I know what you’re thinking. The supplementation world is a minefield. There are products all over the place making claims of making you look 18 again along with giving you the body you’ve always dreamed of.
So with all this going on, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of us are overwhelmed by all the different products available, their benefits and solutions. Here at Health Hacking, we hear you.
I have been on quite the journey over the last twelve months, and actually, Health Hacking was born from my curiosity around all the different health products, food fads and myths.
Supplementation has been something I’ve dipped in and out of since I was seven. My mum used to have us kids take the multivitamin tablets you can pick up at your local store. When I was in my teens, I was using the “wellteen” products or something similar to help me “juggle” my busy teenage lifestyle of school and hanging out in the local park. We have, and our children are, growing up in a world where our busy lives mean we don’t always have access to the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to function effectively. Because of this, supplementation is becoming more and more accepted and promoted but are all the supplements on sale good for you?
In this post, I want to focus specifically on Vitamin D. Vitamin D has multiple roles in our body, including:
- Maintaining the health of bones and teeth.
- Supporting the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system.
- Supporting lung function and cardiovascular health.
Something so simple – Vitamin D supplementation – could improve the health status of millions and so becomes an elegant solution to many of our health problems today.
So with this in mind, ensuring we’re keeping our bodies topped up with this is essential. Studies show that spending 20 minutes a day in direct sunlight can give you the results you need however with the busy, fast-paced lives we all lead; this can quickly become an aspiration only ever achieved once in a blue moon.
Location can also play a role. I live in the UK, and no matter how many sun dances I do, the sun very rarely pops his head out, leaving me pale and Vitamin D deficient. A visit to the doctors last year confirmed my deficiency, and the symptoms of it are quite clear:
- Getting sick more often
- Brittle bones that are easier to break
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Bone and muscle pains
- Hair loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Difficulty healing
- Stomach issues like pain, bloating, and gas
This prompted me to re-look at what I was doing and get my stuff in order.
There are two types of Vitamin D Supplements.
When researching the different types of supplements, I actually found out that there are two different types of Vitamin D:
- Vitamin D2 – plant-based
- Vitamin D3 – animal-based
Vitamin D2 is a patented product that you’ll find in most multi-vitamins (rightly or wrongly), but it’s not natural. I would only ever consider taking this if you are vegan or veggie.
It comes as no surprise that the D3 option works best for our bodies and has been shown to raise blood levels of vitamin D almost twice as much as D2.
To track how your body is taking to the supplements, you can request for your doctor to run blood tests to give you a direct answer on your Vitamin D levels.
What’s a healthy dosage?
Well, this really can’t be answered here. It depends on many factors including age, sun exposure, location etc. A conversation with your doctor will help provide you with a dosage acceptable for your body.
Recommendations from the US Institute of Medicine suggest between 400-800 IU should be taken daily.
Here in the UK, the NHS recommends up to 10mcg per day.
Did you know you can access Vitamin D through foods?
Of course, supplementing shouldn’t be the end goal. Eating the right foods and pumping your body full of enough vitamins and nutrients in a day to give your body what it needs, should be the aspiration. There are plenty of foods out there are packed with Vitamin D and give you the boost you need:
- Salmon, Trout, Makeral (Wild Caught Fish)
- Red meat like beef
- Egg Yolks
- Canned Fish
- Mushrooms (Shittake, Chanterelle)
- Almond Milk
- Orange Juice
- Breakfast Cereals
So there are lots of options available to help avoid or rebalance your Vitamin D levels, and the benefits are definitely worth the adjustment:
- Reduced risk of flu
- Vitamin D for healthy bones
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Healthy infants
- Healthy pregnancy
- Cancer prevention