You have probably heard that vitamin D plays a role in bone health. And that’s true! In addition to bone health, research now shows that vitamin D plays major roles in numerous functions in the body, including hormone balance and immunity.
Let’s dive into the benefits of vitamin D.
Bone health is an area of particular importance for women since during menopause the rate of bone breakdown surpasses bone building.
Bones are actually considered a metabolically active organ that experiences ongoing remodeling throughout life. Vitamin D supports bone growth as well as bone remodeling through supporting bone mineralization. The vitamin promotes calcium absorption in the digestive tract and maintains sufficient calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood. This enables the bones to adequately incorporate minerals for strength.
Immune cells are capable of both synthesizing and responding to vitamin D. The vitamin can help regulate the immune system’s management of oxidative stress.
Vitamin D is critically important in pregnancy for fetal bone health as well as maternal health. One study of pregnant women found that supplementation with 50 mcg (2000 IU) per day was associated with increased immunity that may prevent adverse effects caused by an excessive amount of oxidative stress .
While inconclusive, research suggests that vitamin D may play a role in supporting mood. In a study of older adults, vitamin D deficiency was associated with low mood and impairment in cognitive performance.
Another promising area of research on vitamin D is its role in hormone balance. According to a systematic review study, better vitamin D levels were associated with several parameters favorable to female reproductive health, including balanced levels of several hormones: androgens, anti-Müllerian hormone, and luteinizing hormone.
The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D for women is 15 mcg (600 IU). However, the National Endocrine Society remarks that this amount may not be enough for the full scope of functions to which vitamin D contributes in the body.
The Society recommends 37.5-50 mcg (1,500-2,000 IU) per day for most children and adults. This may be a more adequate amount to provide all the non-skeletal health benefits, as previously discussed.
Furthermore, those who have deficient levels in their blood may need additional vitamin D supplementation.
While sunlight can be a major source of vitamin D for some people, not everyone gets enough sunlight exposure for various reasons. Therefore, food and supplementation are great sources of vitamin D to focus on.
Good food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, which contain anywhere between 2.5-15 mcg (100-600 IU vitamin D per 3-ounce serving). Egg yolks are also a good source of vitamin D, containing about 0.925 mcg (37 IU) per yolk.
Dairy and non-dairy alternatives do not naturally contain vitamin D, but most are fortified with the vitamin, making them good sources of vitamin D.
Achieving close to 50 mcg (2,000 IU) of vitamin D through foods alone can be hard to do. Vitamin D supplements may be helpful.
Vitamin D should always be taken with food containing fat to help with absorption.
Care/of’s Vitamin D provides 25 mcg (1,000 IU) vitamin D per capsule. Manufactured in the U.S., Care/of’s Vitamin D is third-party tested, non-GMO, and contains no unnecessary fillers.
Research estimates that over 70% of Americans get less than the recommended amount of vitamin D.
Differences of opinion exist as to the definition of what is a sufficient level of vitamin D. Sufficiency is often reported as at least 30 ng/mL, insufficiency between 20-30 ng/mL, and deficiency <20 ng/mL.
However, sufficient levels aren’t always the same as optimal levels. Healthier levels of vitamin D may more optimally be 40-60 ng/mL.
Vitamin D deficiency can negatively impact women in various ways. Deficiency can present complications in pregnancy and negatively impact bone health, blood sugar regulation, muscle strength, and immune function.
Low levels of vitamin D can show up as fatigue, muscle weakness, bone issues, or hair loss. All of these symptoms can have other causes, too. Therefore, you should talk to your healthcare provider about these symptoms and the potential need for getting your blood level of vitamin D checked.
Current recommendations state that the tolerable upper limit of vitamin D intake from all sources for most adults is 100 mcg (4,000 IU) per day.
Excess vitamin D levels are generally caused by excessive intake of vitamin D from dietary supplements.
Blood levels greater than 150 ng/mL are associated with vitamin D toxicity. However, vitamin D toxicity is rare and generally occurs only after consuming large doses of vitamin D (usually >10,000 IU per day) for prolonged periods.
Already well known for its role in bone health, we now know that vitamin D plays a major role in other functions including the immune system, hormone balance, and healthy pregnancy. There is still some debate as to what is a healthy level of vitamin D in the blood and how much vitamin D to consume each day. Generally, blood levels above 30 ng/mL are sufficient. Most adults should aim for about 37.5-50 mcg (1,500-2,000 IU) vitamin D daily. Sun exposure, food sources, and supplementation can help you meet your needs.