Several vitamin D-rich foods on a table, including fish, eggs, and milk.

How to Get Your Daily Vitamin D: Foods, Sunlight, and Supplements

Vitamin D is one of the essential nutrients you need for optimal health. It performs several functions in your body, from strengthening your bones to building a robust immune system. 

Despite its crucial role, many people are deficient in this vitamin, potentially leading to several health issues.

If you want to prevent the ill effects of vitamin D deficiency, you must ensure you get enough of it through different sources. While your body can synthesize the vitamin when exposed to UV rays from the sun, it might not be enough. Fortunately, diet and supplements can help you maintain optimal levels.

So, what’s the best way to get vitamin D, and how much do you need?

That’s what we will explore in this article. Stick around as we discuss why this nutrient is crucial for your health and what might happen if you don’t get enough. 

We will also provide practical tips for integrating various sources of this vitamin into your daily routine, so you are never short on this vital nutrient.

Overview of vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in maintaining health. It directly affects the body's ability to absorb nutrients like calcium and phosphorous and maintains the appropriate levels of these minerals in the blood, ensuring healthy and strong bones.  

Beyond this primary function, vitamin D is also essential for your immune system, cellular growth, and inflammation reduction.

Vitamin D is one of the only vitamins that your body can synthesize on its own. When your skin is exposed to the sun's UV rays, certain enzymes begin to synthesize vitamin D from the subcutaneous fatty tissue.

The vitamin D exists in two forms in nature:

  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol): It is the form of the vitamin that your body produces endogenously when exposed to the sun. You also get this form from animal-based foods like meat and dairy. 
  • Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol): It is a less potent form of vitamin D that is found mainly in some plants and fungi. Your body is not able to utilize this form as efficiently as vitamin D3.

How does It work?

Vitamin D regulates the way your body absorbs and utilizes calcium and phosphorous. Here is how your body uses this vitamin:

Synthesis and activation

Once your body produces vitamin D or you consume it through diet, it undergoes two chemical transformations. First, it is sent to the liver and then to the kidneys before becoming fully active.

Your liver converts vitamin D into calcidiol, which is then converted into the active form called calcitriol in the kidney.

Calcium absorption

Calcitriol, or the active form of vitamin D, then acts on the gut to promote calcium absorption. It ensures that there is enough calcium in your blood to mineralize your bones and keep them healthy.

Bone remodeling

Vitamin D is also directly involved in the growth, maintenance, and repair of your bones. It helps bone remodeling and growth by bone cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts.

Cellular functions

Apart from strengthening your bones, this vitamin influences cell growth. It is also responsible for a healthy immune response and helps to keep your body’s inflammation response under check.

Several studies have also shown that vitamin D might help prevent certain diseases and is actively involved in brain function

It is no surprise, then, that a deficiency of this vitamin can make you vulnerable to mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

How do I get vitamin D daily?

You should get vitamin D daily to maintain a steady level in the body and prevent deficiency. 

You can get your daily dose of vitamin D from three primary sources- food, sunlight, and supplements.

A combination of these three sources ensures that you get the required amount of the vitamin throughout the year.

Let’s discuss each of these sources in detail: 


A table with a variety of foods, including fish, eggs, and mushrooms, that are rich in vitamin D.


Several foods, both plant and animal-based, are rich in vitamin D. Incorporating these foods into your diet can help you maintain a sufficient level of this vitamin in your blood. 

Consuming foods rich in vitamin D is especially important if you live in regions with limited sunlight or spend a lot of time indoors.

Here are a few foods you should include in your diet to avoid vitamin D deficiency:

Fatty fish

You should try to include fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel in your diet as they are rich in vitamin D3. 

Every serving (3.5 ounces) of wild-caught salmon you consume provides you with up to 988 IU of cholecalciferol, more than the recommended dosage for most people.

Cod liver oil

While it might not look appetizing, cod liver oil is one of the richest sources of vitamin D. Just a teaspoon has around 450 IU of vitamin D, which can make up a significant proportion of your daily dosage.   

Fortified foods

You can find many foods fortified with vitamin D in the supermarket. Milk, orange juice, and certain cereals often contain added vitamin D, which can contribute significantly to your daily requirements. 

Always check the labels of these fortified foods to know how much vitamin D is present in each serving.

Egg yolks

The yolk of an egg is rich in nutrients and contains a significant amount of vitamin D. 

While the amount of the vitamin present might vary depending on several factors, including the hen’s exposure to sunlight, a typical yolk contains 41 IU of vitamin D.


Like your body, mushrooms can also synthesize vitamin D (ergocalciferol) when exposed to UV light from the sun. Certain types of mushrooms, like portobellos, are often treated with UV light during cultivation to enhance their vitamin D content. 

If you are vegetarian or vegan, mushrooms can be a great alternative to get high-quality vitamin D. 

Adding these to your diet will help you improve your vitamin D intake and prevent deficiencies. Dietary vitamin D consumption is significant if you live in areas with limited sunlight.

Rather than relying on a single food, it is essential to combine these foods to ensure a consistent level of vitamin D in the body.


Woman standing in the sun with arms raised, absorbing vitamin D.

The human body has a unique mechanism that allows us to synthesize vitamin D when our skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun.

How do I get vitamin D from sunlight?

The sunrays containing UVB radiation trigger a process in your skin that ultimately forms vitamin D in the body. The UV rays penetrate the top layers of the skin and help convert a type of cholesterol called 7-dehydrocholesterol into cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).

When UVB rays hit your skin, 7-dehydrocholesterol absorbs the radiation's energy and converts it into pre-vitamin D3. Once formed, pre-vitamin D3 spontaneously converts into the active form, vitamin D3, in the kidneys.

The amount of vitamin D your skin can produce depends on several factors, including skin pigmentation. Other factors include:

  • The time of the day
  • Season
  • Latitude

In general, people with darker skin need prolonged sunlight exposure to produce similar amounts of vitamin D than people with lighter skin. 

Melanin, which gives your skin its color, blocks the UVB rays from reaching the deeper layers of the skin, making it challenging to synthesize the vitamin.

What time of morning does the sun give vitamin D?

The best time to receive vitamin D from UVB rays is mid-day when the sun is at the highest point.  At this time, the UVB rays are the most intense, which means you will need less time to produce sufficient vitamin D.

Getting a sunbath at noon is especially beneficial if you live in areas far from the equator where UVB rays are significantly weaker during the rest of the day. 

While you can make vitamin D from early morning or late afternoon sun exposure, it is far less efficient.

How long will it take to increase my vitamin D levels from the sun?

The time required to produce vitamin D from sun exposure alone depends on your current levels. For most people, short daily exposure to sunlight, about 10-20 minutes, is sufficient to achieve healthy vitamin D levels of 20 ng/ml.

If you have darker skin or live at higher altitudes, you might need additional UVB exposure. 

However, overexposure to the sun is also bad, as it can cause sunburn and increase the risk of developing skin cancer. 

Make sure that you limit your exposure without wearing sunscreen to a few minutes daily. 

Sunlight or food: What is the best source of vitamin D?

Exposure to sunlight and food are both great ways of getting your required quota of vitamin D. However, relying on sunlight alone to meet your recommended daily dose is quite challenging, especially during the winter months. 

Furthermore, if you have darker skin, you need a more prolonged exposure, making it even more difficult.

While dietary sources of vitamin D are limited, they are crucial for maintaining an adequate level of this vitamin. Foods such as fatty fish, fortified milk, and cod liver oil can significantly reduce your reliance on sunlight for vitamin D.


Getting enough vitamin D through diet or sunlight exposure alone is quite a challenge for most of us. It is no wonder that over 42% of the US population that relies on these two sources is deficient in this vital nutrient.

Dietary supplements can help you bridge the gap between the amount of vitamin D you get and the amount you need.

Even though you can get vitamin D from your diet or sunlight, supplements are essential for most people. Make sure you talk to your doctor before you start supplementing, especially if you are on certain medications.

If you are looking for high-quality vitamin D supplements free from additives and fillers, try WhyNotNatural’s Organic Vitamin D3 with K2. This unique formula absorbs rapidly and has a very high bioavailability.

What is the difference between vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 supplements?

Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3—ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol, respectively—are the most common forms of vitamin D present in supplements. 

Vitamin D2 is found in plant sources and yeast exposed to UV rays. If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, these supplements are a great way to include vitamin D in your routine. Vitamin D3 is typically derived from animal sources, such as lanolin from sheep's wool and fish oil.

Several studies have shown that vitamin D3 is better than vitamin D2 at increasing and maintaining the vitamin D level in the blood. These two forms have different chemical structures and bind to vitamin D receptors differently in your body. 

D3's structure resembles that of the vitamin D produced by our skin upon exposure to sunlight, explaining its higher potency compared to other forms.

So, if you have a vitamin D deficiency, it is better to pick a supplement containing D3 rather than D2.   

Read also: Which Vitamin D Should You Choose? Expert Insights to Guide Your Decision!

Should I take vitamin D supplements in the morning or at night?

According to recent studies, the time of the day when you take vitamin D supplements doesn’t affect their absorption or potency. It mainly depends on what suits you and when you remember to take it.

That said, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is better absorbed with food. If you like, you can take your vitamin D supplement along with your morning breakfast or after your lunch or dinner.

Do Vitamin D supplements interact with Medications?

Vitamin D is known to interact with certain medications, and you should talk to your doctor if you are considering vitamin D supplementation. 

Here are a few medications that have known interactions with vitamin D:


These are anti-inflammatory medications that reduce the absorption of calcium from your gut. 

Consequently, they can disrupt the vitamin D metabolism, requiring you to take more vitamin D to compensate. If you are on these drugs, you might need to increase the dosage of your vitamin D dietary supplements.

Weight loss drugs

Several weight loss drugs, like Orlistat, affect fat absorption from the intestine. 

As vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, any decrease in fat absorption can negatively affect its absorption. 

As a result, you might need to increase the dosage of the vitamin if you are on these drugs.

Cholesterol-lowering medications

Antihyperlipidemic drugs also interfere with vitamin D absorption. If you take any of these drugs, your doctor might want to monitor your vitamin D levels and adjust the supplement dosage.


When you take diuretics along with vitamin D, your blood calcium levels might increase

It is essential to limit your vitamin D dosage if you are taking diuretics to treat conditions like hypertension. Please talk to your doctor to ensure the safety of dietary supplements if you are on these drugs.

Epilepsy medications

Some anti-epilepsy medications promote the breakdown of vitamin D in your liver. You might need higher vitamin D doses to compensate for this loss and prevent deficiency.

If you are on any of the drugs mentioned above, please talk to your doctor to see if the dosage of your vitamin D supplement needs to be altered.

What vitamins should I avoid taking together with vitamin D?

While vitamin D is a safe supplement, you should avoid combining it with some supplements. For example, high doses of vitamin A, along with vitamin D supplements, can potentially lead to toxicity

As vitamin D accelerates the absorption of vitamin A, you might start accumulating it in your blood, leading to acute toxicity.

Do I need magnesium supplements to absorb vitamin D?

Magnesium is a crucial mineral essential for your body to convert the inactive forms of vitamin D to the active form. If you are deficient in magnesium, your body might struggle to synthesize an active form of vitamin D, leading to problems. 

Many vitamin D supplements have magnesium in them for this very reason.

Can caffeine affect the absorption of vitamin D supplements?

No data suggests that caffeine intake significantly affects the absorption of vitamin D. Large amounts of caffeine, however, may interfere with bone health by reducing calcium retention. Vitamin D might help offset this and improve bone health.

Most scientists suggest consuming caffeine in moderation, especially if you are prone to bone density loss. 

Post-menopausal women and older people, who are more prone to bone demineralization, should limit their coffee intake to two cups at most.

You may also like: Are Vitamin D Supplements Safe? (Answered!).

What are the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Vitamin D?

Various health organizations have set the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D to provide guidance on the safest dosage for maintaining good health.

The recommendations will change depending on several factors, including your sex, age, and life stages like pregnancy or lactation. 

The primary aim of the RDA is to ensure that you have enough vitamin D to maintain your health and normal calcium metabolism.

The RDA for vitamin D in most healthy adults is about 600-800 international units (IU) daily

However, these values can significantly change depending on several other factors. 

Here is a breakdown of daily RDA based on your age and medical conditions:

  • Infants (0–12 months): 400 IU
  • Children (1–18 years): 600 IU
  • Adults (19–70 years): 600 IU
  • Older Adults (71 years and older): 800
  • Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: 600 IU

Some scientists and clinicians insist that these RDAs are too low. It is argued that individuals with a higher probability of deficiency, those who stay indoors most of the time, or those with higher BMI values might need more than the RDA.

If you are in the high-risk group, have medical conditions like osteoporosis, or have a weakened immune system, you might need more vitamin D than RDA. 

Please talk to your doctor to see if you might benefit from an increased vitamin D dosage.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that while the RDA is set at low doses, the highest tolerable dose of vitamin D is 4000IU daily for people older than nine. 

Consuming more vitamin D than this dose might lead to an accumulation of the vitamin in your body, leading to toxic effects.

We always advise you to consult a healthcare professional to assess your vitamin D intake, considering the difference in exposure to sunlight, dietary lifestyle, and health needs.

Vitamin D concentration in ng/ml in the blood can be checked through a simple blood test, which can determine if and how much vitamin D supplementation you need.

What are the health benefits of vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient responsible for several body functions. From the skeletal to the immune systems, this vitamin keeps your body and mind fit and healthy.

Here are a few health benefits of including the sunshine vitamin in your routine:

Skeletal system

An anatomical representation of a human knee joint with the bones visible inside, showing the structure of the knee.

Your skeletal system includes bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of all its components by doing the following: 

Calcium and phosphorous balance

Vitamin D allows the body to maintain the proper amount of phosphorus in the blood, which is crucial for bone health. 

It is also responsible for the proper absorption of calcium from your intestines. If you have a deficiency in this vitamin, you might not be able to absorb calcium, which will affect your skeletal system's health.

If you are deficient in this key vitamin, your bones undergo a process called demineralization. As there is an insufficient amount of calcium in the blood, the calcium leaches out of the bones to meet the demands. The lost calcium causes your bones to become weak and prone to fractures.

The situation is especially critical for children. If they don’t get enough vitamin D during the growing years, bone development is impaired. 

Large bones don’t have enough strength and become porous and weak. Children who have a severe deficiency of Vitamin D develop a disease called rickets

Prevention of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones lose mineral mass (mainly calcium and phosphorous). While bone demineralization is common with old age, it can be delayed or slowed down with vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D increases blood calcium levels and promotes bone mineralization, improving bone health. 

Vitamin D supplementation is especially important for post-menopausal women who are at risk of developing osteoporosis due to hormonal imbalances.

Immune system

An image of a man with a virus, symbolizing the interaction between a viral infection and the immune system.

Vitamin D, among many other functions, also contributes to maintaining a healthy immune system. It has an effect on several immune cells, like T cells and macrophages, which are key elements of defense for a body against pathogens. 

Vitamin D intensifies the immune cells’ capacity to combat infectious agents and inflammation.

Research has also indicated that people with adequate levels of this vitamin are less prone to infections such as flu, pneumonia, and the common cold. 

The vitamin bolsters your immunity barriers and stimulates the cell-mediated immune attack against invading pathogens to protect your body from these common infective agents.

Furthermore, high vitamin D levels (above 20 ng/ml) are also found to produce antimicrobial peptides in your respiratory system. These peptides assist your immune system to mount a targeted attack against bacteria and viruses, protecting your respiratory health.

Autoimmune disease regulation

Another important role of vitamin D is in regulating your body’s autoimmune response. Several studies suggest that people with adequate amounts of vitamin D are at a reduced risk of developing diseass like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Type 1 diabetes.

The ability of Vitamin D to modulate the immune system prevents hyperreactive immune responses, which are responsible for your immune system attacking your own body. 

Vitamin D is a vital element in preventing excessive immune reactions as it controls the development and functioning of CD4+ T cells

Through this immunoregulatory action, vitamin D effectively preserves self-immunity intact without incurring any autoimmune damage.

Constant virtual monitoring with care to ensure enough Vitamin D levels can be a preventative measure to reduce autoimmune disease.

Cardiovascular system

Vitamin D in the right amount can prevent cardiovascular diseases. It has been shown that people with insufficient vitamin D are at a high risk of developing hypertension, heart attack, and increased mortality from cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin D can help with the following: 

Blood pressure modulation

This essential nutrient influences several aspects of heart health function. For instance, vitamin D deficiency can increase your blood pressure, which is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular issues or heart disease.

It is observed that vitamin D works via the renin-angiotensin system (a hormone system responsible for regulating blood pressure as well as the fluid balance in the body), thus contributing to blood pressure reduction.

Elasticity of arterial walls

Vitamin D also controls the elasticity and integrity of your arteries. Maintaining healthy levels (about 20 ng/ml) of this vitamin supports the elasticity of the arteries, ensuring efficient blood flow. 

It reduces the strain on your cardiovascular system and protects your heart.

Healthy arteries are also less prone to develop atherosclerotic plaque formation. Sufficient vitamin D in your blood can protect you from severe heart conditions like stroke and coronary artery disease.

Improves heart function

Vitamin D also improves heart function. It ensures that your cardiac muscles work correctly. 

Adequate levels of the sunshine vitamin are essential for the proper contraction of the myocardium, the muscle layer of the heart. 

Studies have shown that people with high vitamin D intake have better contraction efficiency.

Endocrine system

Illustration of the human anatomy with highlighted organs, emphasizing the endocrine system.

Calcitriol is also important for the proper functioning of your endocrine system. It is an essential nutrient that ensures proper secretion of hormones from endocrine glands like the pancreas and thyroid.

Here is how vitamin D helps the endocrine system: 

Diabetes management

Vitamin D may play a remarkable role in managing diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, which develops because of insulin resistance. Studies have shown that vitamin D participates in insulin secretion and glucose tolerance.

It has been shown that Vitamin D and calcium can help increase insulin sensitivity in cells and improve metabolic control. 

As insulin sensitivity increases, sugar control improves. It might also decrease the risk of complications like retinopathy and kidney damage.

Some research studies have also shown that vitamin D3 intake might mitigate the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals as well.

Better hormonal control

Other than its role in diabetes management, Vitamin D serves as a regulator of the parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates the calcium balance of your body. Vitamin D controls PTH levels, keeping a balanced level of calcium in the blood.

Over-secretion of PTH can cause the blood calcium level to fall, leading to several health conditions like osteoporosis. 

Vitamin D, when present in sufficient amounts in your body, keeps the PTH level under check and protects the bones from demineralization.

Nervous system

Vitamin D regulates your mood and overall brain health. Your nervous system has numerous vitamin D receptors that are thought to modulate your brain function.

Research indicates that the vitamin D receptors in your brain are responsible for brain development, neurotransmission, and neuroplasticity—the brain's ability to adapt and reorganize itself.

Research has shown that low blood vitamin D levels increase your risk of developing depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

These conditions are often more prevalent in regions with limited sunlight exposure, supporting the theory that reduced Vitamin D production may contribute to their onset.

Furthermore, studies have shown that adequate Vitamin D levels can improve mood and cognitive function. 

When you have enough vitamin D in your system, your brain produces adequate quantities of important neurotransmitters like dopamine, improving your emotional well-being.

There is also significant scientific evidence that adequate vitamin D levels exert a neuroprotective effect and protect you against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. 

Vitamin D has a potent antioxidant activity that removes free radicals from neuronal tissue, protecting your brain from oxidative damage.

Respiratory system

Vitamin D also affects the health of your respiratory system. The anti-inflammatory properties of this vitamin make it especially useful in managing respiratory conditions.

In patients with COPD, Vitamin D supplementation may decrease the number of exacerbations, which are predominantly caused by airway inflammation. Vitamin D lowers pro-inflammatory cytokines, helping reduce inflammation.

While vitamin D was initially thought to only affect your bone health, recent studies have shown how important it is to other body systems as well.

Also read: Discover 11 Incredible Ways Vitamin D Aids Your Body

What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

The deficiency of vitamin D can cause several health problems. 

Here are some of the most common health issues you might face if you are deficient in this vital vitamin:

Fatigue and tiredness

If you have insufficient serum vitamin D, you will notice that you tire easily, and the fatigue doesn't seem to go away even after a good sleep

This kind of exhaustion can be so strong that it may affect everything you do and your quality of life. The lack of energy stems from the inefficiency of your body’s metabolism due to the lack of vitamin D.

It is easy to dismiss this symptom as a consequence of a hectic lifestyle or stress. However, if you have been feeling exhausted lately, it is worth getting your vitamin D levels checked. 

You may also like: Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Fatigue? Unveiling the Truth.

Bone pain and muscle weakness

Vitamin D is vital to bone health as it catalyzes calcium and phosphorus absorption and metabolism. 

A vitamin D deficiency can manifest in bone aches and pains, which are deep, sharp pains, mostly in the joints and the back.

It is crucial that you don’t dismiss such pain as arthritis or age-related changes and get your vitamin D levels checked. If you start supplementing early on, you can reverse this problem.

A vitamin D deficiency might also make your muscles feel weak. While the initial symptoms might seem subtle, they can potentially become more severe. 

If you are experiencing unexplained muscle weakness, please talk to your doctor to see whether you need supplemental vitamin D.

Mood swings

Vitamin D is associated with mood, so a deficiency can result in irritability and low mood. Vitamin D regulates the synthesis and functioning of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, directly affecting mood and well-being.

Vitamin D deficiency might cause a fluctuation in the levels of these important neurotransmitters, leaving you feeling depressed and low. 

If you have very low serum vitamin D concentration, you might even experience significant mood swings with bouts of anxiety.

Hair loss

While hair loss is a complex condition affected by several factors, including genetics, lack of vitamin D seems to play a role. 

People with very low levels of this vitamin often experience non-scarring hair loss (alopecia areata), causing patchy baldness. A low vitamin D level disrupts the hair follicle cycle, causing irreversible damage.

Impaired wound healing

Another prominent effect of vitamin D deficiency is a problem with wound healing. Studies suggest that vitamin D is needed in new skin cell formation, a crucial step in wound healing. 

When you don’t have enough vitamin D, the wound healing is significantly delayed, especially after deep cuts.

Increased risk of infections

As vitamin D is involved in the proper functioning of your immune system, a lack of it can lead to frequent infections. 

Due to a deficiency of this vitamin, your T cells are not activated properly, leaving you vulnerable to microbial attack.

People with very low vitamin D levels often complain of respiratory infections like the common cold and the flu.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor to get your vitamin D levels checked. High-quality vitamin D supplements like those from WhyNotNatural will help you replenish vitamin D and reverse many of these symptoms.

Does low vitamin D lead to weight gain?

Several peer-reviewed studies have indicated a strong relationship between vitamin D deficiency and weight gain. Low vitamin D may cause weight gain for several reasons.

Studies confirm that low amounts of vitamin D might alter the balance of hormones that regulate hunger and satiety. So, if you are deficient in vitamin D, you might feel more hungry and overeat, resulting in weight gain.  

Furthermore, low levels of vitamin D slow your metabolism significantly, causing the accumulation of fat. There is evidence suggesting that low vitamin D levels increase the size and number of fat cells.

Vitamin D might also participate in insulin resistance, in which cells don't respond to insulin as they should, and blood glucose levels spike. 

Your liver transforms the excess sugar into fat, and you gain weight. Vitamin D can prevent this from happening by breaking the insulin resistance.

Which groups are at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you might think, with some individuals being more susceptible than others. If you belong to any of these groups, you might need vitamin D supplementation to prevent deficiency symptoms.

Individuals with limited sun exposure

As UVB rays from the sun are an important source of vitamin D, people with limited sunlight exposure are more susceptible to developing deficiency. 

So, if you live in the northern latitudes, you might not get enough vitamin from sun exposure.

Similarly, people who spend most of their time indoors or clad in full-body clothing are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. You might need supplements if you spend most of your day in the office or at home. 

This is especially true for older people living in assisted living.

People with darker complexion

Melanin gives your skin its characteristic color. It is excellent at absorbing UV rays and blocking them from reaching deeper parts of the skin. 

While it protects against overexposure to UV rays, it also limits the skin's ability to synthesize vitamin D.

Consequently, people of African, Caribbean, or South Asian ancestry have higher chances of vitamin D deficiency. The situation becomes more severe if you have darker skin and live in northern areas with limited sunlight.

Older adults

Your skin becomes less efficient at vitamin D production as you age. Moreover, older individuals have limited exposure to sunlight. It creates a unique situation where vitamin D supplements become necessary.

People with certain medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can disrupt the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D. In such a situation, oral supplementation with vitamin D might prove useless as the body won’t be able to absorb it through the gut.

Such conditions include: 

Gastrointestinal issues

Gastrointestinal issues like Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis may impair your ability to absorb vitamin D through dietary sources. 

The inflammation of the gastric mucosa in these conditions prevents the intestines from absorbing fats and certain vitamins.

Similarly, if you have undergone gastric bypass surgery, your ability to absorb dietary fat-soluble vitamins is compromised.

Liver disease

Your liver converts inactive vitamin D to pre-vitamin D, which is then converted to calcitriol in the kidneys. 

Liver conditions such as cirrhosis and hepatitis can compromise the liver's ability to perform this function. As a result, the vitamin D you take through diet or supplements remains inactive, leading to a host of deficiency symptoms.

Kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) disrupts the kidney's ability to transform vitamin D to its active form, calcitriol. A compromised kidney is unable to convert the pre-vitamin D produced in the liver into the final active form, leading to deficiency.

Genetic disorders

Certain genetic conditions can also lead to vitamin D deficiency. For example, familial hypophosphatemia can compromise the kidney’s ability to handle phosphate, indirectly affecting vitamin D metabolism. 

Similarly, mutations in vitamin D receptors can also lead to deficiency-like symptoms.

Obese individuals

Fat cells are like sponges for vitamin D. When you have excess fat cells, they accumulate vitamin D, removing it from the circulation. 

Consequently, you have much less active vitamin D to perform the functions, leading to health issues. If you are overweight, take vitamin D supplements to prevent deficiency.

Breastfed infants

Newborn babies who are completely dependent on breast milk are at risk of developing serum vitamin D deficiency unless they are supplemented. 

Breast milk is usually rich in vitamin D, but infants have a greater chance of vitamin D deficiency if they are not exposed to sufficient sunlight.

It is typically suggested that breastfed infants be given vitamin D supplements to ensure they have an adequate supply of vitamin D.

Strict vegans

Most natural dietary vitamin D sources come from animals. Fish oils, fortified milk, and egg yolks are some of the best sources of the vitamin that vegans can’t have. 

People in this group are more prone to developing a deficiency, especially if they live in areas of the world with limited sunlight.

If you belong to any of the above groups, please make sure that you get your vitamin D levels checked and start supplements after consulting with your doctor.

What are the health risks of excessive vitamin D?

While vitamin D is vital for your health, too much vitamin D intake may result in a condition called hypervitaminosis D, also known as vitamin D toxicity. Unless you take mega-doses of vitamin D daily, getting vitamin D toxicity is quite rare.

Hypervitaminosis can have serious health implications if left untreated. Vitamin D toxicity generally results from overconsumption of the vitamin in your diet or as a supplement.

The primary concern with excessive vitamin D intake is that it can elevate your blood calcium levels, leading to hypercalcemia. Some of the symptoms of this condition include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Bone pain and muscle weakness
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Increased colorectal cancer risk

If left untreated, vitamin D toxicity can lead to more severe health issues over time, including:

Kidney damage

High vitamin D levels in the body may lead to chronic hypercalcemia, a condition characterized by very high calcium levels in the blood. 

The excess calcium deposits in the kidneys as kidney stones. In rare cases, these calcium stones might block the vital parts of the kidney, leading to renal failure.

You may also like: Can Vitamin D Cause Kidney Stones? Unveiling the Connection

Calcification of arteries and soft tissues

Over-intake of vitamin D is characterized by calcium accumulation in the arteries or soft tissues. Calcification increases the risk of heart disease by reducing elasticity and making them more prone to blockages. 

The increased calcium can also be deposited in the lungs and other tissues, reducing their function.

Bone demineralization

Ironically, when you have high vitamin D levels, the body could also break down bones at an increased rate. The bones are demineralized at a faster rate than they can be built up again, causing your bones to become brittle and fragile.

Preventing hypervitaminosis D

The best way to prevent vitamin D toxicity is to follow recommended doses. The higher intake level (UL) for adults is set at 4,000 IU per day. So, you should aim to keep your daily vitamin D intake below this level unless recommended by your doctor.

If you are diagnosed with vitamin D toxicity, your doctor might ask you to take the following steps:

  • Stop vitamin D supplementation
  • Restriction of dietary calcium
  • Increased water intake to flush out excess calcium

Vitamin D toxicity is rare, and the effects are reversible, especially in the early stages. 

To get the most out of your supplements, follow your doctor's advice regarding vitamin D supplements and stay within the RDA.

Takeaway: Harness the benefits of vitamin D with diet, sunlight and supplements

WhyNotNatural Dietary Supplement: D3+K2, extra strength, made with organic spirulina.

Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for health. Apart from helping you build strong, healthy bones, it is essential for protecting you from infections, keeping your heart healthy, and keeping your metabolism strong. 

While your body can synthesize this vitamin when exposed to sunlight, most people can’t rely on this source to get adequate vitamin D.

Consuming foods naturally rich in vitamin D is a great way to get enough of this vitamin and prevent deficiencies.

Vitamin D supplements are also a great way to maintain optimal levels for those with limited sun exposure, dietary restrictions, or specific health conditions. Always discuss with your doctor to determine the most suitable form and dosage of vitamin D supplementation. 

Regular monitoring of vitamin D levels can help tailor intake and prevent both deficiency and excess. However, it is also essential to stay within the recommended dietary dose to prevent toxicity.

If you seek clean, effective nutritional support, visit WhyNotNatural and check out our extensive 100% organic dietary supplements collection. Get our Organic Vitamin D3 with K2 today. It contains a synergistic combination of vitamin D3 and K2 in an easily absorbable formulation.

Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to learn which supplements to take, how to combine them for maximum benefit, and other health tips to boost your energy and vitality. Plus, discover natural strategies to reduce hormonal imbalances, stress, and anxiety. Click here to get started!

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