Vitamin D Supplements: 8 Things Every Beginner Needs to Know for Effective Use

Some people prefer to maintain optimal vitamin D levels through natural sources and supplementation. But there are a few things you should know before taking a vitamin D supplement.

From childhood we are told to enjoy the sun. After all, exposure to the sun is the most natural way to get vitamin D. It is important for our health, because vitamin D deficiency can cause osteoporosis and other bone-related problems. Some people go beyond natural sources and opt for a vitamin D supplement. Doctors can mostly support this decision, but there are a few things to know before taking a vitamin D supplement.

Vitamin D deficiency can not only lead to problems such as osteoporosis in adults, but also rickets in children. Although there are many ways to get vitamin D, about one billion people in the world are vitamin D deficient, a global public health problem, according to a 2023 study by StatPearls.

Vitamin D actually plays a key role in many bodily functions. It helps in the absorption of calcium, is vital for the strength of bones and teeth. In addition, it strengthens the immune system, regulates mood and supports muscle function, says clinical nutritionist Shabana Parveen. Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D can even reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Vitamin D supplements are available in different forms. Photo: Adobe stock

What is a vitamin D supplement?

To maintain healthy vitamin D levels, you need 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is more than 30 nanograms per milliliter. Taking a supplement can help maintain this level. A vitamin D supplement is basically a synthetic form of this essential nutrient. It is available in different forms such as tablets, capsules or drops. People often use it to increase their vitamin D levels, especially when natural sources such as sunlight are not sufficient.

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What to know before taking a vitamin D supplement?

Supplements can be of great help, but there are a few things to consider before taking them.

1. Consultation with a healthcare professional

Before you start taking a supplement, especially vitamin D, you should consult with your healthcare provider, the expert says. Their expertise can guide the appropriate dosage and potential drug interactions.

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2. Assessment of current vitamin D levels

Blood tests can determine your current vitamin D level. This helps to find out if you need a vitamin D supplement.

3. Underlying health conditions

Certain conditions, such as diabetes, may interact with vitamin D supplementation. So adjustments or careful monitoring are needed.

4. Quality assurance

When you buy a makeup product or a pair of shoes, you probably check the brand. The same goes for your supplements. Choose reputable brands to ensure supplemental purity and potency.

5. Awareness of possible side effects

Although rare, excessive vitamin D intake can lead to toxicity, Parveen says. Learn about symptoms such as nausea, weakness, and vomiting.

6. Combination with other nutrients

Some supplements or nutrients can affect the absorption of vitamin D. Ask a professional for guidance on combinations so you know which combination works best.

Medicines in hand
Know the side effects of vitamin D supplementation. Photo: Adobe Stock

7. Exposure to sunlight

Adequate exposure to sunlight promotes natural vitamin D production. So consider your sun exposure while taking the supplement.

8. Aspects based on age and lifestyle

Different age groups and lifestyles may require varying amounts of vitamin D. Tailor the supplements to your needs.

Getting vitamin D from natural sources such as sunlight and fatty fish is ideal, but supplements are valuable when natural intake is insufficient. You just need to find a balance between both sources to maintain optimal vitamin D levels.

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