Vitamin D is a fat-soluble compound that has been found to play a vital role in many critical processes of your body. This nourishing and protective compound is found in many natural food sources, although diet alone can’t provide optimal levels. A Vitamin D deficiency are thought to be responsible for countless health conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Natural sunlight helps provide your body to the means to produce more Vitamin D from what it already has, but won’t increase levels in an of it’s own. There are many benefits of vitamin D for your health, and many choose supplements to help meet that need. Modern research has shown that maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D can help drastically reduce the risk of all types of cancer—although skin cancer remains a risk of prolonged sun exposure [12].

Research estimates nearly 250 million Americans may suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency

Recent research estimates nearly 250 million Americans may suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency [5]. Decreased sun exposure, as mandated by most modern jobs, as well as poor dietary habits are both thought to contribute to this alarmingly high figure.There aren’t many foods that are naturally rich in Vitamin D, which means that it is easy to become at-risk for developing a Vitamin D deficiency. The infrared radiation your body absorbs from natural sunlight helps your body make Vitamin D. If you spend the majority of your time indoors, avoid direct sunlight—you may be high-risk for developing a Vitamin D deficiency. Fortunately, Vitamin D supplements and modern UV Light Therapies are readily available to help offset the lack of sunlight in many modern lifestyles and diets.

Best Vitamin D Supplements

What is Vitamin D

what is vitamin d

Image from VitaminDfoods.org

Vitamin D covers a class of several compounds in your body that are actually considered prohormones rather than vitamins. The most common form of Vitamin D is D3 which is prohomone compound called Cholecalciferal, and is converted by your kidney’s into 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] [11]. Vitamin D3 starts it’s journey by being converted to Cholecalciferol from Dehydrocholesterol by the radiant energy of the sun absorbed through your skin. It is then converted to Calcifediol by your liver, which is then converted to Calcitriol. Each of these compounds offer different benefits to your body, but Calcitriol is often considered the most beneficial. Calcitriol helps your digestive tract to better absorb vital nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and zinc.

Most common form of Vitamin D is D3 which is prohomone compound named Cholecalciferal which is converted by your kidneys into 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]

There are several types of Vitamin D, and D3 is simply the most popular and most-often discussed. Another very popular form of Vitamin D is D2, which is often referred to as Ergocalciferol.  This compound forms through many of the same hormonal processes in which Vitamin D3 is utilized, but it originates from Ergosterol rather than Dehydrocholesterol. While Vitamin D2 is still considered valuable, research has shown that Vitamin D3 is far superior in it’s ability to be utilized by the body.[3] Also of note is that researchers found the people given Vitamin D2 supplements showed a 40% decrease in overall Vitamin D3 levels. For this reason, Vitamin D3 is regarded as the superior to Vitamin D2—and the most-recommended form of the two by many health professionals.

Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D Benefits & Risks

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Vitamin D has been shown to produce marked improvements in many health conditions, and is integrally involved in maintaining your body’s overall balance. One of these balances that Vitamin D helps to maintain is Calcium Homeostasis. Most notably, Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of nearly all types of cancer, as well as exhibiting the ability to prevent damage from conventional cancer treatments.  By the numbers, researchers have found healthy serum levels of Vitamin D (>40 ng/ml) to reduce cancer risk by 67%[10]. The exception to Vitamin D’s ability to greatly reduce risk of cancer is that of skin cancer—although many would argue a slightly increased risk of skin cancer would be a welcomed bargain for a dramatic reduction of risk for all other cancers. Reducing the risk of cancer is just one of many benefits of Vitamin D, and this vital nutrient is affects thousands of genetic processes that take place in your body every second. To better understand the full scope of Vitamin D’s impact on your health, you need to understand some of the co-factors involved with your body’s use of it.

Researchers have found maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D to reduce cancer risk by 67%

Vitamin D is know to be intimately intermingled with Calcium and Vitamin K. These Vitamins all exhibits a powerful synergistic ability to help maintain healthy levels of each other, while avoiding issues with excessive. Vitamin D, for example, has been shown to drastically increase your body’s absorption of calcium, which has been shown to help muscles such as your heart. However, too much calcium can become an issue as well, and the calcification of veins and arteries can actually increase your risk of such conditions as heart attacks. Vitamin K2, which is produced from the microflora in your intestines [9], helps to prevent such calcium buildups in your arteries and vascular system. Ultimately Vitamin D benefits many different aspects of your body, and is vital to maintaining vibrant health. It’s important to be aware many other vitamins and minerals play a role as well, and understand how to provide your body with a healthy balance. This balance is different for every person, and only a health professional can help you to better understand your individual needs.

Healthy Vitamin D Levels

The many benefits of Vitamin D may have your wondering how much vitamin d you should take. The truth is that to answer this question you need to know how close to normal vitamin d levels you already are. Considering 77% of Americans have been shown to have a vitamin d deficiency, it’s likely that you would stand to benefits from Vitamin D supplementation, or alternative UV light therapy. Much of the research surrounding the benefits of Vitmin D measures the serum level of Vitamin D in test patients. ‘Serum’ is a measure of the actual amount of Vitamin D that is present in the bloodstream at any given time. There has been a lot of controversy regarding the how much Vitamin D is needed to provided the benefits seen by researchers, and many argue that the ‘official’ recommend daily allowance (RDA) given by the FDA.

The actual RDA  for Vitamin D is nearly 15 times the FDA-recommended amount.

The Current RDA for Vitamin D has come under extreme criticism in recent years, and some researchers believe this figure is the result of incorrect math.  The official government-recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Vitamin D is 600 International Units (IU) for people of the ages 1-70 [1].  A reassessment of the 32 clinical studies used to produce the Vitamin D RDA of 600 concluded that the actual dosage needed to maintain proper serum levels is 8895 IU of Vitamin D Daily.[4] This means the actual RDA  for Vitamin D is nearly 15 times the FDA-recommended amount,  and researchers attribute this to a ‘statistical’ error. This startling revelation may help explain the growing rates of Vitamin D deficiencies in America. After all, if the majority of people are following the current RDA for Vitamin D, and that RDA is woefully less than is actually needed, it stands to reason the majority of people would be at risk of developing a Vitamin D Deficiency.

Vitamin D Deficiency

The current RDA for  Vitamin D varies by age, but is 600-800 IU, with higher levels of that being recommended for those of ages 71 and greater. These numbers are those which research has shown to be woefully inaccurate, and the needed amount of daily Vitamin D may well be closer to 9000 IU per day, in order to maintain the level of 20ng/ml. What is even more startling about this figure, is that most of the research that has shown Vitamin D being able to reduce cancer risk investigated levels of 30ng/l and above. So not only has the FDA underestimated the RDA to maintain healthy Vitamin D serum levels, but they have also underestimated serum levels needed to help fight diseases like cancer. This is a systemic lapse in judgement on behalf of the FDA, and their inability to update their recommendations could very well be causing wide-spread harm. Rather than waiting on the FDA to quit dragging their feet, it may be more beneficial to investigate how much Vitamin D you could take before you’d see any harmful effects.

Not only has the FDA underestimated the RDA to maintain healthy Vitamin D serum levels, but they have also underestimated total serum levels needed to help fight diseases like cancer…this is a systemic lapse in judgement

Research shows that to maintain serum levels of 40ng/l, you likely need to take as much as 10,000 IU of Vitamin D on a daily basis [13]. Considering that the FDA currently recommends 600-800 IU daily, this may seem alarming to you. Looking at the data for Vitamin D overdose levels can offer a valuable degree of context on how much Vitamin D you could take before you start doing harm. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements states that the upper limits for vitamin D toxicity are around 40,000 IU daily, which they calculate as needed to maintain a serum level of 200-240ng/l [1].  That means if you take 15 times the RDA of Vitamin D, you’ll still be taking 4 times less than what’s needed to ‘overdose’. Only a professional blood analysis by your doctor can truly help you determine the correct amount of Vitamin D for you to take, but it seems generally safe to take much higher amounts of Vitamin D than are currently Recommended.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

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Vitamin D’s involvement in so many integral processes within your body can make diagnosing a deficiency without blood tests a bit tricky. The truth is, if you have low vitamin d levels, there could be any number of side effects and deleterious health consequences associated with it. There are a few broad warning signs however that tend to be regarded as indicators you might have low vitamin d. People with darker skin tones are more likely to have a Vitamin D deficiency, and need up to 10 times the amount of sun exposure people with fare or pales skins to do maintain healthy vitamin D levels. Mental health is another aspect of your health that Vitamin D plays an integral role in, and among elderly people science has seen a strong correlation between low vitamin d levels and depression.

you have low vitamin d levels, there could be any number of side effects and deleterious health consequences associated with it

If you are overweight, or have an excessive amount of muscle, you might also be suffering from a vitamin d deficiency. Since Vitamin d is fat-soluble, it can be absorbed and ‘trapped’ in fatty tissues and muscle. This isn’t as much a symptom of low vitamin d as much as it is just cautionary warning sign. Indigestion or general ‘gut’ issues can be a sign that you’re not getting enough Vitamin D as well. Since vitamin d is largely absorbed through your intestinal walls from food, if you’re having trouble getting nutrients from your foods you’ll likely suffering from a lack of adequate vitamin D as well. Generalized chronic fatigue is also a symptom of vitamin d deficiency, and if you are tired more often than you believe normal for your lifestyle, it could be a strong indicator as well. Again, these are merely warning signs that you may be suffering from a lack of vitamin d, and the only way to know for sure is to have your vitamin d levels checked.

Vitamin D Foods

One of the best ways to help maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D is by ensuring you’re getting plenty of foods high in vitamin d in your diet. Generally speaking, fish meats and fish oils are a great way to help boost the amount of vitamin d in your diet. Cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon and tuna are all sources rich in Vitamin D, and can be effectively used to help maintain healthy levels. Eggs, milk, yogurt, and some cheeses such as swiss are also know to contain amounts of Vitamin D as well, although in considerably lessened amounts than compared to that of fish. While many doctors and dietitians describe food sources of Vitamin D as being adequate in their ability to help maintain healthy levels, it’s likely those assumptions are based on the grossly underestimated RDA provided by the FDA.

Cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon and tuna are all rich in Vitamin D… as well as milk, eggs, and some cheeses

On the National Institutes of Health’s Vitamin D ‘factsheet’ for example, a 1 tablespoon serving of Cod Liver Oil is shown to contain 1360 IU of Vitamin D, which they record as being 340% of your daily value. Assuming a daily IU intake of 4000-10000 is needed to maintain healthy serum levels of 30ng/l and above, it’s likely that diet alone won’t be enough for many of the 260 million Americans that are estimated to have a Vitamin D Deficiency [1]. Increased time in the sunlight can help boost your vitamin d levels as well, but even combined with a Vitamin D rich diet you may fall short. For this reason, it’s often recommended that a Vitamin D supplement be taken to ensure proper serum levels regardless of sun exposure or dietary access. The NIH reports the upper level of ‘safe’ doses of Vitamin D to be 40000 IU, which leaves a lot of room for increasing your vitamin d dosage without having unwanted side effects.

Vitamin D Supplements

metagenics-vitamin-d3-500-iu-softgels

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Given the low risk of vitamin d side effects, it’s likely that you can take a considerable amount of Vitamin D before you’d ever have to worry about issues associated with toxicity. The effects of too much Vitamin D are really more related to the higher-than-normal levels of calcium it can cause to buildup in your bloodstream. The Mayo Clinic notes that people that have taken a 50,000 IU daily dosage of Vitamin D for several months may be at risk for such issues [14]. Over-the-counter varieties of Vitamin D are commonly-available in doses ranging from 100 IU to 35,000 IU. These supplements are great at helping to provide your body with an assurance of enough Vitamin D to reap all the benefits. It’s virtually impossible to get too much vitamin d from diet alone, and still really hard to near a vitamin D overdose with supplementation—you’d almost have to be trying.

Vitamin D supplements, like the Vitamin D3 from Metagenics,  are often sold in soft-gel form, and are mixed in with certain oils to help boost their bioavailability. Being that Vitamin D is a fat-soluble compound, it can have a reduced effect if there are no fats present to help your body digest it. Vegetable oils are common fats used in these supplements, and you should always pay close attention to your labels. Many vegetable oils can contain GMO ingredients, especially soybean oils, and if your label doesn’t explicitly state your Vitamin D is Non-GMO it’s likely that it contains GMO oils. Vitamin D can also be absorbed fine simply by taking it with a meal, assuming your meal doesn’t have a zero fat content.  Supplements are very susceptible to shady manufacturing processes, being they are regulated as food items. This is great because you can get pharmaceutical grade supplements, but also bad because it’s hard to tell which one’s aren’t trash. Vitamin D is often found as a liquid form, such as the Bio-D-Mulsion Forte Vitamin D from Biotics Research, and also as chewable tables like the the Chocolate Vitamin D3 Chewables from Integrative Therapeutics.

Best Vitamin D Supplements

Healthy Balance & Mindful Diet

The modern world is full of frankenfoods and sugar-laden, nutrient-stripped garbage that gets passed off as ‘food’. This type of diet has given rise to a crisis in modern health care, evident in the soaring disease rates in Western society. Vitamin D has been shown through extensive clinical research to demonstrate remarkable abilities in fortifying health, and preventing many major diseases such as Cancer. The FDA recommended daily allowance for Vitamin D has been shown to be much lower than is actually needed to maintain healthy levels. Additionally, recent research has shown that much higher Vitamin D levels need to be maintained to help prevent diseases like cancer.

Most health professionals generally regard quality Vitamin D supplements as a very safe

You should always talk to your doctor before making any health or diet related decisions. Diagnosing a Vitamin D deficiency can be extremely difficult, and it’s almost impossible to determine how what Vitamin D dosage would be correct for you without blood work to chart your responsiveness to supplementation. Vitamin D has been know to demonstrate some side effects at levels of 50,000 IU per day, for several months. This level is so far beyond what you could accidentally come into contact with, that most health professionals generally regard quality Vitamin D supplements as a very safe and effective treatment. As always, quality does matter, and if you are buying cheap supplements you are likely getting nasty ingredients.


References

1.https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

2.http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/otherendo/vitamind.html

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24001747

4. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/10/4472/htm

5. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/414878

6. https://courses.washington.edu/conj/bess/calcium/calcium.html

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621390/

8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10227320/

9. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/16/vitamin-k2.aspx

10. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/04/prweb13315020.htm

11. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/vitamin-d-fact-sheet

12. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/04/18/raising-vitamin-d-level.aspx

13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10232622

14. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/vitamin-d-toxicity/faq-20058108

 

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