Benefits of Supplementing With Vitamin D

vitamin d and staying healthyVitamin D is an essential vitamin which is used to regulate calcium and phosphate, for this reason there are lots of benefit relating to fractures, injury risk, and frailty in the elderly. Your body produces vitamin D from cholesterol but it requires the UV light that you get from sunshine to perform this process.

People who live in countries with less sunlight (particularly people with darker skin) can suffer from deficiencies. This can lead to a whole host of issues, which is why Vitamin D supplements are becoming more and more popular. During late Spring and Summer there is little need to supplement with Vitamin D as the sun is strong enough to convert cholesterol, but in autumn and winter most people would really benefit from supplements.

In this article we will look at some of the benefits of taking a Vitamin D supplement, some will be obvious but others may just surprise you! For the most part, the benefits are fully backed by science, but some are still the subject of debate – we’ll point these out to you though.

Primary Benefits of Vitamin D and Why You Need It

  • Reduced Risk of Fractures – As Vitamin D regulates calcium production in the body, it is perhaps unsurprising that supplementing with it can lead to reduced risk of fractures. This is because the calcium can strengthen bones and increase their mineral density. A 2009 meta-analysis by Bischoff-Ferrari et al found that high doses of Vitamin D in people over 65 years old led to a 20% reduction in risk of fractures [1]. This can in turn lead to a reduction in falling in the elderly [2].
  • Reduced Risk of Colorectal Cancer – Also known as Bowel, or Colon Cancer, CRC can be caused by numerous factors; diet, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, old age, or genetics. It caused the deaths of 832,000 people in 2015 and affected 9.4 million people [3]. Prevention is very important, and it seems to be the case that Vitamin D supplementation (1000-2000 IU/day) can reduce the risk of the cancer developing [4].
  • Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) – CVD is one of the biggest causes of death, and particularly affects the elderly and the overweight. Luckily, having high levels of vitamin D seems to reduce the risk of CVD in elderly and middle aged people a meta-analysis in 2010 found that people with high levels of Vitamin D had substantially less risk of CVD, Type II Diabetes, and metabolic disorders [5].
  • Helps Lower Blood Pressure – Being deficient in Vitamin D has been shown to be linked with higher blood pressure, people with higher levels of Vitamin D (either through increased sun exposure, or supplementation) had significantly lower blood pressure [6]. If you are currently suffering from high blood pressure than supplementing with Vitamin D could help you.
  • Reduces Body Fat – There is some evidence that supplementing with Vitamin D can lead to reduced fat mass. Some studies have found fat reduction to occur [7], while others have found no significant difference. It seems to affect overweight or obese people more, and a lean person would probably not notice any differences.
  • Normalises Testosterone Levels – There are many testosterone boosters on the market, each one promising to increase testosterone, lower estrogen, and lead to increased muscle mass, reduced body fat, and improved libido. Almost none of these testosterone boosters contain vitamin D though, which is odd because there are a number of studies that show that vitamin D supplementation can normalize testosterone [8][9][10]. What does normalize testosterone mean? Well after the age of 30 years old, men tend to suffer from a sustained drop in testosterone levels. Taking ingredients (such as vitamin D) can increase their testosterone until they hit their baseline level. Many people think that a testosterone booster can help a man with high testosterone to boost it even further – but this is rarely the case. Most testosterone boosters bring testosterone levels up to average but not higher.

Vitamin D Correct Dosage

According to examine.com, the correct dosage of vitamin D to take per day is around 1,000-2,000. The official RDA is 400-800 IU/day, but examine.com says that this is too low to receive any of the benefits [11].

Final Thoughts On Vitamin D Supplementation Benefits

If you live in a country where sunshine is not guaranteed year round (particularly countries such as Canada, UK, Russia, Scandinavian countries, etc) then you should probably be supplementing with Vitamin D. If you live in an area that gets sunshine 300+ days per year then you are probably already benefiting from high levels of vitamin D. This means that if you were to supplement you would not receive any of these benefits.

Vitamin D supplementation can really help some people, while others will see absolutely no benefit. A good rule of thumb would be to take vitamin D during the winter months, and get outside as much as possible during the summer.

 

References

[1] Bischoff-Ferrari, H., Willett, W., Wong, J., Stuck, A., Staehelin, H., Orav, J., Thoma, A., Kiel, D., Henschkowski, J. 2009. Prevention of nonvertebral fractures with oral vitamin D and dose dependency: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Archives of Internal Medicine 169(6): 551-61

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19307517

[2] Bischoff-Ferrari, H., Dawson-Hughes, B., Staehelin, H., Orav, J., Stuck, A., Theiler, R., Wong, J., Egli, A., Kiel, D., Henschkowski, J. 2009. Fall prevention with supplemental and active forms of vitamin D: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Medical Journal 1;339:b3692

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19797342

[3] GBD 2015 Mortality and Causes of Death Collaborators. 2016. Global, regional, and national life expectancy, all-cause mortality, and cause-specific mortality for 249 causes of death, 1980-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet 388(10053): 1459-1544

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388903/

[4] Gorham, E., Garland, C., Garland, F., Grant, W., Mohr, S., Lipkin, M., Newmark, H., Giovannucci, E., Wei, M., Holick, M. 2007. Optimal vitamin D status for colorectal cancer prevention: a quantitative meta analysis. American Journal of Preventative Medicine 32(3): 210-6

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17296473

[5] Parker, J., Hashmi, O., Mavrodaris, A., Kandala, N., Clarke, A., Franco, O. 2010. Levels of vitamin D and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas 65(3): 225-36

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20031348

[6] Scragg, R., Sowers, M., Bell, C. 2007. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, ethnicity, and blood pressure in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. American Journal of Hypertension 20(7): 713-9

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17586404

[7] Salehpour, A., Hosseinpanah, F., Shidfar, F., Vafa, M., Razaghi, M., Dehghani, S., Hoshiarrad, A., Gohari, M. 2012. A 12-week double-blind randomized clinical trial of vitamin D3 supplementation on body fat mass in healthy overweight and obese women. Nutrition Journal 22(11): 78

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22998754

[8] Wehr, E., Pilz, S., Boehm, B., Marz, W., Obermayer-Pietsch, B. 2010. Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clinical Endocrinology 73(2): 243-8

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20050857

[9] Bischoff-Ferrari, H., Orav, E., Dawson-Hughes, B. 2008. Additive benefit of higher testosterone levels and vitamin D plus calcium supplementation in regard to fall risk reduction among older men and women. Osteoporosis International 19(9): 1307-14

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18351428

[10] Pilz, S., Frisch, S., Koertke, H., Kuhn, J., Dreier, J., Obermayer-Pietsch, B., Wehr, E., Zittermann, A. 2011. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Hormone & Metabolic Research 43(3): 223-5

(link) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195

[11] https://examine.com/supplements/vitamin-d/

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Comments

  1. I’m not a doc oz worshiper but I did notice huge improvements to my health after taking vitamin d supplements. Haven’t been sick a day since.

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