While you’re catching some rays this up coming summer, think about vitamin D. Sometimes its called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight, but what about vitamin D3? Is it as simple as getting out into the sun and voila, vitamin D3! I mean, what is vitamin D3 anyway? How much vitamin D3 should I take?
Did you know that the human skin makes vitamin D3 when exposed to ultraviolet rays of the sun? According to the National Institute of Health, some of the best food source for vitamin D3 are fish products, such as: cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and sardines. With that being said, lets take a closer look at how vitamin D3 can benefit you.
Vitamin D3 Benefits:
Vitamin D3 promotes calcium’s absorption and functions for teen’s and children’s healthy teeth and bones, prevents loss of bone mass, and treats bone disorders.
It protects against adult and elderly muscle weakness and immune system issues, and lowers the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis is improved with vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 has been show to prevent/treat rickets, post menopausal osteoporosis. The vitamin also been show to help treat multiple sclerosis. Something that I found extremely interesting is that they are still conducting studies (more research is definitely needed) seeing if there is a connection between lack of Vitamin D3 and the development of Type 1 diabetes.
Benefits of D3 in the elderly and fractures are still under investigation. An analysis, reported in August 2007 by the University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center, showed higher doses of vitamin D3 of between 700-800 IU’s per day combined with calcium help prevent hip fractures for institutionalized elderly. The study did not include elderly living independently in the community.
Vitamin D3 And Your Immune System:
Cells of the immune system, such as macrophages, which hunt the body for dangerous pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and cancer cells, have receptor sites for vitamin D3. Research suggest that D3 may play a role in stimulating these cells to be more active in their hunt for disease-causing microbes and act as an immunity booster especially during the winter months when sunlight is more scarce.
Can Vitamin D Reduce Your Risk Of Getting Type 1 Diabetes?
Is there really a connection between the two and can vitamin d reduce your risk of developing type 1 diabetes if your levels are low? More studies absolutely need to be done, but there are some really fascinating studies (here’s one) as vitamin D is fantastic, particularly when it comes to boosting your immune system. While it has not been proved that a vitamin D deficiency causes type 1 diabetes, there seems to be a correlation (here’s another study).
At this point we are all aware that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which your body’s own immune cells attack the pancreas, specifically the insulin producing beta cells.
Per Michal L. Melamed, MD, MHS, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY..
“Vitamin D has immune-modulating properties, and low vitamin D levels have been associated with other autoimmune disease and allergies. The thought is that vitamin D is needed for the immune system to function properly, says Dr. Melamed. If the body lacks vitamin D, the immune system starts attacking the person’s own body.”
For me personally, as someone who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 28, this doesn’t seem all that far fetched to me. Now does more research need to be done? Absolutely. Are they saying that the lack of vitamin D is the primary culprit for the diagnosis?
Absolutely not, as it could be a whole host of different factors, but its interesting none the less. Vitamin D3 is fantastic in helping boost your immune system. Its actually my go to for the past 4 years during the winter months and cold and flu season vs getting a flu shot and its always done a great job.
Researchers have also studied and looked at whether vitamin D supplements taken early in life offer protection against type 1 diabetes at an older age. A review of five studies published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood found that infants who received vitamin D supplements were less likely to develop type 1 diabetes. You can check that out right here.
Vitamin D3 Side Effects:
Now that we’ve read about some of the amazing benefits that Vitamin D3 can provide, how about the side effects?
Noticed at the lowest overdose level above 100 mcg are constipation, nausea, vomiting, general weakness, mild dizziness, lethargy and weight loss. An overdose of vitamin D3 can also lead to frequent urination, extreme thirst, nervousness and itching.
Hypercalcaemia, or high calcium levels, produced by taking large doses of vitamin D,
creates high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease by slowing blood flow to the heart.
Calcium deposits from chronically high levels of vitamin D3 can produce kidney and bladder stones. Calcium toxicity can also lead to both anorexia and kidney failure by restricting fluid circulation
Vitamin D3 supplements should not be taken by those with certain medical conditions, including pre-existing hypercalcaemia and difficulty absorbing calcium from food. Supplements complicate diseases of the liver, kidney and heart, plus immune system disorders like sarcoidosis.
Tell your doctor before taking additional vitamin D if suffering from intestinal or digestive problems, including Crohn’s disease, Whipple’s disease, little or no stomach acid, or low levels of bile.
If vitamin D3 is a supplement that you are considering taking, it is always highly recommended to talk to your physician before taking any supplement, one to get your current levels tested and two, to make sure you get the proper dosage.
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