultraviolet radiation exposure. Because of this protective effect, people of color must spend more time in the sun to make vitamin D compared to those with lighter skin tones.

Why is Vitamin D3 important/necessary? 

While vitamin D3 plays a key role in bone health, and can help treat or regulate osteoporosis, under-active parathyroid glands, and blood phosphate and pH levels, its effects on your body may be more extensive.

Historically, vitamin D3 deficiency has been associated with rickets—a disease that primarily begins during childhood as a result of low levels of D3. Rickets is known to cause bow-shaped legs in the children—and even adults—it affects. Experts continue to study the effects of vitamin D3 on bone formation and health; stay tuned for more information on this topic as research continues.

Aside from bone health, vitamin D3 is key for people suffering gastrointestinal (GI) problems such as celiac, liver, or Crohn’s disease. Because these debilitating conditions often keep these patients indoors, they are more likely to suffer vitamin D3 deficiency. And although a lack of vitamin D3 has not been proven to cause these GI disorders, the key effects of D3 in everyday function continues to be explored.

What Vitamin D3 does for your Body?

As noted previously, vitamin D3 plays a key role in bone health. Ongoing research shows that D3 may significantly your reduce risk for bone fractures. Furthermore, vitamin D3 can protect your body from conditions such as:

  • Depression
  • Back pain
  • Cancer
  • Insulin resistance
  • Preeclampsia (in pregnant females)
  • Impaired immunity
  • Macular degeneration

Research shows that vitamin D3 plays a significant role in your overall health; at the same time, however, D3 deficiency is emerging as a key concern in patient care. So, the key question remains: how do you balance adequate exposure to sunlight—and D3 absorption—with the risks of sun-related skin cancers while also caring for your overall health?

How Much Vitamin D3 Do I Need?
Because it is difficult to determine the amount of vitamin D3 that you obtain from sunlight each day, oral supplementation is recommended. Vitamin D3 may be purchased over-the-counter at dosages of 400 and 1,000 international units (IU).

For starters, you should not consume more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day unless recommended by your doctor.

If you are 50 years or older and have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you should take 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day. You may also require a calcium supplement.

If you are diagnosed with an underactive parathyroid, your doctor will determine the D3 dose that’s best for you.

For treating vitamin D-resistant rickets in children, your pediatrician may prescribe a much higher dose of D3, ranging from 12,000 to 500,000 IU per day.

Finally, when it comes to taking the supplement, most agree that vitamin D3 goes down best with food. Bon Appétit!

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Vitamin D3 (Signs of Deficiency?)

A lack of vitamin D3 may be a key factor to promoting proper bone health. In fact, data show that D3 significantly reduces your risk for bone fracture.

So, why is vitamin D3 so important?

While D3 is primarily absorbed via direct exposure to sunlight, we must work together to determine the “balance” of adequate “tanning” with the inherent risks of sun-related skin cancers. And at the same time, we need to care for our overall health to ensure that our intake of D3 is sufficient enough to inhibit:

  • Depression
  • Back pain
  • Cancer
  • Insulin resistance
  • Preeclampsia (in pregnant females)
  • Impaired immunity
  • Macular degeneration

What Foods have Vitamin D3? How do you get enough from foods?

Vitamin D—like other nutrients—is key to your overall health. With fat-soluble properties, your vitamin D3 intake plays an important role in your cardiovascular, bone, and mental health. So, how can you be sure that your diet includes enough D3?

  • To start, fish provides the best food source of vitamin D—especially catfish, salmon, trout, and halibut
  • Fortified soy products also provide a significant proportion of your ideal daily D3 intake
  • Fortified milk and juice, such as orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and cow’s milk, offer a good source of D3
  • Mushrooms are the only vegetable that act as a naturally occurring source of vitamin D

Possible Side Effects of too much Vitamin D3

An increasing cohort of vitamin D3 experts—all of whom have vast expertise in the study of this important nutrient—are noted with studying vitamin D3’s high safety profile in doses up to 10,000 IU per day. Of note, they have determined that D3 plays a wide role in our health. The group of experts contends that consuming 2,000 to 4,000 IU per day may prove that D3 is a way to improve overall health.

Other names for Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is commonly referred to as cholecalciferol. It is also marketed under the brand names:

  • Calciferol
  • Drisdol

Special Considerations for Vitamin D3

While vitamin D3 is proven to treat a variety of conditions, its potential for additional applications remains unknown. For instance, researchers have begun to examine the effects of vitamin D3 in the treatment of treat acne. Although clinical trials have not yet been conducted to study the effect of D3 on acne, subjective evidence suggest that vitamin D3 may improve the appearance of acne.

Other studies suggest that people who are overweight may have higher levels of vitamin D3. This may be attributed to the fact that vitamin D3 is an oily element often stored in the body’s fat tissues. These studies, therefore, suggest that the amount of body fat that you have may be directly correlated to how easily your body can store vitamin D3.

Stay tuned for additional applications of vitamin D3.

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