There are many vitamins that should be a part of your daily nutrition, there’s Vitamin B12, potassium, and of course Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a very important vitamin that promotes your overall health and plays a key role in overall bodily function. Vitamin D’s most notable role involves strengthening bones. Vitamin D is necessary as it allows calcium to be more readily absorbed within the body, leading to strong and healthy bones. Without Vitamin D, the body suffers and bones become soft and weak, leading to diseases like Rickets in children and Osteoporosis in adults.
Vitamin D deficiency is pretty common today but can be treated through an increase in dietary sources of Vitamin D or through supplementation. Deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, depression, heart disease, and obesity. Our bodies also make our own Vitamin D, but only as a result of exposure to the sun, which is why many who live in colder climates are Vitamin D deficient.
What Are The Different Types Of Vitamin D Supplements?
Supplemental Vitamin D comes in two forms: Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 typically comes from yeast or mushrooms whereas dietary Vitamin D3 comes from fish oil or lichen (vegan alternative).
Vitamin D3 is the type of Vitamin D that our skin makes upon exposure to the sun. Studies have shown though that Vitamin D3 raises blood levels of Vitamin D to a greater extent. Many researchers agree that Vitamin D2 is not sufficient, so when choosing a Vitamin D supplement, choose Vitamin D3 or a supplement that contains both, not just Vitamin D2.
Vitamin D Supplement Benefits
There are many benefits of Vitamin D as it’s a vitamin required by our bodies to function properly. The following are the benefits and associated functions of Vitamin D in the body:
- Supports bone health
- Allows for proper absorption of calcium in the body
- Prevents obesity
- Prevents various cancers
- Wards off Osteoporosis and Osteopenia
- Prevents heart disease
- Prevents Rickets
- Promotes the absorption of Phosphorus in the body
- Allows for proper neurological health and communication in the body
- Plays a role in lowering blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of falling in older populations
- Strengthens teeth
Should I Take Vitamin D Supplements?
Vitamin D supplementation has become more and more common over recent years as many individuals have found themselves to be Vitamin D deficient. The use of sunscreen and a lower intake of dairy products like milk has been linked to the rise in deficiency. However, even dietary sources of Vitamin D are not great in helping you reach the daily recommended intake of 600 IU for adults. Even strong Vitamin D sources like milk do not boast great IU amounts.
Supplementation is thus common as it helps adults reach that crucial 600 IU goal, especially adults over the age of 70 as 800 IU are required daily. Additionally, as we grow older, our ability to absorb Vitamin D is reduced. However, researchers have been debating its actual efficacy on the body as many studies have shown that it does not significantly aid in bone health or the prevention of diseases and cancers. If you do consider taking Vitamin D supplements, you should consult with your doctor first.
Do Vitamin D Supplements Work?
Although you may be Vitamin D deficient due to lower exposure to sun and a lack of dietary sources, that doesn’t mean you should run to buy supplements. Research has shown that although Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin for our overall health, it may not be helping your body as much as dietary and normal bodily reserves do. In addition, Vitamin D deficiencies often are not too serious of an issue, and just being outdoors gives you sufficient sun exposure (definitely do not forego sunscreen in order to boost Vitamin D levels though!)
However, if you’re looking to up your Vitamin D levels, you can include more Vitamin D-rich foods in your diet and include either a multivitamin that contains Vitamin D or a Vitamin D supplement alone.
The Best Vitamin D Supplements
NatureWise Vitamin D3
This supplement is one of the most highly rated Vitamin D supplements on the market. It contains 5000 IU of Vitamin D3, the more absorbable form of Vitamin D. It comes in soft gel form which some research shows is more readily absorbed within the body when compared to tablets. It is also dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, and soy-free.
Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3
This Vitamin D supplement contains just Vitamin D3 which we know is the most effective form in raising our blood levels of this vitamin. It contains 1000 IU of Vitamin D3 in the form of cholecalciferol, which is the natural more absorbable form of Vitamin D. This product is non-GMO and comes highly rated.
Solgar Vitamin D3
This supplement contains 1000 IU of Vitamin D3, the most absorbable form of Vitamin D. It comes in oil-based softgels to enhance absorption even further.
Alternatives To Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D supplements are very common on the market these days, but there are many dietary sources that can provide you with Vitamin D. The following are dietary sources of Vitamin D:
- Eggs (specifically the yolks)
- Fortified almond Milk
- Fortified soy milk
It’s important to note that because Vitamin D is fat-soluble, eating some of these sources alongside a healthy fat can enhance absorption and bioavailability. Another alternative to Vitamin D supplementation is sunshine. Stepping outside for 5-30 minutes twice a week can really boost Vitamin D levels. Remember though that sunscreen prevents skin cancer so if you are outside in the sun for a prolonged period of time, make sure to apply it!
Vitamin D And Your Overall Health
Vitamin D plays an instrumental role in our overall health. It helps keep our bones strong, prevents diseases and cancers, and supports our heart health. Although Vitamin D deficiency is common, rushing to the store to buy a Vitamin D supplement is not critical. Those who are older in age and infants are populations needing Vitamin D supplementation.
Most of the Vitamin D we get comes from exposure to the sun and through our diets. Getting more time in the sun (safely) and including more Vitamin D-rich foods in your diet can help raise your Vitamin D levels. If you are considering supplementing with Vitamin D, just make sure you’re getting a product that contains Vitamin D3, the more absorbable and bioavailable form of Vitamin D.