Vitamin D3 Supplements and Vitamin D Benefits
One of the unique attributes of vitamin D is that it is the only vitamin that can be received by the body not only through food, but also through UV ray exposure or a tanning bed. The most significant source of this vitamin is natural sunshine. Ultraviolet rays help start the process of synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. This helps promote the levels of vitamin D in the body system. However, in many cases, the amount of vitamin D received through UV rays may not be adequate, and it may require supplementation through diet. That is the more difficult part because it is found only in specific food sources. It is practically impossible for an average person to fulfill the total requirements of the body for this vitamin through food.
Vitamin D performs a key role as a hormone that sends signals to the intestines to boost the calcium absorption by as much as 80 percent. It is a widely accepted fact in scientific circles that this vitamin helps maintain normal levels of calcium in the human body(2). Recent research studies have also indicated that vitamin D performs a key role in important body functions such as regulating the blood pressure and secretion of insulin, and also helps build immunity.
Vitamin D Benefits
A growing body of scientific studies and research in recent years has shown the diverse benefits of vitamin D3 for human body.
Cellular Differentiation: Vitamin D in its active state resists proliferation and promotes cell differentiation that is essential to perform various body functions(3).
Balanced Calcium Levels: Vitamin D supports optimal utilization of calcium deposits in the body and helps maintain a health calcium balance.
Boosting Immunity: Several scientific studies have repeatedly suggested that vitamin D in its active state helps strengthen the immune system and inhibits the autoimmune tendencies(4).
Protection against Cancer: A growing amount of scientific evidence indicates that vitamin D may have a role to play in providing protection against certain types of cancers. Receiving consistent levels of vitamin D from the sun and a diet containing calcium and vitamin D can cut down the occurrence of cancers.
Bone Strength: Vitamin D enhances the absorption levels of calcium in the bones, which helps the body fight against Osteoporosis(5).
Regulating Blood Pressure: There appears to be a relationship between the blood pressure levels in the body and the vitamin D levels. Evidence gathered from a large number of clinical studies shows the existence of this relationship. In one of the studies, the researchers managed to reduce high blood pressure with a daily dose of 800 mg of calcium and 1,600 IU of vitamin D administered over a period of eight weeks(6).
Autoimmune Disease Management: Multiple clinical studies have shown that vitamin D has a useful role to play in the prevention, treatment, and management of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.
Vitamin D3 Benefits Compared to D2
The sunshine vitamin is generally available in two forms; the synthetic Vitamin D2 and the natural Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) that has shown to be more effective in the following:
- Much Better Stability
- Improved Biocompatibility
- Superior Bioavailability
- D3 is a Higher Potency
Vitamin D3 Supplements
Considering the contemporary lifestyles of most people, it is usually difficult to receive sufficient levels of vitamin D through natural exposure to UV rays. This becomes even more difficult in regions that do not receive a lot of natural sunshine. Receiving healthy levels of vitamin D is another difficult proposition for a majority of people. That makes it important for all such people to go for supplements enriched with vitamin D. The most beneficial form of vitamin D is vitamin D3. In comparison to D2, vitamin D3 has a superior potency by about 33 percent. D2, in contrast, remains active for a shorter period, and offers poor stability and lower levels of bioactivity.
Vegan Vitamin D3
Even though vitamin D3 has been recognized through scientific studies as a superior form of vitamin D but it faced a specific limitation for vegans until recently. Vitamin D3 was traditionally extracted from wool lanolin of sheep, which made it difficult for strict vegetarians and vegans to use this supplement. However, recently, ESB Developments LTD, a company based in the United Kingdom, has introduced a new source of vitamin D3 that is completely plant-based. That makes it an absolutely vegetarian and vegan friendly vitamin. This vegan vitamin is extracted from lichen, which is a unique organic plant. Vitamin D3 is extracted from this plant in the form of oil and is available in gel capsules and a spray for easy consumption.
(1)Heaney RP, Davies KM, Chen TC, Holick MF, Barger-Lux MJ. Human serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol response to extended oral dosing with cholecalciferol. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;77(1):204-210. (PubMed) – Armas LA, Hollis BW, Heaney RP. “Vitamin D2 is much less effective than vitamin D3 in humans.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Nov;89(11):5387-91.
(2)Holick MF. Vitamin D: importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(3):362-371. (PubMed)
(3)Holt PR, Arber N, Halmos B, et al. Colonic epithelial cell proliferation decreases with increasing levels of serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002;11(1):113-119. (PubMed)
(4)Griffin MD, Xing N, Kumar R. Vitamin D and its analogs as regulators of immune activation and antigen presentation. Annu Rev Nutr. 2003;23:117-145. (PubMed)
(5)Heaney RP. Long-latency deficiency disease: insights from calcium and vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:912-9
(6)Pfeifer M, Begerow B, Minne HW, Nachtigall D, Hansen C. Effects of a short-term vitamin D(3) and calcium supplementation on blood pressure and parathyroid hormone levels in elderly women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001;86(4):1633-1637. (PubMed)