Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is well-known as a necessary nutrient. It's found in breakfast foods like eggs, milk, and fortified orange juice, as well as mushrooms and fatty fish like halibut, salmon, and herring. When you spend time in the sun, your body can even make it.
Still, do you have a good understanding of what vitamin D can — and cannot — do for your health? Continue reading to find out what we've learned thus far.
What Makes Vitamin D Unique From Other Nutrients?
To gain a better grasp of vitamin D's functions and scientists' long curiosity with them, it's important to understand that not all vitamins and minerals work in the same way in the body.
Robin Foroutan, RDN, an integrative dietitian at the Morrison Center in New York City and a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says, "We're discovering that vitamin D behaves much less like a vitamin and much more like a hormone." As a result, vitamin D functions as a messenger rather than a participant in metabolism, with implications ranging from weight to organ function.
How Can You Make Sure You're Getting Enough Vitamin D?
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day for most persons aged 1 to 70. It is 800 IU for persons over the age of 70, and 400 IU for babies.
However, obtaining that much vitamin D alone through diet and sunlight is difficult. An individual's average daily intake of the vitamin through food and drink rarely surpasses 288 IU. Even vitamin D-fortified milk will only provide you with 100 IU per 8-ounce glass, and most vitamin D-fortified plant-milk substitutes will do the same.
Many people use vitamin D supplements because of this. To avoid vitamin D deficiency, the Endocrine Society recommends that adults take 1,500–2,000 IU of vitamin D per day in supplement form, while babies and children should take 1,000 IU per day. (3) Nonetheless, opinions differ greatly. Keep in mind that there is such a thing as too much vitamin D, which is why the FNB set a daily supplementing limit of 4,000 IU for persons over the age of 9 — and 1,000–3,000 IU for newborns and children up to the age of 8, depending on age. Overdosing raises the risk of death, cancer, and cardiovascular problems in seniors, as well as falls and fractures.
What Does Vitamin D Research Say About It?
Although there is a lot of research on vitamin D, its impact on human health is yet unknown. This is due to the fact that the majority of vitamin D research has been done on animals or in small human groups. Most importantly, the bulk of vitamin D research is observational, which means the findings don't show a clear cause-and-effect relationship between vitamin D and the potential health benefit being investigated.
According to George Washington University, studies that provide likely causal conclusions use a randomised controlled model, which eliminates the danger of bias and accounts for possibly contradictory elements. (4) Large randomised controlled studies are the gold standard in research, but there haven't been many on vitamin D supplementation and its numerous health advantages.
With the limits of studies in mind, here's an in-depth look at what vitamin D can, may, and will not do for your health.
What are the benefits of vitamin D?
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones. Osteoporosis, for example.
It is undeniable that vitamin D promotes calcium absorption. According to the National Institutes of Health, without adequate vitamin D in the body, the active form of calcium, calcitriol, will be insufficient (NIH). (5) Calcium absorption permits the body to maintain a suitable quantity of calcium and phosphate, both of which are essential for the growth and maintenance of healthy, strong bones.
That's why taking enough vitamin D can help prevent bone illnesses including rickets in kids, osteomalacia in adults, and osteoporosis in the elderly.
In the United States, rickets is a rare disease. It is characterised by soft and weak bones in children and is commonly linked with underdeveloped countries, although research reveals that an insufficient vitamin D level caused by a lack of sun exposure or a poor diet can harm children anywhere in the globe. (6) Signs and symptoms of rickets include pain in the spine, pelvis, and legs, as well as slowed growth and muscle weakening, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Osteomalacia, on the other hand, is a softening of the bones caused by a lack of vitamin D. The Mayo Clinic lists dull, agonising pain in the legs, hips, pelvis, ribs, and back as symptoms, though the ailment often goes unnoticed in its early stages.
One of the leading causes of fractures and shattered bones in the elderly is osteoporosis. This bone disease occurs when the cycle of new bone synthesis and old bone loss becomes imbalanced, resulting in more bone loss than creation, according to the Mayo Clinic. Women over the age of 50 are at the greatest risk of developing osteoporosis, which, like osteomalacia, is generally asymptomatic in its early stages. A stooped posture, declining height, back pain, and an unexpected and sudden bone fracture are all possible later indications.
With these facts in mind, it's no surprise that vitamin D pills have long been promoted as beneficial to bone health. However, observational research has caused that wisdom to be reexamined. According to a major assessment of more than 81 clinical trials published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology in October 2018, vitamin D supplements do not prevent fractures or falls, nor do they have any clinically relevant effect on bone mineral density. One thing to keep in mind is that the researchers did not include the treatment of rickets and osteomalacia in their conclusions on supplementation's benefits.