Vitamin D has several important functions. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases. It helps fight depression and boosts weight loss.
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. That is why Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” it’s produced in your skin when exposed to sunlight.
You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to provide adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.
Vitamin D differs depending on their food sources. Vitamin D3 is only found in animal-sourced foods, whereas D2 mainly comes from plant sources and fortified foods. Since vitamin D2 is cheaper to produce, it’s the most common form in foods.
Many factors can affect your ability to get enough vitamin D. These factors also contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people. That’s why it’s important to get vitamin D from sources other than sunlight.
The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults include:
Tiredness, aches, pains, and not feeling well but can’t explain why or weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a chair.
Doctors can diagnose a vitamin D deficiency with a simple blood test. If you have a deficiency, your doctor may order X-rays to check the strength of your bones.
If you’re diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, your doctor will likely recommend you take daily vitamin D supplements. You should also make sure to get vitamin D through sunlight and the foods you eat. If you have a severe deficiency, they may instead recommend vitamin D tablets or liquids.
Vitamin D Food sources
Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Because of this, some foods are fortified. This means that vitamin D has been added. Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- egg yolk
- milk (fortified)
- cereal (fortified)
- yogurt (fortified)
- orange juice (fortified)
It can be hard to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food alone, so taking vitamin D supplements can help.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
There has been some discussion over the amount of vitamin D needed to be healthy. Recent research indicates that you need more vitamin D than was once thought. Normal blood levels range from 50 to 100 micrograms per deciliter. Depending on your blood level, you may need more or less vitamin D.
IUs are a standard type of measurement for drugs and vitamins. IUs help experts determine recommended dose, toxicity, and deficiency levels for each person.
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 D 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
Vitamin D is extremely important for your overall health. Even if you follow a healthy diet, you may require more supplements to achieve optimal levels.
However, it’s also possible to have too much of a good thing.
Make sure to avoid excessive doses of vitamin D. Generally, 4,000 IU or less per day is considered safe, as long as your blood values are being monitored.
People respond very differently to high doses of vitamin D. Therefore, it is hard to evaluate which doses are safe and which are not.
Vitamin D toxicity can have devastating health effects, which may not show up until months or even years after starting to take high doses.
Generally, it is not recommended to exceed the upper limit of safe intake, which is 4000 IU (100 micrograms) per day.
Larger doses have not been linked with any additional health benefits and maybe unnecessary..
As with many other things in nutrition, more does not always equal better.
Make sure to purchase supplements from reputable manufacturers to reduce the risk of accidental overdose due to improper labeling.
If you’ve been taking vitamin D supplements and are experiencing any symptoms, consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible.