Taking a daily Vitamin D supplement is an excellent way to make sure you get enough of this essential nutrient.
What is a Vitamin D Supplement?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D3 is produced by animals and can be found in salmon and egg yolks. Vitamin D2 is produced by plants and can be found in mushrooms and alfalfa.
Vitamin D3 is more absorbable than D2, however, and is considered a more effective form of vitamin D.
You may also get this nutrient through vitamin-D enriched foods, such as milk and some cereals, or through exposure to sunlight. (Ultraviolet light striking the skin triggers the creation of vitamin D.)
This nutrient is involved in a wide variety of biological processes including:
- Calcium absorption
- Bone growth and repair
- Glucose metabolism
- Proper immune function
- Modulation of cell growth
- Neuromuscular function1
Vitamin D is so important to proper bodily function that even a small deficiency can cause problems. Unfortunately, many of us are deficient in this nutrient.
Vitamin D Deficiency Statistics and Symptoms
In a 2012 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 8.1% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D.2 But it’s even worse than that.
As most people do not get enough vitamin D from sun exposure, especially during cloudy winter months, it is essential that they get vitamin D through their diets.
Yet, an analysis of data from the 2013-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 94% of people aged 1 year and older ingested less than the estimated average requirement of Vitamin D from food and beverages.3
Even a slight vitamin D deficiency can manifest in symptoms that include:
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Bone pain
- Depression and other mood disorders4
To prevent these issues and support your health, it is essential that you get enough vitamin D.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D
Here are just 4 of the amazing health benefits attributed to vitamin D:
Strong Bones:Vitamin D works with calcium to support strong bones and teeth. (Calcium facilitates bone and teeth structure, while vitamin D boosts calcium absorption and bone growth.
Improved Mood: Research suggests that vitamin D may positively affect mood. There have been numerous studies that show a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and depression in the elderly, in young adult women, in older men, and in adolescents. In the latter study, depressive symptoms significantly improved following vitamin D supplementation. 5,6,7,8 It is not clear, however, whether low vitamin D levels are the cause or the effect of depression.9
Cognitive Function:Several studies show an association between low vitamin D levels and cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease in geriatric patients. In fact, one study showed significant improvement in the cognitive function of seniors with dementia when given vitamin D supplements. However, more research is needed to confirm vitamin D’s effect on cognitive function.10,11
Weight Loss/Maintenance: Research indicates the vitamin D supplementation may even aid weight loss efforts. In a recent randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study, researchers separated 50 overweight and obese women into two groups. One group received daily vitamin D supplements for 6 weeks. The other group received a placebo. At the end of the 6 weeks, the vitamin D group saw a significant decrease in weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, and BMI (body mass index)!12
As you can see, vitamin D is essential not only for your overall health, but also for proper brain function.
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2- Caceres V. Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency. US News & World Report. Oct 16, 2020. Accessed Nov 24, 2020.
3- Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Vitamin D. National Institutes of Health. Updated: Oct 9, 2020. Accessed Nov 24, 2020.
4- Cleveland Clinic. Vitamin D Deficiency. Last reviewed: Oct 16, 2019. Accessed Nov 24, 2020.
5- Brouwer-Brolsma EM, Dhonukshe-Rutten RA, van Wijngaarden JP, et al. Low vitamin D status is associated with more depressive symptoms in Dutch older adults. Eur J Nutr. 2016;55(4):1525-1534. doi:10.1007/s00394-015-0970-6
6- Kerr DC, Zava DT, Piper WT, Saturn SR, Frei B, Gombart AF. Associations between vitamin D levels and depressive symptoms in healthy young adult women. Psychiatry Res. 2015 May 30;227(1):46-51. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.02.016. Epub 2015 Mar 5. PMID: 25791903; PMCID: PMC4420707.
7- Imai CM, Halldorsson TI, Eiriksdottir G, et al. Depression and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in older adults living at northern latitudes - AGES-Reykjavik Study. Journal of Nutritional Science. 2015;4:e37. DOI: 10.1017/jns.2015.27.
8- Högberg G, Gustafsson SAn Hällström T, Gustafsson T, Klawitter B, Petersson M. Depressed adolescents in a case‐series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation. Acta Paediatrica. Volume101, Issue7. Jul 2012 Pages 779-783
9- Cuomo A, Giordano N. Goracci A, Fagiolini A. Depression and Vitamin D Deficiency: Causality, Assessment, and Clinical Practice Implications. Neuropsychiatry (2017) Volume 7, Issue 5.
10- Wood JM, Gupta S. Vitamin D and neurocognitive disorder due to Alzheimer's disease: A review of the literature. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2015 Aug;27(3):206-12. PMID: 26470401.
11- Gangwar AK, Rawat A, Tiwari S, Tiwari SC, Narayan J, Tiwari S. Role of Vitamin-D in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015 Jan-Mar;59(1):94-9. PMID: 26571990.
12- Khosravi ZS, Kafeshani M, Tavasoli P, Zadeh AH, Entezari MH. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Weight Loss, Glycemic Indices, and Lipid Profile in Obese and Overweight Women: A Clinical Trial Study. Int J Prev Med. 2018 Jul 20;9:63. doi: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_329_15. PMID: 30123437; PMCID: PMC6071442.