Should You Be Taking Vitamin D?
The use of supplements can be a thorny issue when it comes to modern-day healthcare. We’re bombarded with ads everywhere telling us how they can benefit our health and wellbeing.
Most conservatively minded physicians, however, believe that people who eat a well-balanced diet are likely to get all the right nutrients that they need. In most cases, this is true.
Supplements for vitamin D are slightly different in that this important element is not found in high quantities in the food that we eat. We get most of our vitamin D from direct sunlight but with modern lifestyles, many of us may not be getting enough.
Here we look at whether supplementing with vitamin D is a good idea and how this can benefit the individual if they are currently deficient.
What Is Vitamin D?
Often called the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, most people are aware that it plays a vital role in maintaining strong bones and managing calcium levels in the body but there’s more to vitamin D than this.
Calcium is often associated with our bones but it is one of the most beneficial elements in our bodies. It helps maintain a healthy heart, muscles and nervous system.
The problem is that our bodies do not produce calcium naturally and we have to get all of it from our nutrition – things like milk, dairy products and leafy greens. To metabolise calcium and get the benefits, an essential component is vitamin D. Without it, no matter how much calcium rich your diet, it won’t be absorbed and taken up into the cells.
We get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight acting directly on the skin. There are some dietary sources, including some fish and egg yolks but these are relatively small.
Vitamin D and Our Health
In recent years, it’s become apparent that the role of vitamin D is more complicated than first thought and deficiency can have a significant impact on the individual’s overall health and wellbeing.
Research has shown, for example, that low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of developing respiratory infections because of viruses and bacteria. This is one reason why its use was recommended by many online and in the media for helping to protect against the Covid-19 virus.
Different ethnicities also produce varying levels of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Those with darker skin tend to produce much less. They also tend to be more insulin resistant and this combined with low vitamin D could also make them more susceptible to a virus such as Covid.
For a long time, vitamin D has been one of the least understood supplements that are available to buy over the counter.
- A study in 2006 suggested that higher levels of Vitamin D may well reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
- Another found that it may have a role to play in reducing the development of heart disease.
There may also be a role for vitamin D supplementation for those who suffer from depression. A double-blind trial study in 2008 found that those who took additional vitamin D said their symptoms improved afterwards.
Are We Vitamin D Deficient?
According to some recent research, vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem. With many of us working indoors and spending less time outside, we’re not being exposed to the levels of sunlight that we require to stay healthy.
Furthermore, there’s evidence that low levels of vitamin D can also lead to health problems such as diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and may even play a role in the future development of Alzheimer’s disease.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?
Supplements are widely available nowadays and it’s easy to get hold of them. It is important, however, to consult your physician beforehand, especially if you have an existing health issue. The medical team at Miskawaan Health Group can carry out a test to find out if you have vitamin D deficiency and help decide whether supplementation is appropriate.
In some cases, simply getting out in the sunshine for 15 to 20 minutes a day can help boost levels.
It’s also important to not overdose on vitamin D as this can have quite severe health consequences. The level should not exceed 100 ng/ml.
Too much calcium can cause issues like hypercalcemia with symptoms such as digestive distress and vomiting, fatigue and dizziness, and even serious kidney disease. For this reason, it’s critical to work with a physician to determine the correct level of supplementation that is required.
Talk to the medical team at Miskawaan Health Group to ensure the optimal vitamin D level for you.
The content above is based on the information featured in the article linked below.
The author of the article is Dr Ross Walker, one of Australia’s most esteemed cardiologists and a member of the Miskawaan Medical Advisory board.