Table of Contents
- What is Vitamin D?
- Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Health Benefits of Vitamin D
- Disease and Disorder Prevention
- Prevents Childhood Rickets and Adult Osteomalacia
- Fights Certain Forms of Cancer
- Prevents Parkinson’s Disease
- Treats Alzheimer’s Disease
- Decreases Risk and Symptoms of MS
- Minimizes Chances of Cardiovascular Disease
- Helps with Celiac and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Reduced Vitamin D Levels Related to Cystic Fibrosis
- Vitamin D Improves HIV Immunity
- Lowers the Chance of Diabetes
- Boosts or Stabilizes Thyroid Function
- Minimizes Asthma Severity
- COPD Sufferers Get Relief with Vitamin D
- Decreases Chance of Tuberculosis
- Detrimental to Sarcoidosis Sufferers
- Boosts Resistance to Respiratory Tract Infections
- Changes Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Function
- Reduces Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
- Helps Women with PCOS
- Boosts Bone Health and Strength
- Inhibits Osteoporosis
- Decreases Blood Pressure
- Helps with Atopic Dermatitis
- Helps with Psoriasis
- Helps with Brain Development
- Strengthens Cognitive Abilities
- Improves Strength, Balance, and Performance
- Relief from Depression
- Experience a Better Night’s Sleep
- Lack of D Translates into Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity
- Boost Your Immune System
- Provides Protection for Natural Kidney Function
- Boosts Male Fertility
- Helps Pregnant and Lactating Women
- Helps with Hair Loss
- Best Vitamin D-Rich Foods
- Vitamin D Precautions
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.
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.
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.
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.
Different types of cancers react in different ways, but Vitamin D helped in these cases:
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%.
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.
Women who have ovarian cancer have been found to experience reduced levels of Vitamin D overall.
Lower levels correlate with higher mortality rates.
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).
Reduce the risk of colon cancer with higher amounts of vitamin D in your bloodstream.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For those who already have multiple sclerosis, similar benefits were found with vitamin D therapeutic levels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
People who already suffer from tuberculosis also have much lower levels of vitamin D.
Detrimental to Sarcoidosis Sufferers
People with sarcoidosis may experience higher vitamin D serum levels because it is produced by macrophages associated with the disease.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Helps with Atopic Dermatitis
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.
Higher-than-normal doses of over 30,000 IU daily of D are considered safe and beneficial for the alleviation of psoriasis issues.
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.
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.
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
There are studies that have shown no correlation at all.
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.
Balance benefits from vitamin D.
Among both elderly and adolescent patients, as well as those experiencing chronic kidney disease, falls reduced considerably.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.