Skip to main content

The Final Verdict on Whether You Should Take Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D is among the top three most common deficiencies in the US. So, that explains why a 2020 survey found that vitamin D remains the most popular supplement, with 66% of respondents buying it. There's no denying vitamin D is important: it plays a key role in bone health, as well as supporting immune health, brain cell activity, and muscle function. But should you be taking vitamin D supplements? Are they actually effective?

According to experts, most people could benefit from these supplements—particularly vegans and those who get limited sun exposure because they live somewhere with long winters. It's also worth noting that your vitamin D needs increase after the age of 70, making it more difficult to meet the daily requirement.

RELATED: Get even more healthy tips straight to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter.

"People with low vitamin D levels may experience fatigue, mood changes, and muscle weakness," says Jamie Nadeau, RD. "Maintaining optimal vitamin D levels supports your immune system which is responsible for fighting bacteria and viruses, lowers your risk for osteoporosis, and studies have also shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk for depression. The best thing you can do to determine whether or not you need a vitamin D supplement is to visit your doctor and ask to have your vitamin D levels checked."

Once your doctor has determined that you have a deficiency via blood tests, they may suggest taking a vitamin D supplement, or a multivitamin with vitamin D. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 International Units (IU). However, Ana Reisdorf, MS, registered dietitian at Wellness Verge, says that's the minimum—and she actually advises aiming for closer to 1,000 to 2,000 international units (IU).

vitamin d in the sun

"Overt signs of vitamin D deficiency, like weak bones or extreme fatigue, are rare," says Reisdorf. "But if you work inside and live in a colder climate, you likely need a vitamin D supplement. In fact, I think everyone should take a vitamin D supplement right now. Most of us spend way too much time indoors and don't get enough vitamin D, which comes from the sun."

Indeed, spending some time in the sunshine can trigger your skin to make vitamin D—but how much it makes depends on a variety of different complicated factors, like the season, latitude of your location, your skin pigmentation, and the time of day. And unfortunately, wearing sunscreen can block the sun from penetrating your skin, which is what allows your body to synthesize vitamin D.

"Experts say that between 5 to 30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure of the face, arms, hands, and legs may be enough, however, unprotected sun exposure is not recommended due to skin cancer risk," says Nadeau.

Vitamin D is also found naturally in some foods, like salmon, tuna, sardines, egg yolks, and beef liver—and it's also added to some foods, like fortified milk, orange juice, and cereal. Still, Reisdorf adds that vitamin D supplements may be more effective, simply because most foods don't fulfill the RDA, meaning you'd have to eat large quantities of them to meet your needs.

According to Reisdorf, a vitamin D supplement can not only improve bone health, but also help with your energy levels, weight management, and immunity. And if you still need more reasons to start supplementing, consider that a 2021 study published in the journal Nutrients found that you have a 0% chance of dying from COVID-19 if your vitamin D3 levels are 50 ng/mL.

The bottom line? A vitamin D supplement can offer numerous health benefits, and if you don't get enough vitamin D through your diet and/or sun exposure, it's definitely a good idea to take one. All that said, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. So, be careful not to take more than 2,000 IU of vitamin D supplements, says Reisdorf. Because it's a fat-soluble vitamin, it can cause toxicity at excessively high levels.

For even more vitamin D tips, read these next:

The post The Final Verdict on Whether You Should Take Vitamin D Supplements appeared first on Eat This Not That.

Eat This Not That

Popular posts from this blog

These 5 Grocery Items Are Cheaper Than Ever Right Now

The grocery industry has been facing major disruptions. The combined effects of the pandemic, climate change, and economic uncertainty over the past couple of years have culminated in a series of supply chain breakdowns. For the consumer, this means supply shortages , shipping delays , and temporary store closures are becoming more commonplace – and all of the added production cost to suppliers is driving up food prices . The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index report for January 2022 was released on Feb. 9, and it tells the story of cost trends for every spending category over the past year. Now the numbers are in, and since January 2021, "food at home" spending has increased 7.4%. Consumers should use this number as a benchmark, Phil Lempert, the consumer behavior analyst and founder behind Supermarket Guru , told Eat This, Not That! "Anything that's substantially less [than the 7.4% increase] is a deal," said Lempert. "When you

When Should I Take Creatine?

Creatine is probably the most well-researched supplement on the market today. Numerous studies have found positive adaptations in strength, power and muscle mass thanks to creatine supplementation—especially when it's combined with resistance training. Although the benefits of creatine are well-known to lifters, the best time to take it isn't common knowledge. Which leads us to some important questions:     Does an optimal time for consuming creatine exist?     If it does, should you take it before or after your workout? According to a new study published in the Journal of Exercise and Nutrition, the timing of creatine ingestion does indeed play a role in getting bigger and stronger. Creatine supplementation before resistance training increases muscular strength and lean muscle mass. Interestingly, taking creatine immediately after lifting weights results in greater muscle growth than taking it immediately before. However, in terms of strength gains, no difference betw

Reentry Anxiety Is Real - Why You May Experience It as Stay-at-Home Measures Ease

When the coronavirus stay-at-home orders began in March, most people's lives changed in immeasurable ways. At the time, we were bombarded with (admittedly, very helpful) advice on how to cope with anxiety , should we experience it during this time of social distancing and sheltering in place. But with restrictions slowly starting to ease in many parts of the world, there are many people who have seen an increase in anxiety all over again, this time about leaving their homes and reentering society. Posts about people's growing anxiety have been popping up around social media for the past couple of weeks, and it's given rise to the term "reentry anxiety." We wanted to find out exactly what reentry anxiety is, whether it's normal to be experiencing trepidation about leaving your stay-at-home orders, and how to cope if you are feeling anxious. What Is Reentry Anxiety? The short answer is that "post-lockdown anxiety is real," said Dr. Balu Pitchiah ,