Worldwide, approximately 1 billion people are struggling with vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, about 50 percent of the global population is consuming an insufficient amount of vitamin D. Have you ever wondered if you’re getting enough vitamin D? Are you curious about how it contributes to healthy living?
Read on to learn more about the benefits of vitamin D. We’re also sharing some tips to help you increase your intake.
What Is Vitamin D?
Let’s start from the beginning with a breakdown of the properties of vitamin D, also known as calciferol.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It’s found in a few foods, such as egg yolks and fatty fish. It’s also often added to milk and other dairy products.
Vitamin D is unique because, in addition to being available in some foods, it’s also obtained through sun exposure. When the sun’s UV rays hit the skin, it triggers vitamin D synthesis.
Whether vitamin D is obtained from food, a supplement, or sun exposure, it must go through two hydroxylation processes before it can be activated and used by the body.
The first hydroxylation takes place in the liver. It converts vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D or “calcidiol.” The second hydroxylation takes place mainly in the kidney and forms calcitriol or 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Types of Vitamin D
There are 2 types of vitamin D. Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, is found in some varieties of mushrooms. Vitamin D3, on the other hand, is found in animal-based foods like fish, cod liver oil, and egg yolks.
Vitamin D2 is often recommended for vegans since it comes from plants instead of animals. However, Vitamin D3 is much more powerful and can raise vitamin D levels almost two times more than vitamin D2.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
According to the National Institutes of Health, daily intake of vitamin D should range from 400-800 IU (International Units).
Some people can benefit from higher intakes of vitamin D, though, especially if they do not spend a lot of time in the sun or have darker skin tones. This is because higher melanin content (which is responsible for darker skin) can impact the body’s ability to produce vitamin D.
Reasons to Take Vitamin D
At this point, you might be wondering what will happen if you do not consume a sufficient amount of vitamin D. The truth is that vitamin D offers a lot of benefits, and if you’re not conscious about your intake, you won’t get to enjoy them.
The following are some of the most noteworthy reasons to monitor and potentially increase your vitamin D intake, either through a supplement or multivitamin or through more sun exposure:
One of the most well-known benefits of vitamin D is the fact that it supports strong, healthy bones. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption in the gut. Without proper calcium absorption, your bones cannot remineralize and may become brittle (and more prone to fractures) over time.
Proper vitamin D intake now, when you’re young, can help to improve bone quality as you age. This, in turn, can help you to avoid developing conditions like osteoporosis later.
Vitamin D is good for your muscles, too. It supports muscle health because it influences the expression of many different genes, including genes associated with synthesis and muscle building.
It’s important to note that muscle strength and growth aren’t just important for bodybuilders and athletes. Everyone can benefit from putting on more muscle, especially when they’re young.
As they get older, many people find that it’s harder for them to put on muscle mass. They may also start to experience muscle wasting, which can contribute to weakness, a lack of stability, and an increased risk of injury.
Stronger Immune System
Vitamin D is essential to a healthy immune system, too. Vitamin D has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits and can help the immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses more efficiently.
This may explain why people who spend time outdoors regularly have stronger immune systems and are generally healthier than those who don’t. For those who are looking to maximize their health and reduce their risk of developing infections, consistent and sufficient vitamin D intake can be very beneficial.
Better Oral Health
Remember how vitamin D is important for calcium absorption? This doesn’t just benefit your bones. It’s also key for keeping your teeth healthy and strong.
Vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory and immune system-supporting properties also contribute to its oral health benefits. When you get enough vitamin D, your body may have an easier time fighting off infections in the mouth and combating issues like gum inflammation.
Better Blood Pressure
Some research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in heart health, too. Vitamin D helps to reduce inflammation and, as a result, may help to lower blood pressure.
Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with an increased risk of several heart-related conditions. This includes strokes, heart attacks, and congestive heart failure.
Researchers aren’t ready to say that low vitamin D causes these issues. However, the correlation between the two is strong and worth keeping in mind, especially if you’ve been on the fence about whether or not you want to include vitamin D in your supplement regimen.
Faster Weight Loss
Many people are surprised to learn that vitamin D may also help them in their weight loss efforts. Vitamin D seems to have an appetite-suppressing effect, which can help you to resist cravings, stick to your diet, and stay in a calorie deficit.
Vitamin D’s effect on muscle health may contribute to its weight loss benefits, too. Remember, the more muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism will be. This means you burn more calories at rest and when you’re exercising.
Better Blood Sugar Balance
Sufficient vitamin D intake has been linked to better blood sugar levels, too. It may help to lower blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes as well, and it can also increase insulin sensitivity.
Conditions like diabetes are associated with higher levels of inflammation, so vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties may contribute to its effectiveness.
Last, but not least, vitamin D can be very beneficial to those who struggle with depression (especially Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD).
More research is needed before experts can say with certainty how vitamin D and depression are related. However, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of depression.
This connection may have to do with the fact that depression increases inflammation in the brain and throughout the body. By boosting vitamin D intake, there’s a chance that you could reduce inflammation and minimize the severity of your depression symptoms.
Tips for Getting Enough Vitamin D
One of the easiest ways to get more vitamin D is by simply taking a vitamin D supplement. If you don’t want to take a supplement, though, there are other steps you can take. For example, you can also increase your intake of vitamin D-rich foods such as mushrooms, egg yolks, and salmon.
Try spending more time outdoors, too. Even sitting in the sun for about 15-20 minutes per day can make a big difference.
It’s important to note, though, that there are risks to being outdoors for long periods of time without sunscreen (which is needed if you want to raise vitamin D levels). Too much sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer. It can also speed up the aging process and contribute to increased wrinkles and fine lines.
If you want to increase your time spent outdoors to try and raise your vitamin D levels, make sure you’re being mindful of how much time you’re spending in the sun. This helps you enjoy the benefits of sun exposure without getting burned to a crisp.
What Happens if You Take Too Much Vitamin D?
Vitamin D certainly offers a lot of benefits. At the same time, though, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
If you take too much vitamin D, you may experience some negative side effects, including the following:
Nausea and Vomiting
Many people struggle with nausea when they overconsume vitamin D. This, in turn, can cause vomiting and may make it hard for you to keep food down.
Poor digestion can occur with excessive vitamin D intake, too. You may have diarrhea or constipation, for example, or struggle frequently with an upset stomach.
Vitamin D’s appetite-suppressing effects may make it appealing to those who are trying to lose weight. At the same time, though, this can go too far. If you never have an appetite, you likely will end up undereating, which can lead to issues like nutrient deficiencies and muscle loss.
Vitamin D supports proper calcium absorption. Too much vitamin D can lead to elevated levels of calcium in the blood, though.
This issue is known as hypercalcemia. Symptoms include nausea, stomach pain, fatigue, dizziness, and excessive thirst.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, excessive vitamin D intake may also increase your risk of developing bone loss. This is because too much vitamin D can lead to low levels of vitamin K2.
Insufficient vitamin K2 levels can cause bone loss because K2 is responsible for keeping calcium in the bones. Without enough of it, calcium may end up in the blood (which can lead to symptoms of hypercalcemia).
Tips for Choosing a Vitamin D Supplement
If you prefer to take a vitamin D supplement, do some research to ensure you’re choosing one that’s effective and of high quality. Here are some tips to help you make the right decision:
Talk to Your Doctor
Before you start taking any supplement, including vitamin D, it’s best to consult your doctor first. They can run tests to help you determine whether or not your levels are low (so you know if you even need to take additional vitamin D).
Your doctor may also be able to offer recommendations when it comes to choosing supplement brands, and they can help you figure out how much vitamin D to take each day.
Consider the Dosage
How much vitamin D are you getting with each serving of a particular supplement? Will it help you meet the daily recommended dosage, or will it put you far over the ideal limit?
Be sure to factor the answers to these questions in so you can avoid symptoms of excessive vitamin D intake.
Look for Vitamin D3
If you’re going to supplement with vitamin D, a product that contains vitamin D3 is the most ideal. Vegans may prefer a vitamin D2 supplement to avoid consuming animal products, but vitamin D3 will generally give you the most bang for your buck.
Check the Ingredient List
What other ingredients does the supplement contain besides vitamin D? Does it contain anything that you’re allergic or sensitive to, such as gluten? Check the ingredient list to ensure you’re not accidentally taking in something that might trigger other symptoms.
Ask About Third-Party Testing
Ideally, your vitamin D supplement (and all supplements, for that matter), should be tested by a third-party laboratory. This helps to ensure quality and verify that you’re getting what the supplement’s label says you’re getting.
The supplement industry is not well-regulated, and it’s easy for supplement makers to get subpar products on the market. To avoid spending your hard-earned money on these products, checking for third-party testing is a great starting point.
See How Vitamin D Contributes to Healthy Living Today
Are you convinced that you ought to include vitamin D in your daily supplement routine?
Now that you can see all the ways that it contributes to healthy living, it’s time to start shopping for a high-quality supplement. Keep the tips listed above in mind and you’ll have no trouble finding one that checks all your boxes.
If you need help getting vitamin D, other supplements, or prescription medications online, 90 Day Meds is a great resource. Create an account for free today and get ready to enjoy the convenience of filling prescriptions online.