Updated: Apr 6
Vitamin D is something we consume and our bodies make. A healthy diet that includes enough Vitamin D promotes bone and tooth growth, and improved resistance to certain diseases.
Vitamin D also regulates many other cellular functions in your body. Its anti-inflammatory properties support immune health, muscle function, and brain cell activity.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is both a nutrient we can consume and something our bodies make. It helps us absorb and retain phosphorus and calcium, which are critical for healthy bones. Studies have also shown it helps control infections, reduces inflammation, and improves mental health. It reduces cancer cell growth, and can even improve your sleep.
Vitamin D is available in two forms: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol, or pre-vitamin D) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Both are naturally occurring forms produced in the presence of the sun’s ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays. Vitamin D production in the skin is the primary natural source of Vitamin D. D2 is also produced in plants and fungi and D3 is produced in animals, including humans. It is not clear if either form of Vitamin D provides more health benefits than the other, so it doesn’t matter which one you choose when supplementing.
What does Vitamin D help with?
Maintain a healthy weight
What are symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency vary. Most people with vitamin D deficiency are asymptomatic. Symptoms depend on the person and how severe the deficiency is. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms consult your medical doctor:
Bone pain or aches
Loss of appetite
Getting sick more easily
The National Institutes of Health reports that almost 1 in 4 U.S. adults are considered low in vitamin D. Certain populations are more susceptible to deficiency, such as:
People who aren’t exposed to the sun. Winter weather, limited skin exposure, and spending most of your time indoors can increase your likelihood of deficiency.
People with darker skin. Increased pigmentation (melanin) acts like a shade or natural sunscreen, reducing production of vitamin D.
People with inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease) or other conditions that disrupt the normal digestion of fat. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that depends on the gut’s ability to absorb dietary fat.
People who are obese tend to have lower blood vitamin D levels. Vitamin D accumulates in excess fat tissues but is not easily available for use by the body when needed. Higher doses of vitamin D supplementation may be needed to achieve a desirable blood level. Conversely, blood levels of vitamin D rise when obese people lose weight. Dosage should be discussed with your medical doctor in these situations.
People who have undergone gastric bypass surgery. This surgery typically removes the upper part of the small intestine where vitamin D is absorbed.
How can I achieve healthy levels of Vitamin D?
You can get vitamin D from food sources, but studies show that it is difficult to get adequate amounts through food alone. While some foods naturally have vitamin D, others are fortified with it. In order to achieve healthy levels of vitamin D, most people will have to take an oral supplement.
5 foods naturally high in vitamin D:
Fatty fish like salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel
Canned fish like herring and sardines
5 vitamin D fortified foods:
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D provides the daily amount needed to maintain healthy bones and normal calcium metabolism in healthy people. It assumes minimal sun exposure and does not take into account possible food sources as it is quite difficult to get enough from diet alone. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults 19 years and older is 600 IU (15 mcg) daily for men and women, and for adults >70 years is 800 IU (20 mcg) daily. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health. The UL for vitamin D for adults and children ages 9+ is 4,000 IU (100 mcg).
Take a supplement:
Many people find that taking a daily supplement is helpful in achieving healthy Vitamin D levels.
Schedule a visit:
You can always request a blood test to check your Vitamin D levels. This may help determine the amount you need and what may be best for you. As always, talk to your doctor before starting any new medications or supplements.
Soak up some sun:
Your body needs some sun to make Vitamin D itself. Try 15-20 minutes of sun each day, or at least 3 times a week. Don't forget to protect your skin from the harmful sun ray's by applying sunscreen before heading out. Your skin cannot absorb Vitamin D through glass, so it is best to actually go outside! If you get a lot of sunlight in your house or car, it may feel great for the soul, but your body can't absorb any of the benefits.
Note: There are harmful effects to ultraviolet rays, so it is important to avoid excess sun exposure; in general tanning beds should not be used. A good general rule of thumb is don’t spend more than 15-20 minutes in direct sunlight without some form of protection.
What should I know before taking Vitamin D supplements?
Vitamin D supplements are considered very safe, and toxicity is uncommon. This is because a healthy person would need to take extremely large doses of Vitamin D over time in order to reach toxic or dangerous levels in the body. However, Vitamin D toxicity is more common in people with certain medical conditions which include:
Dysregulated Vitamin D metabolism
Vitamin D toxicity usually occurs when calcium levels are too high, since vitamin D helps absorb calcium. This is called Hypercalcemia. Vitamin D toxicity also goes by a few other names, including hypervitaminosis D and vitamin D intoxication. Symptoms include:
Digestive distress such as: vomiting, nausea, constipation, and stomach pain
Fatigue, dizziness, hallucinations, and confusion
Loss of appetite
Kidney stones, kidney injury, and even kidney failure
High blood pressure and heart abnormalities
Put your body in good hands!
In conclusion, the body produces Vitamin D due to sun exposure. Many foods and supplements also contain this essential nutrient which plays an important role in maintaining bones, teeth, and optimal immune function. If you fall into one of the populations at risk for deficiency and are asymptomatic, try getting healthy doses of natural sunlight, eating more foods with Vitamin D, and supplement according to the recommended dosage. If you have any of the symptoms listed in this post, consult your medical doctor.
At ANH Wellness, our doctors are able to maintain your entire family's wellness care from birth to adulthood. We like to make sure our patients are educated and fully understand how their individualized care plan specific for their needs is going to help them heal and function properly!
By: Dr. Laudeman
Chiropractor at ANH Wellness