Summer, sun and fatty fish. Maybe oysters to go with it. This is how one could briefly describe the ideal sources of vitamin D . Most of you probably don’t regularly sit by the sea for long periods of time eating seafood and fish. In the winter months, this is all even more difficult.
What to do?
A common alternative are vitamin D tablets. The tablet form makes it easy. Add a sip of water and it’s done – and tastes neutral.
It is not for nothing that vitamin D is very popular as a dietary supplement in Germany. 20 μg per day is sufficient for adolescents and adults.
But questions arise: Is this healthy? What do you have to consider? We sum it all up.
Let’s start with whether all could need vitamin D tablets:
Vitamin D tablets for everyone?
First of all, the question arises, what happens when we have too little vitamin D in the body? Countless studies have shown a statistical correlation between low vitamin D levels and reduced life expectancy. So it is certain that a low content in the body is harmful.
However, we know less exactly why this is the case and whether it is actually due to vitamin D or the state of health with such a deficiency is generally rather miserable. So we do not know what the cause of the shorter life expectancy is, but only that in such cases a vitamin D deficiency occurs more frequently.
Likewise, science does not know what exactly vitamin D deficiency does here. But that doesn’t mean that vitamin D doesn’t matter at all. There are initial studies that indicate that an adequate supply of vitamin D reduces the mortality rate.
In short, initial studies indicate that supplementation with vitamin D in the event of a deficiency reduces the risk of death.
Countries where the vitamin D supply is particularly poor – such as due to longer, darker phases or poor nutrition – therefore allow the addition of vitamin D to certain foods. Since the amount is not yet fully understood, there are government regulations in the USA, Canada, Sweden or Finland on how much vitamin D may be added to certain foods.
Even in countries that are actually well supplied with sun – such as India – similar systems are being considered. However, the consumer center recommends dietary supplements rather than fortified foods. Here the dosage is more accurate and therefore easier for you.
In addition, there is actually no general approval in Germany for the fortification of foods with vitamin D. Here, therefore, the consumer center also warns that most foods still lacked such a permit in the last review in 2021.
Not only we recommend in case of doubt to rely on dietary supplements rather than on fortified foods.
Does a lot of vitamin D in tablets also bring a lot?
The reference values in German-speaking countries are kept rather low, because science does not yet have clear results on higher dosages. A lot brings a lot? When it comes to vitamin D, people are still skeptical here.
In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, however, we are generally rather poorly supplied. According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), the vitamin D supply is not sufficient overall. A quarter of the population suffers from a severe shortage in winter, especially in February and March it is about half of all Germans!
As is so often the case with nutrients, it is said: Contact your doctor of trust. A short blood test provides certainty.
For adolescents and adults, according to the DGE, the recommended daily dose is 20 μg per day. However, vitamin D can be stored quite well, which is why taking it every few days can also make sense.
The European Food Safety Authority gives another value – the tolerable upper intake. The value that you should not exceed during the day. That would be 100 μg per day for all persons aged 11 and over. Children up to 10 years of age are granted an upper limit of 50 μg per day. Infants up to 1 year 25 μg.
Vitamin D tablets for babies, pregnant women and the elderly?
However, some people belong to the risk groups. These include, on the one hand , older people over the age of 65 as well as pregnant women and infants. In pregnant women, the basic requirement is not significantly higher according to the information, but a basic care of the unborn child is indispensable for normal development.
However, infants and the elderly have a common reason why they don’t get enough vitamin D: they also get less sun exposure than other people. Why?
Infants should be protected from direct sunlight before the first year of life. You can’t regulate the heat properly yet. That’s why they hardly form vitamin D from it.
A consultation with your doctor is worthwhile here, because usually infants are recommended a vitamin D supplement. There are also special preparations that pediatricians will advise you to use. Tablets can also be dissolved before breastfeeding or in the bottle. In contrast to the use of oils, there are less often incorrect dosages here, as they are neither temperature-dependent nor a small drop can accidentally add too much. The Association of Pediatricians and Adolescent Physicians also advises against vitamin D drops.
Older people have a similar problem: they are less mobile and thus spend less time in the sun. The same game as infants. Likewise, people who can or only want to go out in the sun with their bodies covered or people with dark skin are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency. Together with elderly people with limited mobility, chronically ill people and those in need of care, they have an increased need for vitamin D due to insufficient exposure to the sun.
D3 or D2? This is the difference with vitamin D tablets
If you have ever dealt with the topic for a short time or have been prescribed a product by your doctor, it will always be vitamin D2 or D3 . What is it exactly?
Vitamin D2: Ergocalciferol
Vitamin D2 is produced plant-based and was originally the vegan variant – today it is no longer the only one.
Ergocalciferol (D2) is converted into vitamin D3 by the body, so it can also be processed.
Vitamin D3: Cholecalciferol
Vitamin D3 is usually obtained from animal sources. Vegans beware! There are also vegan D3 alternatives derived from lichen species.
Cholecalciferol (D3) is more effective than D2, according to studies. The intermediate step that our organism needs with D2 is missing here.
Due to the higher effectiveness, it is also the product that is recommended . Likewise, there are hardly any preparations in the EU that are based on vitamin D2.
The tablets for the dark times
Our vitamin D supply is very dependent on the season . In Germany, it is only actually possible via the sun between March and October. At that time, however, you can also create reserves in fat and muscle tissue, which the body can then use in winter.
Incidentally, this storage is also the reason why you should not take a significantly increased dosage of vitamin D in the long term. Storage can lead to a creeping overdose – and this is quite harmful to our body.
If you are diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, you are not alone, especially in the months with little sun. It affects quite a few. Vitamin D tablets and capsules are the supplementation recommended by the institutions here. This allows you to dose specifically and safely and do not take the risk of a deficiency.