Vitamin D3: Benefits, Dosage Information, and Warnings

While your body can make vitamin D3 when exposed to sun, a clinically proven supplement can ensure you maintain appropriate levels of vitamin D3 for optimal health.

7 minute read

Last Updated September 3, 2020

Vitamin D3: Benefits, Dosage Information, and Warnings

Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin that your skin produces in response to sunlight exposure. It can also be consumed through a variety of animal-sourced foods. Vitamin D3 is known for its vital role in bone health, but it also supports the immune system keeping you protected against illness. 

With increased worry over the damages of too much sun exposure, there has been an increase in vitamin D3 deficiency, which could negatively affect your immunity. Taking supplements of vitamin D3 ensures you maintain the appropriate levels to support bone health, overall health, and strong immunity. 

Boost Immunity With Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is much more than the sunshine vitamin. Research has found that this vitamin plays an integral role in immune system function. Through specific mechanisms, vitamin D3 influences your immunity affecting key cells such as T cells. These cells are critical in fighting infections. 

Without sufficient intake of this vitamin, immune cells are unable to react and fight off infections. In order for T cells to protect the body from pathogens, they must first be exposed to traces of the pathogen. The T cells extend a special receptor that looks for vitamin D3. If the T cell cannot find the vitamin, it cannot be activated, nor can it become mobilized to attack the pathogen. 

For an efficient defense against invading pathogens, your immune cells, specifically T cells, require high levels of vitamin D3. There is now mounting evidence that shows the importance vitamin D3 has in activating the immune system. This is critical in learning to fight disease and dealing with autoimmune reactions and the rejection of donor organs. 

The immune system can mistakenly target healthy tissues in autoimmune disorders and when transplanted organs are in place. The activation of the immune system, in this case, is natural but problematic. The knowledge of vitamin D3’s activating role in the immune response can now be used to establish methods for deactivation. 

Vitamin D3 also stimulates dendritic cells to produce more CD31 molecules on their surface. As a result, T cells cannot be activated, which reduces the overall immune response. This has proven beneficial for individuals with autoimmune diseases where overactive immune responses mistakenly target healthy cells. 

Your innate immunity also benefits from maintaining vitamin D3 levels. The sunshine vitamin enhances the antimicrobial effects of immune cells known as macrophages. These specialized cells not only activate T cells, but they seek out and destroy bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. They also activate antimicrobial peptides, which are designed to break down and destabilize microbial membranes, so they can be easily destroyed. 

Additional Benefits of Vitamin D3

One of the most commonly known benefits of vitamin D3 is its integral role in bone health. This vitamin is essential for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, two vital nutrients for bone strength. A deficiency in vitamin D3 can cause abnormalities in bone development as well as fragile bones and osteoporosis. Vitamin D3 additionally helps to reclaim calcium that would normally be excreted from the kidneys, to make sure your bones stay healthy. 

In addition to immune system support and bone health, vitamin D3 can also benefit your health in the following ways:

Reduced risk of flu: Studies have found that vitamin D3 deficiency is linked to a higher risk of respiratory infections like the flu. 

Reduced risk of multiple sclerosis: As a powerful immunomodulator, vitamin D3 has been found to influence the immune response in ways that reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

Protection against heart disease: Low levels of vitamin D3 have been linked to high blood pressure, so maintaining healthy levels can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Improved mental health: Studies have found that vitamin D3 is linked to mood regulation. Its ability to positively influence neural activity in the brain can help reduce depression and anxiety.

Boost weight loss: Studies found that individuals taking vitamin D3 supplements in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, show increased weight loss. By maintaining optimal calcium levels and suppressing appetite, vitamin D3 can give a natural boost for healthy weight loss. 

The Right Dosage of Vitamin D3

The average adult does not need more than 600 to 800 IU per day of vitamin D3. Some individuals may require a higher dose at the request of their doctor. The average daily recommendations for vitamin D3 is as below:

♦ children and teens: 600 IU
♦ adults up to age 70: 600 IU
♦ adults over age 70: 800 IU
♦ pregnant or breastfeeding women: 600 IU

You should avoid taking more than 4,000 IU per day unless otherwise advised by a medical professional. 

Side Effects and Warnings

There is an upper limit for vitamin D3 as advised by healthcare professionals because there is a risk for toxicity. Excessive consumption of vitamin D3 can lead to the following:

♦ Calcification of bones
♦ Hardening of blood vessels and organ tissues

Common side effects that have been reported with taking too much vitamin D3 include:

♦ Diarrhea or constipation
♦ Dry mouth
♦ Loss of appetite
♦ Metallic taste 
♦ Vomiting

You can easily exceed the recommended dosage for vitamin D3 if you get this nutrient from natural sources. Consult with your doctor to determine the right dosage for you based on your health, underlying conditions, and diet. 

In rare cases, too much vitamin D can be toxic and can lead to hypercalcemia. This condition causes too much calcium to accumulate in the blood, potentially forming deposits in the arteries or soft tissues. 

The Bottom Line

Unlike other vitamins, your body can produce vitamin D3 when your skin is exposed to the sun. Skin cancer worries keep many indoors or covered in sunscreen, which makes vitamin D3 deficiency a real problem. A clinically proven supplement can ensure you maintain appropriate levels of vitamin D3 for optimal health. Your bones will thank you. More importantly, your immune system will get the boost it needs to better protect you from disease.

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