35 Science-Backed Benefits of Vitamin D

Table of Contents

Ever-increasing research shows that insufficient Vitamin D levels are associated with a multitude of health problems and complaints.

In order to keep yourself and your family at optimum health, this powerful micronutrient should be a part of your regimen.

Vitamin D health benefits cover everything from immune strength to avoidance of obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

For prevention of a vast array of diseases and disorders, to the quality of life issues like thicker hair growth and a better night’s sleep, you cannot beat Vitamin D.

 

What is Vitamin D?

Few micronutrients affect every system in the body as Vitamin D does.

Called the “sunshine vitamin,” D is synthesized by the body in the presence of sunlight, instead of being ingested regularly via food.

Lifestyle changes over the decades have led to a large portion of our modern population is deficient (1).

It is hard to overstate the importance of Vitamin D to your body.

Research has shown it helps guard bones against osteoporosis, effectively battles some cancers, improves cognition, reduces the chance of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, increases your ability to perform physically for longer durations, and provides a whole host of other benefits.

The 35 you learn about in this article will convince you of D’s importance in your everyday regimen.

Vitamin D, which is more technically a prohormone used in numerous metabolic activities in many bodily systems, comes in two varieties.

These are commonly called D2 and D3. D2 is found in some mushrooms, yeast, and plant life.

D3 is synthesized by skin cells and found in some animal products.

Both have also been manufactured in laboratory settings.

They are most often used as food additives, such as in vitamin D-fortified milk products, and for supplements (2).

Both are helpful for overall health and function in nearly identical ways, though D3 is more-widely supplemented.

In order to manifest all the benefits outlined in this article, they need to be metabolized by both the liver and kidneys.

They undergo a series of conversions in order for different body systems and cellular structures to use them (3).

While interesting, knowing the science behind D metabolism, absorption, and utilization is not necessary to reap the many benefits from this nutrient.

Do you want to help regulate your blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease, stave off infections, improve cognitive function and memory, possibly prevent cancer, boost your immune system, and regulate insulin?

Read on to learn how it all works, and how Vitamin D can improve your overall health and longevity.

 

Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

Although signs of general Vitamin D deficiency may not be obvious and acute, they are identifiable.

Because this important nutrient affects most body systems, deficiency is manifested in a vast collection of symptoms and syndromes.

While an increase in vitamin D synthesis or supplementation may help alleviate these problems, it is possible that other factors are at play.

Always consult your physician to determine the right plan for you.

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In the first place, understanding how a lack of appropriate levels occurs helps.

Anyone who does not get enough exposure to sunlight during the day is at risk.

This includes people who stay inside all the time, those at higher latitudes in the dark parts of the year, and people who live in locations that experience greater cloud cover or pollution.

The less skin exposure, the less Vitamin D can be created.

Also, the more melanin in the skin, such as in the case of dark-skinned Africans, southern Asians, Hispanics, and indigenous peoples (4).

The current recommendation to use high SPF sunscreen may even prevent D creation.

Likewise, wearing wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved or UV-protective shirts may block it.

Cultural attire such as Muslim headscarves or other covering garments has been shown to have insufficient levels of Vitamin D at greater numbers (5, 6).

Noticeable signs of Vitamin D deficiency include a variety of easily-mistakable symptoms.

Wrong diagnoses include depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and simple lethargy or weakness due to advancing age.

Some people with low levels do not have symptoms at all (7).

Other symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include pain in the back on both sides of the spine, a throbbing pain deep in your bones, aches and pains in your muscles that cannot be attributed to injury or exercise, excess or unusual sweat production, obesity and weight gain, greater propensity to catch colds or get ill, disruption of normal digestive function, and fluctuating or unstable moods.

In children, a severe lack of sufficient levels of D causes rickets.

The same issue manifests as osteomalacia in adults (8, 9).

Whether or not you exhibit any of these symptoms, you should consider getting more sun exposure or adding more vitamin D to your diet or supplement regimen.

The following 35 health benefits cover everything from more-attractive skin to prevention of extremely serious diseases and disorders.

 

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been extensively tested and tracked to determine the probable and possible health benefits you can receive with proper levels.

These 35 are just some of them.

You can easily see that D synthesis from sunlight or D supplementation is helpful for every person, young and old, in any health situation.

 

Disease and Disorder Prevention

The health benefits of Vitamin D have been extensively studied for many years.

Due to its unique ability to be synthesized in the skin, plus its availability in various foods and supplementation possibilities, D2 and D3 are very accessible to most people.

Studies have ranged in size, scope, and focus, but most have found significant benefits that this micronutrient brings to your health and well-being.

 

Prevents Childhood Rickets and Adult Osteomalacia

Infants and children are at high risk of a disorder called rickets if they do not get sufficient Vitamin D.

Rickets is characterized by weakened and more easily-broken bones.

This also pertains to fetus development.

Children’s bones do not mineralize properly without this nutrient, and deformations and slow growth can occur (10, 11).

In adults, a similar problem called osteomalacia occurs.

This stems from lack of proper mineralization of bones in youth or later in life.

Those suffering from osteomalacia due to a lack of sufficient Vitamin D experience regular bone pain, weakness, and an overall tired and achy feeling (12).

Enough Vitamin D to reach blood levels of 20 to 50 ng/mL at the appropriate developmental times can completely eradicate any chance of these problems.

Treatment after the fact follows the same guidelines (13).

 

Fights Certain Forms of Cancer

When it comes to breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancer, Vitamin D has been shown to have marked protection capabilities.

The vitamin itself and byproducts derived from it actually make cancer cells stop growing and die.

This makes it very difficult for cancer cells to become tumors, or affect the body systems overall.

Prevention for people who do not have cancer yet, and the potential for improvement and remission for those who do (14, 15, 16).

Different types of cancers react in different ways, but Vitamin D helped in these cases:

 

Breast Cancer

Vitamin D production through sunlight or supplementation correlated to a considerable decrease in the chances of dying from breast cancer.

Just 2000 IU every day lowered the risk by 50%.

For individuals already suffering from it, quick growth and metastacization were pronouncedly higher in people with low Vitamin D levels (17, 18, 19).

The above-referenced studies also indicated that androgynous hormones increased, and estrogen decreased within the cancer cells themselves.

Although the overall findings were good and pointed to Vitamin D as a help with cancer prevention and treatment, they were more inconclusive for the woman who had already passed menopause.

 

Ovarian Cancer

Women who have ovarian cancer have been found to experience reduced levels of Vitamin D overall.

Lower levels correlate with higher mortality rates.

Studies on this nutrient also show that UVB radiation that you get directly from the sun also lowers the risk of this type of cancer (20, 21).

 

Prostate Cancer

UVB radiation from the sun, one of the important factors in Vitamin D synthesis in the body, has been shown to reduce the chances of dying from prostate cancer.

Lack of D in sufficient quantities in the bloodstream is related to your chance of getting this type of male cancer in the first place (22).

Similar to the breast cancer mechanism, the hormonal changes in the cancer cells made them more likely to grow bigger and faster.

Overall, Vitamin D helped prevent, slow the progression of, and stop men from dying from prostate cancer (23).

 

Colon Cancer

Reduce the risk of colon cancer with higher amounts of vitamin D in your bloodstream.

Epidemiological research shows that a full 50% chance reduction occurs with just 1000 to 2000 IU of D taken every day (24, 25).

 

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer also showed a lower chance of manifestation if proper doses of vitamin D are taken.

A 41% reduction occurred with just 600 IU per day (26).

 

Prevents Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s is another disease that affects far too many people.

A correlation between vitamin D levels and this disease have been shown.

Levels are lower near the development point and decrease more as the disease progresses.

One study compared the D levels between Parkinson’s patients and Alzheimer’s sufferers.

It found that those with Parkinson’s had less vitamin D than the others (27, 28).

The scientific explanation for this correlation has to do with a loss of dopamine-receptive neurons in the brain areas that Parkinson’s disease influences the most.

A 65% reduction in risk for contracting it occurred with a blood concentration of more than 50 nmol, instead of just 25 nmol per liter (29, 30).

 

Treats Alzheimer’s Disease

Although there is less of a chance than with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease is also affected by blood vitamin D levels.

The majority of people who have it, or other age-related dementia, show a marked decrease in D serum levels.

Levels lower than 50 nmol per liter of blood were found to have a direct correlation to developing Alzheimer’s (31, 32).

The physiological cause of vitamin D’s assistance in avoiding, stabilizing, or improving Alzheimer’s disease is found in the brain.

It reduces amyloid-β protein buildup by stimulating immune system cells (33).

 

Decreases Risk and Symptoms of MS

Increasing vitamin D levels, measured in 10 nmol-per-liter increments, was found to protect against multiple sclerosis developments, minimize symptoms for multiple sclerosis sufferers, and reduce the recurrence of acute problems.

Studies show that increasing the levels 10 nmol at a time boosted this benefit repeatedly by 12% (34, 35).

For those who already have multiple sclerosis, similar benefits were found with vitamin D therapeutic levels.

Common problems such as lack of muscular strength, bone weakening, and fractures were much less likely to occur (36, 37).

Vitamin D is also highly anti-inflammatory and reduces the occurrence of cytokine secretion which contributes to many health issues (38).

Additional studies that focus on vitamin D synthesis in sunny climates or with increased sun exposure between the ages of 6 and 15 have shown that both of these factors contribute to lower rates of multiple sclerosis.

This also includes high altitude locations, and in populations with greater fish oil consumption (39, 40).

 

Minimizes Chances of Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in the world.

This includes high blood pressure, instances of heart attack and stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Vitamin D health benefits extend to almost every risk factor for heart disease.

The role that vitamin D plays in cardiovascular health makes sense, due to the physical receptors for D in the heart and the blood vessels surrounding it.

Individuals with cardiovascular disease have been shown to have reduced levels of vitamin D in their blood.

Deficiencies have been observed to cause or exacerbate atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and narrowing of or other problems with blood vessels (41, 42, 43).

Since not having enough vitamin D or sufficient sunlight exposure is associated with cardiovascular disease, the opposite has been found to halt or reverse heart enlargement, as well as lower or stabilize blood pressure (44, 45).

There have been studies that have shown no correlation or causation between vitamin D supplementation and an improvement in cardiovascular disease risk or manifestation.

In one, supplementation with 800 IU per day for a period of 12 weeks did nothing to change heart disease markers like blood pressure or fat concentration.

Another study of postmenopausal women showed no decrease in heart disease risk after taking a daily dose of 400 or 1000 IU of vitamin D for 12 months (46, 47).

 

Helps with Celiac and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

People who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are often eager for solid research that promises a reduction in the associated inflammation and digestive issues.

IBD also includes the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which have various additional and often more severe symptoms.

Due to its anti-inflammatory nature, vitamin D has been tested as a possible treatment (48, 49).

The results find a true correlation between proper vitamin D supplementation levels and improvement in inflammatory bowel disease symptoms, especially in studies using mice (50).

The major cause of this change is due to D’s ability to lower levels of the digestive protein TNF-α, which contributes to less inflammation throughout the digestive tract.

People who took vitamin D regularly also reduced their C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate by 32% and 46%, respectively (51).

Crohn’s disease patients reduced the chance of acute symptom recurrence by approximately 16% when taking 1200 IU of vitamin D every day.

Increased levels of D in the blood also decreased the chances of adenoma and polyp formation often associated with ulcerative colitis and cancers (52).

Insufficient vitamin D blood levels were found in 60% of the celiac disease patients tested (53).

 

Reduced Vitamin D Levels Related to Cystic Fibrosis

The overall reduction in vitamin D blood serum levels occurs in people who have cystic fibrosis.

Not only could levels be naturally lower at the start, CF patients also experience vitamin D breakdown or degradation faster than those without the disease.

This is due to P450 and other oxidant activity (54).

Late stage cystic fibrosis sufferers have been shown to have up to a 25% to 33% reduction in optimum D levels.

In order to get to appropriate levels, around 25 ng/ml of blood, most required 1800 IU of supplementation every day (55).

 

Vitamin D Improves HIV Immunity

People infected with HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, have been shown to have a reduced amount of vitamin D in their blood.

Insufficient levels correlated with a greater chance of AIDS development, severe symptoms, and mortality.

The overall lifespan of HIV patients with exceptionally low vitamin D was measurably shorter (56, 57).

In order to reduce this risk of premature death and to increase immune function in patients, up to 100,000 IU of vitamin D over a two-month period can be beneficial.

These levels boosted white blood cell counts and decreased the spread of viral cells (58).

 

Lowers the Chance of Diabetes

Vitamin D synthesis or supplementation is also helpful for preventing and managing diabetes type I and type II.

With nearly 30 million people in the United States alone suffering from this disease, any help from a vitamin is a good thing.

D supplementation has an overt regulatory role in pancreatic health and insulin production.

Lack of vitamin D causes a reduction in the pancreas’s ability to produce the correct amount of insulin at the right time, which is a contributing factor in diabetes (59, 60).

Having insufficient levels of D in a person’s younger years can contribute to a greater chance of diabetes type I complications.

Likewise, at least 2000 IU of vitamin D between birth and age 1 considerably lowers the chance of getting this form of the disease.

Pregnant mothers with lower levels frequently give birth to infants with more anti-pancreatic antibodies than those with sufficient vitamin D (61, 62, 63).

The association between sufficient vitamin D levels and diabetes of both types has primarily to do with regulation of insulin levels, stabilization of blood sugar overall, and support for healthier and more effective pancreatic cells (65, 66).

 

Boosts or Stabilizes Thyroid Function

People who are deficient in vitamin D have a greater risk of developing autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Thyroid glands can become enlarged and struggle to function properly.

If you suffer from thyroid problems, you may have experienced a difficult time regulating function, Vitamin D can help (67, 68).

Research has shown however that supplementation with vitamin D in patients with these or other thyroid stability issues can help reverse the problem and restore more expected performance (69).

 

Minimizes Asthma Severity

Asthma sufferers are also more likely to have low vitamin D blood levels.

This contributes both to the severity and frequency of asthma attacks, as well as to reduce overall lung function and capacity.

Also, the effectiveness of any corticosteroid medication taken for asthma is boosted when taken in conjunction with vitamin D (70, 71).

Pregnant women improve by 40% the chance that their children do not develop asthma if they supplement during pregnancy (72).

Lack of vitamin D also correlates to an increase in medication use, including corticosteroids (73).

 

COPD Sufferers Get Relief with Vitamin D

Another respiratory problem that plagues many people, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is associated with a lack of sufficient vitamin D in the blood.

Lower levels equate to a higher chance of infection in the lungs, which can be deadly for COPD sufferers, and a decrease in overall lung function (74, 75).

This is due to vitamin D’s ability to fight inflammation and manage bronchial airways’ contraction and relaxation.

Added benefits include increased bone mineral density and improved aerobic exercise capability.

Since many COPD patients are older, these contribute greatly to overall health and quality of life (76, 77).

There have been some studies, however, that did not report any beneficial findings in relation to vitamin D levels for COPD patients, so more research and data collection are needed.

 

Decreases Chance of Tuberculosis

Excessive lack of vitamin D serum levels increases the chance of contracting tuberculosis by five times in people who are exposed.

Overall, there is a greater chance of contracting TB in this manner.

This is due to D’s ability to boost the immune system’s ability to fight off certain types of mycobacteria (78, 79).

People who already suffer from tuberculosis also have much lower levels of vitamin D.

Appropriate supplementation can boost treatment effectiveness, and make overall suffering measurably shorter (80, 81).

 

Detrimental to Sarcoidosis Sufferers

People with sarcoidosis may experience higher vitamin D serum levels because it is produced by macrophages associated with the disease.

Although proper levels of vitamin D are beneficial for overall health, excessive levels associated with sarcoid granulomas can increase calcium levels too much (82, 83).

To combat this problem, people with sarcoidosis frequently need to undergo immunosuppressive therapy (84).

 

Boosts Resistance to Respiratory Tract Infections

In several studies involving children, results showed that higher levels of vitamin D translated into greater resistance against respiratory tract infections.

This included supplementation levels in the range from 600 to 700 IU per day up to 1200 IU per day as a preventative against influenza during the December to March flu season.

Lower doses of just 300 IU per day reduced respiratory infections in Mongolian children by a full 50% (85, 86).

Unfortunately, similar studies done on healthy adults with doses of up to 100,000 IU in a month showed no statistically significant reduction in the rate of contracting respiratory infections, or the severity of those caught (87).

 

Changes Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Function

Low levels of vitamin D in the blood are found at significantly higher rates of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Of the SLE patients studied, 65% showed D levels less than 30 ng per milliliter.

The problem with having such low levels of this important vitamin for lupus sufferers is based mostly on its ability to boost immune system response, increase Tregs, and reduce memory B cells, Th1, and Th17 cells (88, 89).

 

Reduces Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Due to the suppression of Th17 cell cytokines mentioned above, vitamin D is also highly beneficial for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

In conjunction with anti-rheumatic drugs for therapy procedures, supplementing 500 IU of vitamin D daily boosted pain relief overall (90, 91).

Older women who do not have RA have a reduced risk of getting it if they keep their blood D levels higher.

Around 30 to 63% of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are deficient in this important micronutrient (92).

 

Helps Women with PCOS

Low vitamin D levels are often seen in women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and insulin resistance (93, 94).

Multiple symptoms of PCOS are improved with proper vitamin D supplementation or synthesis.

Some of these include regulation of menstrual cycle and metabolism of glucose and blood sugar (95).

 

Boosts Bone Health and Strength

You may first think calcium when you think of bone health and strength, but vitamin D is the nutrient that regulates both it and phosphorus inside your body.

It helps them be absorbed by your digestive system and kidneys (96, 97).

Vitamin D has been shown to be a necessary component of growing healthy bone cells, called osteoblasts, increasing bone mass and strength, and minimizing bone loss over time.

This is partly accomplished through suppression of the parathyroid hormone.

Some studies show that excessive doses can exacerbate bone degradation instead (98, 99).

 

Inhibits Osteoporosis

Due to its support of calcium and phosphorus absorption, and through intrinsic qualities of its own, vitamin D is associated with higher bone mineralization which leads to greater bone density, fewer defects, and a lower chance of fracture.

It is frequently a part of an osteoporosis therapeutic regimen.

Use in conjunction with calcium, especially if you are 50 or older (100, 101, 102).

The risk of fracturing a hip decreased by 42% in a study of elderly women who received 1200 milligrams of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D every day for three years.

Overall instances of fractures went down by 32% (103, 104).

In darker-skinned Africans and Hispanics (due to increased melanin), and in population groups that avoid sun exposure, vitamin D deficiency went up.

The rate of fracture did likewise.

Supplementation of an annual dose of 500,000 IU of vitamin D did not result in great benefits for the women (105).

 

Decreases Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a primary concern for cardiovascular disease and overall health.

Sufficient vitamin D and UVB radiation on your skin are both a factor in lowering blood pressure.

This depends somewhat on geographic location and skin color, as people with darker skin or who covered it regularly had less Vitamin D overall.

In a research study where participants were given UVB therapeutic light, blood pressure reduced significantly after six weeks (106, 107).

From data from 1800 study participants, it was found that those with vitamin D serum levels below 50 nmol per liter had a greater risk of high blood pressure than those who had levels above 75 nmol per liter (108, 109).

Vitamin D inactivates the renin-angiotensin system, which in turn suppresses blood pressure.

This has been studied on hypertensive rats who received oral D supplementation (110).

Elderly women without enough D in their blood originally enjoyed a 9% reduction in systolic blood pressure when given a combination of calcium and vitamin D instead of calcium on its own.

Other studies showed that taking vitamin D on its own had no measurable effect on elderly women’s blood pressure (111, 112).

 

Helps with Atopic Dermatitis

Nearly 20% of all children and 3% of adults suffer from atopic dermatitis, another skin complaint that may be the result of insufficient vitamin D levels in the body (113, 114).

Supplementation of this nutrient boosts the body’s ability to produce cathelicidin.

People with atopic dermatitis do not easily produce this antimicrobial compound.

Supplementing the diet with vitamin D can minimize the negative effects of this disorder (115).

 

Helps with Psoriasis

Psoriasis sufferers also have lower vitamin D levels.

The vitamin is responsible for the body producing and managing keratinocytes and encouraging the immune system to do its job better (116, 117).

Higher-than-normal doses of over 30,000 IU daily of D are considered safe and beneficial for the alleviation of psoriasis issues.

Oral supplementation can be used in conjunction with topical applications, such as tacalcitol and calcipotriol (118, 119).

 

Helps with Brain Development

Vitamin D operates as a neurosteroid, or a hormone found and synthesized in the brain.

Because the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and associated production enzymes are found there, it is easy to see that vitamin D is key to proper brain development and function.

Studies back this up repeatedly.

Various neurological and psychological diseases and disorders are associated with lower levels of vitamin D (120, 121).

The tasks that vitamin D undertakes in the brain include synthesizing proteins used to build and maintain brain cells, protect cells involved in detoxification processes, and assist in the production of glutathione and the blockage of nitric oxide.

All these and other functions require vitamin D to work smoothly (122, 123).

Various epidemiological research studies have found low D concentrations correlate with poor cognitive ability, memory problems, lack of orientation, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, increased the chance of schizophrenia or psychotic episodes, and depression (124, 125).

 

Strengthens Cognitive Abilities

Lower vitamin D levels may contribute to a lack of cognitive ability, age-related or other dementias, and reduced mood in many populations of people (126, 127).

There are studies that have shown no correlation at all.

Giving 5000 IU every day for six weeks showed no significant boost to depressive individuals or those suffering from anxiety or anger issues ( 128, 129).

 

Improves Strength, Balance, and Performance

Vitamin D also encourages a healthy body, and assists in muscle function and overall metabolism.

Some indication has been given that D reduces atrophy of type II muscle fibers, and inhibits fat and filtration into women’s muscular structures.

Research has shown that sufficient vitamin D supplementation increases strength and performance for these reasons (130, 131, 132).

Balance benefits from vitamin D.

Among both elderly and adolescent patients, as well as those experiencing chronic kidney disease, falls reduced considerably.

In further studies, the chance of falling was reduced by just 20% (133, 134).

Athletes who are looking to up their game could enjoy overall improvement with vitamin D supplementation.

It can also reduce the possibility of sport- or activity-related injury, such as stress fractures (135).

 

Relief from Depression

The studies exploring vitamin D’s association with depression show promising correlations, although some fail to show any benefit at all.

Being low in D was connected to an 8 to 14% increase in depression diagnoses.

It also increased the chance that a depressed individual would commit suicide by a full 50% (136, 137).

However, among women past menopausal age, vitamin D in conjunction with hormone therapy did not have the same positive effect, and depression levels were largely unchanged (138).

 

Experience a Better Night’s Sleep

If you suffer from sleep disorders or poor sleep quality, vitamin D may be able to help you get to sleep and stay asleep.

A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed people stayed asleep for less time if they had lower blood D concentration levels.

A similar study called the poor sleep due to D-deficiency an “epidemic” (139, 140).

Lower vitamin D levels are also associated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

Many people suffer from this disorder, in which they stop breathing multiple times a night.

Vitamin D deficiency and higher-than-normal glucose production both contribute to it.

Overall, the research is promising to show that this vitamin helps people with sleep problems, but more research is still needed (141, 142).

 

Lack of D Translates into Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity

Although there are many reasons why a person becomes overweight or obese, lower vitamin D levels seem to be related to having an unhealthy body mass index (BMI), larger circumference at the waist, obesity in children and adolescents, and metabolic syndrome (143, 144, 145).

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of characteristics including higher blood pressure, higher triglyceride levels in the blood, and unhealthy cholesterol ratios with lower HDL cholesterol levels.

Supplementing with more IU per day for obese people may provide more health benefits (146, 147).

A 12-week-long study followed overweight and obese women who wanted to lose weight.

Researchers administered 25 ugs of vitamin D daily and found a 7% reduction in body fat with no correlating reduction in weight or waist measurement.

 

Boost Your Immune System

You know that a strong immune system can help prevent pesky colds and serious illnesses, and vitamin D can help you achieve one.

Studies have revealed the benefits of this nutrient for preventing infectious and autoimmune disorders.

It does this by helping all types of different cells that work together in the immune system, such as T cells, B cells, dendritic cells, macrophages, and more (148, 149, 150).

Vitamin D helps your immune system in the following ways:

  • Slows B cell creation and secretion of associated antibodies (151).
  • Minimizes T cell production and activation (152).
  • Shifts cell production from a Th1 to Th2 phenotype (153).
  • Controls macrophage and monocyte actions (154).
  • Reduces dendritic cell creation and growth.
  • Reduces inflammatory cytokine secretion (155).
  • Boosts the power of beneficial cytokines (156).
  • Stops or slows your B cell production of IgE.
  • Boosts production of IL-10 to benefit allergic response.
  • Minimizes the activity of MHC Class II.
  • Reduces TGF-beta, which boosts tissue repairability.
  • Helps activate T cells (157).
  • Boosts the production and activity of “Natural Killer” T cells (158).
  • Regulates the difference between various T cell types.
  • Allows the release of antimicrobials (159).

 

Provides Protection for Natural Kidney Function

Whether you suffer from kidney disease or a natural reduction in your normal kidney function, vitamin D benefits through supplementation may help.

One of the problems people often have with their kidneys is related to elevated calcium levels.

This is what forms kidney stones, and causes other renal problems (160, 161).

Vitamin D supplements are found to preserve organ function by decreasing this calcium.

Diabetic people with associated kidney problems had fewer instances of disease and renal failure with appropriate D blood levels.

In patients who underwent a kidney transplant, vitamin D was instrumental in preventing bone loss (162, 163).

 

Boosts Male Fertility

Various studies on mice have shown an association between low vitamin D levels and male infertility.

Symptoms included less sperm with more mobility issues and physiological problems with the formation of the testes.

Vitamin D boosts production of healthy, motile sperm (164, 165).

Men who have lower levels of blood serum D vitamin, i.e. below 20 ng/mL, are more likely to have slower sperm than those with levels above 50 ng/mL.

Anything above that amount began to influence the rate of sperm production.

For vitamin D and male reproductive health, the 20 to 50 range is ideal (166).

 

Helps Pregnant and Lactating Women

Up to 67% of Caucasian women, 81% of Hispanic women, and 97% of African-American women were found to be majorly deficient in vitamin D when they were pregnant.

Darker skin and more clothing coverage make it more difficult for the body to synthesize vitamin D naturally (167, 168).

Very low vitamin D levels may be dangerous for both the mother and the growing child.

Women may experience osteomalacia, which is the bone loss, or preeclampsia, which is the number one cause of which both mothers and infants die during childbirth.

Low D also increases the chance of needing a cesarean section by 400%.

Spontaneous preterm birth risks also decrease (169, 170, 171).

The fetus may not grow as quickly with insufficient vitamin D in the mother’s bloodstream, may develop weak bones and tooth enamel, and have a greater chance of developing asthma, schizophrenia, and type I diabetes.

Although many used to think that the low levels of vitamin D in breastmilk were natural, it has since been determined that the mother’s diet, sun exposure, or supplementation levels contribute to that problem.

Pregnant women should, therefore, get 4000 IU of D every day, and up to 6400 IU per day if breastfeeding the baby after it is born (172, 173).

 

Helps with Hair Loss

Vitamin D receptors in the skin help regulate hair follicles and keep them healthy.

This, in turn, continues the hair production cycle.

Both women and men experience hair loss that is correlated to lower vitamin D blood levels.

The lower the amount, the more severe the hair loss.

Proper supplementation can contribute to healthier hair follicles and regrowth of hair (174, 175, 176).

 

Best Vitamin D-Rich Foods

Due to the human body’s ability to synthesize vitamin D in the skin, exposure is the primary method to get enough.

There are simply not that many foods with high amounts of this helpful nutrient.

If you wish to get as much as possible with your diet, it would be best to focus on animal products and mushrooms.

Organ meats such as beef liver and cod liver oil have a reasonable level of D3.

You can also get it from oily fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Egg yolks and cheese are also good to include at mealtime.

Vitamin D2 is mostly found in mushrooms, such as Portobello and shiitake (177).

Luckily, the federal government and food industries have recognized the importance of vitamin D and add it to certain products on our grocery store shelves.

You have probably seen milk fortified with it.

Other potential foods with added D include soymilk, tofu, margarine, breakfast cereals, juices, and yogurt.

Indeed, many dairy products use fortified milk in their production.

Regulations are also in place to fortify with extra vitamin D all baby formula manufactured or sold in the United States and Canada.

This helps ensure healthy levels for infant and childhood development (178).

If you are not fond of fish, dairy, or mushrooms, and still want sufficient vitamin D levels, you will need to turn to nutritional supplements.

There is a wide variety of pills, capsules, and gummies on the market today that includes primarily vitamin D3.

This source alone can be sufficient for your dietary needs (179, 180).

 

Vitamin D Precautions

As with any nutritional supplement, it is important to understand the risks before taking it.

When in doubt, ask a nutritionist or your physician.

The following risks, dosing instructions, and interaction possibilities offer a strong foundation upon which to build your research.

 

Vitamin D Risks

It is extremely difficult to reach toxic levels of vitamin D in your body.

Normal sun exposure and diet choices will never exceed healthy levels.

In order to cause any problems whatsoever, you would need to ingest more than 50,000 IU of this micronutrient every single day for an extended time period (181).

If a person does take far too much, the reaction may be severe and long-lasting.

This is primarily because vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means it is stored in fatty tissue, instead of water-soluble which is not generally stored in great quantities within the body (182).

Results of overdose include damage to your cardiovascular and renal systems, including kidney damage, and calcification of body tissues.

Symptoms you may have a problem include digestive distress such as nausea and constipation, pancreatitis, kidney stone formation, a taste of metal in your mouth, and unusual or severe headaches (183, 184).

 

Vitamin D Dosing

Finding the correct dose of vitamin D3 to take and give to your children is not always clear, due to factors like sun exposure that may provide appropriate levels, to begin with.

However, since a large percentage of people on earth is deficient, supplementation is often recommended to everyone.

People from the age of 18 to 80+ should take in between 600 and 800 IU every day.

This can help stabilize health, improve cardiovascular function, strengthen bones and muscles, and provide all of the other wonderful benefits that are outlined in this article above.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should take approximately 600 IU every day.

This helps you maintain your good health or promote a healthier you so that you can be the best parent possible for your new child.

Appropriate levels of vitamin D can also affect the developing fetus or breastfeeding baby’s health.

Infants should get 400 IU of vitamin D every day before they turn one year old.

This should be administered primarily through breast milk or fortified formula.

Dosages for children and adolescents from one year to 17 years depending on their size (185).

Obese or overweight individuals of any age should supplement with double or even triple the daily recommended amount of vitamin D.

The suggested amount depends on overall body weight and extent of the deficiency.

This also pertains to people taking glucocorticoids, anticonvulsant medications, AIDS medication, and prescription antifungals.

 

Vitamin D Interactions

Very few interactions exist between vitamin D and any other supplement or medication on the market today.

It is a healthy supplement for the vast majority of people of all ages, backgrounds, and health issues.

However, it is recommended to pay special attention to patients who suffer from active Crohn’s disease, metastatic bone disease, sarcoidosis, or Williams syndrome (186, 187).

 

Conclusion

With so many vitamin D benefits and low risks, vitamin D in all its forms is safe and necessary for a healthy body and life.

From birth to your senior years, realize the power of this important micronutrient that can support everything from your skin, hair, and nails to your cardiovascular health and cancer prevention.

While D is not a cure-all, it is one vitamin in which far too many people are deficient.

Protect yourself and your family with more exposure to sunlight, and supplementation as needed.

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