Have you been informed by your doctor that your vitamin D levels are low? Have you given vitamin D pills any thought? If this is the case, you should understand what vitamin D is and how it affects your health. A fat-soluble vitamin called vitamin D performs a number of vital bodily tasks. Therefore, to meet your daily needs, to aid in the prevention of certain disorders, or to treat a condition you currently have, your doctor may advise taking vitamin D3 supplements. Vitamin D can be taken in excess, too, which may have negative side effects. Discover more about vitamin D’s health advantages, its sources, and its negative consequences by reading on.
What Is Vitamin D?
An essential ingredient for numerous bodily functions, vitamin D. Promoting strong, healthy bones is one of vitamin D’s main functions. It aids in the absorption and control of calcium and phosphorus, two elements vital for the health of your bones. You are more prone to develop osteoporosis, a disorder in which your bones grow brittle and more likely to break, if you don’t get enough vitamin D. Your muscles, neurons, and immune system all need vitamin D to function correctly.
Forms of Vitamin D
Vitamin D2 (“ergocalciferol”) and vitamin D3 (“cholecalciferol”) are the two types of vitamin D that can be found in foods and dietary supplements. The amount of vitamin D in your blood is increased by both kinds. However, research indicates that vitamin D3 is superior to vitamin D2 in increasing blood levels of vitamin D. The body produces vitamin D3 in the form that is present in animal products.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
Everyone needs vitamin D, but the requirements vary depending on age. The daily recommended intakes of vitamin D are:
- Birth to one year old: 10 micrograms (mcg), or 400 international units (IU)
- One to 70 years old: 15 mcg, or 600 IU
- 71 years and older: 20 mcg, or 800 IU
- Pregnancy and lactation: 15 mcg, or 600 IU
The ideal vitamin D requirements to support optimum health are still being debated in science, despite the Institute of Medicine’s establishment of these figures.
Where Do You Get Vitamin D From?
Sunlight exposure is the main natural source of vitamin D, making it special. The amount of vitamin D your body can create from sunlight is, however, influenced by a number of factors, including:
Latitude and season
Living in a northern area prevents people from getting enough vitamin D from the sun during the fall and winter.
Darker skin types produce vitamin D from the sun less effectively.
Limited sun exposure or sunscreen use
Vitamin D synthesis through sun exposure requires spending time outside with your skin exposed without sunscreen. Please note that excessive sun exposure is not recommended due to its relationship to skin cancer.
Age affects the skin’s capacity to produce vitamin D from sunlight.
Although there aren’t many natural food sources of vitamin D, you can still receive it from your diet. The finest food sources include oily fish like mackerel, herring, and salmon. Other foods with trace quantities of vitamin D include red meat, cow liver, egg yolks, and mushrooms.
In the United States, many foods are fortified with vitamin D, including:
- Breakfast cereals
- Some brands of orange juice, yogurt, and margarine
Other typical sources of vitamin D include multivitamins and vitamin D pills.
These elements increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency in many persons.
Who Should Take A Vitamin D Supplement?
Anyone who cannot obtain enough vitamin D from diet and sun exposure should take a vitamin D supplement. This can entail supplementation only throughout the fall and winter for certain persons.
Additionally, several illnesses are prevented or treated with vitamin D supplementation, such as:
- Osteoporosis: Because of the loss of density and mass in your bones caused by osteoporosis, bone fractures are more prone to occur. Osteoporosis can be prevented and treated using vitamin D supplementation.
- Osteomalacia and rickets: If you have osteomalacia, a sustained vitamin D deficit will cause your bones to weaken. This condition is referred to as rickets in children. To strengthen bones, vitamin D supplements are used as part of the treatment for rickets and osteomalacia. Supplements also aid in the prevention of certain diseases.
- Inherited bone disorders: Your body cannot absorb or utilize vitamin D if you have diseases like familial hypophosphatemia.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): Your immune system targets your nerves when you have MS, a condition. Taking vitamin D may lower your risk of developing MS.
Psoriasis: Vitamin D-containing medicines are sometimes used to treat the skin condition psoriasis.
How Much Is Too Much Vitamin D?
Having too much vitamin D can be toxic, so upper limits for daily intake have been set:
- Birth to six months old: 25 mcg, or 1000 IU
- Seven to 12 months old: 38 mcg, or 1500 IU
- 12 months to three years old: 63 mcg, or 2500 IU
- Four to eight years old: 75 mcg, or 3000 IU
- Nine years and older: 100 mcg, or 4000 IU
- Pregnancy and lactation: 100 mcg, or 4000 IU
If you go beyond these maximum limits, your blood may already have too much vitamin D. Blood levels of vitamin D should not be more than 125 nmol/L (50 ng/mL). Keep in mind that only supplemental vitamin D intake can result in vitamin D toxicity.
Side Effects of Excess Vitamin D
Toxic levels of vitamin D are uncommon and only happen when supplements are used in excess. Due to vitamin D’s role in controlling calcium levels, intoxication can have potentially harmful side effects. The following negative effects can occur when your blood calcium levels are elevated due to an excess of vitamin D:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Kidney stones and kidney damage
What To Do If You Have Side Effects of Vitamin D3
Stop taking supplements, reduce your calcium consumption, and see a doctor if you think you may be experiencing negative effects from too much vitamin D. You might be admitted to the hospital for intravenous fluids to enhance kidney function if your kidneys are compromised. Additionally, corticosteroids and bisphosphonates, which lower blood calcium levels, may be recommended by your doctor.
You can get enough vitamin D by getting enough sun, eating fortified and naturally occurring foods, and taking supplements. If you have a condition like osteomalacia or osteoporosis, which benefit from supplementing, your doctor might advise taking vitamin D pills. However, if you take too much vitamin D3, you could experience adverse effects.
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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