Vitamin D Supplements: What They Are, What They Can Do, and What They Can’t Do

vitamin d supplements
vitamin d supplements

Vitamin D, also known as “the sunshine vitamin,” is a necessary nutrient for the body. It aids in the regulation of phosphorus and calcium absorption. Furthermore, it is important in preventing inflammation in the body. However, vitamin D can be thought of as a hormone rather than a vitamin.

It is due to our bodies’ ability to produce vitamin D from cholesterol. This process, however, necessitates a daily dose of sunlight. As a result, spending some time in the sun every day can help us meet our daily vitamin D requirements. However, vitamin D deficiency is a major public health concern worldwide, and many people choose to take vitamin D supplements.

It is so common that a large portion of the population requires vitamin D supplements to meet their daily requirements. According to research, over one million people worldwide have low vitamin D levels, and half of the population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is found in extremely low concentrations in our foods. As a result, it is insufficient to meet our daily needs. As a result, most people require vitamin D supplements to meet their needs.

Vitamin D keeps the body healthy by maintaining and restoring its nutritional levels. People who do not get enough sun exposure, on the other hand, need vitamin D supplements. So, if you’re wondering whether you should take vitamin D supplements, this article will help you get some (better) clarity.

Table of Contents

What exactly is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a lipid-soluble nutrient. As a result, the body requires an adequate amount of healthy fats to absorb this vitamin. It is required by our bodies to maintain bone health and to absorb calcium and phosphorus from the small intestine.

According to research, people who are deficient in vitamin D can develop brittle, soft, and weak bones. Furthermore, a lack of this vitamin may contribute to the development of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

Vitamin D Varieties

Vitamin D comes in five different forms: D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. However, the most important forms of vitamin D for the human body are D2 and D3.

Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol)

Vitamin D2 is derived from plant-based foods that receive adequate sunlight, such as mushrooms. These foods are the best sources of vitamin D for vegetarians.

Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol)

Vitamin D3 is found in foods such as fish. In the presence of sunlight, our skin also produces vitamin D3 from cholesterol in our bodies.

Both vitamins are necessary for the proper functioning of our body. Supplements of both types of Vitamin D, namely Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3, are available without a prescription and can be purchased over-the-counter.

According to a meta-analysis, vitamin D3 is the best choice for vitamin D supplements. In comparison, it is a more easily absorbed form. Vegetarians, on the other hand, prefer vitamin D2 to vitamin D3.

Requirements for Vitamin D

International Units (IU) or micrograms are the standard units of measurement for vitamin D intake (mcg). 1mcg is equal to 40 IU of vitamin D. Every day, our bodies require vitamin D. According to research, the average vitamin D requirements are:

  • Infants: 10 mcg or 400 IU from birth to 12 months
  • Children and teenagers aged 1 to 18 years: 15 mcg or 600 IU
  • Adults aged 19 to 70 years: 15 mcg or 600 IU
  • Adults over the age of 71: 20 mcg or 800 IU
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: 15 mcg or 600 IU

Functions of Vitamin D

When the cholesterol in our bodies converts to vitamin D, it aids in a variety of functions:

  • Vitamin D helps to prevent mood disorders like mood swings and depression.
  • By regulating calcium and phosphorus levels in our bodies, it reduces the risk of bone fractures and deformations.
  • Vitamin D regulates the body’s blood sugar levels.
  • It also keeps cholesterol levels in check.
  • It controls muscle and nerve function.

Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D is primarily obtained from three sources: your skin, your diet, and vitamin D supplements. Supplements are necessary because most of us do not get enough vitamin D from natural sources.

The use of these supplements on a daily basis is more effective than administration on a monthly or weekly basis. These supplements are a dependable and effective way to ensure our bodies’ proper functioning by meeting their vitamin D requirements.

Signs You Might Need Vitamin D Supplements

When you are diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, you may require vitamin D supplements. However, before taking any supplements, you should consult a doctor and have your blood sugar levels tested. It may be required if you frequently experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling drowsy or tired?
  • Pain in the back and joints
  • Hair thinning
  • Mood imbalances
  • Headaches

Vitamin D Supplements’ Advantages and Applications

Vitamin D supplements are necessary for our bodies to function properly. They contribute to the proper functioning of cells, nerves, and muscles. The following are the uses and benefits of vitamin D supplements:

Bones and muscles are strengthened.

According to studies, vitamin D aids in the regulation of calcium levels. It is necessary for the body’s bones and muscles to be strengthened. Calcium and phosphorus are also absorbed by vitamin D in the small intestine. Calcitriol, a vitamin D supplement, raises calcium blood levels in people with low parathyroid hormone levels.[1]

Encourages Healthy Pregnancy

According to research, vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women is associated with preeclampsia and preterm birth. This could lead to a slew of complications. Vitamin D supplements, on the other hand, improve women’s vitamin D status as well as the health of the mother and the infant.

Aids in the development of infants

According to one study, vitamin D helps babies develop strong teeth and bones. Vitamin D supplements can also help prevent rickets in children.

Encourages Mental Health

According to research, low vitamin D levels in our bodies can lead to a variety of mood disorders and depression. As a result, maintaining an optimal vitamin D level through vitamin D supplements can improve mental health and mood regulation.

Improves Immunity

Vitamin D receptors are found on the surface of our white blood cells. According to one study, it boosts immunity by combating harmful viruses and bacteria. As a result, vitamin D supplements are known to boost an individual’s immunity.

Reduces the Risk of Diabetes

According to research, vitamin D aids in the regulation of insulin levels. Diabetes can be caused by high insulin levels in the body. In addition, vitamin D supplements help to keep the body’s glucose levels in check. As a result, they contribute to a lower risk of diabetes.

Precautions

These are some precautions to take when taking Vitamin D supplements:

  • It is preferable to wait at least 2 hours between taking medications for other health conditions and taking vitamin D supplements. It aids in avoiding negative drug interactions in the body.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while taking vitamin D supplements because it reduces their effectiveness.
  • The daily dosage of vitamin D should not exceed 4000 IU.
  • Vitamin D supplements should be taken with food rather than on an empty stomach.
  • If a person is over the age of 50 or has osteoporosis, their daily vitamin D supplement dosage should be between 800 IU and 1000 IU.

Possible Adverse Reactions

When taken in the recommended amounts, vitamin D supplements are generally safe to consume. However, if taken in higher doses for a longer period of time, these supplements may cause side effects due to vitamin D toxicity.

Hypercalcemia

Hypercalcemia is a condition caused by an excess of calcium in the blood. It is caused by an excess of vitamin D consumption.

Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption from the body. However, if your calcium levels exceed a certain level, you may develop hypercalcemia. The cutoff point is 0.104 mg/mL, or 10.4 mg of calcium per deciliter of blood.

High calcium levels in the body can also cause appetite loss, muscle weakness, reduced reflexes, and muscle and joint pain. It can also cause confusion, disorientation, difficulty thinking, irritability, anxiety, and other problems.

Kidney Impairment

Calcium in the blood can combine with phosphate to form crystals that accumulate in the tissues. These tissues have the potential to harm the organs.

Excessive vitamin D intake, for example, can result in calcium deposits in the kidney. Nephrocalcinosis can occur when calcium deposits build up in the tissues of the kidney. It is a condition that can result in kidney failure.

Heart Problems

Excess vitamin D can cause extreme hypercalcemia, which can impair the proper functioning of the cells in the heart. As a result, it causes irregular heartbeats, which can lead to a blockage and a heart attack.

Lung Injuries

Vitamin D deficiency can result in calcium and phosphate deposition in the tissues. These calcium and phosphate deposits can impair lung function. It can cause chest pain, difficulty breathing, and persistent coughing. As a result, a high dose of vitamin D supplements can cause significant lung damage.

Influence on Mental Health

A person’s mental status can be affected by hypercalcemia. Excess vitamin D consumption is the primary cause of hypercalcemia. As a result, a high intake of vitamin D supplements can cause severe mood changes and depression.

Pain and Brittle Bones

When there is an excess of calcium in the body, the minerals in the bones do not effectively bind with the hormones present. As a result, it can cause achy bones, severe joint pain, and a hunched posture. The best way to avoid side effects is to limit your intake of vitamin D supplements.

The Sun: A Natural Source of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” for a reason. When exposed to sunlight, your skin can produce vitamin D with the help of your body’s cholesterol.

The best times to get sunlight are in the morning between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., and in the evening between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., when the sun is at its highest point. As a result, the body can efficiently synthesise vitamin D during the midday period.

Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its colour. Melanin levels are higher in dark-skinned people than in light-skinned people. Vitamin D production is also influenced by the colour of your skin. Dark skin, for example, produces less vitamin D than light skin.

This is due to excess melanin in dark skin, which prevents vitamin D absorption from sunlight. As a result, dark-skinned people must spend more time in the sun than light-skinned people to get the same amount of vitamin D.

People with dark skin and those who live in cold climates do not get enough sun exposure. As a result, they rely on vitamin D foods and supplements to meet their vitamin D requirements.

Vitamin D-Rich Foods

Prolonged sun exposure can cause sunburns and raise the risk of skin cancer. As a result, you cannot meet your needs solely through sunlight. Although food only accounts for 10% of the total vitamin D present in our bodies, we can obtain some vitamin D from it. The rest can be obtained through sunlight and supplements.

Vitamin D can be found in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods.

Sources of Vegetarian Food

Vegetarians can meet a portion of their vitamin D requirements by eating the foods listed below.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are the only vegetable that contains high levels of Vitamin D. It’s because of the prolonged exposure to sunlight. One hundred grammes of mushrooms provide 1136 IU of Vitamin D.

Orange Juice with Vitamins

Oranges are high in antioxidants, which aid our bodies in fighting infections. It also protects our cells from damage. Furthermore, oranges are high in vitamin D. A glass of vitamin D-fortified orange juice contains up to 137 IU of vitamin D.

Yogurt with added nutrients

Fortified yoghurt can provide up to 10% to 20% of your daily vitamin D requirements. It contains between 80 and 120 IU of vitamin D. Yogurt is also good for your gut health.

Cheese

Cheese is high in protein, vitamins, phosphorus, fat, and calcium. A hundred grammes of cheddar cheese contains up to 24 IU of vitamin D, 20 IU of swiss cheese, and 16 IU of feta. It is a good source of vitamin D and also tasty.

Milk from cows

Cow’s milk is also high in vitamin D. Up to 100 IU of vitamin D can be found in a glass of milk.

Sources of Non-Vegetarian Food

In addition to vitamin D supplements, non-vegetarians can control their nutritional levels by eating the vitamin D-rich foods listed below.

Eggs

The egg yolk is high in nutrients and a good source of vitamin D. A single egg yolk can provide up to 41 IU of vitamin D. Eggs are high in calcium, zinc, proteins, and other nutrients.

Oil from Cod Liver

Vitamin D levels in cod liver oil are extremely high. It is also very high in Vitamin A. One teaspoon of cod liver oil can meet up to 113% of a person’s daily vitamin D needs.

Salmon

Salmon contains a lot of vitamin D. It also contains high-quality lean protein and is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Cooked salmon contains 447 IU of vitamin D.

Summary

Vitamin D, also known as “the sunshine vitamin,” is a nutrient that the body requires. However, because we do not get enough vitamin D from natural sources, taking vitamin D supplements can meet our needs. These supplements aid in the maintenance of optimal vitamin D levels as well as the regulation of calcium and phosphorus in the small intestine.

Excess vitamin D in our bodies, on the other hand, is harmful and can cause hypercalcemia, which can lead to kidney and lung damage. It may also have an effect on your mental health. As a result, if you decide to take supplements, consult a physician first to determine which supplement is best for your body.

With the fats in our bodies, vitamin D is easier to absorb. As a result, it is preferable to take vitamin D supplements after the largest meal of the day. It doesn’t matter if it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Vitamin D supplements are available in a variety of forms, including liquids, capsules, gummies, and chewable tablets.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is it safe to take vitamin D on a daily basis?

A. Of course. Vitamin D is required by our bodies for a variety of functions. As a result, we should ensure that our bodies get enough vitamin D on a regular basis. However, you should only begin taking vitamin D supplements after consulting with a healthcare professional.

Q. Is it safe to take a vitamin D supplement?

A. Vitamin D supplements are safe when consumed in adequate amounts. Excessive consumption, on the other hand, may result in calcium buildup in the body, which can be harmful. It can cause hypercalcemia, lung and kidney damage, and other complications.

Q. How much vitamin D should you take on a daily basis?

A. It is determined by the individual’s age and gender. The daily requirements for adults range between 600 and 800IU. You can find a detailed chart in the article that will tell you exactly how much vitamin D you need.

Q: Which vitamin D tablets are the best?

A. The most commonly used vitamin D tablets are vitamin D2 and D3 tablets. You should, however, take a tablet prescribed by your doctor. A doctor will be aware of your needs as well as your medical history.

As a result, they will recommend the tablets that are most appropriate for you. Furthermore, unless your doctor advises otherwise, you should never consume more than 4000IU of vitamin D.

Q. Should I take vitamin D in the morning or at night?

A. You should take vitamin D supplements after your heaviest meal of the day. This is due to the fact that your body absorbs vitamin D with the help of fats. As a result, take vitamin D after eating a high-fat meal. It could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Q. How can you tell if you’re deficient in vitamin D?

A. A doctor or physician can diagnose vitamin D deficiency by performing a blood glucose level diagnostic test. However, if you frequently feel sleepy or tired, have back or joint pain, hair loss, mood disorders, or headaches, you may be deficient in vitamin D.

Q. How can I increase my vitamin D levels?

A. The sun is the most natural source of vitamin D absorption. So, by spending some time in the sun every day, you can boost your vitamin D levels. You can also include dietary sources like fish, mushrooms, and so on. However, after consulting with your doctor, the best way to increase your vitamin D intake is to take supplements.

Q. Is it better to take vitamin D on a daily or weekly basis?

A. On a daily basis, include external sources of vitamin D, such as sunlight, as well as dietary sources, such as fish and mushrooms. However, if you are taking supplements, it is best to adhere to your doctor’s prescription and dosage. In general, it is preferable to take supplements on a daily basis rather than weekly or monthly.

Q. Which fruit contains a lot of vitamin D?

A. A variety of fruits are high in vitamin D. According to international units, orange has the highest vitamin D concentration of any fruit. As a result, fortified orange juice is the best way to meet your vitamin D needs through fruits.

What is the distinction between vitamin D and vitamin D3?

A. Our bodies contain two types of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Both are vitamin D forms. As a result, there is no discernible difference between the two. Vitamin D3, on the other hand, is a more absorbable form of vitamin D.

Q: Should I take D3 or D2?

A. The amount of vitamin D you get is more important than the type of vitamin D you get. It will ensure that your levels are within the appropriate range to avoid deficiency.

Experts generally recommend 600 to 800 IUs of vitamin D per day. However, vitamin D3 is a better supplement option because it is easily absorbed.

Q: Who should avoid taking vitamin D3?

A. It is best to consult a doctor before beginning vitamin D supplements if you have kidney or heart problems. Furthermore, people who have kidney stones should limit their intake of vitamin D3 supplements because it may worsen stone formation.

Q. Are there any side effects to taking vitamin D?

A. Vitamin D supplements are safe when taken in the recommended doses. Excessive consumption, on the other hand, may cause side effects such as lung and kidney problems, hypercalcemia, mood disorders, and so on.

Q. What foods contain the most vitamin D?

A. Although foods only provide 10% of our body’s vitamin D, some fruits may help us meet our vitamin D requirements. Vitamin D-rich foods include fortified orange juice, yoghurt and cheese, fish, cod liver oil, and salmon.

Q: Do apples contain vitamin D?

A. No, apples don’t have vitamin D. They are, however, one of the most nutritious fruits with numerous health benefits. They can help boost immunity, lower blood pressure, aid digestion, and so on.

Q: Do almonds contain vitamin D?

A. No, almonds contain no vitamin D. Nuts and seeds, such as almonds and walnuts, do not contain vitamin D.

Q. Which drink contains the most vitamin D?

A. Vitamin D-fortified orange juice is a good source of the vitamin. A glass of vitamin D-fortified orange juice contains up to 137 IU of vitamin D.

Q: Do bananas contain vitamin D?

A. Bananas are devoid of vitamin D. They do, however, contain magnesium, which is essential for the activation of vitamin D in the human body.

Q. What is an easy way to get vitamin D?

A. The sun is the most efficient and rapid source of Vitamin D. Your skin absorbs vitamin D from the sun and fulfils your vitamin D requirements.

Q: Do carrots contain vitamin D?

No, it does not. Carrots contain no vitamin D. They are, however, a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, which have a variety of health benefits. For example, they aid in the improvement of vision, the prevention of cancer, the loss of weight, and so on.