How increasing your Vitamin D can improve your life

Are you struggling with low energy, getting sick often, or feeling down? You might be surprised to learn that the sunshine vitamin—vitamin D—could be the missing piece in your health puzzle. 

Recent research suggests a staggering number of individuals are deficient in this crucial nutrient, with profound implications for overall health.

But what exactly does it do, and why is it so important? Let’s explore the vital roles of vitamin D, understand who might need supplements, identify those at risk of deficiency, and discuss how to obtain the correct dose for your health needs.

What does vitamin D do?

Vitamin D is essential for the body as it does more than just aid calcium absorption for strong bones and teeth. It plays a vital role in muscle movement, nerve communication, and immune system function [1]. 

According to Mavar et al. (2024), vitamin D influences about 900 different genes involved in crucial biological pathways, including functions related to cell growth, inflammation, and glucose metabolism​ [2].

Does everybody need vitamin D supplements?

While our bodies can produce vitamin D naturally when exposed to sunlight, lifestyle, and environmental factors often prevent adequate production. 

Not everyone requires vitamin D supplements, but certain groups may benefit due to limited sun exposure or dietary intake.

Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency has been labeled a global pandemic, affecting approximately 50% of the worldwide population [2].

This widespread health concern transcends geographic and demographic boundaries, impacting individuals of all ages and ethnicities.

Certain groups are particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency due to various factors:

  • Geographic location – Individuals living in northern latitudes where sunlight is scarce, especially during the winter months, face a higher risk of deficiency.
  • Sunscreen and sun exposure – Regular use of sunscreen and limited exposure to sunlight, whether from spending extensive time indoors or covering up for cultural reasons, can significantly reduce vitamin D synthesis in the skin.
  • Age – Older adults have reduced skin capacity to produce vitamin D from sunlight and often spend less time outdoors. They are also more likely to suffer from impaired vitamin D absorption.
  • Skin color – People with darker skin have higher levels of melanin, which reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight [3].
  • Dietary habits – Those who follow a strict vegan diet may be at risk as they avoid the principal natural sources of vitamin D—primarily found in animal-based foods.
  • Medical conditions – Individuals with health issues that affect fat absorption, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and other forms of malabsorption, are at increased risk because vitamin D requires fat for absorption.
  • Obesity – People with obesity often have a lower bioavailability of vitamin D, as it is sequestered by body fat, leading to lower circulation levels in the blood.

This deficiency not only spans various risk groups but also has profound implications for overall health, contributing to bone disorders, muscle weakness, and an increased risk of chronic diseases. 

Therefore, identifying those at risk and addressing vitamin D deficiency is crucial for global health initiatives.

Is taking higher doses of vitamin D helpful?

While taking high doses of vitamin D to ensure adequacy might seem logical, more isn’t always better. 

The study highlights that excessive intake of vitamin D can lead to toxicity, with symptoms such as bone pain and kidney problems due to elevated calcium levels [2]​​. Therefore, it’s crucial to balance supplementation carefully.

How to get the right dose of vitamin D

Getting the right dose of vitamin D involves several considerations:

  1. Sunlight exposure. For most people, daily sun exposure on bare skin for 5-30 minutes can suffice, depending on the time of day, skin color, and geographic location.
  2. Dietary sources. Incorporate foods rich in vitamin D, such as fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, fortified foods, and dairy products, to help boost vitamin D levels. The study notes the importance of including these foods in your diet to naturally improve your vitamin D status [2]​​.
  3. Supplementation. Supplements can effectively maintain adequate vitamin D levels for those unable to meet their needs through sun exposure and diet. Most adults’ recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 600-800 IU daily [4], but this can vary based on individual health conditions, age, and specific needs.
  4. Monitor and adjust. Monitoring your vitamin D levels through blood tests and adjusting your intake based on medical advice is advisable. Tailoring your dose to your specific needs can help maximize health benefits without risking toxicity.

Vitamin D is a critical nutrient that supports various bodily functions, from bone health to immune function. 

Recognizing whether you need a supplement, understanding the risk factors for deficiency, and knowing how to obtain your optimal dose safely are key steps in managing your health. 

Always consult a healthcare provider to tailor the right approach to your needs, ensuring you achieve the best possible outcomes with vitamin D supplementation.

[1] https://longevity.technology/lifestyle/7-effects-of-vitamin-d-when-you-take-it-everyday/ 
[2] https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/16/8/1176
[3] https://longevity.technology/lifestyle/vitamin-d-deficiency-signs-causes-treatment/
[4] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

Photograph: furmanphoto/Envato
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.