What is vitamin D3 and its deficiency?
Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol is a fat-soluble, type of vitamin D that is consumable from foods for supplementation in the body. It is also naturally produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight. It is important for absorption of calcium and phosphates from the stomach. It also helps calcium perform its role in the body and implicates positive overall health. Once in the body, D3 manifests itself as a hormone where it circulates distributing calcium and phosphorous from digested foods. D3 deficiency is the low count of the vitamin in the body, thus resulting in its malfunction and cannot carry out its role in the body accordingly.
Healthful sources of vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 deficiency in the body can be as a result of the use of sunscreen too much, old age and darker skin pigments. All of which inhibit the body’s ability to absorb ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Healthful sources of D3 mainly includes natural plant and animal foods as well as the natural source of light (the sun). Rich food sources of D3 include; fish oil and fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, tuna, herring, swordfish, and salmon. Other food sources are; fortified skim milk, cereals fruit juices, eggs, raw maitake mushroom, and chicken.
How much vitamin D3 should you consume?
It is important to maintain the levels of vitamin D3 in the body at par. Most people suffer from Vitamin D3 related problems not because they don’t consume it but because they don’t know how much is little and how little is much for the body. There is a standard requirement of D3 that targets different ages. It is measured in international units (IU) however, it can be converted to micrograms (mcg), 1IU=40mcg. The recommended intakes currently stand at:
- 0-12 months old babies: 400 international units
- 1-18 years old: 600 international units
- 19-70 years old: 600 international units
- Above 70 years: 800 international units
- Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers: 600 international units
Uses and Benefits of Vitamin D3
- Osteoporosis: since it aids calcium to perform its function which involves strengthening bones, then it is important in cases where bones are weak and brittle. Osteoporosis is brought about by age, menopause and hormonal changes. Is also useful in preventing osteomalacia (bone pain).
- Hypoparathyroidism: vitamin D3 is useful in treating calcium deficiency that is brought about by a parathyroid hormone deficiency, which is what causes hypoparathyroidism.
- Heal’s resistant rickets: many are the time’s vitamin D alone is not helpful in curbing rickets, since it is difficult to obtain the right amounts from its natural source. However, D3 meets the calcium requirements needed to heal vitamin D resistant rickets.
- Familial hypophosphatemia: D3 is used in familial hypophosphatemia thus increasing the levels of phosphate in the blood stream.
- Vitamin D3 can be used in kidney diseases to regulate the levels of calcium and enhance the normal growth of bones.
- D3 drops are helpful to infants to boost the levels since breast milk contains low volumes of the vitamin. It helps in lowering chances of arterial wall stiffness. On the other hand, low levels of cholecalciferol can lead to atopic childhood and allergic diseases e.g. dermatitis and asthma.
- Vitamin D3 boosts the immune system thus preventing illnesses such as autoimmune diseases and certain types of cancer by influencing the expression of the cancerous cells and malignant growth. Also, improves brain health and the nervous system.
- Helps in regulating blood sugar levels and in the long run helps in managing diabetes. Low levels of D3 have been linked to adverse effects on insulin secretion and glucose tolerance.
- Vitamin D3 supports the function of the lungs and reduces the risks of cardiovascular diseases as well as blood pressure.
Side-effects associated with Vitamin D3
- Muscle or bone pain
- Weight loss
- Swelling of the face, tongue, and throat
- Chest pains
- Hypercalciuria (uncommon but can happen)
- Short breaths and trouble breathing
- Metallic taste in your mouth in case of an overdose
- Allergies such as rashes and itching
- Nausea and vomiting (rare)
- Difficult swallowing
- Urinating often
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
When to avoid vitamin D3 supplements
- In cases of hypercalcemia, it is not ideal to consume vitamin D3 supplements as it can lead to hyperparathyroidism and Williams’s syndrome.
- When one is experiencing abnormally high levels of hypervitaminosis D, it is recommended that you steer clear of D3 supplements.
- If you have conditions that may inhibit absorption of food nutrients in the body i.e. malabsorption, you should seek a doctor’s opinion before taking vitamin D3 supplements.
- Any incidences of heart disease, kidney disease or an electrolyte imbalance are not ideal for consumption of D3 in excess.
- Other drugs may not work well in presence of vitamin D3 supplements. This include; seizure medication, diuretic medication, steroids, digoxin, and cholestyramine.
- Alcohol and D3 are not the best of friends thus you should try lowering the amounts of alcohol you consume when taking Vitamin D3 supplements.
Vitamin D3 Warnings
As much as vitamin D3 is useful in strengthening bones among other advantages, it is important to consume the right amounts of cholecalciferol. This is because too much of the vitamin can lead to calcification of bones, hardening of kidneys, hurt, blood vessels and lungs. Too much of something can be poisonous, instead of being useful and do more harm to the body. On the other hand, low levels of D3 has been connected to Leukemia (blood cancer), due to low exposure to sunlight.