When I was younger, and granted, that is a long time ago, all we ever really heard about it is Vitamin C. It was sold as the cure to almost everything and anything. In recent years, Vitamin D supplementation has gained popularity, and recent studies indicate that it is one of the real essentials that we as a species have come to lack. Let’s look a little deeper into it to see if it’s something you should consider taking.
What is it?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient and 1 of the 24 micronutrients critical for our survival. Vitamin D is produced by the body from cholesterol and adequate UV light exposure. Small amounts are found in fish and eggs, but the majority is produced by our bodies when we spend time in the sun with our skin exposed, uncovered without slabs of sunscreen. This last sentence makes it quite obvious why we as westernised people have become so deficient - we just don’t have the time to sit outside in the sun with our shirts off, and when we do, the cancer guys tell us to bath ourselves in SPF900.
Also, office productivity is a thing and I doubt your boss will consent to you sunbathing in the nude on your tea break twice a day. So, how do we remedy this? By taking supplemental Vitamin D3, of course. Vitamin D3 is the more available ‘Vitamin D type’ in the body over other forms of Vitamin D, and it’s also the one that is the most easily absorbed. Pretty cool, hey!
What does it do?
It is associated with, amongst other things, increased brain function, immunity, bone density, and also feelings of well-being – It is no wonder people call it sunshine in a bottle! What’s more, if you have low levels of testosterone, supplementing with D3 could help to restore this powerful hormone to healthy levels.
How much should I take?
The recommended daily allowance is 400iu per day, but this is way too low for adults. Research suggests that the safe upper limit for athletes is around 10000iu per day, but an effective dose for the vast majority of the population is around 2000-4000iu per day. In most cases, I recommend my clients take 4000iu per day with a fat source, something like fish oil or nut butter to further increase absorption. A good guide for your optimum level is 50iu/kg of bodyweight.
Should I pair Vitamin D3 with anything?
So glad you asked… yes! Vitamin K. Although it is still a little obscure and generally misunderstood vitamin, those of us with kids might recognise it. It’s that first little injection a new-born gets to help with blood coagulation. I could probably write a whole extra article just on the different benefits, but in short, at the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) levels, Vitamin K is perfectly good for blood coagulation. This is when your blood turns solid. For example: when you cut yourself and form a scab. However, at higher doses, it is beneficial for bone and cardiovascular health too. Currently there is also research being done for its benefits in cancer therapy and anti-aging.
The reason we recommend taking them together, is their synergy in areas like bone health, where taking them together improves the action of each other. Similarly, if your Vitamin D levels are too high it can cause calcification of arteries, Vitamin K is great at removing that. As you can see, they are very complimentary.
Most people aren’t dangerously deficient, but the greater majority of us are not even near optimum levels. If you don’t spend at least 20min everyday with most of your skin exposed and not covered in sun screen, you probably need to take a Vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D3 when combined with Vitamin K2, is a great addition to your supplemental regime, and one of only a handful of things I regularly recommend. As usual, speak to your GP and do some blood work to ensure that you are within the recommended levels.
Stephan du Toit
Clinical Performance Nutritionist (MNU Cert)