Should You Take Vitamin D?

(This post was produced in paid partnership with Life Extension)

A note from Regan: Writing a post focusing on health and wellness in the midst of our current situation seemed “off” when I first I sat down to compile this information. How can we talk about long term bone health when there are people all over this country — and the world — at best, worrying about simply standing too close to their neighbor or worse, fighting for their lives. It’s been about 30 days since I first brought my family home and committed to isolation for as long as it takes to flatten the curve. But as the days turn to weeks, I’ve realized that while we do our part by simply staying home, we also have a chance to move on with some normal routines, including the pursuit of general health & wellness, that feels both familiar and reassuring. To that end, I share this post with you today in the hopes that it helps you both now and when we’re all able to gather closely together again. Take care, friends.

***

One of the more common questions I get asked is about which supplements I take on a regular basis. Whereas years ago I might get questions about where I got a cool pair of shoes or what mascara I use (okay, I still get asked about that… The Eyelashes Episode is one of the most popular episodes of the podcast), today it seems health/wellness and the path I’m taking to both is top of mind for people I talk to.

While there are certain supplements that move in and out of my life, there’s one that’s been taking up permanent residence for quite a while:

I became aware of the importance of vitamin D supplementation years ago when I learned that ~1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D, and 50% of the population has vitamin D insufficiency. Around my house we affectionately refer to it as the “sunshine vitamin” (your skin manufactures vitamin D when exposed to sunlight), but that production alone typically isn’t enough. [And this is especially true when being outside for at least 15 minutes with direct sunlight exposure to the skin isn’t an option.]

As a dietitian, I tend to lean heavily on the notion of choosing nutrient-rich foods for the nutrients our bodies need. But here’s the thing — one reason there is such a global vitamin D deficiency is that there are limited amounts of foods that provide the vitamin. Milk, salmon, and egg yolks all do. But what if you don’t eat those or don’t eat them often? This is where a supplement can help!

What are the benefits of vitamin D?

To answer that, I need to ask, “How much time do you have?” 

No. Seriously. The list is long. But I’ll do my best to hit the highlights. Vitamin D is important for everyone, and (in my humble dietitian opinion) especially important for those of us unmillennials who aren’t exactly in our most youthful spend-your-days-in-the-sun years. (PSA: Don’t miss this episode about sun and your skin.)

  • Cognitive health – Vitamin D is important for maintaining cognitive health and function as we age. Healthy serum (blood) vitamin D levels have been shown to correlate with better scores on cognitive health tests and better maintenance of cognitive ability in aging individuals. (references: 1-4)
  • Bone – Along with vitamin K and essential minerals, vitamin D is a crucial part of the transport of calcium into bone. (reference: 5) This is an important step in maintaining strong, healthy bones and teeth.
  • Heart health and blood pressure support – Vitamin D helps the body regulate calcium and promotes a healthy inflammatory response in the cardiovascular system. (references: 7-8)

How common is vitamin D deficiency? 

Studies show that 50 to nearly 80 percent of the general population has less than 30 ng/mL of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their blood (the standard range is 32-100 ng/mL). (references: 36-39)

How much vitamin D should I take?

Ideally, knowing your vitamin D levels will help with this determination. The way I first came to know about Life Extension years ago was through their personalized lab testing services. I’ve had my vitamin D checked through their testing for years. It’s a simple and straightforward process. My personal choice after learning about my insufficient levels was this vitamin D3 supplement, which delivers 125 mcg (5,000 IU) per softgel and aligns with Life Extension’s recommendation of between about 125 mcg (5,000 IU) to 200 mcg (8,000 IU) of vitamin D3 a day.

Experts often recommend that people have their vitamin D levels tested after 3 months of supplementation to assess and adjust their dose.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t take vitamin D?

As always, before adding any supplements to your health and wellness routine (especially if you’re on medications) it’s best to check with your physician, pharmacist, or dietitian before adding something new. (Reminder: I’m “A Dietitian.” I’m not “Your Dietitian.”) What I’ve shared today is what I do based on my current health status. Yours may differ. 

If you do want to add vitamin D to your daily routine (and after reading all that, why wouldn’t you?), my friends at Life Extension are offering Unmillennial listeners and fans $5 off $50 or more plus free shipping, just visit LifeExtension.com/regan.

Stay well my friends, Regan


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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