Vitamin D deficiency could be extremely harmful – in fact, there are real benefits to increasing your vitamin D!
Vitamin D is usually called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It’s a vitamin that can be found as a number of compounds: D-1, D-2, and D-3.
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to make sure adequate levels of the vitamin are in your blood.
Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is essential for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, Vitamin D is proven to improve resistance against certain diseases.
What is Vitamin D3?
Vitamin D3 is the compound produced naturally within the skin when it’s exposed to sunlight. The consensus is that D3 is 2 to 3 times as potent as Vitamin D2 as it is the biologically active version of the vitamin, produced in our skin when exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D2 is cheaper to supply, so once you see certain foods fortified with vitamin D, like cereals or fruit juice, it’s nearly always done so with vitamin D2. However, it’s considered a lower quality source of vitamin D than a premium Vitamin D3 supplement.
Although you would like both types, Vitamin D3 is taken into account as a better quality source of vitamin D and more important to your wellbeing.
Benefits of vitamin D
- Promotes healthy teeth and bones
No doubt, you’re probably aware of the role of vitamin D in promoting healthy bones, largely by promoting the absorption of calcium. “If you’ve got a vitamin D deficiency, particularly in your older years, it can cause osteoporosis or osteomalacia [bone softening],” says Lona Sandon, RD, professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas.
- Vitamin D fights disease
Research suggests that vitamin D can also play a task in reducing your risk of MS (2006 study published within the Journal of the American Medical Association), decreasing your chance of developing heart condition, (2008 findings published in Circulation), and helping to scale back your likelihood of developing the flu (2010 research published within the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
- Vitamin D reduces depression
Research has shown that vitamin D might play a crucial role in regulating mood and avoiding depression. In one study, scientists found that folks with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.
In another study of individuals with fibromyalgia, researchers found vitamin D deficiency was more common in those that were also experiencing anxiety and depression.
- Helps reduce blood pressure
If you would like to lower your blood pressure, vitamin D could be just what the doctor ordered. If you’re trying to scale back your risk of diabetes, or lower your chances of heart attacks, atrophic arthritis, or MS, then vitamin D should be included in your daily supplement regimen.
- Other potential benefits
There is recent and mounting evidence that links low levels of vitamin D to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, muscle and bone pain, and, perhaps more serious, cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, ovaries, esophagus, and systema lymphaticum.
What is the research saying?
As the research into vitamin D is accumulating, it’s hard to understand where to start. “Activated vitamin D is one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth,” says Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, who heads the vitamin D, Skin, and Bone lab at Boston University School of drugs. “It also stimulates your pancreas to make insulin. It regulates your immune system.”
At Boston University, after people with high blood pressure were exposed to UVA and UVB rays for 3 months, their vitamin D levels increased by more than 100% — and more impressively, their blood pressure normalised. “We’ve followed them now for nine months, and their hypertension continues to be in remission,” says Holick, medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University. One theory about how vitamin D reduces blood pressure: It decreases the assembly of a hormone called renin, which is believed to play a role in hypertension.
In a study published within the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2003, of some 3,000 veterans (ages 50 to 75) at 13 Veterans Affairs medical centres, found that those who consumed over 645 IU of vitamin D each day alongside more than 4 grams per day of cereal fibre had a 40% reduction in their risk of developing precancerous colon polyps.
In a report within the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in February 2004, researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland showed that elderly women who took a vitamin D supplement plus calcium for 3 months reduced their risk of falling by 49% compared with consuming calcium alone. Those women who had fallen repeatedly within the past appeared to gain the most from vitamin D.
A study within the Jan. 13, 2004 issue of Neurology indicated that ladies who get doses of vitamin D that are typically found in daily multivitamin supplements — of a minimum of 400iu — are 40% less likely to develop MS compared with those not taking over-the-counter supplements.
How often should I take Vitamin D3?
The government issued new vitamin D recommendations to make sure that the bulk of the united kingdom population has satisfactory vitamin D blood levels throughout the year, so as to support musculoskeletal health.
Those people that may have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency are being advised to take a Vitamin D supplement all year round. This advice is predicated on recommendations from the government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) following its review of the evidence on vitamin D and health.
The new recommended levels of Vitamin D3 are achieved with the administration of daily doses that are typically above those found in common multivitamins and calcium supplements.
People in danger of vitamin D deficiency
Some people won’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they need little or no or no sunshine exposure.
The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that you simply take a daily supplement of vitamin D throughout the year if you:
- are rarely outdoors – for instance, if you’re frail or housebound
- are in an establishment sort of a care home
- usually wear clothes that cover most of your skin when outdoors
If you’ve got dark skin – for instance you’ve got an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – you’ll also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.
In essence, the majority of people in the UK should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D throughout the year.
What happens if I take an excessive amount of vitamin D?
Taking too many vitamin D supplements over an extended period can cause an excessive amount of calcium to be created within the body. This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and therefore the heart.
The NHS says not to take more than 100 micrograms (4,000 IU) of vitamin D each day because it might be harmful.
Children aged 1 to 10 years shouldn’t have more than 50 micrograms (2,000 IU) each day, and infants under 12 months shouldn’t have more than 25 micrograms (1,000 IU) each day.
Some people have medical conditions that mean they’ll not be ready to safely take the maximum amount. If unsure, you ought to consult your doctor.
If your doctor has recommended you’re taking a special amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.
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