Vitamin D is also known as the ‘sun vitamin’ and is absolutely essential for optimum health. There are many reasons why adequate vitamin D is so important for your body.
In this article we explain the many functions of vitamin D, what are the benefits, risks of vitamin D deficiency and how much vitamin D you need daily.
What is Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the so-called fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). These vitamins are oil/fat soluble and can be (partly) stored in the body.
To have enough vitamin D, your body must produce and store vitamin D (with the help of sunlight). We can also (to a limited extent) get the amount of vitamin D we need from our diet.
In our diet, vitamin D occurs in two different forms:
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol): from some mushrooms
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol): from fatty fish, fish oil and egg yolk
Both forms of vitamin D are active in the body, but vitamin D3 is by far the most potent form of vitamin D.
If we get vitamin D, it must be converted into an active form in our body: 25-hydroxyvitamin D (for storage) and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. This last form has a hormonal effect and this is why vitamin D is often seen as a hormone.
Vitamin D is particularly involved in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and hence ensures strong bones and healthy teeth. But this is not its only function.
Almost every cell in our body has a vitamin D receptor. Therefore vitamin D is also involved in many other important processes in our bodies, including our metabolism, muscle growth and our immune system. That’s a very important item!
Benefits of Vitamin D
Research suggests that taking a vitamin D supplement may make a significant contribution to better health by:
A vitamin D supplement (especially in the elderly) can help prevent osteoporosis, fractures, and other fractures. *
More vitamin D provides more muscle power and can also increase the amount of testosterone (the hormone that helps promote muscle growth) in men.
Reduced risk of diabetes.
Deficiency of vitamin D doubles the risk of insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Adequate vitamin D supplementation can also significantly reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes in children.
Reduced risk of cancer.
Adequate vitamin D reduces the risk of some cancers
Good for your heart.
It lowers the amount of triglycerides in the blood, stimulates blood circulation and improves cholesterol levels.
**Pay attention! Use of calcium tablets along with extra vitamin D may increase the risk of arteriosclerosis.
Disadvantages of Too Little Vitamin D
Deficiency of vitamin D is harmful to our health and, among other things, may cause:
- Growth problems and bone disorders in children
- Muscle weakness and spasms
- Fatigue and restlessness
- Continuous energy shortage
- A low resistance
- Bad teeth
- Increased risk of fracture
- Increased risk of heart diseases
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to various types of cancer, type I and II diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, and thyroid problems.
When does vitamin D deficiency occur?
Research has shown that many people do not get enough vitamin D on a daily basis and despite the fact that we can make it ourselves, about 1 billion people on this planet suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
The only way to really find out if you have vitamin D deficiency is to measure the amount of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25 (OH) D) in your blood.
According to current guidelines, 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) is sufficient, although there are experts who argue that 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) is the minimum. Based on this, you can take additional vitamin D to improve these values (if necessary).
How much vitamin D do you need daily?
Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more common in humans. The problem is less pronounced in countries where people can sit in sunlight regularly throughout the year, but in places beyond the equator, we see that vitamin D deficiency often occurs.
The currently recommended daily vitamin D intake for adults is about 10 micrograms to 20 micrograms (400-800IU) per day.
The amount of vitamin D you need depends on several factors, such as age, skin color, lifestyle, and where you live.
In particular, the elderly and people with darker skin often need more and young women, children and people who eat (vegetarian, vegetarian) food (vegan, vegetarian) often have a deficiency.
What are good sources of Vitamin D?
Many people know that our body produces vitamin D only. This happens through sunlight entering our skin and is the best way to get vitamin D.
Sun exposure for 15 minutes to half an hour with your bare hands and feet between 11:00 and 15:00 every day, in theory, ensures adequate (5000-15000 IU) vitamin D production in the body.
You don’t want to be in the sun for too long, because sitting in the sun for too long in the middle of the day is not really beneficial for your skin and your health.
Apart from sunlight, we can also get vitamin D through food. Cod liver oil, fatty fish, egg yolk and fortified foods contain vitamin D in particular.
It is not too much (the only exception is cod liver oil) and so it is a good idea to take a supplement in the autumn and winter months and / or if you see less daylight during the day.
Therefore vitamin D supplementation is highly recommended and we recommend people to take 25 micrograms to 50 micrograms (1000-2000IU) of vitamin D3 per day.
It is also interesting to mention that ensuring adequate magnesium in your diet is also important. Magnesium supports the production of vitamin D in your body and boosts the immune system.
Is Too Much Vitamin D Harmful?
According to the Health Experts, the upper limit is currently 25 micrograms for children and 50 micrograms for adults. Vitamin D overdose is practically non-existent and even an intake of up to 20,000 IU only indicates toxicity.
So unless you take a handful of supplements every day for months, do not eat eight pounds of salmon, or drink a pint of cod liver oil, you will benefit the most.
Vitamin D is essential for a healthy body. However, a vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common. The amount of vitamin D that we can get from our diet is not always optimal.
Although our body can make enough vitamin D through sunlight, many people don’t get out enough. It is wise to take a vitamin D supplement (1000-2000IU) daily.
It’s simple, cheap, has no harmful effects and (unless you spend a lot of time outside, rarely put on clothes and live a lot closer to the equator) can only benefit your health.
You might be interested in reading Benefits of vitamin C.