In the era of covid-19, vitamin supplements have been getting a lot of attention as preventative care medicine. Click here to see a previous post on vitamin C. Moving on, in this article, we will learn more about vitamin D supplements, our body needs and its health implications.
Disclaimer: For the purposes of this article, it should be noted that the information on this page has not been peer reviewed and as such, does not take precedence over your healthcare providers’ advice. Therefore, before you start taking any vitamin, we recommend you talk to your physician to determine your optimal dose.
Why do I need vitamin D?
Vitamin D supplement has been a part of my medicine cabinet for years. This might come as a suprise, but about 90% of UAE population may be having lower than recommended levels of the vitamin. And with low levels comes a great amount of health risks such as osteoporosis, rickets, diabetes, heart disease and many others. Chronic deficiency can also lead to low energy, fatigue and muscle weakness.
How much vitamin D do I need every day?
According to the NHS (National Health Service), children from the age of 1 year and adults require 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D per day, as a maintenance. But many experts recommend 800 to 1,000 IU a day. Again, this is once they have taken appropriate corrective treatment for any deficiencies. However, we do recommend talking to your healthcare professional first before starting.
The truth is: not all vitamins are created equal. Unlike vitamin C, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which makes its removal from the body a little different. Overtime, too much of the vitamin can lead to really high levels of calcium in the body.
Evidence from research
I was even part of a research group where we looked into and published our findings regarding the effects of vitamin D receptor mutations on premenstrual symptoms in a scientific journal, which you can read here. The study results showed a significant association between VDR FokI polymorphism and Pre Menstrual Syndrome.
Is sunlight exposure enough?
The body creates vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. So why do we have such a higher level of deficiencies in a predominantly sunny country? It may be due to many reasons such as darker pigmented skin, cultural and/or religious factors, and the general reluctance of the public to venture outside to the unrelenting heat.
This is especially important during the current times of social isolation, where our daily exposure might be even less than usual. Other risk factors that can cause deficiencies include: vegetarian diet, or not eating fish, higher age, prolonged breastfeeding or having multiple close interval pregnancies. More importantly, research has shown that those older than 70 have difficulty converting the vitamin D from sunshine into the active form of vitamin D in the body that is necessary for health.
Vitamin D: What’s the right “level”?
For most adults 18 years and older, it is recommended to check serum vitamin D level once a year. Based on the results of the test, we can add vitamin D supplements as needed. In general:
- Levels greater than 50 nmol/L is considered sufficient
- A level of 30–50 nmol/L is considered low
- And level less than 30 nmol/L is deficient
I would advice to take it with a meal – it increases absorption by over 50%.
Some dietary sources of vitamin D
Yes, we can also get the vitamin from food. Dietary sources include oily fish like salmon, red meat, liver and egg yolks. And if you want to support body’s production of vitamin D, then you can follow DHA (Dubai Health Authority) recommendations. With this in mind, 20 minutes of exposure 2-3 times a week is sufficient.
Vitamin D supplement brands
Here are some of the best vitamin brands to help meet your nutritional needs: Solgar 400 I.U, Nature’s Bounty 400 I.U, Nature’s Bounty 1000 I.U, Synergy’s Vita D 1000 I.U, Sunshine Nutrition, Carlson, Nordic Naturals 1000 I.U.