Reasons why you should take vitamin D

Reasons why you should take vitamin D

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When considering necessary dietary supplements, most people give priority to fat burners, testosterone boosters, creatine or whichever supplement they think could help them reach their goals faster. What they tend to forget about is the fact that the above products will only be effective if both the diet and the “basic” supplements are OK. Extra vitamins and minerals should form an integral part of a healthy diet. And among these are a few ones, which should be taken in enhanced doses in certain periods: Vitamin D is one of this kind, as the risk of vitamin D deficiency increases significantly in winter.

A few words about vitamin D

Your system needs various micronutrients, i.a. vitamins and minerals to function properly. The role of vitamin D has gained more publicity recently. It has become clear that it is not only essential for bone health but plays a key role in many other physiological processes as well. For example, it is inevitable for the proper functioning of the immune system.

Reasons why you should take vitamin D

If your vitamin D levels are low, your immunity will drop remarkably: You will be less protected against contagious diseases and your system will be less efficient at developing immunity against infections you have already overcome. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, therefore the body can store it. There are different compounds in this group: vitamins D1, D2 and D3. In humans, it is absorbed most efficiently in the form of vitamin D3, i.e. cholecalciferol.

Cholecalciferol or vitamin D3

Cholecalciferol or vitamin D3

D3 can be synthesized in the skin from 7-dehydrocholesterol, as a result of exposure to UV-B radiation. This way your system is capable of vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D may also be ingested from food sources. From animal source food you can get both D3 and D2, while from vegetable source ergosterols, ergocalciferol (D2) will be produced. Vitamin D from the diet or dermal synthesis from sunlight is biologically inactive. The active form, calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol) will be synthesized in the body from D3 or D2.

Why vitamin D supplementation is essential

About 70-75% of vitamin D from food will be absorbed. Cholecalciferol synthesized from sunlight can supply your body for a while, but in less sunny seasons, most likely in the autumn-winter period, supplementation is essential. Failure to do so may result in vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to one or more of the following problems:

  • Calcium malabsorption, which can lead to bone fragility or tooth decay in the long run.
  • Joint problems
  • Muscle cramps
  • Pale skin
  • Deterioration of the immune system; as a result, you will be more exposed to contagious diseases.
  • Increased risk of illness, especially respiratory tract infections

In case of serious deficiency, osteoporosis, musculoskeletal pain, muscle weakness, increased tendency to certain types of tumors (most of all, colon cancer and breast cancer have been linked with long-term and serious vitamin D deficiency so far) or even diabetes may occur.

How much vitamin D you should take, when and why

In the case of infants and toddlers, symptoms of rachitis (rickets) may appear. This childhood disease is mostly characterized by weak, deformed long bones (“bow legs”), deformed chest (“pigeon chest”) or spinal deformity. Other consequences may include dental problems or disturbances in motor development. In Hungary, about 90-95% of the adult population suffers from vitamin D deficiency to some extent. For infants and toddlers, there is an existing vitamin D supplementation protocol. This prescribes vitamin D supplementation as binding until the age of 3. However, this matter should be given higher priority later on as well. 

How much you should take, when and why

Fortunately, things have changed for good recently. An important paradigm shift took place in medicine, too. As a result,  the former ridiculous recommended daily allowance of 400-800 IU (international units) was raised to 1500-2000 IU by now. But individual needs might even justify a higher intake, depending on certain factors: In certain environmental or lifestyle conditions, seasons or in case of enhanced mental or physical load, even a daily dose of 4000-5000 IU can be reasonable. Especially in winter, when your skin is not exposed to enough sunlight and infections are also spreading more easily in the cold and dry air, it is definitely recommended to take such high doses of vitamin D on a daily basis.

This will support your immune system and will help you avoid contagious diseases (especially upper respiratory tract infections, also known as common cold) which appear typically in winter. Several researches have shown that the appearance of such infections is significantly lower among those who take vitamin D on a regular basis. Needless to say, you should not forget about supplementing other micronutrients as well, beside vitamin D.

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Do you ensure enough vitamin D for your body? 

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