Vitamin D3 – Cholecalciferol
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. Our sun is the biggest source which we absorb through our skin. We only need a relatively small amount of exposure to sunshine each day to hit our daily requirements, but we are increasingly avoiding the sun through office work, clothing and sunscreen. During the winter months, we have reduced opportunities to be exposed to the sun and diseases linked to vitamin D deficiency are beginning to return.
The amount of sunshine we require depends on the colour of our skin, the season, the time of day we are exposed to the sun, pollution levels and our age. According to WebMd, if you know how long it takes for your skin to get sunburnt, then you need about a quarter of that time in the sun, exposing your hands, legs, face and arms about two or three times a week. No sunscreen. No coverings.
You can see how, for some people, that’s going to be difficult. If you live in the northern latitudes or aren’t able to get outdoors much, it’s a real challenge. If you’re a sportsperson training indoors or a surfer keeping well-covered with sunscreen, rash vests and wetsuits, you may be prohibiting the absorption of this critical vitamin. And the darker your skin, the more vitamin D you need.
Why vitamin D is important
Vitamin D is essential for our bones. Without it, we cannot absorb calcium. Without calcium, our bones become soft and weak. Rickets, a childhood disease that develops through a lack of vitamin D, causes bones to bend easily. In adults, it creates mis-shapen and fragile bones, known as osteomalacia and osteoporosis.
The primary benefits of vitamin D include
- Strong bones, minimizing fractures and breakage
- Muscle strength
- Improved balance
- Reduced knee and hip pain
- Research shows it plays a protective role against prostrate, colon and breast cancer
- It is believed that the anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin D help in the protection of the heart against hypertension, hyperlipidemia, peripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke.
- Prevention and treatment of multiple sclerosis, which is believed to start in the womb and is affected by the mother’s Vitamin D levels. A correlation between birth month and the likelihood of MS has been identified in higher latitudes where lower levels of sunshine affect vitamin D rates.
Vitamin D Overdosing
It is very difficult to overdose on Vitamin D. Apsu contains 100% of the recommended daily allowance at 400 IU (International Unit). Overdosing only happens when intake exceeds 40,000 IU on a daily basis for several months and the key source of overdosing comes from supplement intake. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which means the body holds onto it if taken in excess and only released if it’s needed. If too much vitamin D is taken, high blood calcium levels develop in your blood; a condition called hypercalcemia.
Avoid overdosing by choosing your supplements carefully and managing your exposure to the sun. Unless you’re under your doctor’s advice, avoid supplements that include levels of vitamin D above Recommended Daily Amounts.
Common Sources of Vitamin D
Other than the sun, which supplies up to 90% of our requirements, there are very few natural sources of vitamin D. It can be manufactured in a laboratory as a nutritional supplement and many foods, such as breakfast cereals, bread and milk, are fortified with it. Here are the natural food sources:
Check out our blogs on vitamin A, vitamin C, fat soluble vitamins versus water soluble vitamins and why not all multivitamin supplements are the same.