Vitamin D is a hot topic these days and rightly so. Low vitamin D levels are becoming an epidemic because of increased use of sunscreen. What’s more, lack of vitamin D has been connected to some serious health problems such as cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Sunlight on skin is the most effective and natural way to produce vitamin D. However, there are factors that may cause you to have to supplement for a time or during certain months of the year.
For example, the further away from the equator you live, the harder it is for your body to produce vitamin D all year long. It has been widely researched that in many parts of the world that are far from the equator, vitamin D can only be synthesized from sunlight between the 4-6 warmer months out of the year.
Here are some factors to consider when supplementing vitamin D:
First, vitamin D is fat soluble, and is stored in your liver and fatty tissues. If there is excess, it cannot easily be eliminated by your body, making megadoses toxic. So it is important to supplement with care.
The safest way to do this is to get your blood tested before you supplement, and then recheck after about 6 months to make sure you are getting enough and not too much. Typically, blood levels of 20 ng/ml and below signify a deficiency. Ideally your numbers should not only be above that but closer to the 30-40 ng/ml range.
Second, there are two forms of vitamin D supplements available – D3 (cholecalciferol) and D2 (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D3 is your better bet, as it is the form that is naturally produced by your body when exposed to sunlight, and is converted to a form your body can actively use, up to 500 percent faster than vitamin D2 – which has a shorter shelf life and is much less effective overall.
Third, when supplementing, it is best to pick a brand that contains as few ingredients and fillers as possible. Vitamin D supplements usually come packaged with a carrier oil for stability. Ideally your supplement should only contain two ingredients – cholecalciferol and a carrier oil.
For adults, the US Recommended Daily Allowance is 800 IU a day, with safe upper limits of 4000 IU a day. The latest research shows that the RDA may be too low and the upper limit dosages may be safer than previously thought.
Vitamin D is an easy enough supplement to take, and if you are concerned about low levels, supplementing for a time may be the right choice for you. But don’t forget – nature’s way of providing you this important nutrient via sunshine and bare skin is as natural as it gets!