Myth 1: People get enough vitamin D, so you don't need to supplement with it.
Truth: This isn't always the case. In fact, more often than not, people in the northern parts of the hemisphere don't receive enough of this essential pro hormone. Most people, especially with lives being spent increasingly longer indoors and out of the sun, don’t receive a sufficient amount of vitamin D. Those who take a multivitamin may see that their multivitamin has 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D, however this is typically not enough to raise vitamin D serum levels significantly. It's a good idea to get your vitamin D levels checked to make sure that your serum levels are at least at normal levels. This includes a simple blood test and will give you and your Dr. a good idea on what dosage to put you on. In most cases a regimen consisting of 2,000-5,000 IUs of vitamin D is sufficient; however these doses may be too much if you are among the rare few who are actually sufficient in vitamin D. Some treating physicians also can also prescribe extremely high doses of Vitamin D as high as 50,000 IUs. I'm not particularly a fan of these extreme doses, but they have been shown to raise Vitamin D levels quicker than using lower doses.
Myth 2: Vitamin D is a Vitamin.
Truth: Vitamin D is actually a pro-hormone that is derived from cholesterol. Vitamin D receptors have direct effects on most cells in the body. Vitamin D is involved in mineral metabolism and bone growth. Perhaps its most important "known" effect is to facilitate absorption of calcium, however it is also known to contribute to the absorption of phosphate/magnesium. Without sufficient vitamin D levels, dietary calcium is not absorbed properly and thus doesn't get distributed to places in the body where it needs to go. For example, when calcium doesn't get absorbed into the bone matrix it ends up being deposited in places where it doesn't belong, such as in the arterial walls. When calcium builds up in the arterial walls it causes an inflammatory process which can lead to heart disease. Vitamin D also stimulates the expression of a number of proteins involved in transporting calcium across the epithelial cells and into blood. It has also recently been suggested that vitamin D may have effects on longevity, by allowing certain longevity genes to be expressed longer throughout the lifespan.
Myth 3: All you need is a healthy diet to get a sufficient amount of vitamin D:
Truth: This is perhaps the biggest misconception that I hear from people. My Grandmother is a good example of how even healthy dieters can be insufficient of vitamin D. Despite her eating a near perfect diet, her vitamin D serum levels were so low that she had to be prescribed 50,0000 IU of vitamin D for 2-weeks just to get her vitamin D blood serum levels to normal. It's a fact that most foods aren't high in Vitamin D. Even known foods that are high in vitamin D such as fortified milk and fish oftentimes do not contain enough vitamin D for many individuals. If you have a lifestyle that allows you to be exposed to plenty of sunshine, then a regular diet may be all that is needed for sufficient levels of vitamin D, however many individuals simply will not receive sufficient amounts of vitamin D from diet alone. I must reiterate how important it is to get your vitamin D blood levels checked no matter how healthy your diet may be. A vitamin D blood serum level test can provide a great baseline and help those who are insufficient receive better information regarding their vitamin D levels.
Myth 4: You can take as much vitamin D as you want.
Truth: Just as having too little vitamin D can be dangerous, too much vitamin D can be equally as deleterious to health. While you can't get too much by being in the sun (the body only manufactures a certain amount of sun exposure), you can get too much vitamin D via supplementation. Vitamin D is a fat soluble pro hormone that, when taken in extreme amounts, can cause serious health issues such as kidney problems and elevated blood calcium. It is commonly suggested that a person should not exceed 10,000 IUs of vitamin D/day without being under a Rd.’s supervision. As noted earlier in my example of my Grandmother, she was under a Doctor’s supervision during her 50,000 IU supplementation and monitored regularly.
Myth #5: All vitamin D is the same.
Truth: There are two common forms of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is far more bio-available or more easily absorbed into the body. Most vitamin D supplements come as vitamin D3 due to this fact, however you should check your label to make sure it is the D3 variant. I have noticed that many multivitamins are now coming with Vitamin D3 versus D2, however some are still using the lesser vitamin D2 form. Furthermore, many studies have shown that vitamin D-3 in even more absorb-able in a liquid base. If you decide you should supplement with vitamin D3, it's best to take a gel cap with an oil base as this insures optimal absorption of vitamin D3.
There is increasing evidence of the importance of vitamin D and its effects on health and longevity. While many people don't need to supplement with vitamin D due to their geographical location, many people get very little of this essential nutrient. For those who are deficient, supplementing with Vitamin D is both convenient and very inexpensive. Most health stores carry vitamin D3 and it's typically very affordable. iHerb.com, for example, carries vitamin D anywhere from three to five dollars for a 3-month supply or even less with an iHerb Coupon. With this being the case, there is no reason why anyone should suffer from the ill health effects of vitamin D deficiency.
Thank for reading!