‘Vitamin D deficiency is a world problem.’ Vitamin D Council
Now the days are drawing in, it’s important to take a vitamin D supplement if the UV index where you live is 3 or below – this level of exposure is not enough to synthesise vitamin D in your skin. As a result, vitamin D levels tend to plummet during autumn and winter in people living in northern latitudes such as the UK.
How much vitamin D3 do you need?
If you’re only interested in protecting the future health of your bones, then a minimum intake of 10 micrograms (mcg) vitamin D per day (equivalent to 400 IU) is sufficient. But for optimum blood levels that boost immunity, protect against asthma flare-ups, and prevent potential vitamin D deficiency symptoms (eg tiredness, muscle aches, constipation, low mood) a higher dose of 25mcg (1,000 IU) to 75mcg (3,000 IU) per day is advisable.
These higher doses are especially important for people over the age of 50 who tend to absorb less vitamin D and also make less vitamin D in their skin even when the sun is shining.
One study found that people over the age of 62 years synthesised four times less vitamin D than those in their 20s. This may partly explain why older people are more prone to respiratory infections during the cold months of the year.
Average intakes of vitamin D from food (such as oily fish, liver, eggs, butter and fortified milk) are just 3 mcg per day, so there is a definite shortfall between what you need and what your diet can provide during winter.
Select Vitamin D3 supplements not vitamin D2
There are two main forms of vitamin D in the diet – the plant version, vitamin D2, and the animal version, vitamin D3.
Not surprisingly, given that we are not plants, the vitamin D3 version is better at maintaining our blood levels. A recent 12-week randomized controlled trial showed that vitamin D3 supplements were twice as effective as vitamin D2 in raising wintertime blood levels of vitamin D (total 25-hydroxyvitamin D).
Vitamin D doses are sometimes expressed in International Units (IU) rather than micrograms. 1mcg vitamin D = 40 IU.
The upper tolerable level for long-term use from supplements is 100 mcg (4000 IU) vitamin D3 per day. Doses above this level are best taken under medical supervision.
If in doubt about how much you need, a blood test can assess your current vitamin D status and pinpoint the right dose for you.
Review: Vitamin D3 In Olive Oil
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. One of the best ways to take it in capsule form is therefore in an oil base for better absorption and use in the body. If you decide to take a tablet form of vitamin D3 instead, take it after a meal that includes some oil or fat to improve its bioavailability.
Healthspan Vitamin D3 50 Plus capsules provide 50 mcg (2,000 IU) vitamin D3 in an olive oil carrier and is the supplement that I take (disclosure: I act as a medical nutritional consultant to Healthspan).
Similar supplements include Now vitamin D3 in organic extra virgin olive oil in the UK, while in the US there are Naturewise Vitamin D3 and Nutrigold Vitamin D3 which are both formulated with organic olive oil.
Review: Vitamin D3 Gummies
Gummies are an increasingly popular supplement category with many people opting to enjoy a flavour boost along with their vitamins. There is a choice to make, however, apart from the different range of tastes – do you prefer gelatin or gelatin free gummies, and do you prefer one sweetened with sugar or a sugar-free version sweetened with xylitol (a sweetener that protect against tooth decay) and/or stevia? That’s something that only you can decide.
Enjoy your vitamin D3 gummy after a meal for best absorption.
Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 Gummies have a sweet-sour Wild Berry flavour and are gelatin-free. They are sweetened with organic tapioca syrup, sugar and fruit juice concentrate. Nordic Naturals gummies provide 1000 IU (25 mcg) vitamin D3 per dose (1 gummy) plus 10 calories.
Healthspan Super D Vitamin Gummy have an apple and blackcurrant flavour and provide 25 mcg (1,000 IU) vitamin D3 per dose (1 gummy). These gummies are sugar-free and sweetened with xylitol and stevia.
Vitafusion Vitamin D3 Gummy come in assorted natural flavours which may include orange, lemon, peach, blackberry or strawberry. Each serving (2 gummies) provides 2000 IU (50 mcg) vitamin D3 plus 15 calories. You could, of course, just take 1 gummy to get a 1000 IU (25 mcg) dose. These gummies are sugar-sweetened with glucose syrup and sucrose. These gummies are a best seller in the US, having won a ChefsBest award for best taste.
Review: Vitamin D3 Oral Sprays
Oral sprays are another popular way to obtain vitamin D3. A quick squirt inside the cheek, or under your tongue, allows the vitamin to rapidly cross the lining of your mouth for direct absorption into the blood stream. You can also adjust the dose based on the number of squirts you use.
BetterYou DLUX 3000 Daily Vitamin D Oral Spray provides vitamin D3 sourced from lanolin and is suitable for vegetarians. It has a natural peppermint flavour and provides 3000 IU (75 mcg) vitamin D3 per squirt. A BetterYou DLUX spray that supplies 1000 IU (25 mcg) per dose is also available.
Dr Mercola Sunshine Mist Vitamin D This spray provides 1000 IU vitamin D3 per metered dose. It is available in natural orange flavour, is sweetened with stevia extract, and has no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.