All about Vitamin D: Benefits, Deficiency, and Dosages

It is a known fact that Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that supports bone health and immune function. Since our bodies can produce this vitamin naturally when exposed to sunlight, it is often called the Sunshine Vitamin. Furthermore, people get a significant part of their daily Vitamin D requirement from the sun.

Vitamin D is fat-soluble, and there are three types: vitamins D1, D2, and D3. The two forms, D2 and D3, are present in food items and supplements. However, D3 is more potent than D2 because it raises vitamin D levels more. 

Sources of Vitamin D other than sunlight include certain food items like eggs, milk, salmon, orange juice, etc., and supplements that ensure adequate levels of vitamin in your bloodstream. Due to the emphasis on this vitamin, people may wonder why it is so essential for the body. Well, the answer to this question is supported by decades of research. Read along to learn about the never-ending list of Vitamin D benefits on health. 

Let’s dive into it. 

Benefits of Vitamin D

Here are some of the most noteworthy advantages of vitamin D: 

  1. Strengthens Bone

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which allows your body to build bones and maintain bone strength throughout your lifetime. It prevents the risk of osteomalacia in adults, osteoporosis in older adults, and rickets in kids, which leads to softening bones. 

  1. Reduces depression and regulates mood 

Limited research shows that Vitamin D might play a significant role in curing seasonal depression and regulating mood. In winter, people tend to feel negative emotions because there is less sunlight which may affect the activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Therefore, vitamin d supplementation may help people with depression and vitamin d deficiency. 

  1. Strengthens muscles 

Vitamin D helps optimize muscle performance and contractility. It also supports the development of normal skeletal muscles. At the same time, its deficiency causes muscle weakness, pain, and increased risk of falls.  

  1. Fights Diseases 

Vitamin D helps play a role in the following: 

  • Preventing autoimmune disorders such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease. 
  • Although it is not 100% confirmed, studies show that vitamin D decreases the severe effects of flu and COVID-19 infections. 
  • Sufficient levels of vitamin D in the blood lowers the chance of developing heart diseases such as heart failure, stroke, and hypertension. 
  • It reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), which affects the brain and the spinal cord, resulting in lifelong disability. 
  1. Supports weight loss 

Studies show that people who take vitamin D supplements and follow a weight loss plan manage to lose more weight than those who only follow the diet plan. The reason behind this is the appetite-suppressing effect of calcium and vitamin D. 

  1. Improves oral health 

Since vitamin D facilitates calcium and phosphorous absorption, it helps tooth mineralization and gum health. It prevents the risk of fractures, gum disease, cavities, and decay which are otherwise common when your Vitamin D levels are unregulated.

  1. Fights against cancer 

Vitamin D3 reduces cancer mortality as it decreases tumor invasiveness and propensity to metastasize. Further studies show that vitamin D is important in reducing cell growth, seducing tumor blood vessel formation, and stimulating cell death. 

  1. Reduces inflammation 

It has been scientifically confirmed that vitamin D possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, low vitamin D levels in the blood and elevated C-the active protein are linked, which results in chronic inflammation. 

Sources of Vitamin D

Ultraviolet light is the primary source of producing Vitamin D in our bodies. However, not all people receive the necessary vitamin D from sun exposure, so one must reside in other sources. Some food contains vitamin D naturally, while others are fortified with it. Here are some of the most common food sources of the Sunshine Vitamin

  • Beef liver 
  • Milk 
  • Sardines
  • Egg yolk 
  • Shrimp 
  • Cod liver oil
  • Yogurt
  • Cereals and oatmeal 
  • Orange juice 
  • Salmon 
  • Herring
  • Canned tuna
  • Mushrooms

Eating enough vitamin D from the sun and the mentioned food sources daily may not be possible, so consuming vitamin D supplements could help. 

Vitamin D Deficiency 

Vitamin D deficiency is a prevalent health problem worldwide, particularly in developing countries. It is common in young women, older adults, infants, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and dark-skinned individuals. 

Several factors can cause vitamin D deficiency by hindering your daily intake of the sun. 

Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Living in a polluted area 
  • Using sunblock 
  • Living in a city where tall buildings block sunlight 
  • Spending most of your time indoors
  • Having a darker skin 

In adults following symptoms may exhibit in case of inadequate levels of vitamin D in the blood: 

  • Muscle or bone pain/weakness 
  • Fatigue and pains 
  • Fractures in the hip, pelvis, and legs 

To diagnose vitamin D deficiency, a healthcare professional runs a simple blood test and X-rays to check bone strength. You are likely to be recommended vitamin D supplements to treat the deficiency. In case of severe shortage, high-dose vitamin D tablets and liquids may be suggested.  

Recommended Dosage for Vitamin D

Your vitamin D intake depends upon several factors, such as age, clothing, sun exposure, latitude, season, and ethnicity. 

The Recommended Dietary Allowances suggests the following dosage for different age groups: 

  • Infant (0-12 months): 10 mcg
  • Children and teenagers: 15 mcg
  • Adults (18-17 years): 15 mcg
  • Adults (over 70 years): 20 mcg
  • Pregnant or lactating women: 15 mcg
Overdosage of Vitamin D 

Taking excessive amounts of vitamin D supplements can result in several health issues. However, it is impossible through sun exposure or diet because your body manages the amount of vitamin D produced through ultraviolet light and food intake. 

Vitamin D toxicity increases calcium levels in the blood and can cause health risks such as: 

  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Nausea 
  • Apathy 
  • Increased thirst 
  • Confusion 
  • Vomiting 
  • Kidney stones 

In severe cases, vitamin D toxicity can lead to kidney failure, irregular heartbeat, or death. 

Bottom Line

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient having many potential benefits. It helps manage weight, reduce cancer mortality rate, help overcome depression, improve mood, and reduce the chances of certain diseases. 

One must take all measures to ensure sufficient vitamin D intake from sunlight and diet. However, suppose it’s hard to get an adequate level of Sunshine Vitamin. In that case, you must contact a healthcare professional for blood tests and consider taking suitable vitamin D supplements.