4 Reasons why you absolutely need to get enough of this essential vitamin (which is actually a hormone), deficiency symptoms, sources, dosage and a list of foods rich in Vitamin D3.
1. Strong Bones
Your body needs D3 to absorb calcium, which is needed for strong bones.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms include fragile bones, osteoporosis, and a disease called rickets (in children) or osteomalacia (in adults). Rickets potentially leads to tender bones, bad teeth, tendency for broken bones and deformities such as bowed legs or spinal deformities and slowed growth.
This is something you don't want to risk for your little ones. Therefore in many countries pediatricians prescribe Vitamin D supplements to all children below the age of one to two years.
2. More Energy
Symptoms basically all busy moms suffer are fatigue, sleeping disorders and lack of concentration. These are normally due to lack of sleep (especially undisturbed night's sleep), but could also be a sign for a Vitamin D deficiency. Higher blood levels of D3 could well help to ease these symptoms.
3. Healthy Immune System
Most people in the moderate zones suffer from colds and flu in winter time. Usually this is charged on the bad, rainy weather. But it might might as well be a deficiency symptom. Getting enough Vitamin D makes your immune system stronger and helps to keep those unwanted colds away.
4. Weight Loss
Recent studies have linked a deficiency in this vital hormone to obesity. This is by no means a straight relation, but it seems that having higher D3 blood levels can help you to lose weight (if maintained while going on a healthy eating diet).
There are basically three ways to get Vitamin D: sunlight, food and supplements. I'll take a closer look at each one of them.
1. Mid-Day Sunlight Exposure
Sunshine is the most important source of Vitamin D. Healthy adults can produce all the amount they need from just 30-60 minutes of sunlight every day.
But (of course there's a but) some restrictions apply: the sun must shine and and it must be high enough on the sky (about 40 degrees). This is not the case between October and March in most parts of the United States, Middle and Northern Europe and Canada.
Off course a healthy person can accumulate and store enough Vit D in summer to use up during winter time. But what if you didn't get enough sun in summer? Because you work indoors or it was raining during most of the so-called warm season.
Another limiting issue is sunscreen. We've all been taught to protect ourselves with high sunscreen factors. This protects your skin from skin cancer, but it also inhibits production of Vitamin D.
There are a very few foods high in Vitamin D. Make sure you have plenty of them on your diet plan.
From the list of foods below only fish contains enough of this hormone to provide for a substantial part of your daily recommended dosage. In general it's said, that you can only get about 20% of your needed dosage from food.
Vitamin D rich foods are:
According to the Food and Nutrition Board you should not supplement more than 4,000 IU daily. There are quite a few supplements available on the market, but as always, not all are of equal quality.
A good Vitamin D supplementation that caters to all conditions above is provided by Athletic Greens. One bottle of oily drops contains a full year supply for one person (or for two persons if you decide only to take it in winter).
Normal blood levels for this hormone range between 30 nanograms per milliliter and 80 ng/ml. Everything below 30 ng/ml is considered a deficiency.
That said, it can also be dangerous taking too much Vitamin D. Therefore you should get your blood levels tested by a doctor before taking any high dosage supplementation. It is important to measure the right type of blood level, which is 25 hydroxy vitamin d. There are other levels that can be tested, but that don't give you an accurate view.
A severe deficiency will be treated very differently and only under supervision of a doctor. The standard is to take weekly doses of vitamin d 50000 iu (50 000 units) for about 8 weeks. This is more than 10 times the recommended daily dose, so don't do it on your own!