Vitamin D Information: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Vitamin D Information: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Vitamin D is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because it is produced in response to sunlight. It is a ‘fat-soluble’ vitamin in a family of compounds, including vitamin D-1, vitamin D-2, and vitamin D-3.

It is essential for many functions of your body, including building strong bones and maintaining a healthy immune system.

Low vitamin D intake is a major public health problem worldwide. A vitamin D deficiency is estimated to affect 13% of the world’s population and in the U.S., it affects 41.6% of the population.

In this article, you can find all the information you need about vitamin D.

What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a ‘fat-soluble vitamin’ that enhances calcium absorption, promotes bone growth and mineralization. It is also involved in various immune system functions, circulation, digestion, and the nervous system.

Research suggests that vitamin D can help prevent various diseases, including diabetes, cancer, depression, and heart disease.

Amazing Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Here are some great health benefits of vitamin D.

  1. Vitamin D Help Fight Diseases

In addition to its main benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:        

  • Decreasing the chance of developing heart disease
  • Reducing the risk of developing multiple sclerosis
  • Helps reduce the risk of influenza

2. Improve Other Nutrients

Researchers claim that fat-soluble vitamins work together.

  • So, optimizing vitamin A with K intake while supplementing vitamin D3 is critical.
  • It’s particularly important for vitamin K2, another fat-soluble vitamin that most people don’t get enough of.
  • Magnesium is another essential mineral often lacking in the modern diet may also be necessary for vitamin D function.

3. Vitamin D Reduces Depression & Anxiety

Research shows that vitamin D can play an essential role in regulating mood and preventing depression. Scientists found improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms among patients who received vitamin D supplements.

Researchers also discovered that in people with fibromyalgia, vitamin D deficiency was more common in those who also experienced anxiety and depression.

4. Vitamin D Boosts Weight Loss

Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight or want to prevent heart disease.

In one study, people who took calcium and vitamin D supplements daily lost more weight than people who took a placebo. Scientists suggested that increased vitamin D and calcium intake have appetite-suppressing effects.

5. Essential for Healthy Bones Development

It is essential for regulating calcium and maintaining phosphorous levels in the blood. These factors are crucial in maintaining bone health.

The body requires vitamin D to stimulate and absorb calcium and restore the kidneys’ calcium excretion. Over 53 million Americans have osteoporosis due to the deficiency of vitamin D.

6. Vital for Healthy Infants

In children, vitamin D deficiency is associated with high blood pressure. A study found a possible link between low vitamin D levels and stiffening of arterial walls in children.

The American-Academy-of-Allergy-Asthma-and-Immunology suggests a link between decreased exposure to vitamin D and an increased risk of allergic reactions. In addition, vitamin D can enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids.

7. Supports Healthy Pregnancy

review suggests that pregnant women deficient in vitamin D are at increased risk of pre-eclampsia and premature birth.

Doctors also associate vitamin D deficiency with ‘gestational diabetes’ and ‘bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women

Some Other Possible Health Benefits

Here are some of the potential health benefits of vitamin D:

  • Better strength: Vitamin D can increase physical strength in the upper and lower limbs.
  • Reduced risk of falls, fractures & osteoporosis: High doses of vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis, falls, and fractures in older adults.
  • Reduced risk of type 1 diabetes: An analysis of infants linked 2,000 IU/day vitamin D intake with a 78% lower risk of type 1 diabetes.
  • Cancer prevention: This vitamin can help prevent cancer. One study noted that 1,100 IU/day vitamin D, plus calcium, reduced cancer risk by 60%.
  • Improved mortality: Research suggests that vitamin D reduces the risk of death, indicating that it may help you live longer.

Best Food Sources of Vitamin D 

Getting enough sunlight is the best way to help your body produce enough vitamin D. Rich food sources of vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel
  • Shrimps
  • Beef liver
  • Mushroom
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolk
  • Fortified milk
  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified yogurt
  • Orange juice (fortified)

Tip: It can be challenging to get enough vitamin D daily from sun exposure and food, so taking a vitamin D supplement could be beneficial.

What’s the Recommended Dosage of Vitamin D?

The daily recommended intake of vitamin D is as follows:

  • Infants 0 – 12 months: 400 IU/10 mcg
  • Children 1 – 18 years: 600 IU/15 mcg
  • Adults up to 70 years of age: 600 IU/15 mcg
  • Adults over 70 years of age: 800 IU/20 mcg
  • Lactating or pregnant women: 600 IU/15 mcg

Tip: Sun exposure of 5–10 minutes, 2–3 times per week, on bare skin is sufficient to produce adequate vitamin D in most people. 

What is Vitamin D Deficiency: Signs & Symptoms? 

About 50% of the world’s population may not get enough sunlight, and 40% of the U.S. population is deficient in vitamin D.

It’s partly because people spend more time indoors, wear sunscreen outside, and eat a Western diet low in good sources of this vitamin.

Signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:

  • Fatigue and Exhaustion: Excessive fatigue and tiredness can be a sign of a vitamin D deficiency. Supplements can help improve energy levels.
  • Frequent Illness or Infection: Vitamin D is crucial for the regulation of the immune system. One of the most common symptoms of deficiency is an increased risk of disease or infection.
  • Depression and Anxiety: Depression or anxiety is associated with low vitamin D levels, and some studies have shown that supplementation improves mood.
  • Muscle Pain: Chronic pain is associated with low levels of vitamin D in the blood, which may be caused by the interaction between pain receptors neurons and the vitamin.
  • Bone and Back Pain: A low level of vitamin D in the blood can lead to lower back pain and bone pain.
  • Impaired Wound Healing: Vitamin D deficiency can lead to wound healing issues after an injury, infection, or surgery.
  • Bone Loss: Being diagnosed with low bone mineral density can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency, and getting enough is essential for maintaining bone mass as you age.
  • Hair Loss: Hair loss can signify vitamin D deficiency in female pattern hair loss or the autoimmune disease alopecia areata.

Vitamin D Risks

Vitamin D3 is generally safe in the recommended amounts. However, taking too much vitamin D3 can have toxic effects. Some symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Pain
  • Confusion
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst

Vitamin D Information – Takeaway

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, but many people around the world couldn’t get enough of this vitamin.

However, you can boost your vitamin D levels by getting more sun exposure, eating foods rich in vitamin D, and taking supplements.

Consult a healthcare professional if you suspect that you are deficient in this vitamin.

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