Vitamin D – an Important Daily Vitamin

Hands and Sunset

I’ve felt for quite some time that vitamin D — and D3 in particular — should be an important component of a healthy individual’s daily vitamin intake, often in the form of supplementation.

As we learn more and more about the promising role of vitamin D, additional patients with D deficiencies are being identified. Unfortunately, vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods, so most of our vitamin D is produced in our bodies by the action of sunlight on the skin.

Aging decreases our synthesis of vitamin D
Most vitamin D is produced in our bodies when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. As humans age, however, we often lose the ability to manufacture adequate amounts of vitamin D.  Research indicates that vitamin D is important not only for proper absorption of calcium and the maintenance of bone health, but also for maintaining healthy joints, a healthy cardiovascular system and healthy moods. In addition, vitamin D plays an important role in regulating cell division and differentiation and supports immune system function through its effects on macrophages, natural killer cells (NK), and T cells. Scientific data indicate that vitamin D also has a role in helping to maintain breast, prostate, colon, and kidney health. In other words, its impact in our bodies is far-reaching.

Vitamin D3 more effective than D2
A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition* further supports my evidence-based belief that vitamin D3 is more effective than D2 (it can raise blood levels of vitamin D up to 70% better than D2). AJCN’s first-ever systematic review and meta-analysis comparing the effectiveness of the vitamin D forms supports the findings of many other researchers and studies.  (Note: vitamin D is found in two forms D3 or Cholecalciferol and D2, or Ergocalciferol. In contrast to Cholecalciferol, Ergocalciferol is not natural; it is a byproduct of irradiated fungi).

Check your vitamin D level
Ask your doctor to do a simple blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] that will provide the best measure of your vitamin D status. A 25(OH)D level of 40-50 ng/ml is currently thought to be optimal. If necessary, supplement with a daily multivitamin with adequate levels of vitamin D3 and then additional vitamin D3 as needed. A general rule of thumb is that your vitamin D level will rise 10 points for every 1,000 IU D3 taken daily.

Read that label
Look for the terms vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol on supplement labels. The D2 form of the vitamin (ergocalciferol) though widely used in fortification and supplements, is less potent and artificially derived.

Source:
*Study: “Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis1–3” — Laura Tripkovic, Helen Lambert, Kathryn Hart, Colin P Smith, Giselda Bucca, Simon Penson, Gemma Chope, Elina Hyppo ̈nen, Jacqueline Berry, Reinhold Vieth, and Susan Lanham-New

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