By Elizabeth Foley
Vitamin D supports the body in a number of ways, including bone health, immune support, and cognitive function. Those deficient in vitamin D can experience an array of problems including rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is now more prevalent than ever despite the fortification of foods, such as milk, with vitamin D (1). When taking a vitamin D supplement you can expect to see several positive changes in health.
Here are three benefits of taking vitamin D supplements that are backed by research:
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium in the blood. Calcium is an important component of well-being because it promotes efficient bone growth. There is ample evidence that vitamin D supplementation has the ability to prevent bone loss and reduce fracture (2). This is because calcium deficiency leads to low bone mass and osteoporosis. Maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is key to the body's ability to store and access calcium reserves.
Vitamin D can strengthen your immune system and protect against autoimmune infections. Research shows that the cells of the immune system are capable of synthesizing and responding to vitamin D leading to beneficial effects associated with a healthy immune response (3). The immune system protects against the flu and other respiratory infections. Vitamin D helps regulate the body’s immune response by decreasing inflammation and enhancing the effects of white blood cells that fight off pathogens as a part of the body's immune defense.
Sustaining healthy levels of vitamin D is a crucial factor in maintaining optimal cognitive function as we age. Cross-sectional studies have found significantly low vitamin D levels in individuals with Alzheimer's disease and cognitive impairment, compared to healthy adults, reinforcing researchers' hypothesis that vitamin D supports mental function (4). Consistently eating a balanced diet and taking supplements when necessary is the best way to maintain proper vitamin D levels. The sooner you address a vitamin D deficiency the better when it comes to supporting your brain health. Once an adult begins to experience cognitive decline, addressing vitamin D deficiency will help manage symptoms. However, cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer's disease is a progressive condition. Which means there is no guaranteed cure.
The time it takes for vitamin D to have an active effect depends upon the capsules bioavailability. The portion of a vitamin that enters the body's circulation after being ingested is known as the bioavailability of the supplement. If you are taking a highly bioavailable vitamin D supplement then you will feel better faster due to increased chances of your body taking in the necessary nutrients.
It is important to take the recommended amount of vitamin D. According to the Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D a daily dose of 600-800 IU of vitamin D is adequate for most adults. 4000 IU is considered the safe daily limit of vitamin D per-day for adults. Unless you have a doctor recommendation it is ill advised to take more than 4000 IU of vitamin D per-day due to risk of toxicity.
There are a number of other surprising benefits associated with maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D with supplements. For instance, vitamin D has an interesting connection to various skin conditions, depression and brain fog. Visit Health By Principle to learn more about vitamin D supplements.