Healthy Supplementation: Vitamin D
Although our bodies manufacture vitamin D when we are exposed to the sun, research in recent years has shown that the majority of people are deficient in this extremely important vitamin. Vitamin D is also found in some foods, but it would be very difficult to consume enough of those foods to get 1000 to 2000 IU per day – the amount now recommended by many health experts. To get enough vitamin D from sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer, and is impossible for most people much of the year anyway. As a result, more people are taking vitamin D in supplement form.
Why do we need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D plays a very important role in our health. Deficiencies may lead to or contribute to the development of many health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Colorectal cancer and other cancers
- Decreased immunity
- Sleep problems
- Problems during pregnancy
- Muscle pain
As you can see, it is crucial to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D!
Tips for buying vitamin D supplements
Many experts recommend vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – this is the type of vitamin D our skin makes naturally. D2 (ergocalciferol) is from plant sources and may not be metabolized as readily by our bodies. However, others say both are equally effective.
Make sure the product is bioavailable – this means it will be properly absorbed by your body. Look for a USP stamp – this stands for U.S. Pharmacopeia and ensures that the product meets certain quality criteria, including bioavailability.
The label should list the amount of each ingredient so you know how much of the product is actually vitamin D and not fillers or flowing agents.
Choose a supplement from a reputable company.
Beware of dyes or artificial preservatives.
Check the expiration date. Make sure the supplement is fresh and won’t be expiring before you have used all of it. The further out the expiration date, the better. Although the current (and perhaps obsolete) RDA for Vitamin D is 200 IU, many experts are recommending 1000 to 2000 IU per day (and some suggest even higher doses). Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means it is stored in your body. If you are considering high doses, talk to your healthcare provider first.