40 Facts about Vitamin D

This article has been researched and written by Allbeing's in-house writers.

Almost 50% of people reading this article might have a degree of Vitamin D deficiency.

No matter where you are from, every second person has some degree of Vitamin D deficiency. In fact, it is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world today and an estimated 30% to 50% of the world’s adult population don’t get enough vitamin D.

Here's everything you need to know! Scroll down to get the lowdown on Vitamin D3.

1. Vitamin D3 is an Ancient Molecule

Vitamin D3 is an ancient hormonal molecule produced by plants and animals from the time life began; it is photosynthesized in all forms of life, starting from the phytoplankton (~750 million years ago) to mammals and humans. It might also be one of the first natural antioxidant pro-hormones from non-plant-derived foods.

2. Vitamin D3 is a Pro-survival Molecule

Vitamin D3 helps cells maintaining their energetic and survival homeostasis via changing the stress and damage response, which is primarily ruled by the immune system.

Vitamin D also augments a body's ability to clear of disturbing and stressful agents as well as to elicit a fundamentally tolerogenic and anti-inflammatory response.

3. It's More Hormone Than Vitamin

Vitamin D is produced in our skin when exposed to the sun, so, when you look at the chemical structure of vitamin D, it looks more like a hormone than a vitamin.

It acts more like a hormone than a vitamin too, having a variety of effects in the body. Because of this, if it were discovered today, I'd bet it would be called hormone D.

4. Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is also known as the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’ as it is produced naturally in the skin when exposed to sunlight. When the skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes a steroid hormone "vitamin D" from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D fusion to occur.

5. Every Human Cell Has Vitamin D Receptors

Most people are not aware of the fact that nearly every tissue and cell type in your body has receptors for vitamin D, thereby increasing the amounts needed for optimal health.

Vitamin D is different from other vitamins as it influences the entire body. Receptors that respond to the vitamin have been found in almost every type of human cell, from the brain to bones.

6. Deficiency is Higher with Darker Skin Tones

Vitamin D synthesis is highly dependent on the concentration of melanin in the skin. Due to a higher melanin pigment in their skin, people with dark-skin will experience slower vitamin D synthesis than light-skinned ones. Dark-skinned people do not absorb Vitamin D from the sun efficiently.

A combination of research in the U.S. from 1988 to 2004 indicated that “Nearly all non-Hispanic blacks (97%) and most Mexican-Americans (90%) now have vitamin D insufficiency.”

42% Americans have vitamin D deficiency.

82.1% of African Americans have vitamin D Deficiency.

69.2% Hispanic Americans have vitamin D Deficiency.

7. Air Pollution Leads to Vitamin D Deficiency

The majority of the population spends time indoors away from sun exposure due to worsening air pollution, the less time outdoors results in lower Vitamin D levels thus causing vitamin D deficiency.

Being in an area with high pollution can also affect the ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through the sun alone, as pollution attenuates the amount of UVB getting to the skin.

8. Elderly People Need More D

People are required to consume more dietary Vitamin D with age due to several reasons.

Our skin becomes thinner as we grow older which makes it difficult to produce vitamin D3 when exposed to sunlight.

Also, elderly often spend more time staying indoors and thus are less exposed to direct sunlight which is then best way to naturally boost vitamin D levels.

9. Can't Get it by Sitting Next to a Sunny Window

Vitamin D is produced in the skin when it is hit by UVB rays, which are nearly all blocked by the glass in the windows. Thus, one can't reap the sun's main health benefit while staying inside.

On the other hand harmful UVA passes through the glass penetrating the skin more deeply causing wrinkles, skin cancer, and photoaging. Indoor workers sitting next to glass windows with constant exposure to the sun have a higher chance of melanoma because of the constant exposure to UVA light. So, please watch out!

10. Using Sunscreen is Okay

We need at a bare minimum, twenty minutes of sunshine exposure every day for the body to produce vitamin D. Sunscreen prevents sunburn by blocking UVB light. That means sunscreen use also lowers vitamin D levels.

But, very few people put on enough sunscreen to block all UVB light so sunscreen's effects on vitamin D might not be that important. An Australian study showed no difference in vitamin D between adults randomly assigned to use sunscreen one summer and those assigned a placebo cream.

11. Others Who are at Risk of Vitamin D-ficiency

  • Breastfed infants
  • People who have had bariatric surgery (such as gastric bypass surgery)
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • Those who live in northern latitude

12. Is Muscular Pain Related to Vitamin D Deficiency?

There is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency may be a potential cause of muscle pain in children and adults.

In one study, 71% of people with chronic pain were found to be deficient.

The vitamin D receptor is present in nerve cells called nociceptors, which sense pain. Thus, it is possible that vitamin deficiency causes the pains or at least making it worse.

13. Extreme Fatigue from D-ficiency

Tiredness or low energy often referred to as fatigue, is a common complaint in the general population and one of the leading reasons for consulting primary health care services. A lack of vitamin D can result in a loss of energy and a general state of weariness, as well as aches and pains.

14. Role of Vitamin D in Hair Disorders

Studies have shown that an insufficient amount of vitamin D in the body may cause hair fall. Vitamin D plays an essential role in hair cycling by stimulating new and old hair follicles. One won't be having new hair grown if there isn’t an appropriate amount of vitamin D present in the body.

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an autoimmune condition called alopecia, which causes bald patches on the scalp and other areas of the body. Both men and women can experience this disorder.

15. More Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Most individuals might not experience any symptoms. Although, if one has issues such as bone pain and muscle weakness, you must undergo a test to check for Vitamin D deficiency. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:

  1. Mood changes
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Bone and back pain
  4. Impaired wound healing
  5. Unexplained infertility
  6. Thinning or brittle bone

16. Ease the Normal Functioning of the Immune System

Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in immune function, and a deficiency of it is shown to increase your susceptibility to infection.

One of the main functions of vitamin D is to help activate T cells, aka the "killer cells" in the body. T cells detect and destroy foreign pathogens, like viruses, thereby making vitamin D, a quintessential part of maintaining a functioning immune system, that's capable of fighting back foreign pathogens.

17. Combating the Disease with Vitamin D

Apart from primary benefits, studies suggest that vitamin D may also help in:

18. Vitamin D May Help in Reducing Depression

Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder during winters also known as 'winter blues' due to reduced sunlight, which also leads to a decrease in vitamin D production. Studies have shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. Exercising outdoors in the sunshine, eating foods rich in vitamin D, and/or taking dietary supplements to improve vitamin D deficiency could improve one’s mental well being. It would be a simple and cost-effective solution for many who are at risk for depression and possibly other mental disorders.

19. Vitamin D Boosts Weight-loss

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, sometimes acclaimed as a natural weight loss aid when taken in dietary supplement form. One might consider adding vitamin D supplements to his/her diet if trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease.

Apart from directly reducing the formation of new fat cells and preventing fat accumulation, sufficient vitamin D levels can boost production of serotonin (the happiness hormone). This can play a crucial role in curbing your appetite and lowering your calorie intake.

20. Vitamin D and its Relationship to Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women( excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). Previous research has suggested that vitamin D may have a positive effect in anticancer therapy, and a new study correlates breast cancer survival rates with levels of vitamin D.

According to a study published in the American Association for Cancer Research, when the Vitamin D level in the blood was doubled to 50 ng/ml, there was an 83% reduction in Breast Cancer!

21. Vitamin D and Heart Failure

There is some evidence that activated vitamin D can protect against heart failure. The treatment prevented heart muscle cells from over-stimulation and increased contractions associated with the progression of heart failure.

In another study, people who were randomised to receive a daily dose of high dose vitamin D showed encouraging improvement in measures of left ventricle functions.

22. Keeping your Bone Health in Check

Strong bones are a result of sufficient Vitamin D intake as it helps in regulating and controlling the body’s ability to absorb phosphorus and calcium. Vitamin D aids in keeping your bones strong and your muscles nourished.

Additionally, it may help with muscle and bone aches, which is likely to happen when it comes to exercising or any other kind of movement.

23. Managing the Insulin Levels

In type 2 Diabetes, there is the destruction of pancreatic beta cells due to the inflammation reaction of the immune system.

Vitamin D is aids in stopping the inflammation reaction and the destruction of beta cells. Vitamin D3 stimulates the pancreas and triggers the process of making insulin. It is key to manage blood sugar levels more effectively and can help diabetics better control the disease.

24. Maintaining the Blood Pressure with Vitamin D

There is a noticeable connection between vitamin D and blood pressure. Those with high blood pressure experienced a drop in numbers when vitamin D levels were increased.

Individuals with high blood pressure, or hypertension, are recommended to take a natural and active supplement in the form of vitamin D3, also called cholecalciferol. People with high vitamin D levels often have lower blood pressure and are also less likely to develop high blood pressure.

25. Possible Cancer Prevention

A balanced level of vitamin D is favorable both in cancer prevention and in the prognosis of several cancers. The anti-cancer effects of vitamin D are especially pronounced in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer and blood cancers.

Some evidence supports the idea that increased vitamin D3 can help slow the progression of prostate tumors.

There is a 50% lower risk of colorectal cancer if you have higher blood levels of Vitamin D, that is, over 33 ng/ml or 82.4 nmol/l.

26. Stronger Bones with Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for maintaining bone health as it helps the absorption of calcium which builds stronger bones. Calcium is the main building block of bone and maintains bone strength and density, but it would be unable to do so without the presence of enough vitamin D.

Without enough vitamin D, one can’t form enough of the hormone calcitriol (known as the “active vitamin D”). This leads to insufficient calcium absorption from the diet. In this case, the body extracts calcium from its stores in the skeleton, thus weakens existing bone and hinders the formation of strong, new bone.

27. At Home Self-test for Vitamin D Deficiency

Knowing your vitamin D levels based is one of the most important health investments you can make.

Here’s how:

Press your thumb into your sternum. (That’s your breastbone) > Press there with your thumb with moderate pressure > If you experience discomfort when you push with a moderate amount of force, you may have a vitamin D deficiency, and you might want to get checked.

28. Tips on Receiving Vit-D Naturally from Sun

Midday, especially during summer, is the best time to get vitamin D, as the sun is at its highest point and its UVB rays are most intense. Our body might produce it most efficiently during that time of day.

The more your skin is exposed, the more Vitamin D you make. So, think hands, legs, back.

Make sure to spend at least 15 minutes if you have light skin and a couple of hours if you have darker skin.

29. Avoid Getting Sunburned!

UVA rays “age” and causes wrinkles (A for aging) while UVB rays cause sunburn (B for burn). Vitamin D is only made from UVB rays. Although sunlight is vital for producing vitamin D in the body, too much sunlight can be dangerous. Some consequences of too much sunlight include sunburn, eye damage, skin aging, and other skin changes, heatstroke, and skin cancer.

It’s recommended to apply sunscreen after 10–30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to avoid the harmful consequences of excess sunlight.

30. Better Absorbed with Meals

Now we are aware that Vitamin D is fat-soluble, and that it does not dissolve in water rather is absorbed best in the bloodstream when consumed with high-fat foods.

Very few foods contain significant amounts of vitamin D, so people can ensure they get enough of the Vitamin by scheduling regular time outdoors.

Some vitamin D rich foods are Eggs, sardines, and salmon. Also, manufacturers fortify most milk and some brands of yogurt and breakfast cereals with the vitamin. Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.

32. I Take Multivitamins, Do I Need Any More of Vitamin D?

Many multivitamins contain low levels of vitamin D compared to what is required to reach an optimum level. So, you might want to check on the amount of Vitamin D your multivitamin has. Also, most multivitamins do not use quality ingredients so you may not even be absorbing it or it may not be bioavailable for use.

33. What to Look for in a Supplement?

Choose a high-quality supplement always. Low quality supplements are a general waste of money. Look for Vitamin D3 as against Vitamin D2 and the amount of Vitamin D3 in the supplement.

A high-quality supplement will provide full transparency on sourcing and quality of its ingredients. A branded ingredient can ensure potency, purity, performance and stability as the brand takes responsibility and is proud to have its name on the packaging. Branded ingredients also have absorption and bioavailability studies, so you know the product will be utilised by the body. You may pay higher but it will have evidence of absorption, bioavailability and efficacy. With cheaper supplements, it will be mostly money down the drain.

34. All Vitamin D3 Supplements are NOT Vegan!

It is important to be aware that some types of Vitamin D are not vegan-friendly. Almost all vitamin D3 supplements are made from Cholecalciferol derived from Lanolin, which is extracted from sheep’s wool. Allbeing's formulation has Vitamin D3 coming from lichen from a reputed international brand. A lichen is a composite organism made up of synergy among different organisms like fungus and a cyanobacterium or algae.

35. How to use Vitamin D3?

Here are some tips to intake the supplements via the gut and to make it work as well as possible:

  • Take vitamin D3, not D2.
  • Always take vitamin D with food, the more of it and the fattier the better. As a general rule, take it with the biggest meal of the day.
  • It doesn’t matter if you evenly distribute doses. One big dose per day is fine.

36. Dosage: How Much Should You Take?

  • 1 year Old's: 400 IU
  • Children and teens: 600 IU
  • Adults up to age 70: 600 IU
  • Adults over age 70: 800 IU
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women: 600 IU

IUs help experts determine the recommended dose, toxicity, and deficiency levels for each person. Above are broad guidelines. You might want to check your country-specific dietary guidelines.

37. Why it is Measured in IU?

IUs are a standard type of measurement for drugs and vitamins therefore; sometimes vitamin D is expressed as International Units (IU).

For Example, 1 microgram of vitamin D is equal to 40 IU. So 10 micrograms of vitamin D is equal to 400 IU. A microgram is 1,000 times smaller than a milligram (mg). The word microgram is sometimes written with the Greek symbol μ followed by the letter g (μg). So 40 IU is the same as 10 micrograms which sometimes is written as 10 μg. It can be written as 0.01 Milligram or 0.01 mg.

38. How Much is Too Much Vitamin D?

It is possible to consume too much vitamin D but toxicity is very rare. At normal doses, it usually has no side effects. Other vague signs of vitamin D overdose include constipation, increased thirst, confusion, depression.

Although, getting too much from the sunshine exposure is impossible but even if one consumes it via supplements above the safe upper limit of 4,000 IU would lead to no extra benefit.

39. Vitamin D3 is Superior to Vitamin D2

The consensus is that D3 is two to three times as potent in raising the level of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (that’s the chemical name for Vitamin D3). Vitamin D2 is also cheaper to produce, so when you see certain foods fortified with vitamin D, such as cereals or orange juice, it’s almost always done so with vitamin D2. However, it is regarded as a lower quality source of vitamin D.

40. If You Have Any Unusual Effects, Contact Your Doctor Promptly.

If your doctor has directed you to take the Vitamin D supplements, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Have suggestions? Write to us at care@allbeing.co

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