Vitamin D has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially up north where the sun is absent most of the time. It is one of the few vitamins we risk getting too little of and some groups may therefore need supplements. In this article, we go through everything you need to know about vitamin D.
What Is Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is available in two variants such as D2 and D3, and affects hundreds of genes in most of the body’s cells. It can be found in a few foods (especially fish), added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Our body also synthesizes it when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger synthesis.
In our body, it has several important functions; among other things, it has a clear interaction with calcium in the blood. Also, vitamin D helps to regulate the calcium balance and has an important role in the skeletal formation.
Our nervous system depends on vitamin D to function properly, and it also acts as a precursor to hormones. Besides this, many people experience a lack of energy and fatigue when levels become too low.
How Do We Get Vitamin D?
During the summer, our main source of vitamin D is sun exposure, where it is formed with the help of cholesterol. However, it is only between April and September that we have enough hours of sunshine for us to be able to get enough of the vitamin in the Nordic countries.
Dietary sources are mainly fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified milk and margarine products. People who do not eat these foods regularly may have extra difficulty getting sufficient amount without supplementation.
The National Food Administration (Svenska Livsmedelsverket) recommends a daily minimum intake of 10 mcg for adults to avoid deficiencies, which is equivalent to 400 IU. During the winter, it is recommended to eat extra vitamin D-rich foods and take a supplement.
Creation Through The Sun
Vitamin D is formed in the skin by conversion of cholesterol to vitamin D3 by the sun’s UVB rays. The sun emits both UVA and UVB, but the UVB spectrum only penetrates when the sun is standing high in the sky. In Sweden, this occurs between April and September and between 10-16 on the days. About 30 minutes in the sun will create the maximum possible amounts.
If you stay in the sun for a longer time, remember to protect yourself, to avoid other risk factors that UV radiation can cause.
Some Potential Benefits
We get a large majority from the sun’s rays that is stored in the body to suffice for the rest of the year. But is that enough? The answer is rarely enough because the number of hours of sunshine is meagre during the winter and the sun is also far away. Therefore you need to eat more food containing vitamin D or supplements. Below, we have listed four reasons why you might consider ramping up your intake a bit.
Vitamin D And The Immune System
Recently, vitamin D has been promoted as a nutrient for immune protection. Several studies have shown a link between normal high levels, and a lower frequency of disease states that are affected by the function of the immune system.
Vitamin D And Teeth
Vitamin D interacts with calcium in the body, as it regulates calcium levels, among other things. Calcium, in turn, helps to build and maintain a normal bone structure and normal teeth. If you strive to maintain a strong skeleton should eat not only calcium-rich dairy products but also be sure to get adequate amounts.
Vitamin D And The Muscle Function
Because it acts as a regulator of calcium balance, vitamin D also contributes to the normal functioning of neuromuscular functions. Calcium contributes to the muscles’ ability to contract, and too low levels can lead to the feeling of muscle weakness.
Vitamin D And Mood
Everyone reacts differently to a too low intake. Still, several studies have shown the connection between the levels of vitamin D and depression or bad mood. If you feel low or irritated, you can check if you have too low levels in your body.
What Happens If I Get Too Much?
Large amounts are toxic and can lead to excessive levels of calcium in the blood, calcium storage in the kidneys and kidney failure. Normally, you can not get dangerous amounts of vitamin D alone through food, but if you eat supplements that contain vitamin D, you can get too much.
According to the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is the highest level of the daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects to most people. For vitamin D, it is 100 micrograms (4000IE) per day for adults.
However, if you intend to use supplements, 10 micrograms (400 IE) per day will be enough for most people.
If You Intend To Use Supplements
As we mentioned above, it is normally not possible to get too much through diet or the sun. So if you intend to use supplements, there are a lot of good options on the market. But as we always recommend, use high-quality supplements you can trust.
Depending on your needs, there are several different options when it comes to potency, some delivering a staggering 5000 IE per dose. Using such strong supplements can have adverse effects, even if the UL is close to that amount.
We have tried using supplements in that potency range, and we ended up with some high release of calcium from the bones, which is a bad sign, which made us more cautious.
As we practice safe ways to use supplements, and since we are Scandinavian, we decided to include vitamin D in our Omega-3 supplement BrightSight, in a mere amount of 200 IE per dose. This way, getting too much is hard, really hard. Also, combining it with essential fatty acids, lutein, and astaxanthin which all is fat-soluble, you get higher bioavailability.
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Braingineers are Swedens and Europe’s number one nootropics provider. We develop innovative and effective, high-quality dietary supplements for cognitive health and visual performance.
We believe the body has an innate ability to regulate our functions that can be supported, restored, and optimized. Our products are designed to help the body regulate its biochemistry and achieve balance. Our goal is to support the integrity of the internal processes to make them more robust and better functioning over time, providing benefits even after discontinued use.