Are Vitamin D Supplements Effective? (Answered!)
Vitamin D supplements are a topic of discussion for many people looking to boost their bone and muscular health.
Vitamin D supplements are effective for boosting bone health, muscle movements, nerve connection, and immune system function. They support the breakdown of calcium to help the body distribute this nutrient. They also protect the body against infections and major diseases.
Vitamin D is essential to your diet if you are struggling with sclerosis or looking to support your muscle function and boost your immune system.
Whether you are looking to minimize your risk of infections like covid or lower your propensity for cancer, taking vitamin D supplements is a good starting route.
This post will explain how to recognize vitamin D deficiency, how effective vitamin D supplements are, and the right doses to achieve optimal body function.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for life. It is a fat-soluble nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. This makes it vital for bone and muscular health.
The body produces active vitamin D after exposure to sunlight. It is also derived from very few foods, and the body produces it as a hormone that aids cells and organ function.
While it is linked to bone and muscular health, research shows it has several other functions. Some reported Vitamin D benefits are:
- manages cardiovascular disease
- improves immune system
- reduces cancer mortality
- reduces inflammation
- enhances mood and reduces the likelihood of depression.
Common sources of Vitamin D
The primary source of Vitamin D is the sun. The body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is also present in the flesh of fatty fish, fish liver oils, egg yolk, beef liver, etc. You can also get it from fortified milk, orange juice, and vitamin D supplements.
Most foods that naturally contain vitamin D have it in smaller quantities, so it's hard to get the needed intake from them.
This is why many companies fortify their goods with vitamin D. For example, dietary and plant milk, packaged orange juice, cereals, etc.
You can also get it from cod liver oil. Besides these sources, some commercial mushrooms grown using ultraviolet rays may contain higher percentages of vitamin D.
What is Vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency occurs when the body doesn't get enough vitamin D or the required daily intake. Severe vitamin D deficiency is usually recognized by bone diseases such as bone density, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and broken bones.
Some of the mild symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are:
- muscle weakness
- bone and back pain
- bone fragility in older adults
- joint stiffness (arthralgia)
- muscle twitching
- depression and anxiety
- hair loss
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies, mainly because most people cannot get their daily dosage of vitamin D through their diets alone.
It usually affects those with poor diets, people living in places with limited sunlight, or those with chronic cases of hyperpigmentation.
It's also common among people 65 years and above, as their kidneys may not break down vitamin D properly and convert it to its active form.
Why some people may need a Vitamin D supplement
You are unlikely to get the correct dosage of Vitamin D from food alone. Most of the meals that have Vitamin D don't contain enough. Besides, many people have limited exposure to sunlight, while others have conditions that may require higher Vitamin D intake.
While milk and cereal are usually fortified with Vitamin D3, you must consume them in high quantities to get what your body needs.
For example, you'd have to drink about five glasses of milk daily to reach the required intake. This may have side effects and may also be inconvenient.
Also, if you stay indoors too often and have minimal exposure to sunlight, you may need a supplement. In the 9-5 and remote work world, only a few people get to stroll in the sun.
On the other hand, getting vitamin D naturally from the sun can also be dangerous. Excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, which is why many people stay indoors or use sunscreen.
With these conditions, it is better to use vitamin D supplements for their required daily vitamin D intake.
What groups are more likely to need Vitamin D supplements?
Certain groups of people require more vitamin D intake due to some pre-existing conditions. These people would usually need vitamin D supplements to meet their body demands.
Some of these groups of people are:
Prepackaged milk is usually fortified with Vitamin D, but you can't take these if you are lactose intolerant. This means you need another source of Vitamin D.
In this case, you can use vitamin D supplements daily to meet your body's requirements.
Breast milk is the best food source for an infant, but it doesn't contain any vitamin D. Infants can use about 400 IU of vitamin D per day to reach a healthy vitamin D status, which they can get from a supplement.
However, babies already on multivitamins don't need an additional source of vitamin D, so it's best to avoid vitamin D supplements in this case.
People who get limited sun exposure
The sun is the most potent natural source of vitamin D, and the best time to coup some is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. So, if you often spend all day indoors doing remote work or have a 9-5 job, you could use some vitamin D supplements.
Places like New York and the northern hemisphere don't get a lot of sunlight from April to October. This can lead to a deficiency. In addition, Vitamin D is linked to mood improvement, so living in a place that's often gray is also why people develop seasonal depression.
Also, you may lack vitamin D if you cover your entire body or choose dark clothing for religious or cultural reasons or personal preference.
People who have also spent a lot of time indoors for medical reasons are often recommended vitamin D supplements.
People suffering from bone diseases
You'll need high doses of vitamin D if you have certain bone diseases, such as osteoporosis and Paget's disease.
Bone mineral density tests usually reveal these fragile bone conditions. Health professionals usually recommend vitamin D-fortified foods and vitamin D and calcium supplements.
People suffering from obesity
Fat cells can isolate vitamin D and prevent it from releasing and activating. This often causes vitamin D deficiency in people with obesity or BMI above 30.
If you have a high BMI, you'll need to increase your vitamin D intake by using vitamin D supplements.
Children with rickets
Low vitamin D levels in kids usually causes rickets, and the best way to manage it is by increasing vitamin D intake with supplements.
Rickets is very rare, and research shows it's more likely in African- American children. It causes children to experience symptoms such as:
- bone and back pain,
- muscle weakness,
- joint deformities,
- incorrect growth patterns due to bowed bones, etc.
People suffering from kidney/ liver diseases
The body usually converts vitamin D to a usable form with specific enzymes. But people with liver or kidney disease tend to have a reduced amount of this enzyme in their body. This is why they need vitamin D in a more ready-made form.
The kidney secretes 1-alpha-hydroxylase while the liver secretes hepatic enzyme 25–hydroxylase, both of which break down vitamin D. When these enzymes are insufficient, you'll need a vitamin D supplement to compensate for them.
A 2016 study found that vitamin D serum concentration is 34 percent lower in vegans than in people who eat fish and meat.
Some vegans can balance this by eating more food with more plant-based vitamin D (vitamin D2). You may now find plant milk beverages such as soy, oat, and almond milk fortified with vitamin D.
But if you can't, you can use vitamin D supplements to reach your daily required vitamin D3 intake and live healthier.
People who undergo weight loss surgery
If you've had weight-loss surgery, you'll have a reduced stomach. This is the same for people who have gastric bypass surgeries. This makes it difficult for your stomach to absorb the quantity of vitamin D your body needs.
Usually, your healthcare provider will monitor your vitamin D metabolism for a while to ensure it's balanced. But you'll be placed on a vitamin D supplement if it isn't.
Other groups of people who may need to increase vitamin D intake are:
- Pregnant women with lower vitamin D levels.
- People with conditions that limit fat absorption.
- People with cystic fibrosis/ Crohn's disease or other illnesses that prevent nutrient absorption.
- Black people or people with higher skin pigmentation.
- People who are suffering from some lymphomas.
What are the recommended Vitamin D intakes?
All adults need 600 International units (IU) of vitamin D daily, children need 400 IU up to one year old, and people over 70 need up to 800 IU per day. However, one may need more than this intake to raise vitamin D to an optimal level.
Studies have shown that the optimal vitamin D dose is between 3,800 and 5,000 units. This dose will help you reach a healthy vitamin D blood status.
Besides, if you have been hospital-bound for a while, you may need higher doses because of bone and muscle weakness and limited sun exposure. It may take between 5,000-50,000 units to improve these patients' conditions.
Health risks from excessive Vitamin D intake
Too much vitamin D can be harmful. It's often referred to as vitamin D toxicity. Vitamin D toxicity may result in too much calcium in the blood. This medical condition requires immediate attention, as it can become life-threatening.
This situation is known as hypercalcemia. It leads to the hardening of blood vessels, kidneys, and heart tissues and the calcification of bones.
However, the National Institute of Health says this is only likely if a person exceeds 10,000 IU daily. Some of the symptoms of excessive vitamin D intake are:
- appetite loss,
- metallic taste in the mouth,
How effective are Vitamin D supplements?
Vitamin D supplements are highly effective. They are the fastest and most reliable way of getting vitamin D without risking adverse effects. But you must ensure you know how much vitamin D you need first.
While food and sunlight can give you sufficient vitamin D, not everyone can take them. You may be allergic or have peculiar personal choices. The sun also brings the possibility of skin cancer and aging.
On the other hand, supplemental vitamin D is natural and has no side effects. But you need to ensure you find the right dosage.
Since the body can store vitamin D and use it over time, you can take a high-dose supplement once a week or a month. However, the ideal choice for incredible results is daily usage.
Vitamin D supplements are of two types: Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is naturally produced by animals, including humans, while Vitamin D2 is often plant-based.
However, it's usually better to take Vitamin D3, as it's closest to what we naturally produce. It's also slightly more active and effective.
The latest research on Vitamin D supplements
Randomized clinical trials with more than 25,000 participants showed that vitamin D supplementation is a great way to manage bone-related conditions such as low bone mass, osteoporosis, or Vitamin D deficiency. Still, it doesn't dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease or bone fractures.
In another 2019 research with more than 25,000 participants, it was found that vitamin D supplement intake lowered the death rate by 25 percent in those with cancer. However, there's no evidence that it could reduce cancer risk and cardiovascular deaths.
Another research noted that it's hard to draw a universal conclusion about vitamin D. So, while it may help some people with certain conditions, there's no clear proof that it could work for others.
Takeaway: Choose the best Vitamin D Supplement for your health
Vitamin D supplements are highly effective. They can help you reach the level of vitamin D your body needs daily. This will improve your muscular and bone health, increase your calcium levels, and improve your mood.
At Why Not Natural, we offer high-quality natural vitamin D3 supplements. Our supplements are what dietary supplements should be: 100% natural and available in liquid form.
Our Vitamin D3-K2 capsules have 110,000 IU of D3 per capsule, which is excellent for people who need to get their vitamin D concentration level higher as fast as possible. They also contain US grown Spirulina with no fillers!
If you have any questions, you can chat with us here.