The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 800 IU per day
Vitamin D can be supplemented with natural as well as fortified food sources
Take oral supplements or intramuscular injection for low levels of vitamin D
Vitamin D is fat-soluble and contrary to popular belief, you do not get vitamin D from the sun. Rather, it is produced in your skin as response to sunlight received, which is why it is also referred to as the sunshine vitamin.
There are also a very limited number of vitamin D rich foods that we consume. Vitamin D is divided into two components: vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol, and vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol. Vitamin D3 is only found in foods with an animal source, while D2 is mainly found in either foods that are fortified with it or via plant sources.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin D is 400–800 international units (IU). Children, teens and adults up to the age of 70 should receive 600 IUs, while adults over the age of 70 require a minimum of 800 IUs.
The health benefits of vitamin D are many. Let’s take a look at some of these vitamin D uses in the human body:
It is difficult to receive the prescribed amount of vitamin D daily from the sun, due to which Vitamin D deficiency is a common condition across the world. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 1 billion people around the globe have low levels of the vitamin.
To remedy this, ensure you get a good amount of sunshine between 11 am and 2 pm, preferably without sunscreen. Your skin has a specific type of cholesterol that when exposed to the sun’s UVB radiation converts into vitamin D.
A vitamin D deficiency can show symptoms such as:
Not many know that calcium and vitamin D3 in fact, work hand-in-hand to protect the health of your bones. While calcium works to build and maintain bones, it is the role of vitamin D to assist your body in effectively absorbing this calcium. Whether you’re consuming the required amount of calcium for your body is thus not enough, as it could be futile if you have a vitamin D deficiency. For this reason, many calcium supplements also have vitamin D in them that aid in absorption.
It is important to note that unlike vitamin C, there are no vitamin D vegetables and fruits.
Some of the supplements and sources of vitamin D include:
At the top of the list of vitamin D3 foods are these fatty fish and seafood such as salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel, oysters, and shrimp.
As there aren’t many naturally-occurring vitamin D foods, certain items are often fortified with this vitamin –meaning vitamin D has purposefully been added to them. These vitamin D containing foods include cow’s milk, cheese, cereals, yogurts and curd, plant-based milk alternatives such as soy and almond milks, and tofu. There are also no vitamin D fruits in nature, but orange juice is often fortified with it as well.
While many tend to avoid the yellow or yolk of the egg, it is this part that is actually one of the best vitamin D sources around. Eggs from free-range or pasture-raised chickens tend to offer more vitamin D.
This is a good alternative if you don’t enjoy consuming fish directly. Cod liver oil is available in capsule form and is well-known vitamin D supplement, that is also rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.
There are no vitamin D vegetables except mushrooms, which are the only naturally-available vegetarian source of this vitamin. Interestingly, just like humans, mushrooms also produce their own vitamin D when exposed to UV light.
Most doctors recommend vitamin D deficiency treatment with oral supplements or intramuscular injections. For those with very low levels, a cholecalciferol or D3 injection of 6,00,000 IU is advised and is usually given once a year. This is often followed up with oral supplements as per prescriptions from your doctor. If your levels are not extremely low, your doctor may only advise oral supplements to be taken once a week for about 8-12 weeks.
Some of the oral supplements available in the Indian market are:
It is important to remember not to consume any oral supplement without a consultation and prescription from your doctor. Access general physicians and diagnostic centres where you can check your vitamin D levels on Bajaj Finserv Health. With this app, you can book appointments in person and schedule video consultations as well. Explore its range of features and health plans that offer you discounts from leading hospitals, clinics and labs.