Vitamin D3 also known as the sunshine vitamin, is essential for a healthy life. It is naturally produced in the body when our skin is exposed to sunlight. You can also take vitamin d through various foods and supplements.
Over the years, deficiency of vitamin D among people has become very popular around the world, causing people to suffer from health problems like cognitive impairment, asthma, or cancer. People worldwide are taking this deficiency seriously, and you should also check your vitamin D levels.
Let's learn more about it and see how we can overcome this deficiency.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is basically a collection of lipid-soluble substances that act as building blocks for the active form of vitamin D, known as calcitriol.
When exposed to direct sunlight, our skin produces 7-dehydrocholesterol, the precursor of vitamin D. Then it is transformed into cholecalciferol, also known as vitamin D3, which improves intestinal calcium absorption.
Besides being crucial for bone health, it also helps lower the risk of infectious infections and chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Adequate vitamin D levels also enhance the quality of sleep and mood. Hundreds of different genes in your body are regulated by vitamin D.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
The amount of vitamin D you need depends on the following factors:
- Your age
- Your daily sun exposure
- Skin complexion
Previously the recommended amount of vitamin d was 200 IU per day. However, the institute of medicine, also known as the National Institute of Health, has updated its dietary allowance and recommends 30 to 40 micrograms or 800 to 1500 IU per day. (1)
If you have a pale skin tone, then your skin is likely to absorb more vitamin D from sunlight than those with dark skin. Depending on this, you may increase your daily intake of vitamin D. But, 20 ng/ml to 30 ng/ml is considered a normal range or sufficient.
According to the Vitamin D Council, you should take 5,000 IU daily as an adult if you have vitamin d deficiency, i.e., less than 20 Ng/ml or 30 Ng/ml. (2)
People suffering from obesity May also require a higher amount of vitamin d in comparison to others. (3)
Recent research shows that a daily dosage of 1000 to 4000 IU per day is safe to intake to maintain vitamin d levels in the body. However, more than 4000 IU per day can cause vitamin d toxicity in the body.
It is advised to consult a doctor to get your vitamin D level checked and your daily requirement. Then take the dosage to fulfill your needs.
Optimal Blood Levels Of Vitamin D
Following blood levels are considered a standard to check vitamin D deficiency.
- deficiency: <12 ng/ml
- insufficiency: < 20 ng/ml
- sufficiency: > 20 ng/ml
The Nordic Nutrition Council and the Institute of Medicine claim that 97.5% of the population has blood levels greater than 20ng/ml. Endocrine Society and various experts recommend reaching blood levels of around 30 ng/ml.
Main Sources of Vitamin D
In summer, vitamin D intake is quite easy as there is a lot of sunlight easily available. However, in winter, as there is no sunlight, it becomes difficult to intake vitamin D, so you can take foods that contain this nutrient. You can intake vitamin D from:
- Sunlight in summers
- Egg yolk
- Salmon or other oily fish
- Red meat such as mutton
- Dietary supplements such as cows milk
- Supplements are also one of the easiest ways to intake vitamin D
Is Exposure to The Sun Enough to Produce Vitamin D?
No, although exposure to sun is one of the best and easiest ways to produce vitamin D in the body, if you don't follow precautions, it may cause damage.
Exposure to the sun for longer periods can irritate your skin and cause skin cancer, wrinkles or sunburns. That is why it is recommended to expose your skin to the sun for a maximum of 15 minutes only thrice a week so that it doesn't cause any damage.
Protecting yourself with sun screen will also protect yourself from absorbing D3.
Ideally you should exposure yourself every day at hours with low intensity, you need at least 20mins a day to absorb 200IU with torso completely exposed.
What Happens If You Intake Too Much Vitamin D?
There isn't any clinical evidence with for overdosing Vitamin D3, other than dry mouth.
Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that benefits your bones and immune system and prevents many dreadful diseases. You should maintain vitamin D levels in your body by exposing your skin to the sun, taking supplements, and regularly checking your blood levels.