Your body produces vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. Getting enough vitamin D is essential for everyone, as vitamin D is important for strong bones, a healthy immune system, and good overall health.
Vitamin D can also be found in some foods, including fatty fish and fortified milk. There are three types of vitamin D: vitamin D1, D2, and D3.
You can also get vitamin D from supplements. This will help make sure that you have enough of this vitamin in your blood.
In this article, we will provide information about vitamin D's advantages and disadvantages, as well as how much you need, where to get it, and the foods that provide it.
Vitamin D benefits
Vitamin D has been shown to help the body fight illness
People who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to develop multiple sclerosis. This was found in a review of population-based research from 2018.
Some studies have shown that a lack of Vitamin D may increase the risk of heart disease. This includes diseases such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, and stroke.
However, it is not clear if a lack of Vitamin D is the cause of these diseases or if it reflects poor health in someone who already has a chronic illness.
There is evidence that Vitamin D can help prevent severe illnesses. Vitamin D may decrease the risk of catching the flu. A recent study found that low levels of vitamin D are linked to acute respiratory distress syndrome.
If you don't have enough vitamin D, you're more likely to get infections and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and Crohn's disease.
Vitamin D may regulate mood and reduce depression
Studies have shown that vitamin D can improve mood and prevent depression.
The study found that people who received vitamin D supplements and were feeling negative emotions saw an improvement in their symptoms.
People with depression who also have a vitamin D deficiency may benefit from taking vitamin D supplements.
A 2014 research showed that there was a link between vitamin D deficiency and more depressive symptoms.
Vitamin D has been linked to better cognitive function
One study found that vitamin D levels were associated with better cognitive function in older adults.
The study participants who had lower vitamin D levels performed worse on tests of mental function than those who had adequate vitamin D levels.
Another study looked at vitamin D levels in people with Alzheimer's disease.
The study found that people with Alzheimer's disease who had low vitamin D levels performed worse on tests of mental function than those who had adequate vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D might support weight loss
People with a high BMI are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D.
In one study, people who were obese and received vitamin D supplements in addition to following a weight loss diet plan lost more weight and fat mass than people who only followed the diet plan.
People who took a calcium and vitamin D supplement every day lost more weight than those who did not, according to the study.
The extra calcium and vitamin D may have made the participants feel fuller, causing them to eat less, according to the researchers.
The current study does not suggest that vitamin D causes weight reduction, however, there is a link between vitamin D and weight.
Vitamin D is vital for strong bones and teeth
It is important for both children and adults to get enough vitamin D because it helps the body absorb calcium, which is needed for strong bones and teeth.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to softening of the bones, a condition known as osteomalacia.
Osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and break easily, is another possible effect of having low vitamin levels in the body.
Additionally, vitamin D plays a role in the immune system by helping to fight infection.
Vitamin D deficiency
A vitamin D deficiency is a lack of vitamin D in the body. This can happen when someone doesn't get enough vitamin D from their diet or when their skin can't make vitamin D because they're not exposed to enough sunlight.
Reasons why you may have a vitamin D deficiency are:
- Live in an area with high pollution
- Regularly apply sunscreen
- Spend a lot of your time indoors
- Live somewhere with tall buildings that block sunlight
- Have darker skin which means you have less vitamin D because your skin has higher levels of melanin
To help prevent vitamin D deficiency it's important to get some of your vitamin D from sources other than the sun.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
There are a few vitamin D deficiency symptoms that you may experience if you don't get enough vitamin D, such as:
- A general feeling of being unwell
- Muscle aches
- More likely to get infections
- Weaker bones
A doctor can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency by performing a blood test.
Vitamin D supplements are often advised following a diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency. If you have a severe vitamin D deficiency, your doctor may prescribe high-dose vitamin D tablets or fluids.
You should also get vitamin D from the sun and the foods you consume.
Vitamin D disadvantages
Risks of getting too much vitamin D
It is possible to take too much vitamin D and this can be harmful.
There are some risks associated with taking too much vitamin D. These include an increased risk of developing kidney stones and calcification of the arteries.
However, because your body controls the amount of vitamin D produced through the sun, this is unlikely to happen through sun exposure alone.
Vitamin D toxicity
Vitamin D toxicity can cause your blood calcium levels to rise. This may lead to a range of health problems, including:
- abdominal pain
- increased thirst
Vitamin D foods
Some foods have vitamin D naturally. You can also find vitamin D in some foods that have been fortified with it.
- canned tuna
- cod liver oil
- beef liver
- egg yolk
- regular mushrooms and those treated with ultraviolet light
- milk (fortified)
- certain cereals and oatmeals (fortified)
- yogurt (fortified)
- orange juice (fortified)
It's difficult to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and diet alone, so supplementing with vitamin D might assist.
How much vitamin D per day?
1 microgram of vitamin D is equal to 40 International Units (IU). So 10 micrograms of vitamin D is equal to 400 IU.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends that the UK recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for vitamin D should be:
- a reference nutrient intake (RNI) of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, throughout the year, for everyone in the general population aged 4 years and older
- an RNI of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day for pregnant and lactating women and population groups at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency
- a ‘safe intake’ of 8.5 to 10 micrograms per day for all infants from birth to 1 year of age
- a ‘safe intake’ of 10 micrograms per day for children aged 1 to 4 years
The RNI and safe intakes were developed to ensure that the majority of the UK population has enough vitamin D to protect musculoskeletal health, all year round.
A typical multivitamin contains 10 micrograms of vitamin D per tablet. This is equal to 400 IU of vitamin D.
Vitamin D blood levels
The optimal blood serum levels are 50–100 nmol/L. You may need more vitamin D depending on your blood level.
Vitamin D is a vitamin that is essential for good health and has many potential benefits.
These include reducing the risk of certain diseases, helping improve mood and reducing depression symptoms, and aiding in weight management. It also plays a role in bone health, heart health, and the Immune system.
Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna. It is also found in eggs and fortified dairy products.
However, if you are struggling to get enough vitamin D through your diet, you might want to ask your doctor for a blood test to measure your vitamin D levels. After that, you might want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
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