Note: Each week, family physician
Regina Chinsio-Kwong, DO from
Mission Heritage Medical Group in Laguna Niguel will offer insight on a different vitamin—why you
need it, how to incorporate it into your diet and how it affects your
health. If you are considering taking any kind of supplement, consult
with a medical professional first.
WHAT IT DOES: Vitamin D3 is the main form used by the body and is the most easily absorbed
form of vitamin D. It is vital to building strong and healthy bones, because
vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D can also strengthen
the immune system, which helps the body fight infection, and maintain
RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE: This is measured in International Units (IU). Newborns up to 1 year old
should get 400 IU, while children and adults up to age 70, as well as
pregnant and breastfeeding women, should have 600 IU. The RDA goes up
to 800 IU for people older than 70.
HOW TO INCLUDE IT IN YOUR DIET: Vitamin D3 is produced by the body with exposure to sunlight. However,
many people don't get enough vitamin D3 that way due to decreased
production in the skin in those who have darker skin tones, or decreased
exposure to sun from working indoors or wearing sunscreen. So it's
important to get vitamin D3 in your diet. Naturally occurring sources
include egg yolks, fatty fish (tuna, salmon) cheese, beef liver and mushrooms.
Other foods are fortified with vitamin D3, including milk, cereals, soy
drinks and juices. Vitamin D3 is also available in supplements, often
under the name cholecalciferol.
HEALTH IMPACT: A lack of vitamin D can put bones at risk for becoming weak and brittle;
it can also increase the risk for osteoporosis. Also, some studies point
to the possibility that low levels of vitamin D can lead to increased
risk for heart attack and high blood pressure. Also, lower vitamin D levels
have been found in mood disorders such as depression.
Other studies say vitamin D can also affect cancer, type 1 diabetes, tuberculosis
and colds and flu—however, much more research is needed. Be careful,
because too much vitamin D can be toxic, resulting in symptoms such as
weight loss, constipation, nausea or appetite loss, kidney damage and
elevated blood calcium. The latter can disrupt normal heart rhythms and
Vitamin D3 can also affect, and be affected by, certain medications, including
anti-inflammatory corticosteroids (such as prednisone), the weight-loss
drug orlistat, a cholesterol-lowering medication called cholestyramine
and phenobarbital and phenytoin, which manage epileptic seizures. It's
crucial to consult with a health care professional before taking vitamin
D supplements and be regularly monitored to ensure it isn't causing
problems with your medication.
RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENT BRANDS: USP labeled supplements such as NatureMade or Kirkland brand products
third party tested brands: Metagenics, Vital Nutrients, OrthoMolecular,
Pure Encapsulations, Pharmax, Integrative Therapeutics (Nature's Way),
Prothera, Designs for Health.
Read more about vitamins:
Value of Vitamin Series: B12
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.