Vitamin-D Supplements: Are They Overrated or Literally One of The Most Important Supplement?
38 Health Reasons Why Vitamin-D is Important.
Vitamin-D, (ergocalciferol = Vitamin-D2 or Cholecalciferol = Vitamin-D3), also known as the Sunshine Vitamin, is essential for any well-balanced diet.
As you read down this awesome article, you'll discover why Vitamin-D supplements are so important in the cure, prevention, and restoration of health after diseases.
While it’s mostly known for its role in bones, teeth, and calcium absorption, there are dozens of amazing benefits to vitamin D, backed by science.
In this article, we are going to discover what probably makes Vitamin-D the most important supplement of all times.
We will look at the health benefits of Vitamin-D in treatment & prevention of diseases, restoration of multiple body functions and enhancement of performance in sports and
What is Vitamin-D
Vitamin-D is a fat-soluble vitamin naturally present in very few foods but abundant from the sun. This means dietary Vitamin-D requires fat to be absorbed.
Vitamin D derives from a nutritional origin or is synthesized in the skin under the influence of UV-B light. This is a purely photochemical reaction, however, the reaction requires a sufficiently large concentration of UV-B 290–315 nm light (1).
Bottom Line: It requires long exposure to the sunlight to get sufficient Vitamin-D without diet or supplementation.
Types of Vitamin-D
There are 3 types of vitamin-D but only two are worth looking deeper into. The two are
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)
Ergocalciferol is a Vitamin-D analog used in the treatment of hypoparathyroidism, refractory rickets, and familial hypophosphatemia (2)
Vitamin D-3 (cholecalciferol)
Cholecalciferol is the commonest over-the-counter
Let’s take a look at 37 health benefits to this super vitamin! Are you getting enough?
#1 Vitamin-D Promotes Bone Health
Getting enough vitamin D is crucial to maintain and support bone health.
Without it, our bodies will be unable to effectively absorb the mineral calcium and phosphorous, leading to thin and brittle bones.
There are several conditions caused by low Vitamin-D levels.
Osteopenia is the first stage of bone wasting, especially due to low levels of vitamin-D and calcium. Most people will not know they have osteopenia unless an X-ray is taken.
Osteopenia puts us at an increased risk of fractures
Stages of osteopenia to Osteoporosis
Osteo = Bone
Osteoporosis is defined as a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both due to little or no core minerals (Vitamin-D and calcium)
Osteomalacia means "soft bones." Osteomalacia is a bone disease caused by decreased mineralization of Vitamin-D resulting in a situation where the bone breaks down faster than it can re-form (3).
Osteomalacia, however, can be caused by some types of bone cancer, causing rapid calcium demineralization (4).
Bottom Line: Enough sun exposure, diet rich in Vitamin-D and optimum Vitamin-D supplementation is quintessential in preventing and reversing osteoporosis, osteopenia and Vitamin-D related osteomalacia.
#2 Prevent May Ischemic Stroke
Research closely examined a person’s risk for stroke based on the foods they ate as well as vitamins and minerals they were getting.
This report revealed that people more at risk for stroke were those who had low levels of vitamin D in their bodies (9).
Vitamin D contributes to strengthening the lining of our blood vessels that will allow an improved flow and therefore reduce inflammation and other heart-related diseases like atherosclerosis (11).
Bottom Line: Vitamin-D supplementation can lower incidences of clopidogrel (Plavix) resistance, leading to lower incidences of ischemic stroke to patient on prophylactic regimen.
#3 Vitamin-D May Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable, progressive brain disorder that affects an estimated 5.6 million individuals 65 years old and over (12).
It’s caused by brain cell death, with those suffering from it losing more and more nerve cells and connections.
Studies offer conflicting findings on the role of vitamin-D in Alzheimer's disease prevention. Individuals deficient in vitamin D are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease with a very clear link (13).
Research conducted on 1,600 senior citizens over the span of six years found that those with very low vitamin D were much more likely to develop this degenerative disease than those who had sufficient amounts (14).
Bottom Line: While some research studies have found a low correlation of low Vitamin-D levels and Alzheimer's disease, the elderly can always benefit from Vitamin-D supplementation, with or without Alzheimer's
#4 Vitamin-D Prevents Rickets
Rickets is a bone disorder most commonly affecting children, which is caused by a vitamin D deficiency.
It’s characterized by weak, softer bones, and a delay in cartilage growth mineralization (15).
Children with rickets are normally treated with calcium supplements and Vitamin-D to improve calcium absorption (16).
Yet very sunny in tropical countries like Kenya, Rickets is a very common disease in children - something that
This disorder can lead to future bone deformities, such as bow legs and growth retardation.
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin-D, together with calcium supplements are the core treatment of rickets. Supplementing with Vitamin-D during pregnancy is a plus.
#5 Vitamin-D Improves Physical Performance & Strength
Studies have long revealed the benefits of vitamin D and its role in muscle function and muscle metabolism (17).
In fact, supplementing your diet with vitamin D has been shown to improve balance, muscle strength, and overall physical performance (17).
Vitamin D insufficiency has now reached epidemic proportions and has been linked to increased body fat and decreased muscle strength.
Another study evaluated handgrip strength in women from Newzealand.
There was a clear and significant handgrip strength in women with optimum Vitamin-D levels compared to deficient ones (20).
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin-D improves grip power and potentially general muscle power.
#6 Vitamin-D May Prevents Diabetes
While the exact cause of Type I diabetes is unknown, Type II diabetes has been linked to a poor diet.
A worldwide study conducted on 76,220 individuals revealed a link between low vitamin D levels and Type II diabetes (21).
This association is due to the effects of vitamin D on β-cell function and glucose levels, which directly relate to insulin resistance and secretion.
Several studies have indicated a clear relationship between vitamin D deficiency and the risk of diabetes or glucose intolerance.
Insulin resistance is first suspected, in most cases due to the presence of Acanthosis Nigricans.
While insufficient vitamin D levels can be harmful to anyone, the elderly are most at risk of developing diabetes (23).
BOTTOM LINE: Maintaining optimum Vitamin-D levels seems to have a direct effect on diabetes, insulin resistance and Acanthosis Nigricans.
#7 Vitamin-D May Improve Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
There is sufficient evidence showing higher rheumatoid arthritis activity in patients with low vitamin-D levels (24).
Another scientific study found out that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to disease severity in Rheumatoid Arthritis (25).
An Oxford University study found a link between low levels of vitamin D and increased inflammation, bone loss, joint pain, and stiffness in those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (26).
It goes without saying that Vitamin-D supplementation is a good therapeutic move to combat rheumatoid arthritis.
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin-D exhibits anti-inflammatory effects that may help in suppression of Rheumatoid Arthritis flare-ups.
#8 Vitamin-D May Fights Depression
Over 16 million adults in the U.S. have had at least one major depressive episode in a year, study shows.
Getting enough vitamin D has been shown to help fight depression, including Seasonal Affective Disorder(27).
A study examined 81,189 women and found that those with more vitamin-D experienced less depression(28).
This is believed to be due to how vitamin-D affects the “happy neurotransmitters” known as dopamine and norepinephrine.
BOTTOM LINE: Getting enough sunshine exposure and being outdoors has anti-depressive effect. When that is not enough, adding Vitamin-D supplements can help improve or prevent depression.
#9 Decreases Risk of Cancer
Studies conducted over the span of many years have revealed that getting sufficient vitamin D can decrease risks of cancer (29).
This is especially important for those with a family background for cancers like skin, lung, breast, and prostate cancer.
Harvard Medical School Journal published about the effects of Vitamin-D against Cancer, although the journal has cautioned that only optimum Vitamin-D levels are needed.
Higher than optimal Vitamin-D levels does not offer any additional protection against cancer.
Breast and colon cancer, in particular, have been shown to be most correlated with a lack of vitamin D.
Men are also shown to be more at risk, with a higher mortality rate from cancer than women(30).
Another research suggests that women with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
The research shows vitamin D may play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth and may be able to stop breast cancer cells from growing.
BOTTOM LINE: Besided breast cancer, there are many other types of cancers and tumors that can be prevented by supplementing with Vitamin-D of maintaining optimal Vitamin-D levels.
#10 Vitamin-D Prevent Hair Loss
Vitamin D has also been shown to be essential for maintaining hair health and a normal hair cycle.
Hair loss in men and women has been linked to a decrease in vitamin D, and not getting enough can exacerbate the severity of hair loss (31).
BOTTOM LINE: Taking Vitamin-D supplements can prevent hair loss (alopecia alliata). It also can help in reversing the condition.
#11 Vitamin-D Benefits Pregnancy
Vitamin-D deficiency has been shown in a diverse group of pregnant women, with dark-skinned women being especially susceptible.
This can have an adverse effect on both the pregnant woman and the newborn (34).
Pregnant women may experience osteomalacia and high bone loss.
For the newborn, a lack of vitamin D could impair growth and bone formation, lead to type 1 diabetes, cause asthma, and more serious conditions.
It is important for pregnant mothers to supplement with Vitamin-D.
Emerging evidence demonstrates the importance of sufficient vitamin D concentrations during fetal life with deficiencies leading to long-term effects into adulthood. (35)
One of the commonest causes of emergency caesarian section is due to pre-eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition to the mother and the baby.
Also, low vitamin D levels can lead to pre-term birth, another reason pregnant mothers should keep their Vitamin-D at optimum.
Supplementing pregnant women with vitamin D in a single or continued dose increases serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D at term and may reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, and preterm birth (36, 37)
BOTTOM LINE: Supplementing with Vitamin-D suring pregnancy is associated with decreased childhood diseases that can persist to adulthood. Vitamin-D supplementation in pregnant women can significantly lower chances of developing pre-eclamsia.
#12 Prevent Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
SLE is an autoimmune disease where the immune system will wrongly attack healthy tissue in the body.
This can negatively affect the brain, kidneys, skin, and joints as well as other organs.
The effects of Vitamin-D supplementation in SLE are just overwhelming. :-)
There is a strong link between SLE and Vitamin-D deficiency.
BOTTOM LINE: Optimal Vitamin-D supplementation is necessary for preventing and lowering SLE exacerbations.
#13 Vitamin-D May Protect Kidneys
Emerging evidence suggests that the progression of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and many of the cardiovascular complications may be linked to low Vitamin-D levels (46).
Further research shows that supplementing with Vitamin-D can actually improve failing kidneys (47)
In fact, the national kidney foundation calls Vitamin-D, the Kidney Vitamin, owing to great improvements in Kidney function following supplementation.
Having enough vitamin D works to decrease high calcium levels in those with chronic kidney disease and thus preventing organ dysfunction (50).
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin-D could the most important vitamin in the prevention and treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease.
#14 Vitamin-D & HIV
Vitamin-D cannot prevent HIV or treat HIV infection. Vitamin-D deficiency has been shown to increase the severity of the disease and even mortality levels (51).
Patients infected with HIV with significantly low levels of the vitamin have been shown to have shorter survival than other HIV patients (52).
Another small study involving 97 HIV patients under antiretroviral drugs revealed that supplementing with Vitamin-D resulted to better CD4 counts than those treated with the same drugs but no supplementation (53).
#15 Vitamin-D May Boost Male Fertility
Getting sufficient levels of vitamin D has been linked to increased sperm quality.
One study on rats with poor sperm quality used Vitamin-D supplementation and the control group took a placebo.
Those supplemented with Vitamin-D had 69% more improved sperm quality and spontaneous pregnancies resulted.
Multiple recent studies have indicated that vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial for couples in need of assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF.
Optimum vitamin D levels were found to be associated with a higher chance of achieving pregnancy (56).
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin-D supplementation can improve sperm quality and motility to men with suboptimal levels. Majority of the population has suboptimal levels.
#16 May Reduce Risks for Respiratory Tract Infections (RTI)
RTI is an infectious disease that occurs in the lower and upper respiratory tract.
Vitamin D deficiency has been related to a higher risk of contracting respiratory infections.
Studies conducted on children taking 600-700 IU/d of vitamin D supplements have shown a significant decrease in respiratory tract infections (57).
Supplementing with this vitamin can reduce the risk of acute respiratory infections by nearly 50% when examining Mongolian children with a vitamin D deficiency (58).
BOTTOM LINE: High doses of Vitamin-D supplements may prevent respiratory infections, especially in school age children.
#17 Vitamin-D Decreases the Risk of Tuberculosis
Also known as “TB”, tuberculosis is a disease affecting primarily the lungs and is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Individuals with low levels of vitamin D have been shown to be exposed to a greater risk of active tuberculosis (59).
Additionally, when examining patients suffering from tuberculosis compared to healthy individuals, those with TB disease had much lower amounts of Vitamin-D (60).
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin-D supplementation lowers chances of contracting TB
#18 Reduces the Severity of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Additionally, a vitamin D deficiency is also correlated with a greater increase in lung infections, which can also worsen chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (63).
#19 Vitamin-D Reduces the Severity of Asthma
Research on asthma has shown that those suffering and took vitamin D supplements were 50% less likely to experience asthma attacks(64).
Moreover, they found that supplementing with this vitamin decreased the need for steroid pills or injections following an asthma attack.
Taking an oral vitamin D supplement in addition to standard asthma medication is likely to reduce the severity of asthma attacks (65).
BOTTOM LINE: Overwhelming evidence shows Vitamin-D supplements decreases severity and incidence of Asthma attacks.
#20 Vitamin-D Effects on Thyroid Dysfunction
Low serum vitamin D levels have been associated with several autoimmune diseases, but their association with thyroid autoimmunity is unclear.
Vitamin D levels were found to be significantly lower in pre-menopausal women with autoimmune thyroid disorders.
Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency were significantly associated with thyroid disorders in premenopausal women (66).
Vitamin-D deficiency has most commonly been found in Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease leading to hyperthyroidism and has an association with an enlarged thyroid gland (67).
The severity of a vitamin D deficiency has been associated with how long the disease will last, the size of the thyroid gland, and even levels of antibodies.
At this point, I am thinking... how soon can I get a dose of Vitamin-D supplement going? 31 more reasons to take Vitamin-D supplements ahead!
#21 Vitamin-D May Possibly Reduce Obesity
Currently, there are open discussions and theories circling around the connection between a lack of Vitamin D and obesity.
While we all know weight loss is a factor or low-calorie healthy diet and exercise, there are dozens of other factors that can lead to weight loss resistance.
As the obesity rate goes up, so too does the deficiency of vitamin D by 10-60% among adults, creating a bit of a chicken and egg paradox.
Which came first?
Higher levels of belly fat are associated with lower vitamin D levels in obese individuals, according to data presented in Barcelona at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting.
Although several studies show an increased effect in weight loss, it is still not yet conclusive. One thing stands, however, that obesity does seem to go a hand in hand with a lack of vitamin D.
BOTTOM LINE: Obesity seems to have direct correlation with low Vitamin-D levels.
#22 Vitamin-D Strengthens the Immune System
People that regularly come down with common colds, might want to consider taking vitamin D supplements or at least spend some time in the sun soaking up this essential vitamin.
By getting enough vitamin D, it modulates the body’s immune system as well as triggers the expression of potent antimicrobial peptides.
In more ways than one, a lack of vitamin D has been associated with influenza, which could explain the link between a deficiency of vitamin D and influenza season both being common in winter (68).
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin-D supplementation can reduce common infections like flu and may boost immunity.
#23 Vitamin-D May Lowers Risk of Autism
Autism is a complex disorder with several factors playing a role as to its cause.
There is exhaustive research suggesting that Vitamin-D deficiency can increase the chances of a child getting autism.
Vitamin D coordinates the repair gene of our DNA and a deficiency of it during a fetus’ development may result in difficulty for the necessary mutation of this gene during pregnancy.
Another large scientific study found out that supplementing kids with Vitamin-D lowered Autism symptoms significantly (71).
Vitamin-D deficiency has been shown to increase autism symptoms exacerbation (72).
BOTTOM LINE: Prenatal Vitamin-D may potentially lower incidences of autism by 50%. Supplementing children with Autism spectrum of disorders with Vitamin-D may improve function.
#24 May Prevent Tiredness
Chronic fatigue and tiredness may very well be a direct symptom of a vitamin D deficiency.
Common among office workers all over the world, it is no surprise that these symptoms are frequent among people working in indoor environments.
By normalizing levels of vitamin-D in cancer patients, studies have shown a significant improvement in cases where fatigue was severe (73).
Although, whether or not this increase is possible in medically stable people is still up for debate.
#25 Vitamin-D May Alleviate Back Pain
Recent studies have revealed that supplementation of vitamin D could significantly reduce back pain (74).
This is due to the strengthening of bones and underlying muscles.
But several studies have found no specific back pain relief evidence after taking Vitamin-D (75).
These studies suggest that it is better to supplement before joint degeneration has occurred.
BOTTOM LINE: While Vitamin-D may not directly relieve back pain, optimum Vitamin-D levels keep the bones and connective tissues strong. Thus preventing degeneration and incidences of disk herniation.
#26 Vitamin-D May Boosts Wound healing.
Vitamin D can be a significant contribution to our healing and regenerative factor. This seems to be caused by glycemic control (76).
[Read about Insulin Resistance]
Wound Clinic also has recorded a considerable impact of wound healing after Vitamin-D supplementation.
Vitamin-D benefits the creation of cathelicidin that fights off bacteria preventing infections that might occur while the body is healing its wounds.
BOTTON LINE: Vitamin-D supplementation through glycemic control and immune system can significantly boost wound healing.
#27 Prevent Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
Peripheral artery disease is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries (those away from the heart) serving the legs, stomach, arms, and head (77).
PAD Symptoms to be aware of includes:
- Painful cramping in one or both of leg muscles after certain activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. This is also called intermittent claudication.
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
- Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won't heal
- A change in the color of your legs (May appear in a socks shaped pattern)
- Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
- Slower growth of your toenails
- Shiny skin on your legs
- No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction in men
Populations with less sun exposure and lower levels of vitamin D are far more likely to develop PAD.
People with a darker pigmentation especially run a higher risk factor than people with lighter skin.
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin-D deficiency is an independent risk of developing PAD. This can be made worse by other factors like high cholesterol, smoking & sedentary lifestyle. PAD is a lethal medical condition!
#28 Vitamin-D is Essential for Brain Development.
Besides Iron, As important as a stable level of vitamin D is for a developing fetus, it’s just as essential for adolescents and adults.
In adolescence and adulthood, the vitamin has a more significant effect on keeping the brain healthy in regards to prevent things such as the decline of cognitive abilities, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease, seeing as the vitamin works as a neuroactive steroid vital for the brain to keep developing.
The lack of vitamin D in early development may cause mental diseases as extreme as schizophrenia.
The deficiency of vitamin D’s effect on behavior is still being studied.
#29 Vitamin-D May Improve Sleep Quality
Vitamin-D and Sleep
Studies show that there is a clear connection between Vitamin-D levels and quality of sleep.
There seem to be several possibilities that an insufficient intake of vitamin D might be related to sleep disorders (80).
One study showed the results of measuring the total time spent in bed as well as ‘’sleep efficiency’ (81).
Subjects with low levels of vitamin D were not only sleeping less, but the quality of their sleep was significantly worse than those whose levels were balanced.
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin-D supplementation can potentially iprove sleep quality and prevent sleep disorders.
#30 May Reduce Blood Pressure
Please make sure you see a doctor if your systolic blood pressure goes above 140mm/Hg.
High blood pressure can cause life-debilitating injuries like stroke, kidney failure, and even death.
One research done on rodents hypothesized that disruption of Vitamin-D activates Renin-Angiotensin-System (RAS).
RAS raises blood pressure.
Multiple studies found out that correcting deficiency lowers systolic blood pressure.
#31 Enriching Breastfeeding
Still, a debated subject, taking supplements could improve breastfeeding, especially for infants with darker skin (84).
Moderation seems to be essential, as you are not supposed to take more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D before consulting your healthcare provider.
Human milk vitamin D reflects maternal vitamin D intake and the amount of maternal UVB exposure.
Vitamin D concentration of human milk is low in subjects on existing recommended maternal vitamin D intake and is insufficient to meet the needs of breastfeeding infants (85).
Ensuring the baby has enough of this vitamin is vital during development, especially to avoid bone deformities as well as nurturing the brain’s development.
#32 Possibility for Prevention of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease affects an estimated ten million people worldwide.
A research study was conducted to observe whether there is a link between Parkinson's and vitamin D (86).
In fact, around 60% of all Parkinson’s patients suffer from depression which immediately arouses the suspicion that a lack of vitamin D might have something to do with it.
The literature supports possible protective and symptomatic effects of vitamin D in Parkinson's Disease (87).
Another research study found out that patients with incident Parkinson's had significantly lower serum Vitamin-D concentrations than age-matched control (88).
This may have implications in terms of bone health and fracture risk.
Though still unclear, future studies may provide us with more knowledge on whether or not vitamin D can work as a preventative measure towards the onset of Parkinson’s.
BOTTOM LINE: Optimum Vitamin-D levels seems to be potentially beneficial in preventing and managing Parkinson's Disease.
#33 Vitamin-D May Improve Psoriasis
Scientists in Italy have discovered that people who have the skin condition known as Psoriasis also suffer from a deficiency of vitamin D.
Though the deficiency is not the cause of the disease, it may aid in preventing the condition from developing.
Little sunlight and dry skin are contributing factors to this disease flaring up.
#34 Beneficial in Atopic Dermatitis (AD)
Atopic dermatitis, common in children and infants though also affecting adults, is a reasonably common inflammatory, eczema-like condition.
Seeing as there is plenty of research about vitamin D today, these are also believed to be linked.
Positive results were found in children with milder cases of AD, though higher levels of vitamin D have also been seen to worsen the condition, so moderation is key.
#35 Vitamin-D & Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Now it seems that in-patients that already suffer from the condition may find aid from the vitamin — which can improve their quality of life by lessening the frequency and intensity of the symptoms.
Studies have also shown that children being overexposed to sunlight in their early days can develop a decreased susceptibility to vitamin D, thus being at higher risk of developing the condition.
#36 Vitamin-D May Help in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
While the debate is still open about where inflammatory bowel disease actually comes from, most people suffering from this condition have levels of vitamin D considered insufficient.
In people already affected, Scandinavian studies have shown that supplements have quite a significant chance of playing a preventative role in relapse cases and helping individuals heal from the condition permanently.
#37 May Play a Role in Preventing Uterine Fibroids
Vitamin D and its preventative possibilities against Uterine fibroids are being studied worldwide.
Fibroids are a benign and fairly common tumor in women which causes symptoms similar to that of menstrual disorders, such as heavy bleeding and pelvic pains.
Studies have shown vitamin D to be a promising countermeasure against the tumors.
Results so far have seen not only the inhibition of cell division but also a reduction in the size of the tumors.
#38 Vitamin D May Prevent Sarcopenia
Sarcopenia means muscle wasting as we age.
Evidence suggests that with increasing age, the reduction of muscle mass is clearly associated with decreased circulating vitamin D levels, leading to frailty in the elderly and frequent falls (R, R R )