Need more Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because the body produces it through sun exposure. But about 3 out of 4 Americans aren’t getting all the vitamin D they need.
The Endocrine Society, on the other hand, recommends that obese adults take two to three times more vitamin D in order to meet their body’s needs.
Low vitamin D levels are linked to a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and of dying from cancer and heart disease. The vitamin also helps the body absorb calcium, a mineral that keeps your bones strong.
Symptoms and Health Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency
Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Yet, even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:
- Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive impairment in older adults
- Severe asthma in children
- Weight gain
Research suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.
Why your weight matters when you take vitamin D?
Vitamin D is most useful to the body when it’s in the bloodstream. That’s why experts use a serum vitamin D blood test to assess whether a person is deficient in the vitamin. But vitamin D is also fat soluble, meaning that it’s absorbed by body fat.
Body fat cells absorb vitamin D quickly, removing it from the blood. When that happens, the vitamin isn’t available for the metabolic processes that use it. In order to reach a healthy blood level of vitamin D, therefore, an obese person needs to supplement with more vitamin D than a normal-weight person.
On average, obese and overweight subjects had lower serum vitamin D levels than normal-weight individuals, and they had lower blood concentrations at any given amount of supplementation.
Research also showed that taking too much vitamin D through supplements isn’t much of a concern. The body tends to self-regulate vitamin D, with high levels of supplementation having only a small impact on blood concentrations, the results showed. And of the many people in the study who took high doses of vitamin D, including 69 people who took over 20,000 IU per day (more than 30 times the RDA of 600 IU per day), none experienced health problems that can be associated with extremely high vitamin D levels.
Recommendations are that adults take 1,500 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor for a blood test to check your levels, he says. If you’re deficient, some doctors will recommend taking a weekly megadose to correct the problem quickly, but Fuhrman advised against this strategy. Instead, he said, try increasing your dose by 1,000 to 2,000 IU and then have another test so that you can determine how much you should take long-term.