Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that aids the human body in absorbing calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, among many other minerals. The most important members of the vitamin D family are vitamin D2 (also called ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). These two vitamins are processed into metabolites known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D; Our metabolite levels can be measured in the blood to determine if we have insufficient levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is vital to our health and wellness. Vitamin D receptors are found throughout the human body, leading scientists to believe that almost every part of us may rely on vitamin D. Vitamin D has been found to be a major promoter of bone health and muscle strength. Moreover, since vitamin D receptors are found in different areas of the brain, vitamin D may also support cognitive health. If that’s the case, then a vitamin D deficiency may also affect how we feel.
If your environment or lifestyle has you out of the sun for much of the time, you may want to consider vitamin D supplements. Getting enough vitamin D is made trickier by the fact that vitamin D, unlike other vitamins, isn’t found in very many food sources. Taking a gentle supplement, like Care/of’s Vitamin D Supplement, which is made with acacia to support absorption, can go a long way. The Vegan D3 formula is made from food-grade sustainably-sourced algae. Both are tested for impurities and encapsulated in the US.
You can take vitamin D at any time of day. There is no time that’s considered “better” than others. The key is to find a time that works for you – and then be consistent. Consistency is the best way to ensure that you don’t find yourself with a vitamin D deficiency. If you’re looking to take vitamin D with the largest meal of the day, breakfast or dinner times may be good options.
If you are already in the habit of taking your vitamins in the morning, then you can easily add a vitamin D supplement to your routine. Whether you go for a supplement that’s only vitamin D or a multivitamin that contains an appropriate amount of vitamin D, taking it in the morning is a great way to ensure you’re getting enough.
Vitamin D won’t make you fall asleep, but it won’t keep you awake, either. However, one study has suggested that taking an adequate amount of vitamin D can help you sleep better at night. This study suggests that vitamin D can help you stay asleep longer, fall asleep more quickly, and feel like you had a better night’s sleep overall when vitamin D levels are low. Another study found a connection between vitamin D and its influence on serotonin and melatonin production, which both play important roles in sleep and mood. Additional research can provide more insight on vitamin D’s role in sleep in healthy individuals.
Taking your vitamin D at lunchtime can be a great idea! This is especially true if your meal contains a source of healthy fat.
Rather than thinking about taking vitamin D in terms of a specific time, consider how you can build a habit. Make your vitamins part of an activity you already do daily, such as having breakfast or making a cup of tea. Place your vitamins in an area where you will see them and where you can easily access them. Making your vitamin routine easier to remember will keep you on track. Remember: Consistency is the key.
Vitamin D is not always easily absorbed by the body. That’s why researchers suggest taking it with the largest meal of your day, which has been shown to make it easier for your body to absorb the vitamin. Because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, taking a supplement alongside something with a high amount of healthy fats, like fatty fish, avocado, or cheese, can help your body absorb vitamin D properly.
The benefits you enjoy from a vitamin D supplement will largely depend on what kind of supplement you take and the quality of that supplement. Vitamin D supplements come in a wide range of concentrations. Your best bet, as always, is to talk to a medical professional about which supplement will be right for you. Even if you’re already getting vitamin D from a multivitamin or a prenatal vitamin, your healthcare provider might recommend an additional standalone supplement. You’ll also want to be sure that your supplement is third-party tested and certified for purity and potency.
Calcium and vitamin D work together to support healthy bones. They also interact with each other. In rare cases, if you have too much vitamin D, you might absorb too much calcium, resulting in toxicity of one or both nutrients. When this happens, you can end up with calcium deposits in soft tissue areas, which can lead to other issues. Furthermore, consuming calcium when you’re not getting enough vitamin D can reduce your body’s ability to absorb calcium, thereby affecting bone and muscular health. Without enough vitamin D, only 10-15% of calcium from dietary intake may be absorbed. The ultimate goal is to get adequate amounts of both nutrients to maintain optimal health. You can ask your doctor to measure your vitamin D levels periodically especially when taking high levels of vitamin D.
Here’s what to keep in mind: The key to effective supplementation is always consistency. If taking vitamin D with your other vitamins makes it more likely that you’ll remember to take it, then that’s what you should do. Fortunately, there’s also no evidence that taking vitamin D alongside other vitamins and supplements will result in adverse effects. If taking a single multivitamin is easiest for you, look for one high in vitamin D to get the extra boost you need.
Whenever you’re adding a new supplement to your routine, you should talk to a medical professional about whether it’s right for you. Fortunately, there are no known side effects to taking vitamin D supplements at recommended doses. That said, if you take a higher dose without being directed to do so, you might notice some potential side effects, including:
Children, older people, and pregnant or breastfeeding people are at higher risk of these side effects and should talk to their healthcare provider before making any changes to their supplement routine. As a general rule, it’s important to follow the recommended dosage of any vitamin you consume, unless otherwise directed by a doctor.
If you struggle with vitamin D deficiency, you’re not alone. In fact, estimates range from between 40-70% of US adults having some level of vitamin D insufficiency. The Endocrine Society defines vitamin D deficiency as having a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood level below 20 ng/mL. An insufficiency (less severe, but still of concern) is categorized as a blood vitamin D level that falls between 21–29 ng/mL. Although many vitamins can be absorbed through the foods we eat, it can be very challenging to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from food only.
As vitamin D is mainly produced in the skin through sun exposure, many people find themselves lacking vitamin D during the colder months. It can also be a challenge for people with darker skin tones to get enough sun exposure. This deficiency can cause us to feel sluggish, listless, achey, and possibly even affect your mood. Low levels of vitamin D can also have a negative impact on bone health, sleep quality, and our immune function. Lack of sunshine due to lifestyle, skin pigmentation, or environment may be some of the biggest contributors to vitamin D deficiencies, but other factors include age, premature birth, and conditions that may lead to malabsorption.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms, you should talk to your medical provider. They can help you determine whether a vitamin D deficiency is the cause.
To avoid deficiency, it’s important to keep regular track of your vitamin D levels. Fortunately, your healthcare provider can monitor your vitamin D status with a simple blood test. Insurance typically covers vitamin D screening for certain subgroups, including pregnant and lactating people, people with certain health conditions, people who take certain medications, people who have darker skin, and older adults who meet certain criteria. Even if you don’t fall into one of these subgroups – and if your insurance doesn’t cover vitamin D screening – your doctor will still be able to order one for you. Labs offer tests for anywhere between $60 and $100. Be sure to check the price first, though, as costs can vary depending on which lab you’re using. However the test is procured, your doctor can use information from the test to figure out your vitamin D levels and determine whether supplementation would be good for you.