Vitamin D Supplements: Benefits, Deficiencies and Best Products
With a renewed focus on health and wellbeing, the market has been flooded with health supplements, vitamins and minerals that we should all be taking. It can be really overwhelming trying to work out which vitamins you actually need and which you can get from the food you eat.
With such a huge variety of different vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other supplements on offer, it is no wonder we are all a little bit confused. We've been taking a look at all of the vitamins our body needs to function properly and where you can get them naturally.
In this blog post, we're going to be looking at vitamin D. We've gathered all of our research into vitamin D, including what it is, why we need it, what a vitamin D deficiency looks like, and the benefits of taking a vitamin D supplement along with a list of our favourite vitamin D products. To find out all this and more, keep reading now.
What is vitamin D and why do we need it?
So, what is vitamin D and what does it do for our body?
Vitamin D is responsible for the regulation of calcium and phosphate levels in our bodies. It works to maintain the levels of these minerals which are responsible for keeping bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Adults need 400 IU of vitamin D a day and anyone over 70 needs around 600 IU.
Most people will get enough vitamin D during the summer months but there are some regions where it is recommended that you take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months. As one of the sources of vitamin D, the sun can be an unreliable place to get all of your vitamin D, but it should cover your needs during the summer.
Other sources of vitamin D include food sources. For vitamin D2, you need to eat mushrooms and you will find vitamin D3 in fatty fish, fortified milk and other dairy products, fish liver oil, and egg yolk. Some diets restrict the amount of vitamin D you can get, meaning those who follow these diets may need to find vitamin D elsewhere.
As an integral part of your body's functioning, vitamin D is essential to overall health and wellbeing and you should strive to eat more of the foods that can supply it to your body.
To find out more about what can happen to you if you don't get enough vitamin D, take a look below.
What does a vitamin D deficiency look like?
So, what does a vitamin D deficiency actually mean and how can you tell if you're suffering from a lack of adequate vitamin D?
Vitamin D is quite unique in the body. it is produced in the skin, as we've discussed, when exposed to the sun. Fair-skinned and younger people have better vitamin D production than those with dark skin or who are over the age of 50.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of illnesses, including:
- Heart disease and high blood pressure
- Infections and immune system disorders
- Falls in older people
- Some types of cancer, like colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer
- Multiple sclerosis
To avoid a greater risk of any of these illnesses, it is best to keep your vitamin D levels at a healthy level.
But, how do you know when you're not getting enough vitamin D? Well, there are a few noticeable symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency. These are:
- Muscle weakness
- Depression and mood changes
These symptoms aren't always signs of a vitamin D deficiency but you should speak to a doctor if you are experiencing them anyway.
If you suspect a vitamin D deficiency, you should ensure you seek medical help as prolonged vitamin D deficiency can lead to:
- Loss of bone mineral density leading to osteoporosis and fractures
- Rickets, in children
Additionally, there are a few conditions that can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. If you have one of these conditions, you may already be advised to take a vitamin D supplement to prevent a deficiency. The conditions that can lead to a vitamin D deficiency are:
- Cystic fibrosis, Crohn's disease, and celiac disease - these conditions mean that the intestines can't absorb enough of the vitamin D you get naturally, leading to deficiency
- Weight loss surgeries
- Obesity - fat cells keep vitamin D isolated so it cannot be absorbed, causing a likelihood of deficiency in those who are obese
- Kidney and liver disease - these conditions can lead to a reduction in the enzymes that are needed to convert vitamin D into a usable form that can be used by the body
And, along with these conditions, there are other things that can lead to deficiencies, which include:
- Age - older people cannot get as much vitamin D as younger people
- Mobility - i.e. people who cannot get enough sun exposure
- Skin colour - those who have darker skin tones cannot get as much vitamin D as those with fairer skin
- Breast-fed babies - babies that are fed human breast milk can be at risk of deficiencies even if the mother is taking vitamin D supplements themself
- Medications - there are quite a few medications that can cause a vitamin D deficiency, these include:
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs
- Seizure control drugs
- A tubercolosis drug called Rifampin
- Certain weight loss drugs
So, now we know what to look out for when it comes to vitamin D deficiency and we know all of the different risk factors, we're going to take a look at who should be taking vitamin D supplements in the next section.
Who needs to take a vitamin D supplement?
It is advised by many healthcare services that during winter months when sunlight is less, everyone should take vitamin D supplements but this depends on where you live and what your government advises.
Advice for vitamin D supplements differ across regions but there are some groups of people that most authorities advise should look out for vitamin D deficiency and consider taking vitamin D supplements. These are groups that are at more risk of a vitamin D deficiency and include:
- Breastfed children
- Children ages 1 - 4 years old
- Frail and elderly people
- Anyone with any of the conditions listed above
While vitamin D supplements are needed by some people, there is a risk of overdosing on them. Vitamin D toxicity can cause something called hypercalcemia which is characterised by nausea, dehydration, constipation, and hypercalciuria (excess calcium in the urine). Always read the label on any health supplements you take and ensure you don't take too much.
What are the benefits of vitamin D supplementation?
Vitamin D is a good supplement to take if you're feeling any of the symptoms listed above and there are a few benefits of adding these supplements to your daily health supplements list.
The benefits of taking vitamin D supplements are:
- They can help fight disease - Vitamin D can help to reduce the risk of MS and decrease the chances of developing heart disease. It can also reduce the likelihood of severe illness and it supports good immune health.
- Regulates mood - Vitamin D supplements can help to regulate and balance moods, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and help with sudden mood changes
And now we know why vitamin D is such a good supplement to take, let's take a look at some of the best vitamin D supplements on the market in the next section.
Our favourite vitamin D supplements
A vitamin D supplement can help you to maintain your overall health and so adding it into your health regime can help you to feel healthier. Below, we've listed a few of our favourite vitamin D supplement products for you to peruse.
Check them out below.
Herbs of Gold Vitamin D3 1000 (120c)
These Herbs of Gold capsules are really easy to add to your health regime. Each capsule contains 1000 IU D3, providing more than enough vitamin D for your daily allowance. Be careful to only take the daily allowance advised on the product label.
These capsules can help to support your bone health as well as maintain a healthy immune system and help calcium absorption.
Essential Therapeutics Vitamin D3 10ml
This Essential Therapeutics vitamin D supplement can be added to skin care products like moisturisers and creams. Both topical and oral use of vitamin D is good for the body, with oral intake helping to support internal health and topical use helping to support your skin.
As your skin is the biggest organ in your body, keeping it healthy is in your best interests. Vitamin D in your skincare can help to protect your skin against free radicals and oxidative stress. This helps to ward off the signs of ageing, like fine lines and wrinkles.
Though not an oral supplement, this vitamin D product can help to maintain your health in a different way.
Melrose Fish Oil and Vitamin D (Joint and Bone) 500ml
These capsules are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is great for lowering blood pressure, reducing triglycerides, and slowing the development of plaque in the arteries, along with a range of other great benefits.
Along with the fish oil, these capsules contain 1000 IU of fat-soluble vitamin D which can help you to maintain your health. Vitamin D works well alongside fish oil, making these capsules perfect to add to your daily regime.
Brauer Baby & Kids Liquid Vitamin D
From organic sources, this product supports a healthy immune system and promotes bone growth and development.
Blooms Vitamin D3 1000 IU
They help to increase calcium absorption in the body which in turn helps maintain good bone growth. With strong muscles and bones, older people are less likely to fall.
In addition to the maintenance of healthy bones, these capsules can also help you to maintain good overall health and are easy to add to your diet.
Price: $13.00 - $47.00
ANC Calcium and Vitamin D3 & K2 (60 capsules)
This ANC combination blends D3 with calcium and K2 to enhance the amount your body can absorb calcium. Vitamin D3 helps to regulate the calcium levels in your blood and so taking these vitamins all together can help the vitamins get into the body properly.
This easy 3-in-1 tablet boosts the amount of calcium that is absorbed in the body, one of the main functions of vitamin D and a reason to take it!
This combination can also help with supporting bone strength throughout your life and supporting your heart and cardiovascular system, which is why we love them.
iThrive Nutrition Vegan Vitamin D3 1000 IU (62 capsules)
This is a great option for vegan consumers who want to know their product is definitely vegan. These capsules can help you to maintain good vitamin D levels and are suitable for those with more restrictive diets.
Whole Earth Sea Vegan Vitamin D3 (90 capsules)
Another vegan option and in a slightly bigger pack, these vegan vitamin D supplements from Whole Earth & Sea were derived from lichen and are non-GMO. This form of vitamin D, extracted from lichen, is actually in its most bioactive form.
Like all vitamin D products, this is great for maintaining bone health and overall health and comes with all the benefits of other vitamin D capsules, as well as being great for vegans and vegetarians.
Pretorius Osteopro Plus (60VC)
Combining a vegan vitamin D3 and MenaQ7 vitamin K2, this tablet can help your body to properly absorb vitamin D.
LifeStream V-Omega 3 - microalgae oil - 100% Plant DHA, EPA & Vit D3
They're designed for vegans, with a suitable fish oil alternative, and are a great addition to your diet.
Price: $46.00 - $81.00
Vitamin D fortified products
As well as supplements, there are tonnes of fortified foods that can be consumed to ensure you're getting your vitamin D intake daily.
A range of foods come fortified with vitamin D from juices, like orange juice, to dairy and alternative milk to fortified cereals. Foods are fortified to ensure that we get all of the vitamins and minerals we need each day, especially when those vitamins are difficult to get naturally.
Try to add some fortified foods and drinks to your diet to ensure you and your family are getting your vitamin D levels up.
Other vitamins and minerals to take with your vitamin D supplements
When taking vitamin D supplements, there are a few other vitamins and minerals that you should be taking to boost absorption. These vitamins and minerals are often combined in vitamin D supplements to boost absorption, so you should look out for them when shopping for new supplements.
Vitamins that help with the absorption of vitamin D include:
- Vitamin K: This vitamin helps the body to absorb calcium by ferrying it to the bones. It is best to take the two together as too much vitamin D with no vitamin K can increase calcium levels but not help with absorption into the bones. We love this vitamin K2, calcium and vitamin D3 blended supplement from Herbs of Gold.
- Magnesium: This mineral can help with the activation of vitamin D in the blood. We like these magnesium supplements from Cabot Health as well as these supplements from Pretorius that will help you sleep too!
- Zinc: This mineral helps vitamin D to actually work inside of the cells. These Blooms zinc capsules are great, as are these from Herbs of Gold.
Whether you add all of these vitamins and minerals separately, or you find a combined pill, pairing these vitamins with vitamin D can help with the uptake and absorption of this important vitamin.
Vitamin D is an incredibly important supplement for your health. It continues to support good bone health, healthy moods, immunity, and overall health. Most vitamin D in our body comes from the sun and reduced sun exposure can be a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency. In places with less sun, vitamin D is needed in the winter months and people are advised to take vitamin D supplements through these months.
There are other risk factors for a vitamin D deficiency, such as health conditions, certain medications, and your age and skin colour. While not everyone needs a vitamin D supplement, many can benefit from adding them to their health regime.
As well as supplements, you can also eat fortified foods and other foods high in vitamin D, like fatty fish, egg yolks, and mushrooms.
There are lots of benefits to supplementing your vitamin D intake, such as disease prevention and mood improvements.
We have lots of vitamin D products here Australian Organic Products + More. Check them out and find some great supplements and fortified foods to boost your vitamin D levels.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does vitamin D do for the body?
Vitamin D is essential in the body and low vitamin D levels can cause major health problems. Vitamin D is important in the regulation of calcium and phosphate in the body and without it, you could end up with weak and brittle bones as well as bone deformities. Vitamin D also contributes to healthy muscles and teeth. In winter months where sun exposure is lower, most authorities recommend everyone take a vitamin D supplement, likewise, many other people may be advised to take the vitamin due to the reduced ability to absorb the vitamin.
What happens if your vitamin D is low?
There are a number of signs and symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency that are noticeable. The symptoms include bone pain, muscle weakness, and fatigue but these symptoms may also be signs of other issues. It is best to get it checked out if you have any of these symptoms just in case. Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, rickets in children, osteoporosis, diabetes, infections and immune system disorders, some types of cancer, like colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Low vitamin D levels can lead to lots of health complications, so it is best to keep them up.
Which fruit is rich in vitamin D?
The best fruits to eat for vitamin D are oranges and bananas, you can also eat spinach and mushrooms. Fruit and vegetables are not great for vitamin D as most of it is found in dairy products and fish products. This causes problems for those who do not eat meat and fish or are allergic to dairy, as well as those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. You can find fortified foods if you are trying to up your vitamin D intake, like fortified orange juice, alternative milk, and cereals.
How do you get vitamin D?
The best place to get your fill of vitamin D is the sun. Sun exposure is great for vitamin D but it can be bad for your health. You can also get vitamin D from foods like fatty fish, dairy products, and egg yolk, as well as some small amounts in oranges, spinach, and mushrooms. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D and you could choose these to up your intake, you could also try a vitamin D supplement to ensure you get enough.
Are bananas high in vitamin D?
Bananas have a small amount of vitamin D in them which can help with your intake. They also contain magnesium which is a great mineral to pair with vitamin D as it helps with the activation of vitamin D in the body. Bananas are a great fruit to eat if you don't eat dairy or fish as they can contribute to vitamin D intake.