Vitamin D3

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D3 Structure

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble compound that helps absorb calcium into the body (1). Curiously, vitamin D is technically not a vitamin; instead, it is considered a precursor for a hormone (2). And unlike typical vitamins, it can be synthesized within the human body.

There are five different forms of vitamin D, two of the most common being vitamin D3 and vitamin D2. Between the two, the D3 form is more powerful and absorbable, raising vitamin D levels in the blood to about twice the amount that D2 does (3).

A major function of vitamin D is that it helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. Having the proper balance between vitamin D and calcium is important for keeping healthy, strong bones (1). It is only when vitamin D is present that calcium, the primary component of bone, can be absorbed by the body. In addition, vitamin D may be helpful in protecting older individuals from the effects of osteoporosis.

Besides the skeletal system, vitamin D also plays important roles in other processes within the body including neuromuscular function, cell growth, and inflammation response (4).

D3 Bone Health

Benefits of Vitamin D

Here’s a quick overview of the benefits that vitamin D provides:
  • Provides support for bone health
  • Helps regulate the immune system
  • Boosts cardiovascular system
  • Supports cognitive health
  • Helps boost mood

Bone Health

A well-known benefit of vitamin D is that it helps form and maintain healthy bones. It does this by regulating the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. If vitamin D wasn’t available, the kidneys would remove the calcium from the body as waste.

In addition, research has shown that there are vitamin D receptors present on the fast-twitch muscle fibers. In the body, these fibers are the first muscle components to react when someone is falling. Various studies found that older adults with low vitamin D concentrations were more likely to fall and experience fractures. It is possible that vitamin D may be a helpful way to reduce the risk (5).

With vitamin D deficiency, there are a variety of issues that come with this condition. Children who do not have enough of the vitamin can develop rickets, a childhood disease where the child’s bones become soft and more likely to break. If this bone disease also appears in an adult, it becomes a condition known as osteomalacia. Also, it is important to note that inadequate vitamin D levels can add to the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Vitamin D is an effective way to prevent and/or treat these bone diseases. For people who maintain healthy vitamin D and calcium levels, they may be able to minimize the risk of bone fractures and slow bone mineral loss over time (6).

Vitamin D3 Structure

Immune Function

Various research studies have examined the relationship between vitamin D and the immune system and, in particular, how the compound interacts with infections. There is evidence that vitamin D can protect you against respiratory infections such as the flu, by increasing the levels of antimicrobial peptides present in your lungs. In one particular study, the subjects were able to reduce their risk of developing an acute respiratory infection by 10 percent. The difference was even higher in the vitamin-D-deficient individuals (7). Another study saw that vitamin D deficiency possibly triggered the occurrence of influenza during the winter months.

In other studies, researchers examined what possible connection there was between autoimmune diseases and vitamin D such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS). In one study with white participants, the researchers observed that higher vitamin D concentrations were associated with a significantly lower risk of developing MS, as compared with lower vitamin D concentrations (5). As more research is conducted, the science community will find out what actually forms the link between vitamin D and the immune system.

Vitamin D3 Structure

Cardiovascular Support

Various research studies have examined the relationship between vitamin D and the immune system and, in particular, how the compound interacts with infections. There is evidence that vitamin D can protect you against respiratory infections such as the flu, by increasing the levels of antimicrobial peptides present in your lungs. In one particular study, the subjects were able to reduce their risk of developing an acute respiratory infection by 10 percent. The difference was even higher in the vitamin-D-deficient individuals (7). Another study saw that vitamin D deficiency possibly triggered the occurrence of influenza during the winter months.

In other studies, researchers examined what possible connection there was between autoimmune diseases and vitamin D such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS). In one study with white participants, the researchers observed that higher vitamin D concentrations were associated with a significantly lower risk of developing MS, as compared with lower vitamin D concentrations (5). As more research is conducted, the science community will find out what actually forms the link between vitamin D and the immune system.

Mental and Cognitive Health

Another important benefit of vitamin D is that it may improve your mood. One Norwegian study noted that overweight subjects who received a high dose of vitamin D weekly experienced a marked improvement in their depression, as compared with the participants who received placebos. The change took place over the course of a year and were measured using the Beck Depression Inventory.

In addition, increasing vitamin D intake may help improve cognitive function. A study based in Italy found that older subjects with low levels of vitamin D were likelier to experience a significant decline in the cognitive skills during the 6-year period. In a 2010 study on Parkinson’s disease, researchers observed that low vitamin D levels could possibly affect the development of Parkinson’s disease in older adults (5). Both studies give a little insight into how vitamin D (or lack thereof) could affect the cognitive health of an individual.

Vitamin D3 Structure
Vitamin D3 Structure

Vitamin D through History

With the societal changes of the past few decades, it has become increasingly common for people to be diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. People are spending comparatively less time out in the sun now than they did even a few decades ago, and the effects are starting to show. Compound this with the fact that people are not consuming enough foods that contain enough vitamin D, and it seems like we have a bit of a vitamin deficiency problem. It has become a public health issue, with over a billion people worldwide being vitamin D deficient or insufficient (5).

Discovered back in 1920, vitamin D was initially utilized to cure rickets. It also proved to be helpful in mitigating the effects of osteomalacia. Once the connection between diet (especially vitamin D) and these bone diseases were established, American food companies started fortifying their food and formula products with vitamin D. This drastically reduced the prevalence of rickets in the United States (8). But even though these bone diseases are rare in America, it is still important for people to make sure they have enough vitamin D in their diets. Vitamin D has many benefits beyond calcium absorption for bones.

How is Vitamin D Obtained?

It is found in only a handful of foods, including egg yolk, fatty fish like salmon, and fortified products like milk (1). For example, US milk suppliers fortify their milk products with 100IU vitamin D per cup (4). As food habits have been changing, many people have not been producing enough vitamin D. Instead, they have been turning to supplements to fill in the gaps (8).

The most common way that vitamin D (specifically vitamin D3) is obtained is through synthesis in the body. When sunlight hits the body, this triggers vitamin D synthesis in the skin. After a short series of reactions, the active form of the compound is formed and ready for usage (4). Any excess vitamin D is then stored in the body for later use (3).

Sun Exposure and Its Effects on the Skin

As was stated earlier, vitamin D can be absorbed into the body by spending time out in the sun. However, it is important to understand that sun exposure comes with risks. The ultraviolet (UV) radiation that stimulates vitamin D can also cause issues with the skin such as sunburns and even cancer. As little as 60 seconds of UVA exposure can increase the risk of developing melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Increasing vitamin D intake by increasing sun exposure isn’t worth the risk. Instead, it is safer to integrate more vitamin D-rich foods and supplements into your diet to maintain healthy levels (8).

Because of the negative effect that UV radiation can have, people often wear sunscreen as a form of protection. Various studies have attempted to analyze the influence that sunscreen has on vitamin D intake. One study from the British Journal of Dermatology found that you can still get enough vitamin D even when you are covered in enough sunscreen to protect against sunburns. Other research has shown that wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 can significantly reduce the rate at which vitamin D synthesis occurs (5).

If people spend about 10 minutes, 2-3 times a week out in the sun, most people would be able to create a sufficient amount of vitamin D. An important thing to keep in mind though is that vitamin D breaks down pretty quickly in the body. So, you have to monitor your levels to check when your body might be running low in the vitamin, such as during the wintertime (9).

Vitamin D3 Structure

There are a variety of factors that affect vitamin D synthesis and UV radiation:

  • Season and weather
  • Time of day
  • Length of day
  • Air pollution
  • Skin tone
  • Amount of sunscreen
  • Clothing coverage

People at the Greatest Risk of Deficiency

There are certain groups that have a higher likelihood of developing vitamin D deficiency. These groups include:

  • Older adults
  • People with limited sun exposure
  • People with darker skin
  • People who use a lot of sunscreen
  • People taking certain medications that interfere with the availability/activity of vitamin D
  • People with intestinal disorders that reduce fat absorption
People at risk

Is Taking Too Much Vitamin D Harmful?

An important concern that people may have about taking vitamins is if taking too much of the supplement can be harmful. Just like most extremes, ingesting an excess of vitamin D is not healthy. In regard to vitamin D, it is possible for someone to take too much vitamin D3 and face serious side effects, but they would have to take an extremely high dose to do so. If you already have high levels of vitamin D or of calcium, do not take extra vitamin D3. Taking in too much of the compound can lead to over-calcification of bones and the hardening of blood vessels and soft tissue of the body (7).

In our Health By Principle Vitamin D3 supplement, we made sure to provide a safe and sufficient amount of the vitamin. Each pill utilizes 75mcg (3000 IU) of the active compound, giving you just the boost you need.

Quick Facts

  • The recommended daily amount of vitamin D varies based on age:
    • Children up to age 12 months: 400 IU
    • Ages 1 – 70: 600 IU
    • Adults over 70 years: 800 IU (6)
  • People are typically healthy at levels of >= 20 nanograms/mL
  • Risk of vitamin D deficiency at concentrations of <12 nanograms/mL (4)
  • Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include: (2)
    • Bone pain
    • Increased risk of fractures
    • Low mood
    • Fatigue
    • Regular sickness or infection
    • Muscle weakness
People at risk
42%
of U.S. adults are predicted to have low levels of vitamin D (3)

Health By Principle created a vitamin D3 supplement that supports your body’s systems. It serves as an energy aid and mood enhancer, giving you support with no frills or tricks. With the transition into office life and indoor work, it has become harder for people to get the Vitamin D exposure that they need to sustain themselves.
As you go about your life, using a vitamin D supplement such as ours will help you maintain the healthy level of Vitamin D you need.

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