Did you know around 1 billion people are vitamin D deficient? Insufficient vitamin D can lead to frequent illness, extreme fatigue, disturbed sleep, depression and anxiety, muscle pain, hair loss, bone degeneration, and a variety of other health complications. Vitamin D is vital for our health. Thankfully, it’s very easy to incorporate it into our diets, by supplementing via 911 vitamins or similar brands. Despite this, there seems to be a lot of confusion about vitamin D. This article aims to address questions and concerns that surround vitamin D deficiency and supplementation.
Despite what its name may suggest, Vitamin D is actually a nutrient we consume and a hormone our bodies produce. Vitamin D is vital for a variety of biological processes, namely the absorption of important nutrients like calcium, and magnesium. Maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is crucial for bone health, immune system health, proper sleep hygiene, gut health, and mental and cognitive function. Optimal vitamin D levels can even help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer, and various infectious diseases, like COVID-19 and HIV.
Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 are the two main forms of vitamin D. They have equal importance for our bodies, but differ in terms of source. Vitamin D2, otherwise referred to as ergocalciferol, comes from plants. Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, comes from animals. The latter is naturally produced in humans and other animals.
There are not many foods that naturally have vitamin D, but some foods can be fortified with it. Vitamin D can be naturally found in various types of fish, namely, salmon, flounder, and freshwater trout. Foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, cereal, and orange juice can be fortified with vitamin D. This is done by adding vitamin D concentrate to the food while it is being processed. Thanks to this, vitamin D levels in individuals have significantly improved.
Yes. The main source of vitamin D is exposure to the sun. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, our bodies produce vitamin D from cholesterol cells. In most people, vitamin D deficiency is caused by insufficient exposure to the sun. That is why individuals who live in sunny climates tend to have higher levels of vitamin D, granted they spend enough time outdoors.
The optimal level of vitamin D is a very debated topic. Some experts recommend levels between 20-40 ng/mL, whereas others have stated levels should remain within 30-50 ng/mL. There have even been studies that say the “normal” vitamin D level is dependent on the individual but should reside on the higher end of the spectrum at 60-80 ng/mL. There are many factors to consider when evaluating what the optimal level of vitamin D is for you, so make sure you work closely with a medical professional when supplementing this vitamin.
It is widely recommended that adults should take at least 2000 IU of vitamin D daily. However, many holistic practitioners will encourage you to take a higher dosage if you are deficient. The recommended daily dosage is often debated, though it varies on age, body size, ethnicity, overall health, and ability to absorb vitamin D. The most commonly accepted dosage is 4000 IU per day, though some individuals find that they require a higher daily dose until their blood levels reach an optimal range.
Too much of anything can be harmful to our bodies. Too much Vitamin D can cause side effects like nausea, loss of appetite, diminished cognitive ability, gastrointestinal symptoms, and kidney complications. However, vitamin D toxicity is not very common. Like with any supplement or medication, you should monitor the intake and its effects on your body. If you take vitamin D supplements in gradual increments and get bloodwork done frequently when supplementing, you should not have anything to worry about.
Most commonly, vitamin D deficiency is caused by not enough exposure to sunlight. However, lack of a proper diet and certain disorders such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease can perpetuate the deficiency. There are some factors that can be subsequent causes of vitamin D deficiency. This includes obesity, darker skin complexion, or strictly vegan diets.
All you have to do is get a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. Some medical professionals will ask you to fast 4 to 8 hours beforehand, although in most cases it is not necessary.
This is entirely dependent on the individual, as recovery times vary from person to person. Studies have shown that it takes 24 hours for vitamin D to be absorbed into the bloodstream, but it may take anywhere from a few days to some weeks for vitamin D deficiency symptoms to subside. Individuals with especially low levels may take even longer to recover. It is important to measure progress alongside a medical professional while supplementing vitamin D.
There is a lot of gray area surrounding vitamin D from both a consumer and expert level. The impact that vitamin D has on our bodies is still being closely studied, with new opinions on the subject arising frequently. The bottom line is that vitamin D is absolutely essential for our physical and cognitive health and daily functioning.
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