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Vitamin D: Sources, Benefits, Dosage, And More

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Being a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D is a crucial nutrient required by your body.

This nutrient may perform a plethora of vital processes in your body, like fighting infections and building and maintaining strong bones. 

Due to this, low vitamin D intake might be considered a health concern all across the globe.

And if you didn’t already know, the deficiency of vitamin D could be estimated to affect approximately 13% of the total global population.

How To Get Vitamin D?

There are myriad ways through which you may receive vitamin D. Receiving vitamin D is quite necessary[1] for your bone health and calcium absorption.

Let’s have a glance at the ways through which you can get vitamin D.

  • Sunlight

    Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, one of the best sources of getting vitamin D is sunbathing.

    Moreover, the vitamin D, which is acquired from the sun may circulate 2 times[2] more compared to the vitamin D that you may acquire from your supplements or food.

    The human skin consists of a type of cholesterol that, when exposed to UV-B radiation, becomes Vitamin D.

    Due to this process, the quantity of Vitamin D made by your body may differ from person to person.

    Moreover, the vitamin D absorbed through the Sun depends on myriad factors like the sunscreen and clothing season, geographical location, skin tone, and age.

  • Mushrooms

    Another great source of vitamin D are mushrooms. Moreover, mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of vitamin D, and just like humans, they also make their vitamin D when they are exposed to UV light.

    However, the difference between humans and mushrooms in this regard could be that humans produce vitamin D in the form of Cholecalciferol, which is vitamin D3.

    On the other hand, mushrooms produce ergocalciferol, which is vitamin D2.

    Though both these types of vitamin D may amplify[3] the vitamin D level in your body, research shows that vitamin D3 may bolster the vitamin D level in your body more as compared to vitamin D2.

    However, the quantity of vitamin D you could receive from the particular mushrooms depends upon their sort.

    Generally, wild mushrooms may provide you with more vitamin D because they are more exposed to sunlight.

    But make sure to purchase wild mushrooms from a trusted supplier to evade any risks of food poisoning. 

    You may even purchase mushrooms that are treated with UV light to augment the vitamin D levels in them.

  • Fortified Foods

    There are very few foods that contain vitamin D in them. Hence, this vitamin may be added to the food through a process known as fortification.

    However, the amount of vitamin D in the fortified foods differentiates from country to country and the brand and type.

    Some of the commonly fortified goods that you may eat to get vitamin D include[4] orange juice, tofu, certain types of yogurt, plant-based milk alternatives like almond or soy, and ready-to-eat cereals.

    Whenever you purchase any fortified food item, you could check its ingredients list to know whether it has vitamin D or not.

  • Egg Yolks

    Another easy way[5] to get vitamin D is to add egg yolks to your diet. However, the amount of vitamin D in the egg yolks could depend upon the type of chicken.

    The chickens, which are conventionally raised, may have 2 to 5% of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI).

    However, eggs received from free-range or pasture-raised chickens may have 20% of the RDI, which is approximately four times more than the RDI of the conventionally raised chickens.

    Besides this, the type of food which the chicken eats might even alter the quantity of vitamin D in the egg yolk.

  • Supplement

    Another source of vitamin D are vitamin D supplements that exist in two main biological forms, namely D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 is derived from plants, whereas vitamin D3 is derived from animals.

    When you purchase supplements, make sure that they are of high quality and have been independently tested.

What Prevents Vitamin D Absorption?

With myriad health benefits, vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for your body. If you have Vitamin D deficiency symptoms then there are high chances that your are at a risk of bone fractures, osteoporosis, and other diseases.

So here’s a glance at the different factors that may affect your ability to absorb vitamin D.

  • Gastrointestinal Issues

    Different gastrointestinal diseases that affect your intestines may even truncate your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D that is found in food.

    Such gastrointestinal issues could be cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease.

    Moreover, patients who have celiac disease might be at an augmented risk[6] to develop a deficiency of vitamin D.

    Patients suffering from Crohn’s disease may even absorb 30% less vitamin D, which is present in their Diet.

  • Kidney Or Liver Disease

    Both liver and kidney diseases may even impact your body’s level to absorb[7] vitamin D.

    Any type of kidney disease could impact your body’s ability to process vitamin D to its active form, which is Calcitriol.

    On the other hand, different types of liver diseases may also cause issues with your body in absorbing fat, thus making it harder for your body to absorb vitamin D.

  • Obesity

    People who have a BMI or Body Mass Index of more than 30 may have a deficiency of vitamin D.

    The subcutaneous body fat of such people might trap vitamin D, thus making it difficult to reach other areas of your body.

    Moreover, people who have undergone gastric bypass surgery may also have issues absorbing vitamin D.

    Under gastric bypass surgery, a portion of the patient’s stomach is made non-functional and the small intestine might be re-routed.

    Since vitamin D is absorbed in the small intestine, the rerouting process might make it difficult[8] for your body to absorb vitamin D from the diet and hence result in vitamin D deficiency.

  • Certain Medications

    Some of the medications may even interfere with your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D. These medications could include oral steroids, cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins, seizure control drugs, and laxatives.
    These medications may even interact with the vitamin D supplements and inhibit your body’s ability to absorb this nutrient.

What Helps Vitamin D Absorption?

The absorption of Vitamin D is impacted by a variety of factors like the quantity[9] of Vitamin D in your supplements and the presence of other nutrients in your body.

Due to this, you should make sure to include nutrients that can speed up the absorption process of vitamin D in your diet, such as zinc, magnesium, and vitamin K.

Moreover, if you are on a strict diet, then you might aim to include healthy fats in moderation in your body for the better absorption[10] of this nutrient.

Moreover, adding fortified cereals and milk to your meal could also bolster the process of the absorption of vitamin D.

In the end, you must remain stress-free so that vitamin D can be better absorbed by your intestines.

When you are under stress, the hormones released by your body will affect your gut health, which may further truncate the absorption process of this vitamin.

How To Take Vitamin D Correctly?

The correct dosage[9] of vitamin D will depend upon your body’s current vitamin D levels.

Generally, the safe daily dose of vitamin D could range anywhere from 1000 IU to 4000 IU.

However, you may even require more doses in case your body’s current vitamin D levels are quite low.

What Does Vitamin D Do For Your Body?

Vitamin D could be connected with some of the major functions[11] of your body, like the digestive, immune, circulatory and nervous systems.

This vitamin might even ameliorate the growth and calcium absorption of your bones. Due to this, it may be essential to know how to receive this vitamin.

Hopefully, this article has comprehensively delineated the what are the sources of Vitamin D, how to enhance its absorption rate, and what factors could prevent its absorption.

When To Take Vitamin D?

There is no ideal time to consume vitamin D. You may consume it either in the morning with a heavy breakfast, or even at night. 

However, incorporating vitamin D supplements into your night schedule might cause sleep disturbances.

Though there is no hard science to back this fact, vitamin D could be related to a higher risk of sleep disturbances and poor sleep quality.

Due to this, many people avoid consuming this vitamin during the nighttime.

Moreover, incorporating vitamin D in your morning supplements may be more convenient because you could easily remember to take this supplement with your breakfast.

However, you can always experiment and try out what works the best for you.

Since no scientific data is available to prove the effectiveness of vitamin D on the truncated levels of sleep quality, you may try consuming it at night and see if that works for you.

What To Take With Vitamin D?

The consumption of vitamin D is no rocket science, and it depends upon the recommendations of your doctor.

You may generally consume one dose per week and according to the instructions given by your doctor, you could consume vitamin D with-

  1. The Largest Meal Of The Day

    When you consume vitamin D with the largest meal of your day, then there could be a chance of a 50% amplification in the Vitamin D levels of your blood.

    The reason behind this could be because, since the largest meal of your day contains the highest amount of fat, it could help in the best absorption of this vitamin.

  2. Milk

    Another best alternative to consuming your vitamin D is milk.

    Vitamin D supplements could be consumed with milk because milk contains magnesium which could further

    amplify the absorption[12] rate of fat-soluble vitamins.

Final Words On Vitamin D

If you think you have a low Vitamin D intake, then you should get in touch with a doctor or a dietitian.

They might prescribe you a few tests to be sure of the deficiency. Once you have done so, there are high chances that your vitamin D levels will be taken care of.

12 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Vitamin D Updated: June 2, 2022 Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/
  2. Rathish Nair, Arun Maseeh Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012 Apr;3(2):118-26. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.95506. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22629085/
  3. Raphael-John H Keegan, Zhiren Lu, Jaimee M Bogusz, et al. Photobiology of vitamin D in mushrooms and its bioavailability in humans Dermatoendocrinol. 2013 Jan 1;5(1):165-76. doi: 10.4161/derm.23321. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24494050/
  4. Lucinda J Black, Kelly M Seamans, Kevin D Cashman, et al. An updated systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of vitamin D food fortification J Nutr. 2012 Jun;142(6):1102-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.158014. Epub 2012 Apr 18. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22513988/
  5. Linxing Yao, Tong Wang, Michael Persia, et al. Effects of vitamin D(3) -enriched diet on egg yolk vitamin D(3) content and yolk quality J Food Sci. 2013 Feb;78(2):C178-83. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12032. Epub 2013 Jan 18. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23331294/
  6. Anna Tavakkoli, Daniel DiGiacomo, Peter H. Green, et al. Vitamin D Status and Concomitant Autoimmunity in Celiac Disease J Clin Gastroenterol. 2013 Jul; 47(6): 515–519. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e318266f81b
  7. Sandra Williams, Karla Malatesta, and Keith Norris. Vitamin D and Chronic Kidney Disease Ethn Dis. 2009 Autumn; 19(4 Suppl 5): S5–8-11.
  8. Luka Vranić, Ivana Mikolašević, and Sandra Milić Vitamin D Deficiency: Consequence or Cause of Obesity? Medicina (Kaunas). 2019 Aug 28;55(9):541. doi: 10.3390/medicina55090541. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31466220/
  9. Vitamin D Updated: June 2, 2022 Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
  10. Vitamin D January 2022 Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
  11. Rathish Nair and Arun Maseeh Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012 Apr-Jun; 3(2): 118–126. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.95506
  12. Valeria Polzonetti, Stefania Pucciarelli, Silvia Vincenzetti, et al. Dietary Intake of Vitamin D from Dairy Products Reduces the Risk of Osteoporosis Nutrients. 2020 Jun; 12(6): 1743. Published online 2020 Jun 10. doi: 10.3390/nu12061743

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