Vitamin D3: Benefits, Dosage Information, and Warnings

Vitamin D3 provides a range of health benefits, from bone health to immunity support. Learn more about its benefits, dosage information, and warnings.

7 minute read

Last Updated February 20, 2021

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.

Benefits of Taking Vitamin D3

The body needs to store a healthy amount of vitamin D3 in order to maintain normal levels that are beneficial for overall health. In fact, vitamin D3 serves many purposes in the body, from strengthening bones to boosting your immune system.

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. 

Strong Bones

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. 

Healthy Heart

Low levels of vitamin D3 have been linked to increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels which increases the risk for high blood pressure. Maintaining healthy levels of this vital nutrient can reduce the risk of heart disease and promote healthy heart function.

Happier Mood

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. Serotonin, a hormone in the brain known to enhance mood and reduce depression, increases when you are exposed to sunlight, and in the same way can increase with regular vitamin D3.

Lose Weight

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. 

Common Uses of Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 helps support immune health as well as various other important functions in the body. Its benefits within the immune system mean that you can use vitamin D3 as part of a treatment routine for the common cold or flu. Additionally, as a powerful immunomodulator, vitamin D3 has been found to influence the immune response in ways that reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

The role that vitamin D3 plays in sustaining bone strength allows it to be an important addition to a daily routine for those looking to reduce the risk of osteoporosis or slowing its progression. With peak bone mass naturally decreasing with age, a daily supplement of vitamin D3 can help to regulate calcium levels in the body to ensure bones stay strong. 

Finally, vitamin D3 can be used as part of a regular heart health program. Elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are often linked to low D3 levels and this increases your risk for heart disease. Maintaining healthy lipid levels is essential to optimal heart function and vitamin D3 supplements can provide the additional support you may need. 

Sources of Vitamin D3

In addition to daily walks outside in the sun, you can increase vitamin D3 levels through the consumption of certain foods. The top food sources for vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) are:

♦ Fresh fish including herring, salmon, halibut, and mackerel
♦ Cod liver oil 
♦ Egg yolks
♦ Sardines
♦ Beer liver
♦ Fortified cereals
♦ Cheese
♦ Fortified orange juices

If you are not getting the recommended daily amount of vitamin D3 from the sun or your diet, you should talk with your physician about taking a vitamin D3 supplement.With a high-quality and clinically effective supplement, you can get all the vitamin D3 you need each day in one single dose. Take it along with your favorite meal of the day, and your immune system, heart, bones, and more will thank you. 

How Should I Take 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. Vitamin D3 can be taken with food, but this is not a requirement. You also want to store your vitamin D3 correctly, keeping it away from moisture, light, and heat, and always at room temperature. 

What Are The Side Effects of Vitamin D3?

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any allergic reaction to taking vitamin D3 such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the mouth, lips, throat, or face. Stop taking this supplement and speak with your doctor right away if you experience:

♦ Chest pain or shortness of breath

♦ Early warning signs of vitamin D3 toxicity such as diarrhea or constipation, dry mouth, unintentional weight loss, vomiting, or a metallic taste in your mouth. 

♦ Loss of appetite

There is an upper limit for vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) as advised by healthcare professionals because there is a risk for toxicity with excessive consumption. Excessive consumption of vitamin D3 can lead to calcification of bones and the hardening of blood vessels and organ tissues. 

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 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.