Some foods, such as certain fish or fortified cereals, contain vitamin D, but sunlight is the best source. If your location or an underlying health condition prevents you from getting enough, you may need a vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that if you take a supplement, you’ll need to take your pill with a healthy fat, like slices of avocado. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced by the body when the sun hits the skin. But many people turn to supplements during the colder months of the year, when cold, gloomy days limit time outdoors.
Low vitamin D levels aren’t just a winter problem. Many of us have too low a rate all year round. Definitions of what exactly vitamin D deficiency means vary from less than or equal to 12 nanograms per milliliter (12 ng/mL) to less than or equal to 20 ng/mL at the high end. The deficiency has become more common in males in particular, likely due to increased weight, decreased milk intake, and increased use of sunscreens outdoors. This drop is a problem because the vitamin can help the intestine absorb calcium, which ultimately promotes strong and healthy bones. Vitamin D is also helpful in reducing inflammation and boosting immune function and cell growth.
How much vitamin D should you consume?
Adults need 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day (800 IU if you’re over 70), which you can get through sunlight, food, or supplements.
Vitamin D2, the plant form of vitamin D, is found naturally in mushrooms. Food sources that contain vitamin D3 are fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, fish liver oils, and egg yolks.
Are you exposed to these common nutritional deficiencies?
Yet very few foods contain enough vitamin D to meet the recommended daily allowances, and the sun can be unreliable in some climates. Men and women who get vitamin D only through their diet usually do not exceed 288 IU per day on average. But when you add supplements, you get closer to the 600 IU goal. Consider this: Women between the ages of 51 and 70, who averaged 156 IU from diet alone, reached 404 IU with the help of supplements.
The latest research on vitamin D supplements
Researchers found that people who developed cancer had a 25% lower death rate when they took vitamin D. Additionally, observational studies have suggested a link between low vitamin D levels and the risk to develop type 2 diabetes, a randomized, controlled clinical trial published in June 2019 in The New England Journal of Medicine failed to come to a firm conclusion. Vitamin D3 supplementation at a dose of 4,000 IU per day did not significantly reduce the risk of diabetes compared to a placebo.
Still, the “sunshine vitamin” is also the “well-being vitamin”. A cure of vitamin D at the start of winter is ideal for stabilizing the mood and having a good holiday season.
Why some people may need a vitamin D supplement.
Why are certain groups more at risk for low vitamin D levels? In most cases, this can be blamed on their diet or lifestyle. Take vegans, for example. Many have low vitamin D levels because they avoid vitamin D-rich foods, including meat, fish, egg yolks, and dairy products that have been fortified with the vitamin. A February 2016 study published in PLoS One found that serum vitamin D levels were 34% lower in study participants who followed a vegan diet compared to those who ate meat and dairy.
But there are ways to add vitamin D to your diet as a vegan. For example, plant milk drinks, such as those made from soy, oats and almonds, are often fortified with vitamin D. Check the Nutrition Facts label for the actual amount.
People with obesity may also need a supplement
Research has suggested that possible reasons for this deficiency include lower dietary vitamin D intake in obese men than in non-obese men and women, the possibility that obese people expose their skin less to the sun (which does not is not solely due to poorer absorption), and a decrease in the rate of absorption of vitamin D in people who have undergone bariatric surgery or gastric bypass surgery. Indeed, one study suggested that recommendations for vitamin D goals should be based on body weight rather than just suggesting 600 IU for everyone.
As for the elderly, they are at risk because they are more likely to spend time indoors, but also because the process of synthesizing vitamin D from food or sunlight becomes less efficient with age. age, according to previous research.
How do you know if you are getting too much or too little vitamin D?
Worried that your vitamin D levels are too low? Common symptoms of a deficiency are fatigue and body aches, but there are often no symptoms. The best way to be sure is to ask your doctor, who can perform blood tests to assess your vitamin D levels.