Vitamin D supplements: 8 things every beginner should know for effective use

Some people like to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D with the help of natural sources and supplements. But you should know a few things before taking a vitamin D supplement.

From childhood, we are told to enjoy time in the sun. After all, exposure to the sun is the most natural way to get vitamin D. This is important for our health, because a lack of vitamin D can cause osteoporosis and other problems related to seeds. Some people go beyond natural sources and go for vitamin D supplements. Doctors may mostly support this decision, but there are a few things to know before taking a vitamin D supplement.

Vitamin D deficiency can not only lead to problems such as osteoporosis in adults, but also rickets in children. Although there are many ways to get vitamin D, about one billion people in the world are vitamin D deficient, which is a global public health issue, according to a research published by StatPearls in 2023.

Vitamin D actually plays an important role in many bodily functions. It helps in the absorption of calcium, important for strong bones and teeth. Moreover, it strengthens the immune system, regulates mood, and supports muscle function, says clinical nutritionist Shabana Parveen. Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D can reduce the risks of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Vitamin D supplements are available in different forms. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

What is a vitamin D supplement?

To maintain a healthy level of vitamin D, you need a circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of more than 30 nanograms per milliliter. Taking a supplement will help to maintain that level. A vitamin D supplement is usually a synthetic form of this important nutrient. It is available in different forms such as tablets, capsules, or drops. People often use it to increase their vitamin D levels, especially when natural sources, such as exposure to sunlight, are not sufficient.

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What should be known before taking a vitamin D supplement?

Supplements can be of great help, but before taking them, you should consider a few things.

1. Consultation with a health care professional

Prioritize a consultation with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen, especially vitamin D, the expert says. Their expertise can guide the appropriate dosage and potential drug interactions.

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2. Assessment of current vitamin D levels

Blood tests can determine your current vitamin D levels. This can help determine if you need to take a vitamin D supplement.

3. Underlying health conditions

Certain medical conditions such as diabetes may interact with vitamin D supplementation. Thus, adjustments or careful monitoring are necessary.

4. Quality assurance

When you buy a make-up product or a pair of shoes, you probably check the brand. The same goes for your supplements. Opt for reputable brands to ensure supplement purity and potency.

5. Awareness of possible side effects

Although rare, excessive intake of vitamin D can lead to toxicity, says Parveen. Be familiar with symptoms such as nausea, weakness and vomiting.

6. Combination with other nutrients

Some supplements or nutrients can affect the absorption of vitamin D. Seek guidance on combinations from a professional to find out which combination works best.

Medicines on hand
Know the side effects of vitamin D supplements. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

7. Exposure to sunlight

Adequate exposure to sunlight helps in the natural production of vitamin D. So, consider your sun exposure levels while using a supplement.

8. Age and lifestyle considerations

Different age groups and lifestyles may require different amounts of vitamin D. Customize supplementation according to your needs.

While getting vitamin D from natural sources such as sunlight and fatty fish is ideal, supplements are important when natural intake is insufficient. You just need to have a balance between both sources to maintain optimal vitamin D levels.

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