Alternatively, it can also be obtained from direct exposure to sunlight. This is why it is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin.
Because there are not a lot of foods containing vitamin D, and long sun exposure is not safe, doctors and dietician encourage their patients to supplement with vitamin D.
Aside from maintaining strong bones, Vitamin D also has these health benefits:
- Improves the absorption of other minerals such as magnesium and calcium.
- Promotes cell growth.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Maintains a healthy cardiovascular and neuromuscular health.
Because vitamin D can increase testosterone levels, it is popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts for its other health benefits. These include muscle growth, increased physical energy, and lesser body fats.
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is still very common.
Testosterone is a crucial hormone for both men and women. In both genders, testosterone is responsible for maintaining strong bones, muscle mass, and strength. It also increases libido and promotes a good mood.
This hormone is important for tissue recovery and boosts the production of red blood cells.
In men, the levels of testosterone increase in puberty causing an increased production of sperm. It encourages the development of sexual characteristics of a male.
Low levels of testosterone can cause a number of symptoms in men such as:
- erectile dysfunction
For both men and women, this can lead to mood disorders and a number of cardiovascular diseases. It can also be linked to poor fitness gains, slow recovery time, as well as a greater chance of injury.
Testosterone is usually bound in two proteins: albumin, and sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). Testosterone that is bound is considered unusable.
There is a very small percentage of testosterone that is not bound. It is called free testosterone.
Unlike bound testosterone, free testosterone has the ability to attach to tissues and do its job.
Blood samples were taken from over 800 middle-aged men. Tests show that 68% of the participants have naturally low levels of vitamin D. However, only 11% of the participants who are vitamin D deficient supplemented with vitamin D to correct their deficiency.
The men who did not supplement with vitamin D continued to have low testosterone levels and high estrogen levels, while those who took the supplement had higher levels of testosterone.
The result is similar to an older test performed on animals where it shows that vitamin D deficiency in mice leads to low t-levels.
This link between vitamin D and testosterone explains why men who have low vitamin D levels tend to have higher body mass index, and extra fats around the waist area.
Another study examined 54 men who have vitamin D deficiency. They were divided into 2 groups and one group received vitamin D supplement while the other received placebo.
After one year, the group that received vitamin D supplement had a significant improvement in their total testosterone levels, as well as free testosterone. The placebo group did not show improvement in their t-levels.
The researchers of this study hypothesized that there is a huge possibility that the body needs vitamin D to produce testosterone. This means a low supply of this vitamin may limit the body’s ability to produce testosterone.
A separate study examined the effects of vitamin D supplementation on healthy middle-aged men who have normal testosterone levels. The result shows that the supplementation does not affect the testosterone levels if an individual already has an optimal testosterone level.
Doctors would normally recommend supplementing with 1,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day depending on the individual’s current health.
However, light-skinned individuals can easily have 10,000 IU by staying under the sun for 10-15 minutes each day. Individuals who have darker skin may need longer sun exposure.
When the skin is exposed to the sun for a long time, the body simply stops producing more vitamin D.
Overdosing with vitamin D can happen from consuming a high dose of the supplement.
Known side effects are as follows:
- Damage to the kidney
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint pains
Some individuals are prescribed with high doses (5,000 IU) of vitamin D supplements. Most doctors would recommend taking this amount once to three times per week at a limited span of time.
This is because vitamin D overdose can also lead to calcium buildup in the blood. It can cause negative side effects such as nausea, vomiting, frequent urination and weakness.
Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is the most beneficial type of vitamin D. This is the vitamin D that the body produces as a result of sun exposure.
Most doctors recommend taking this form of vitamin D because of its potency.
Vitamin D3 is more preferred because it can produce more calcifediol compared to other types of vitamin D (such as D2). Calcifediol is a metabolite that is produced in the liver when vitamin D is present. Health care providers assess a person’s vitamin D levels according to the levels of calcifediol in the blood.
It was found that other types of vitamin D produce lower levels of calcifediol. In fact, other types of vitamin D are considered low-quality.
Vitamin D3 can be found in foods such as egg yolk, fish oil, and butter.