The Benefits of Vitamin D3
Vitamin D is a nutrient unlike any other, as it is the only Vitamin which can be produced from a non-food source: sunlight! Amazingly, our bodies have evolved to convert UVB rays from the sun into an active form of Vitamin D. In fact, it is only when sunlight exposure is insufficient that a dietary source is required at all. At Natural Nutrients we are fascinated by this entire process, and how important Vitamin D is to our health. That’s why during our rebrand we focused not only on our fresh new look but also on optimising our product range. We are thrilled to present to you our new and improved Vegan Vitamin D3, read on to discover more…
What is Vitamin D and why do I need it?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that naturally occurs in five different forms. The most important of these forms are D2 (Ergocalciferol) and D3(Cholecalciferol). These are the forms of Vit D that function in the body.
- D2– Produced by some plants when they are exposed to the UVB rays of the sun. Cereals, mushrooms and some grains are often fortified with D2 as an inexpensive way to improve nutritional value. D2 is also used to supplement the diets of those with chronic liver disease, intestinal malabsorption and thyroid conditions – all of which affect absorption of Vitamin D.
- D3– Made in our skin when UVB rays from the sun react with receptors in the skin to produce a prohormone. This then enters the bloodstream and is converted to the active form of Vitamin D. Dietary sources of D3 include oily fish, egg yolks, cow’s liver, cheese and fortified foods. Given this, you’ve probably guessed that vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk of deficiency.
There has been much debate over the decades as to which form, D2 or D3, is best for us. Most research agrees that it is Cholecalciferol, more commonly known as Vitamin D3, that provides the best benefits to health. Research has shown that D3 is more readily absorbed and utilised than D2, and has shown D3 to be over 300% more effective than D2. A recent meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials – that is a study to conclude all previous studies – found that D3 supplementation had a significant and positive effect in raising serum Vitamin D stores when compared with D2. What’s more, the analysis concluded that D3 should be the recommended choice when it comes to Vit D supplementation. It is widely accepted now that D3 is the wonder nutrient, and that which we must ensure we’re getting enough of.
Getting Enough Vitamin D
There are 3 ways to improve your nutritional status when it comes to Vitamin D: 1) Diet 2) Sunlight Exposure 3) Supplementation.
There are relatively few dietary sources of Vit D, especially D3. For those following a plant-based diet, there are even fewer.
So, it’s a godsend that we can make our own Vitamin D stores using the power of the sun, right? Well, yes, it is - but… there are many reasons why most of us cannot and do not absorb enough sunlight to meet our Vitamin D requirements. For those of us at NN headquarters, being in the UK means we get less sun exposure due to cloud cover, lower altitude, northern latitude and seasonal weather. For those of you lucky enough to live in a warmer, sunnier climate, things such as clothing, sunscreen, shade and having darker skin can also reduce how much Vitamin D your body can make from sunlight. In addition to this, there have also been concerns about the benefits of UVB exposure to Vitamin D levels versus the risks of sun damage to skin, including skin cancer
The Health benefits of Vitamin D3
Studies have shown that adequate Vitamin D levels are imperative to a whole spectrum of functions in the human body.
- Vitamin D is essential for Bone Health – Your body needs Vitamin D to absorb dietary Calcium. D3 functions in the body to: absorb dietary calcium in the small intestine, reduce calcium excretion in the kidneys, reduce the release of calcium from bones and stimulate the production of connective tissue and joints. An Institute of Medicine report in 2010 conducted an extensive review on the role of Vitamin D in promoting bone mineral density (BMD) – a measure of bone strength and quality. It found conclusive evidence of the protective effect of Vitamin D supplementation to promote Calcium absorption.
- Diabetes – There is growing evidence to suggest Vitamin D deficiency puts us at risk of impaired glucose tolerance. This is a condition where blood sugars are high, but not high enough to present with a diagnosis of Diabetes, hence why it is sometimes referred to as ‘pre-diabetes.’ Vitamin D plays a physiological role in the secretion of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas to metabolise glucose and so control blood sugar levels.
- Brain Health – The human brain contains numerous Vitamin D receptors, hormone receptors which act as ‘transcription factors.’ These are proteins which regulate gene expression, and have been shown to protect against conditions such as Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
- Cardiovascular Health – Vitamin D has been proven to protect against heart disease. This is also down to its role in calcium metabolism. When we consume a diet high in fat, fatty deposits can build up in our arteries and over time harden and become calcified. Having sufficient levels of Vitamin D can support your body’s natural defence mechanisms in breaking down and removing calcified plaques, which if left to worsen would eventually lead to heart disease.
- Cancer – Vitamin D functions in the body to boost the activity of immune cells. These are the cells which fight infection and target mutated cells which, left to their own devices, can turn into cancer. Research has also found that Vitamin D functions to alter gene expression in cancer cells, increasing the likelihood that the body tells these cells to self-destruct before they become dangerous.
Natural Nutrients Vegan Vitamin D3
Whether by diet, sunlight, supplementation or a combination of the three, we hope we have explained the necessity of achieving an adequate Vitamin D status. As explained, there are many reasons why a lot of us are deficient in this essential nutrient – lack of sunlight and plant-based diets being the main factors. Supplementation is a convenient, easy and reliable way to ensure you ae meeting your daily requirements of Vitamin D. We have researched and perfected our own Natural Nutrients Vegan Vitamin D3 capsules, and are confident they’re the best out there to help you meet your intake, here’s why…
- Our Vitamin D3 supplement offers 1000IU or 25mcg in each capsule – That’s 250% RDA for Vitamin D. Studies have shown that high-dose supplementation of Vitamin D is entirely safe and necessary to build up stores of Vitamin D in fatty tissue. This can help to prevent deficiency in winter months, when sunlight is scarce and so we can’t synthesis Vit D ourselves.
- Plant sourced Cholecalciferol –As most sources of D3 are animal-based, we have gone the extra mile to obtain a vegan friendly, plant-based source of entirely natural D3 – making our capsules suitable for vegans and vegetarians
- 100% Natural Ingredients – Our plant-based Vitamin D contains no bulking agents, chemicals or additives. These are commonly found in supplements to bulk out the product and make it cheaper to produce. We do use rice bran and concentrate to stabilise the Vitamin, but these are entirely natural and wholly necessary.
As Vitamin D is fat soluble, we recommend taking 3 capsules per day with food. This will aid in absorption of D3, ensuring it is readily available for you to absorb and utilise. What’s more, it will provide a potent dose of 3000IU/75mcg D3 – which is 1500% of your daily Nutrient Reference Value.
Visit our website to find out more about Natural Nutrients Vegan Vitamin D3 and to learn more about our revamped and perfected supplement range!
Thanks for reading,
Natural Nutrients Nutritionist
- Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Tripkovic et. al The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 95, Issue 6, 1 June 2012, Pages 1357–1364,
- Heaney RP. Vitamin D: how much do we need, and how much is too much? Osteoporosis International. 2000;11:553–5.
- Latitude, sun exposure and vitamin D supplementation: associations with quality of life and disease outcomes in a large international cohort of people with multiple sclerosis. BMC Neurol. 2015; 15: 132. Published online 2015 Aug 5. doi: 10.1186/s12883-015-0394-1.
- Armas LA, Hollis BW, Heaney RP. Vitamin D(2) is much less effective than vitamin D(3) in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2004;89:5387–91.
- Ross CA, Taylor CL, Yaktime AL, Del Valle HB, eds. Dietary Reference Intakes for calcium and vitamin. Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium; Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2010
- Cade C, Norman AW. Vitamin D3 improves impaired glucose tolerance and insulin secretion in the vitamin D-deficient rat in vivo. Endocrinology. 1986 Jul;119(1):84-90.