According to the UK National Health Service, Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
Adults need 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D a day, and for many people, their own body can make enough Vitamin D in the Summer, from the action of sunlight on the skin. However, for people who do not get outside much, or cover up when they do, even in the Summer, they are probably not getting enough this way. And no one’s getting enough in the Winter.
The Mayo Clinic notes that research on vitamin D includes:
• Cancer. Vitamin D, especially when taken with calcium, might help prevent certain cancers.
• Cognitive health. Vitamin D might play a role in cognitive health. In one small study of adults age 60 years and older being treated for dementia, researchers found that taking a vitamin D supplement helped improve cognitive function.
• Multiple sclerosis. Research suggests that long-term vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis.
• Vitamin D supplements are used to treat adults with severe vitamin D deficiency, resulting in loss of bone mineral content, bone pain, muscle weakness and soft bones (osteomalacia).
• Osteoporosis. Studies suggest that people who get enough vitamin D and calcium in their diets can slow bone mineral loss, help prevent osteoporosis and reduce bone fractures.
In NutritionFacts.com, some recent research is noted in an article: “Vitamin D Supplements for Increasing Aging Muscle Strength”.
“Randomized controlled trials have found that vitamin D boosts global muscle strength, particularly in the quads, which are important for fall prevention, though vitamin D supplements have also been shown to improve balance.”
Sources of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is present in these foods: oily fish, red meat, liver, eggs and also processed foods and drinks where Vitamin D has been added (eg. some spreads, breakfast cereals, and possibly milk)
So, vegans are almost certainly not getting enough in their diet.
The simple answer to ensuring adequate levels of Vitamin D is supplementation, with either a multivitamin or a pure Vitamin D supplement containing at least 400 IU.
The NHS recommends that you should consider taking a daily supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D throughout the year, but that you should not take more than 4000 IU a day as it could be harmful.
The Mayo Clinic states: Many older adults don’t get regular exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D, so taking a multivitamin with vitamin D will likely help improve bone health. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) for ages to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years. (It warns against excess supplementation, especially above 4,000 IU a day).
Note: there are two ways of measuring Vitamin D: micrograms (mcg) or International Units (IU). Conversion is: 10 mcg = 400 IU.
What do I do?
As my diet is more or less vegan, and I don’t eat foods with added Vitamin D, I have to rely on a supplement.
My daily multivitamin contains 400 IU of Vitamin D. But after seeing this research, and as I’m over 70, I decided to take the Mayo Clinic advice, so have started to take an extra Vitamin D supplement with 400 IU, to get my total to 800 IU.
Link to my post on “Vitamins and Supplements”
Link to my post on “Osteoporosis”
Link to my post on “Vitamin D and Coronavirus“