The Covid pandemic caused millions of deaths as well as major economic problems for people around the world. But something that emerged from this global pandemic was the recognition of the importance of vitamin D. So what is this vitamin and what are the benefits of taking a daily supplement?
What is Vitamin D?
When talking about vitamin D, we include Vitamin D1, D2, and D3, which are known as the ‘sunshine vitamins’. The reason for this moniker is the fact that humans naturally produce vitamin D when they are exposed to sunshine. Vitamin D can also be found in food such as egg yolks, red meat, liver, oily and fish, and other fortified foods like milk, orange juice, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. But vitamin D can also be taken as a daily supplement and many people are now advocating for this, particularly because of its benefits.
What are the Benefits of Taking Vitamin D?
The main function of vitamin D is to regulate the body’s absorption of phosphorus and calcium. It also helps in the maintenance of a normal immune system. Vitamin D is vital for bone and teeth development, with a deficiency in vitamin D leading to conditions such as rickets (bone deformities) and osteomalacia (bone pain). Rickets typically affect children while osteomalacia is mainly associated with adults.
Other benefits of vitamin D include:
Helps to fight disease
Studies suggest that people with lower levels of vitamin D have an increased risk of developing illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, hypertension, stroke, and heart failure. There are also ongoing studies into the possibility that low levels of vitamin D could have caused the COVID-19 infection to be more severe in some people.
Can Improve Mood
There is evidence to suggest that vitamin D can help those struggling with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety as it may help to regulate the mood and improve symptoms.
Improves Brain Function
Vitamin D is said to reduce inflammation and protect neurons while improving brain function and increasing alertness. Those with adequate levels of vitamin D will have quicker response times and will be more mentally alert.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Have?
The amount of vitamin D a person requires is a subject that is ongoing, particularly with recent studies showing that high levels can help to prevent severe respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19. The daily recommendation for vitamin D supplementation is between 400IU for infants up to 12 months to 800IU for adults over the age of 70. However, some experts believe much higher doses (between 4,000IU and 10,000IU) are beneficial for our health and wellbeing.
Can You Have Too Much Vitamin D?
If you take too much vitamin D over a prolonged period, you could end up with a condition known as hypercalcemia, which is when there is too much calcium in the body. This condition can cause weak bones and result in damage to the heart and kidney.
How to Find Out If You Need a Vitamin D Supplement?
If you are worried that you do not have enough vitamin D, you can ask your health provider to run a blood test to check. This routine test should be covered by your insurance plan. Find-A-Code (visit their website here) recommends using diagnostic code and NPI lookup to find out for sure.
It can be difficult to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through food alone, and if you have dark skin, you may also find it difficult to get the required amounts from the sun. Taking a daily supplement may therefore be necessary.