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Vitamin D Health Benefits
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D1, D2, and D3.
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.
Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and facilitating normal immune system function
Getting enough vitamin D is important for typical growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance to certain diseases.
Vitamin D may fight disease
In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:
- Reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). A 2018 review of population-based studies found that low levels of vitamin D are linked with an increased risk of MS
- Decreasing the chance of heart disease. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to increased risk of heart diseases such as hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. But it’s unclear whether vitamin D deficiency contributes to heart disease or simply indicates poor health when you have a chronic condition
- Reducing the likelihood of severe illnesses. Although studies are mixed, vitamin D may make severe flu and COVID-19 infections less likely. A recent review found that low vitamin D levels contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Supporting immune health. People who do not have adequate vitamin D levels might be at increased risk of infections and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease
Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and decreasing the risk of depression
A review of 7,534 people found that those experiencing negative emotions who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in symptoms. Vitamin D supplementation may help people with depression who also have a vitamin D deficiency
Another study identified low vitamin D levels as a risk factor for more severe fibrmyalgia symptoms, anxiety and depression
Vitamin D - weight loss
People with higher body weights have a greater chance of low vitamin D levels
In one study, people with obesity who received vitamin D supplements in addition to following a weight loss diet plan lost more weight and fat mass than the members of the placebo group, who only followed the diet plan (
In an older study, people taking daily calcium and vitamin D supplements lost more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The researchers suggest that the extra calcium and vitamin D may have had an appetite-suppressing effect
The current research doesn’t support the idea that vitamin D would cause weight loss, but there appears to be a relationship between vitamin D and weight.
Vitamin D – Testosterone
Some research suggests that having lower blood levels of vitamin D could be linked to decreased testosterone levels in men
In a small study, 10 days of sun exposure and 6 weeks of vitamin D supplementation led to significant increases in vitamin D and testosterone levels in soccer players
Vitamin D – Prostate
The Latest Research Offers Some Interesting Observations:
· Men with the lowest levels of vitamin D had the highest risk of getting prostate disease
· Men who have prostate disease tend to have lower levels of vitamin D.
· Men with healthy levels of vitamin D tend to have less aggressive Disease and lower rates of death from prostate disease
· Prostate Disease rates in the U.S. are highest in areas that get the least amount of sun. (The body makes vitamin D from sunlight.)
Several factors can affect your ability to get adequate vitamin D from sunlight alone.
You may be less likely to absorb enough vitamin D from the sun if you
- live in an area with high pollution
- use sunscreen
- spend most of your time indoors
- live in a big city where buildings block sunlight
- have darker skin (The higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D your skin can absorb.)
These factors can increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency. That’s why it’s important to get some of your vitamin D from non-sunlight sources.
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults may include
- tiredness, aches, and pains
- severe bone or muscle pain or weakness
- stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips
A healthcare professional can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a simple blood test. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may order X-rays to check the strength of your bones.
If you receive a diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency, a healthcare professional will likely recommend that you take vitamin D supplements. If you have a severe deficiency, they may instead recommend high dose vitamin D tablets or liquids.
You should also make sure to get vitamin D through sunlight and the foods you eat.
If you take excessive amounts of vitamin D supplements, you may get too much of it. However, this is unlikely to happen through diet or sun or exposure because your body regulates the amount of vitamin D produced through sun exposure.
Vitamin D toxicity can lead to an increase in your blood calcium levels. This can result in a variety of health issues, such as
- abdominal pain
- increased thirst
Some foods contain vitamin D naturally, and others are fortified with it. You can find vitamin D in the following foods
- canned tuna
- cod liver oil
- beef liver
- egg yolk
- regular mushrooms and those treated with ultraviolet light
- milk (fortified)
- certain cereals and oatmeal’s (fortified)
- yogurt (fortified)
- orange juice (fortified)
It can be hard to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements could help.
There has been some debate over the amount of vitamin D required for optimal functioning. Recent studies indicate that we need more vitamin D than previously thought.
The Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamin D are as follows
- infants (0–12 months): 10 mcg (400 IU)
- children and teens: 15 mcg (600 IU)
- adults ages 18–70: 15 mcg (600 IU)
- adults over age 70: 20 mcg (800 IU)
- pregnant or breastfeeding women: 15 mcg (600 IU)
Vitamin D has many potential benefits. It may reduce the risk of certain diseases, help improve mood and reduce depression symptoms, and help with weight management.
Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining your overall health.
It’s necessary for the growth and development of your muscle cells, proper functioning of the innate and adaptive immune system, maintenance of the health of your skeletal system, and more
This is why insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D may increase your risk of disease and infection, bone demineralization, and many other negative health outcomes
Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common. In fact, up to 40% of U.S. adults are considered to have insufficient levels (not enough) of vitamin D, while around 6% are considered deficient in vitamin D. Worldwide, vitamin D deficiency affects around 1 billion people
Factors that increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency include
- skin colour
- where you live
- your ability to absorb vitamin D
- sun exposure
- medical conditions
- body weight
Because vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency are common, many people use vitamin D supplements to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D supplements are considered very safe, and toxicity is uncommon. This is because a healthy person would need to take extremely large doses of vitamin D over time in order to reach toxic or dangerous levels in the body
Vitamin D helps your body absorb Calcium from the food you eat. In fact, this is one of its most important roles.
Vitamin D is involved in calcium absorption, immune function, and protecting bone, muscle, and heart health. It occurs naturally in food and your body can also produce it when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
Yet, aside from fatty fish, there are few foods rich in Vitamin D. What’s more, most people don’t get enough sun exposure to produce adequate vitamin D.
So, deficiency is very common. In fact, estimates suggest that about 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D, while 50% of people may have levels insufficient to maintain optimal health
Healthcare professionals may recommend people who are very low in vitamin D take very high weekly doses of 50,000 IU for 8 weeks, followed by a maintenance dose of 2,000 IU per day after their levels reach 30 ng/mL
If you’re taking very high dose vitamin D supplements or are receiving vitamin D injections, your doctor will monitor your vitamin D levels to ensure they aren’t becoming potentially dangerous.
Avoid taking high dose vitamin D supplements unless your healthcare professional recommends them.
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common. For this reason, many people need to take vitamin D supplements. However, it’s important to avoid taking high dose vitamin D supplements, except with the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Vitamin D is extremely important for your overall health. Even if you follow a healthy diet, you may require supplements to achieve optimal blood levels.
However, it’s also possible to have too much of a good thing.