Posted on 29 March 2023
Everything you need to know about vitamin D
You’ve probably heard of vitamin D; it’s one of the critical building blocks of stronger bones. In this details blog, we provide answers to your questions on vitamin D, including what vitamin D is, why we’re all at risk of becoming deficient, and why supplements can help you.
You’ll also learn where you can get bone health advice from the web’s best sources and when you might want to speak to a medical professional.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D plays a critical role in the body in regulating the amount of calcium. This is critical to keeping our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Vitamin D also plays a crucial role in our immune systems, keeping us healthy and well.
Without enough vitamin D, our bodies can’t absorb calcium, which can lead to bone health problems.
There are also suggestions that vitamin D can affect mental health, with those deficient in vitamin D more likely to experience depression.
You can learn more about what vitamin D is and the role it plays in the body on the NHS website.
Where do you get vitamin D from?
We get most of our vitamin D from exposure to the sun. While most of us get the vitamin D we need during the spring and summer, many of us can be deficient during the autumn and winter.
It’s the reason why the NHS recommends that we all take a vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter.
As well as getting into the sun, you can also get vitamin D from your diet. Eggs contain high levels of vitamin D and can help you get what you need.
In addition to eggs, you can get vitamin D from oily fish, red meat and liver. You’ll also find vitamin D added to lots of foods and drinks, including milk substitutes (such as oat milk and almond milk).
What is vitamin D3?
You may have heard of vitamin D3. So, what is it, and why is it important to know the difference?
Cholecalciferol is the scientific term for vitamin D3. It’s a type of vitamin D, alongside vitamin D2, that’s generated by our bodies when exposed to the sun.
You’ll see many supplements promote the fact that they include large amounts of vitamin D3. In some studies, vitamin D3 supplements have been more effective at delivering vitamin D than vitamin D2.
You can learn more about cholecalciferol in our guide to vitamin D3 here.
What are vitamin D supplements?
Vitamin D supplements are an effective way for you to get the vitamin D that you need. The NHS recommends that all of us take a vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter, to ensure we don’t suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Many people choose to take a vitamin D supplement all year round.
There are several types of vitamin D supplements, including tablets/capsules, sprays, and gummies.
What is vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency is caused by the body not getting the vitamin D it needs to function. An estimated 1-in-5 of us suffer from vitamin D deficiency, and it can have a serious impact on our bodies and bones.
While there are clinical tests to assess whether you’re vitamin D deficient, it’s unlikely you’ll receive one (unless a doctor decides it’s clinically essential).
Here you can read about the safe levels of vitamin D for adults. We also describe some of the signs of vitamin D deficiency.
How much vitamin D is safe to take?
While we’re all different, the current guidelines state that every adult should get at least 10 micrograms (400IU) of vitamin D every day.
You’ll often see that vitamin D supplements contain much higher levels of vitamin D than this. According to experts, the safe upper limit for vitamin D is 100mg daily, or 4000IU.
It’s important that you don’t take too much vitamin D as this could have a negative impact on your health.
One of the biggest risks is by taking a vitamin D supplement alongside a multivitamin and other sources of vitamin D (including fortified foods). IF you do this for a long time, you can find your body gets too much vitamin D which can lead to negative impacts on your health.
Should I take a vitamin D supplement?
It’s your body, your bones, and your choice to take a vitamin D supplement.
If you’re worried about your bone health, then speak to your doctor.
The NHS, and other charities and researchers, involved in bone health recommend that we take a vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter when it’s hard (or even impossible) to get all the vitamin D we need from the sun and our diet.
As we’ve explained above, vitamin D supplements are safe to take – as long as you stay within the recommended safe daily levels.
Are vitamin D supplements OK to take for vegetarians?
The majority of vitamin D supplements are safe for vegetarians. Vitamin D supplements are a common choice for both vegetarians and vegans, who (for obvious reasons) refuse to eat red meat, liver, and eggs.
You should be able to find details of whether a supplement is vegetarian or vegan on the packaging. To make it as easy as possible, we’ve collated all our vegetarian and vegan supplements in one place.
Check out our range of vegetarian and vegan vitamin D supplements here.
Do vitamin D sprays work?
Vitamin D sprays are as effective as tables, capsules, and gummies, say the experts.
Vitamin D sprays are popular because they’re easy to take and transport. They’re often more cost-effective too, with small capsules containing hundreds of sprays.
The sprays are absorbed faster into your body too, where they can get to work quicker.
How much vitamin D should I take?
Every adult should ensure they’re getting at least 10 micrograms (400IU) of vitamin D every day.
Some people choose (or are advised by their doctor) to take more than this. While it’s safe to take up to 4000IU of vitamin D per day, you must ensure that you don’t take higher doses as this could have a negative impact on your health and well being. It may also have no positive impact on your bones, either.
What are the best vitamin D supplement brands?
You can find vitamin D for sale pretty much everywhere. But are all vitamin D brands the same?
The answer is no.
Premium supplement brands are guaranteed to deliver the dose of vitamin D they promise on the label. You’ll also find that high-quality vitamin D supplement brands include higher doses of vitamin D.
We recommend that people try several supplements to find the vitamin D supplement (or combination of supplements) that work best for your body and bones.
Only you can tell how you feel, so try some and find what works best.
At Stronger Bones, we sell supplements from premium UK brands, including BetterYou, Higher Nature, Prowise, Solgar, and Osavi.
Can vitamin D treat osteoporosis?
Vitamin D plays a key role in the maintenance and building of bones in the body, but it’s not a treatment for osteoporosis.
If you’re diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor will decide on a suitable combination of treatments, which can include medications and lifestyle changes.
You can read more about treatments for osteoporosis here (but your doctor is the expert, so listen to them!).
Should I take vitamin D if I’m experiencing the menopause?
Post-menopausal women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis. It’s because the drop in oestrogen can impact bone density and strength.
The key to reducing your likelihood of developing osteoporosis is to ensure your bones are as strong as possible before the menopause.
We’ve written about the relationship between menopause and osteoporosis here.
Can vitamin D prevent osteoporosis?
The causes of osteoporosis are complex, and while they can include lifestyle factors and genetics, there is some evidence to suggest that there are things you can do to improve the strength of your bones.
The NHS, for example, recommends that people eat a healthy diet (rich in vitamins and minerals), regularly exercise, cut down on alcohol and stop smoking completely. They also suggest that people should consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
We should all get serious about our bone health and do everything we can to keep them stronger for longer. The evidence suggests that the stronger your bones are in your 30s (when you reach your peak bone density), the better your chances of not developing osteoporosis.
However, even if you do all these things, you may still develop osteoporosis.
So, while vitamin D supplements may not prevent osteoporosis, they could play a role in your strategy for building stronger bones.
Where can I get information on vitamin D?
We’re always trying to provide information and updates on the latest developments in vitamin D research, bone health, osteoporosis, and menopause. But we don’t have all the answers!
Here is our round-up of the best websites for bone health information and advice. You can find links to sites including the Royal Osteoporosis Society, Healthline, Versus Arthritis and more.
Where can I buy vitamin D supplements?
At Stronger Bones, of course!
We’re on a mission to improve the UK’s bone health, providing everyone with access to high-quality, low-cost vitamin D supplements. We sell supplements from brands you know, including Higher Nature, Vitabiotics, Prowise, Solgar, and BetterYou.
We’re a UK-based business, and everything is stocked, picked, and packed in the UK (in the beautiful Forest of Dean).
When you spend over £25, you can get free Royal Mail shipping.
You can search our online vitamin and supplement store here.
Should I buy vitamin D supplements on social media?
You’ll see influencers and online experts promote products on social media, but should you trust their claims? In our experience, these promotions aren’t worth the (virtual) paper they’re written on.
Buying supplements on social media is dangerous because you can’t be sure the products you’re buying are manufactured to the highest standards. Instead, you should purchase vitamin D supplements (and any other supplements) from brands that you can trust.
Do you still have questions about vitamin D?
Hopefully, we’ve provided some answers to your questions about vitamin D. If you’ve got any questions about your bone health, you can always speak to your doctor or other trained medical professional.
While we’re here to provide information and advice, you should always speak to a medical professional to get personalised information and advice on your health.
If you ever need to buy supplements online, you can find them in the Stronger Bones shop. All our supplements are available at 20% cheaper than high street prices, with free shipping when you spend over £25.