To remain healthy, we need to make sure that we take in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. A deficiency in any of the key vitamins or minerals could cause ill health. Vitamin D is one of the more unusual micronutrients, because our bodies can make it in small quantities via exposure to sunlight. People who work outdoors and live in warm climates can make enough vitamin D to stay healthy.
Where do We Get Vitamin D
Vitamin D is found in:1
– Fatty fish
– Beef liver
– Cheese and eggs
– Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals
Babies need about 400IU of vitamin D per day, while most adults need around 600IU of the vitamin.
Why Do We Need Vitamin D?
There are many vitamin D benefits. It is essential for bone health since it helps to maintain our body’s phosphorus levels, and also helps to regulate calcium. Vitamin D helps the intestines to absorb calcium. Without it, we would excrete calcium, losing bone density more rapidly, and potentially developing rickets. Vitamin D also helps to improve the immune system and reduce the risk of diabetes as well.
Should We Supplement Vitamin D?
People who live in warm areas and who spend a lot of time outside will probably get enough vitamin D naturally. This is particularly true if they eat a lot of fortified foods and/or oily fish. Vegans, people who follow relatively restrictive diets, and shift workers or those who live in colder, darker climates may need to supplement Vitamin D to get the full health benefits.2
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Some people opt to take Vitamin D supplements in the winter months. Indeed, there are a lot of self-care measures you can take to make yourself feel better when it is dull and cloudy and the days are shorter. People use MONQ’s Cheer blend to improve their mood and reduce depressive symptoms that could be associated with a lack of sunlight, or the Happy blend with fennel and vanilla, which can help with pain and low mood.3,4 It is generally accepted that exercise can be of use for improving your mood too.
Vitamin D and Pain Relief
The vitamin D benefits aren’t just limited to general long-term health (although that alone is a huge selling point). There is some evidence to suggest that vitamin D is useful for chronic pain.5 Doctors often prescribe vitamin D supplements for people who have had a long-term deficiency and who are suffering from bone loss, muscle weakness and general bone fragility. In the UK, it is thought that around one-fifth of adults and almost one-quarter of children are suffering from low vitamin D. Childhood diseases such as rickets are making a return in many parts of the western world, in part because of repetitive diets.
Chronic pain sufferers who are low in vitamin D often find that when they supplement vitamin D their perceived pain is greatly reduced. This is particularly true for cancer pain, muscular pain, and in some cases diabetic related nerve issues.6
Those who are getting enough vitamin D in their day to day life are unlikely to notice much improvement in their symptoms from supplementing vitamin D, but for those who have a deficiency, the benefits can be clear and will manifest quite quickly.
Mega-Dosing of Vitamins
There has been a trend towards taking massive doses of vitamins, especially water-soluble vitamins, as a ‘health hack’. While there may be some marginal benefits to this sort of thing, it is not always a good idea. With water-soluble vitamins, any excess taken in will be excreted, so the risks are minimal (although it is a waste of money to take supplements which will simply end up being flushed down the toilet). Vitamin D, however, is a fat-soluble vitamin, so taking large doses can be riskier.
Taking in large doses of vitamin D can cause nausea and vomiting, dehydration, apathy, confusion, and an excess of calcium in the blood (which can lead to other serious and potentially life-threatening health risks).7 For this reason, it is not a good idea to take large doses of vitamin D, or indeed other fat-soluble vitamins, unless directed to by a doctor who is supervising you while you follow the course.
For most people, a healthy diet and lifestyle with basic self-care measures such as meditation, exercise, and aromatherapy is enough to ensure good overall wellbeing. If you are suffering from chronic pain, talk to your doctor and identify the cause, then find measures to manage it. Those measures may include supplements to help manage nutrient deficiencies in some cases, but supplementation should be tried only if you have found yourself unable to improve the deficiency through changes to your day to day diet.
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