Vitamin D has been turning many heads lately with a vast amount of companies marketing “mega doses” of the “sunshine” vitamin in a supplement form, and with the alarming rates of vitamin D deficiency in Australia, many of us are turning to these high dose supplements to get our daily D.
Is vitamin D really that important? Read on and find out if a mega dose of vitamin D is really what you need.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is one of the four fat soluble vitamins that are vital to our health and well being. There are two different forms of Vitamin D, D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 comes from fortified foods, plant foods and supplements while vitamin D3 comes from fortified foods, animal foods and can be made in our bodies when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Both forms of vitamin D are important to our bodies.
Benefits of vitamin D
- Regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus
- Facilitating normal immune function
- Reduces risk of multiple sclerosis
- Decreases chance of heart disease
- Regulates mood and wards of depression
- Aids in fat loss
There are many reasons why people aren’t hitting their vitamin D targets including fear of skin cancer, having darker skin, being obese, being older and from pollution. If you are deficient you may begin to notice the following symptoms which can lead to serious health concerns:
- Bone pain
- Muscle weakness
- Sweaty head
- Gut problems
Health issues resulting in vitamin D deficiencies are as follows:
- Rickets disease in children
- secondary hyperparathyroidism (overly active parathyroid glands) that causes increased bone loss,
- increased cancer risk
- Increased fracture risk.
- Heart disease
- Due to the fear of skin cancer many Australians now just aren’t exposed to enough UV light. Sunscreen blocks the rays from the sun and can lead to a deficiency. All it takes to get your vitamin D3 needs in 10 minutes in the sun daily with face, arms and legs exposed without sunscreen.
- You can also eat foods such as fatty fish, beef liver, mushrooms and egg yolk. Or even take a supplement.
A mega dose of vitamin D is around 10 times the recommended intake for healthy adults. The recommended dosage is 600 IU for adults and 800 IU for older people aged 70+. Taking a mega dose of vitamin D can actually lead to serious health problems. Because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin the body can actually store it for later use and when we ae mega dosing on it we accumulate way too much and start to see side effects such as increased risk of bladder infections, excessive calcium in the blood, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, ringing in the ears, kidney impairment and an increased risk of cancer.
Overdose of vitamin D cannot happen from UV exposure as our bodies prevent this from happening and according to scientists we can’t over dose of foods containing vitamin D. Toxicity generally occurs from taking mega dose supplements. If you do want to take a supplement f vitamin D you can do so, just don’t consume more than 4000UI daily.
Who would have thought that a vitamin that can be made from the sun can actually be harmful in high doses? For most of us it shouldn’t be too hard to get some time outdoors in the sun and to eat a varied diet that includes foods rich in vitamin d. if you are having trouble reaching optimal levels supplements can help, as long as they don’t contain toxic levels of vitamin D.
In the case of vitamin D supplementation you really can have too much of a good thing.