I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. Full Disclosure
There are many vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. No nutrient is necessarily better then the other. However, it is important to know the different vitamins and understand why we need them. Today we will be looking at Vitamin D.
Vitamin D also known as the Sunshine Vitamin is becoming a rather popular vitamin lately and with good reason too! Did you know that anywhere from 50-85% of people are deficient in vitamin D?
Why are we all so defiant in this vitamin? What is so great about vitamin D? What can happen if we are deficient? With so many people needing vitamin D, I though it was high time this blog looked into the why’s and how’s of this vitamin.
What is Vitamin D and Why Do We Need It?
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin at all but rather a fat soluble hormone. There are two main types of Vitamin D: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
Vitamin D3 is the preferred form as it is the one that your body actually makes and is the one that is most easily absorbed. Vitamin D2 is not easily absorbed however; it is the most common form to be added to milk and other fortified foods, as it is cheaper.
The only reason for someone to prefer D2 to D3 is because D2 is vegan whereas D3 is an animal product (usually wool).
Why do we need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is generally noted for it’s benefit in bone health and in keeping us from becoming sick due to it increasing our immunity. What you may not know is that Vitamin D is important for many other reasons.
Vitamin D deficiency can result in (or exasperate):
Sensitivity to low-level radiation
Increases diabetes risk
How do we get Vitamin D?
The sun is the best source of vitamin D and is how the body natural synthesizes vitamin D. It is actually possible to make about 10,000 IU of vitamin D from the sun in only 20 minutes, if you are fair skinned and out in full sun. However, it is hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun now.
There are a few things that make the sun a hard source of vitamin D:
1) Living in northern climates where direct sunlight is hard to come by for parts of the year
2) Having darker skin – melanin makes it harder to synthesis vitamin D
3) Age, as the older you get the harder it is to make vitamin D
4) Sunscreen – wearing sunscreen completely blocks your body’s ability to make vitamin D.
You can also get Vitamin D from food sources. One of the most popular food sources is cod liver oil. While it is certainty not the most tasty form to get vitamin D from, it does give you quite a bit and it also gives you vitamin A which helps absorption. Other food sources are fish, milk and eggs.
Many people however, decide to make things certain and get their vitamin D from a supplement. Naturally the sun and food sources are the preferred method of vitamin D but when it isn’t the easiest way then supplementing is perfectly all right.
However, you should choose a supplement that includes oil because vitamin D is fat-soluble. This means that dry vitamin D tablets are not the best option. It is also important to choose a vitamin D3 supplement, as D3 is the form that is recognized by your body and better absorbed. We like to use Carlson’s Vitamin D3 Drops.
How much Vitamin D should you take?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) revised it’s recommendations for vitamin D in 2010 and now suggests 400 IU for infants 0-12 months, 600 IU for people 1 – 69 years, and 800 IU for those over 70.
Many doctors however feel that this amount is still much too low and many recommend 1000-2000 IU per day with 4,000-6,000 IU for pregnant or nursing mothers.
Thank you for this post! I was actually going to write one myself but will just send everyone over here instead. Despite the fact that I take 2 tablespoons of fermented CLO per day, eat a minimum of one dozen eggs per week, and get as much sun as I can, my D levels are dangerously low. A lot of people do not realize HOW to get D! Great post!
My doctor recently tested my vitamin D levels and then sent me a letter saying they were low and I should take 4000IU a day…I thought that seemed a bit high, but sounds like maybe not. Anyway, thanks for the info!
I've had very low Vitamin D levels for several years, and I have to take at least 4,000 IU/day to get relief of my symptoms (depression, fatigue, brain fog). Even 2,000 IU wasn't enough! Still wondering why my body can't seem to grab hold of the D and keep it there… whenever I stop the supplements, my levels go right back down. I've done a lot of reading about D, and still didn't realize that it is in fact a hormone. That explains a lot! Thanks for your post 🙂
Lisa – this is just me voicing my random thoughts but since vitamin d needs fat to absorb..perhaps you just need to eat more fat? I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why people need to take tons of vitamin d just to get their levels normal but the fat one was one that I just thought of… Of course, I'm curious if the recommendation is still way too low. I mean if the sun gives us 10,000 IU's just in 20 minutes then perhaps we need closer to that number during the winter months… Again just my rambling thoughts. 🙂
Supplements are the best way to cover vitamin D deficiency. But if anyone want it to produce naturally then sunlight is the best source to get vitamin D for your body. But keep in mind that sitting for long time in sunlight may cause the diseases. So 2 hours will be more then enough, if you want to sit in sunlight to cover the deficiency.
I recently tested for very low Vitamin D levels, I was shocked because it was August and I thought I spent a lot of time outside. I'm very careful about using sunscreen on my face though, because my mother had skin cancer. My Doctor started me with 10,000 IU pills once a week, and now I take 1000 IU/day. I bought pills, and I just checked the label against the 2 kinds you list and I see that it is D3.
I have definitely noticed that I'm not as brain fogged, and I've been doing a better job of fighting off colds since I've been taking it, so maybe I'm noticing a difference and didn't even realize it.
i had mine tested and the doctor recommended extra vitamin D. she also indicated this could impact the ability to lose weight.