Vitamin D Supplement Guide
Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining balanced health. Alarmingly, an estimated 40 percent of US adults are deficient. Also, according to a study reported in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, more than 40 percent of children were reported to have insufficient Vitamin D levels. The first and best source of Vitamin D is the sun. However, many people are not spending enough time in the sun (especially in cold weather climates). For many people, Vitamin D supplements are necessary.
As stated by the Mayo Clinic:
“The major role of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which forms and maintains strong bones. It is used alone or together with calcium to improve bone health and decrease fractures. Vitamin D may also protect against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases.”
Researchers have also discovered that people with low levels of Vitamin D have a 53 percent increased risk of developing dementia, while those with a severe deficiency have a 125 percent increased risk. Also, people with lower levels of the sunshine vitamin were nearly 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Severely deficient people were more than 120 percent more likely to do so.
Types of Vitamin D
Vitamin D supplements can be found in two forms, D2 and D3. Plants are a natural source of vitamin D2. However, research has produced an abundant amount of evidence that vitamin D3 is absorbed and utilized substantially better than D2.
Vitamin D3 is a hormone produced by the body through sun exposure. Sun exposure is the best way to get Vitamin D as your body can self regulate and even reduce vitamin D production if you don’t need it. However, supplemental Vitamin D3 is chemically indistinguishable from the form of vitamin D produced in the body. In addition to an overwhelming higher absorption rate, Vitamin D3 is more sustainable in the body for prolonged periods of time. Therefore, Vitamin D3 is the superior form for supplementation.
Choosing the Right Vitamin D3 Supplement
Supplements of any kind must be carefully selected. Many are loaded with synthetic substances and fillers that are actually harmful to the body.
- Liquid drops: Is often the most simplified supplement form of V3. Vitamin D3 drops are offered in a wide range of strengths and can be ideal for any age. Some brands even offer drops specifically for babies. A nursing mother can easily apply a drop to her nipple before feeding.
- Capsules: can be useful for people on the go and pill box friendly. Gluten free capsules are also available. When choosing a capsule, look for non-GMO and without artificial ingredients. Also, look for third party testing for purity and potency.
- Gummies: Even gummies that claim to be “all natural” can still have questionable ingredients such as “natural flavors” and added sugars. They usually contain pectin and citric acid and some brands have artificial coloring.
- Powder form: may contain maltodextrin, which is an artificial sugar and often genetically modified. Powder D3 may also contain “modified starch”, a chemically processed food sourced from corn, potato, tapioca, rice or wheat and is also often genetically modified.
Recommended Intake Guidelines
Intake reference values for D3 have been developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies. Their recommendations by age per day is as follows:
- 0-12 months; 400 IU
- 1-13 years; 600 IU
- 14-18 years; 600 IU
- 19-50 years; 600 IU
- 51-70 years 600 IU
- > 70 years; 800 IU
These guidelines are very standard and not condition specific. The Mayo Clinic offers a much more comprehensive overview on recommended dosage according to specific needs.
- “Vitamin D.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
- Gordon, Catherine M., Henry A. Feldman, Linda Sinclair, Avery LeBoff Williams, Paul K. Kleinman, Jeannette Perez-Rossello, and Joanne E. Cox. “Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency Among Healthy Infants and Toddlers.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2008. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
- “Vitamin D and Health.” Harvard School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source, 26 May 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
- Oliveri, B., S. R. Mastaglia, G. M. Brito, M. Seijo, G. A. Keller, J. Somoza, R. A. Diez, and G. Di Girolamo. “Vitamin D3 Seems More Appropriate than D2 to Sustain Adequate Levels of 25OHD: A Pharmacokinetic Approach.” Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
- “Vitamin D: What’s the Latest?” Berkeley Wellness. Berkeley Wellness, 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
- Woodham, Chai. “Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?” U.S. News. U.S. News Wellness, 20 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
- Lehmann, U., F. Hirche, G. I. Stangl, K. Hinz, S. Westphal, and J. Dierkes. “Bioavailability of Vitamin D(2) and D(3) in Healthy Volunteers, a Randomized Placebo-controlled Trial.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
- “Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
Do you have a favorite brand of Vitamin D3? Tell us what it is and why you like it!