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Video: Vitamin D Supplementation - All You Need To Know About It
Discovered in the early 20th century, vitamin D (also known as calciferol or the sunshine vitamin) is crucial for bone health and plays a major role in the metabolism of calcium in the body. Both a vitamin and a prohormone, calciferol is involved in cell differentiation, DNA repair and insulin secretion. It is also a real asset against acute viral infections. What is more, some experts are touting the merits of it for preventing the coronavirus. Unfortunately, few foods provide an appreciable amount of the anti-rickety vitamin. In this case, specialists recommend daily vitamin D supplementation, especially for the elderly. Let's see!
Vitamin D supplementation: why, for whom and how?
As already mentioned, vitamin D is a prohormone and a fat soluble vitamin that exists in two forms in your body: D2 of plant origin (ergocalciferol) and D3 of animal origin (cholecalciferol). After the transformation it undergoes in the body, the only active form of vitamin D remains calcitriol. But why exactly do we need vitamin D supplementation? Here are some of its miraculous benefits for your health:
- promotes healthy bones and teeth
- prevents and reduces the risk of osteoporosis
- limit fractures in the event of a fall
- prevents certain viral infections, especially respiratory infections
- prevents vitamin D deficiency and bone disorders
- has a beneficial effect on certain cancers, diabetes and autoimmune diseases
- helps repair the DNA of certain genes
In addition, the vitamin of the sun regulates the blood calcium level by improving the intestinal absorption of this mineral, while minimizing its elimination through the urine. In addition, several studies are already showing the effectiveness of taking vitamin D in cases of psoriasis, osteoporosis, epilepsy and in the prevention of dental caries. Vitamin D also raises great hopes for having a relieving effect on certain diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
What are the main sources of vitamin D?
Yes, calciferol (translated from Latin: carrier of calcium) can be synthesized by the body under the effect of the sun. It is estimated that exposure to the sun for 15 minutes without sunscreen can provide the required dose of vitamin D. However, the duration of exposure depends on the type of skin (black, white), the season and the time you are exposed. For your information, people with darker skin take almost double the time to synthesize vitamin D compared to people with fair skin. During the winter, however, the sun is intended to be too weak and can therefore lead to vitamin D deficiency. However, ultraviolet rays are not a reliable source of calciferol. Well, not always …
In addition to the sun, certain foods can also provide the body with vitamin D. It is found in particular in certain fish (salmon, swordfish, eel, bluefin tuna, trout, herring, halibut), in egg yolks, in the liver of beef and fortified milk. However, the quantity found is absolutely insufficient to fill a deficiency. This is why dairy manufacturers in North America routinely add small amounts of vitamin D to milk and margarine to prevent illnesses linked to calciferol deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency
Usually, vitamin D is one of the nutrients that can be stored in fat and in the liver and used in cases of deficiency. In children, vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets, or retarded growth and motor development, poor bones and insomnia. In adults, this lack results in the appearance of osteomalacia, or bone demineralization accompanied by great nervousness.
When to screen for calciferol deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency is currently a major problem in a number of European countries. With each age group, the risk of developing a deficit increases. And this is because people consume less foods rich in D3 or D2 and rarely expose themselves to direct sunlight. And the older we get, the more the skin becomes less and less able to produce vitamin D under the effect of the sun. However, getting tested is not overly recommended for people over 50. In this case, the deficiency is almost certain and vitamin D supplementation becomes mandatory.
Dosage: how much vitamin D should we take?
The dosage of calciferol is often given in international units (IU) rather than micrograms (µg). However, it is enough to know that one microgram equals 40 units. Experts say people under 50 need a supplement of 400 to 1000 units of vitamin D and a dietary calcium intake of 1200 mg. People over 50, on the other hand, should take at least 600 units of calciferol and 1200 mg of calcium.
As for the maximum dose of vitamin D3 and D2 for an adult, it is estimated at 2000 units per day! While experts recommend that calciferol intake be provided daily throughout the year, weekly, monthly and even annual supplementation is also possible. Thus, instead of an intake of 800 to 1000 units per day, there are weekly formulations, between 5,600 and 7,000 units per week, monthly, between 24,000 and 30,000 units per month, and three-monthly, 100 000 units every three months.
Vitamin D in pills or liquid?
Before you start, the best is to measure your blood level of vitamin D. It is generally recommended a circulating level of at least 50 nmol / l to optimize bone mineralization and avoid osteoporosis, and levels above 75 nmol / l for optimal general health. If your level is lower, vitamin D supplementation becomes essential.
Calciferol usually comes either in liquid form or in pill form. It is best to choose vitamin D in liquid form, as it dissolves better. Likewise, it is important to choose a supplement that contains only calciferol. Avoid liver oil, however. Although it contains vitamin D, it is intended to be toxic and may cause an overdose due to its high vitamin A level.
In conclusion, the sunshine vitamin is essential for every organism not only for its beneficial effect on the regulation of calcium metabolism and bone mineralization, but also for its effectiveness in strengthening the immune system and preventing certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases. And although the body's production of calciferol decreases with advancing age, dietary supplements and natural sources are varied enough that everyone can find a solution that suits them to maintain their health over the years.