Researchers at the University of Oxford have shown the extent to which vitamin D interacts with our DNA. They showed that vitamin D had a significant effect on the activity of 229 genes!
That is why vitamin D has a positive impact on so many aspects of our health. It strengthens bones and muscles, boosts immunity, improves mood, has anti-inflammatory effects, and improves heart function. Thus, a lack of vitamin D, therefore, can have serious consequences on bone density, immunity, mood, systemic inflammation, and heart function.
The main source of vitamin D in the body comes from exposing the skin to sunlight. However, it is estimated that one billion people worldwide do not have sufficient vitamin D.
Supplements are the easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D3 every day. Studies show that supplements seem to be just as effective for boosting D3 as sunlight and food.
Vitamin D comes in a few forms and they are not vitamins at all. Rather they are hormones. However, the erroneous nomenclature of them being discussed as vitamins has stuck to this day.
There are two forms of vitamin D that you can supplement with:
- Vitamin D2 ( ergocalciferol) is naturally found in some plants such as mushrooms.
- Vitamin D3 ( cholecalciferol) is naturally found in animals and algae and is produced by the skin when it’s exposed to sunlight.
To be used in the body, the vitamins first have to be processed in the liver and kidneys. While D2 and D3 are very similar, different enzymes, or proteins, are needed to activate each one and make them ready to use.
D3 works better than D2 to support the body and its functions.
- It raises your overall vitamin D level higher than D2.
- It lasts longer in the body than D2.
Thus, D3 goes farther and does more than D2. When doctors recommend vitamin D supplements, they’re likely to tell you to take D3 vitamins.
Sometimes Vegans are concerned about the source of their Vitamin D3 supplements. Let’s consider the serious health risks of not getting enough vitamin D3, to the reality of where Vitamin D3 sources come from. Vitamin D3 is derived from either lanolin (sheep’s wool) or Lichen (algae). So my advice is to not worry about small amounts of animal products such as sheep’s wool and certainly not algae.
When it comes to the food I eat, I try my best to be 100% plant-based. I also take Vitamin D3 supplements from Thorne. I recommend 5000 IUs a day in the summer and 10,000 IUs a day in the winter for those who live in climates where the days are significantly shorter in the winter. Also, it is a good idea to check levels through blood work every 6 months to find what levels work best for you and your lifestyle of sun exposure, and the climate you live in.
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2. Yale University, Yale Medicine. Vitamin D myths ‘d’-bunked. Updated March 15, 2018.