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You may already be familiar with some of the benefits of vitamin D, such as increased immunity and bone health. But do you know how much vitamin D you actually need? What about the best foods and supplements to boost your levels? Here at TrueCoach, we believe fitness and nutrition go hand in hand. That’s why we’ve teamed up with our partner, Precision Nutrition, to provide world-class training in nutrition science.
This quick primer on what you need to know about vitamin D can help you learn more about this powerful vitamin.
In this article, we’ll discuss
- What is vitamin D?
- What are the benefits of vitamin D?
- Do I need a vitamin D supplement?
- How can I maintain healthy vitamin D levels?
- Top vitamin D food sources
- Top vitamin D supplements
- What if I take vitamin D and I’m not deficient?
Keep reading to learn more.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be found in certain foods and supplements, as well as exposure to sunlight. The term “vitamin D” is a bit of a misnomer. It isn’t just one vitamin, but actually a group of compounds. These include:
- Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol): Made by plants and yeasts.
- Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol): Made from animal products. It is also produced on the surface of our skin upon exposure to sunlight.
- Calcifediol (25-hydroxyvitamin D): Form of vitamin D which gets measured in blood tests.
- Calcitriol (1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D): Created in kidneys from calcifediol and the most metabolically active vitamin D form.
What are the benefits of vitamin D?
Benefits of Vitamin D include:
- Bone health
- Regulation of blood sugar
- Improved cell function
- Increased immunity
- Increased calcium absorption
- Normal blood pressure
Do I need a vitamin D supplement?
The only way to know for sure that you need a vitamin D supplement is to get bloodwork done with a medical professional. Most adults will want a vitamin D blood level of around 75 nmol/L (30 ng/mL) . A healthy range is about 50–100 nmol/L (20-40 ng/mL).
How can I maintain healthy vitamin D levels?
Getting around 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D daily, from food and supplements, is usually sufficient for maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D.
Many people are able to get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. However, the amount of sunlight you receive and absorb from the sun is dependent on a variety of factors, including your location, sunscreen use, age, skin tone, etc.
Top vitamin D food sources
Top vitamin D food sources include:
- Fatty fish: Salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, etc.
- Plant milk alternatives: Oat, soy, almond, etc.
- Beef liver
Top vitamin D supplements
The top vitamin D supplements can come in a variety of forms, including liquids, pills, sublingual sprays, and even gummies. While the shape or method isn’t that important, the form of vitamin D is. There are two main forms:
- Vitamin D2: Made from mushrooms or yeast, and is vegan-friendly.
- Vitamin D3: Usually made from lanolin (sheep’s wool).
Both forms can help boost vitamin D levels, though vitamin D3 may do a better job at raising levels overall and helping these levels stay elevated longer-term.
What if I take vitamin D and I’m not deficient?
Taking vitamin D supplements when you’re not deficient will not provide much of a benefit, and could even be potentially harmful.
Ready to jumpstart your nutrition and lifestyle coaching education?
Want to learn more about vitamins, supplements, and nutrition?
Precision Nutrition’s Level 1 Certification can help you gain the comprehensive nutrition and lifestyle coaching education you need to make an impact on your clientele. If you work in health and fitness and want to help your clients achieve their wellness goals, this self-paced nutrition certification might be for you.
This article originally appeared on the Precision Nutrition blog and an alternate version has been published here with permission. Original article by: Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, Alex Picot-Annand, PN2, Holistic Nutritionist
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