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Vitamin D supplements: health benefits

Vitamin D supplements: health benefits
May 09
12:26 2017

Vitamin D is important for good overall health and strong and healthy bones. It’s also an important factor in making sure your muscles, heart, lungs and brain work well and that your body can fight infection.

  • Your body can make its own vitamin D from sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from supplements and a very small amount comes from a few foods you eat.
  • The vitamin D that you get in your skin from sunlight, and the vitamin D from supplements, has to be changed by your body a number of times before it can be used.
  • Once it’s ready, your body uses it to manage the amount of calcium in your blood, bones and gut and to help cells all over your body to communicate properly.

How does Vitamin D work?

  • When your skin is exposed to the sun, it produces vitamin D and sends it to your liver.
  • If you take supplements or eat foods that contain vitamin D, your gut also sends the vitamin D to your liver.
  • From here, your liver changes it to a substance called 25(OH)D. When your doctor talks about your vitamin D levels, he means the amount of 25(OH)D you have in your blood.
  • This chemical is sent all over your body where different tissues, including your kidney, turn it into activated vitamin.
  • This activated vitamin is now ready to perform its duties. From here, it gets a little complicated, but you can think of activated vitamin working in two ways:
  1. Manages calcium in your blood, bones and gut
  2. Helps cells all over your body to communicate properly

As you can see, vitamin goes a long way from its original form from the skin, supplement or food. But without vitamin D, your body can’t perform at its best.

Potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation

The Vitamin D Council state that the two main ways to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D in the body are to expose bare skin to sunlight and take vitamin supplements.

“With our indoor lifestyles, we don’t expose skin to the sun as much as we used to and are not fulfilling our vitamin D requirements. Supplements are one way to make up for this lifestyle.”

Vitamin supplements may reduce pain and depression for women with type 2 diabetes.

More recent research has suggested that high levels of vitamin D may prevent cognitive impairment in patients with Parkinson’s disease, while another study found that high vitamin intake during pregnancy may increase the muscle strength of offspring.

Vitamin D: Health Benefits:

D fights disease

In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin may also play a role in:

  • reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis
  • helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu
  • decreasing your chance of developing heart disease

D fights depression

Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression.

  • D boosts weight loss
  • Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease.
  • In one study, people who took a daily vitamin D supplement did not lose a significant amount of weight, but were able to improve their heart disease risk markers.
  • In another study, people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement.
  • The scientists said the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite suppressing effect.

Beware of “Deficiency”

Many lifestyle and environmental factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin through the sun alone. These factors include:

  • pollution
  • use of sunscreen
  • spending more time indoors
  • living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
  • having darker skin

These factors contribute to vitamin deficiency in an increasing number of people. That’s why it’s important to get some of your vitamin from sources besides sunlight.

The symptoms of a vitamin deficiency in adults include:

  • general tiredness, aches and pains, and a general sense of not feeling well
  • severe bone or muscle pain or weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a low chair, or cause the person to walk with a waddling gait
  • stress fractures, especially in the legs, pelvis, and hips

Doctors can diagnose a vitamin deficiency by performing a simple blood test. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may order X-rays to check the strength of your bones.

Food sources of D

Few foods contain vitamin naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • egg yolk
  • shrimp
  • milk (fortified)
  • cereal (fortified)
  • yogurt (fortified)
  • orange juice (fortified)

It can be hard to get enough vitamin each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements can help.

How much do you need?

One IU is not the same for each type of vitamin. An IU is determined by how much of a substance produces an effect in your body. The recommended IUs for vitamin are:

  • children and teens: 600 IU
  • adults up to age 70: 600 IU
  • adults over age 70: 800 IU
  • pregnant or breastfeeding women: 600 IU


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