Did you know that just as plants have the ability to make glucose for themselves by exposure to sunlight, humans too have the ability to make vitamin D, through exposure to sunlight? That’s right!
Human skin cells contain precursors which are converted to vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
When Is The Best Time To Take Vitamin D?
It is best to take your vitamin D supplements in the morning along with your breakfast. This is particularly helpful as it would form part of your morning routine and reduce your chances of forgetting to take it.
Besides, Vitamin D is soluble in fats, hence, it is best absorbed when it is taken with fatty meals. To get the most out of your vitamin D supplements, consider taking it along with fatty foods such as eggs, nuts, and cheese.
What Happens When Vitamin D Is Taken In The Evening?
Some people prefer to take their medications in the evening, just before going to bed. This is particularly the case for people using medications that are required to be taken two times daily, so the second dose is taken in the evening.
While increased levels of vitamin D in your blood is linked to reduced production of melatonin – a hormone that calms your body and helps you to fall asleep – there is no sufficient evidence to suggest that taking vitamin D at night would alter the quality of your sleep.
Nevertheless, taking your supplement at night may lead to less compliance as it is usually easier to miss medications in the evening, after the whole day’s work.
Moreover, since vitamin D is best taken with fatty foods, it is not advisable to load up on fatty foods in the evening while your body is preparing to go to rest. Fatty foods are best consumed in the morning so you can burn the fat during the day’s activities.
The amount of vitamin D your body produces depends on 4 key factors:
- Your skin color – Light skinned people would make more vitamin D3 than dark skinned people. The darker you are, the less vitamin D you would make within a time frame of exposure to sunlight
- The amount of skin exposed – the more skin you expose to sunlight, the more vitamin D your body would be able to produce. You would produce more by exposing your back to sunlight, than just your arms and face.
- The climate – if you live in the tropics, where there is more sunlight, you would produce more vitamin D when compared with someone who lives in a temperate climate with less sunlight.
- Time of the day – the specific time of the day for optimal vitamin D production depends on the climate where you live. It is advisable to expose yourself in the morning and in the evening when the sun is not too intense, in order to prevent skin burns.
Vitamins are organic molecules that the body needs in very minute quantities. They are very essential to the body’s metabolism and overall well being. Vitamin D has a wide range of effects in the body including building strong bones, boosting the immune system and improving the mood.
While it is great to be able to produce a vitamin by just exposing yourself to sunlight, it is very unlikely you would get all the 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D that you need on a daily basis from sunlight alone, due to the factors listed above.
Vitamin D is contained in some foods like fatty fish, cheese, beef liver, and dairy products. However, it is in very minute amounts such that it is nearly impossible to get all vitamin D needs from diet alone too. It is therefore recommended that you consider using vitamin D supplements.
Tips to help you remember supplements
In order not to miss a dose of your vitamin D supplement, consider the following:
1. Use A Pillbox
A pillbox is designed in such a way that you can arrange the pills you would take each day in separate boxes. Most pillboxes come with seven boxes in a row, representing the days of the week. It is a simple yet very helpful device that reminds you to take your supplements daily.
2. Set An Alarm
Alarms are not only meant to wake us up in the morning, but they can also be useful in reminding us of significant activities in the day such as taking a supplement. You can set your alarm to remind you to take your vitamin D supplement at a specific time of the morning.
3. Keep Your Supplements on Your Dining Table
As mentioned, it is best to take your vitamin D supplements along with a fatty meal. Keep your supplements or your pillbox close to where you take your breakfast. Sighting it would remind you to take it with your meal.
Effects of Vitamin D In The Body
Here are some of the effects and functions of Vitamin D in the body.
1. Bone Health
Vitamin D increases the level of calcium in the body by aiding the absorption of calcium from food. Calcium helps to build healthy and strong bones, preventing a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of bones) in adults. Vitamin D also helps to improve balance in elderly people and to prevent them from falling.
Immune cells of the body have vitamin D receptors, meaning they are capable of creating and responding to vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to low immunity and high susceptibility to infections. A study shows that the seasonal nature of infections such as the flu or common cold is linked to vitamin D deficiency which occurs during cold seasons with less sunlight.
3. Respiratory Effects
Vitamin D helps to inhibit inflammatory responses in the lungs and enhances the body’s immune system against microorganisms that can cause respiratory infections. Vitamin D is believed to improve lung functions.
4. Cardiovascular Effect
The amount of vitamin D in the blood is said to be inversely related to high blood pressure. This implies that low levels of vitamin D in the blood is associated with high blood pressure. Vitamin D helps to lower blood pressure and improve the health of the heart.
5. Appetite And Weight Loss
Vitamin D is said to interfere with the action of leptin. Leptin is a hormone that regulates the feelings of satiety, in a bid to control the energy intake of the body. With low levels of vitamin D, you are less likely to feel satisfied and would be prompted to eat more, leading to weight gain. On the other hand, with sufficient vitamin D in the body, leptin functions optimally, bringing satiety and preventing weight gain.
6. Muscle Strength
Vitamin D enhances the ability of muscle cells to contract, making them stronger. A study shows that vitamin D brought about an increase in muscle function among older women with vitamin D insufficiency.
7. Effect On Cognitive Function
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is associated with increased removal of beta amyloid, an abnormal protein which is toxic to the brain neurons. Hence it helps to improve memory and cognitive functions in the elderly.
8. Effect On Mood
Low levels have been associated with an increased risk of depression. Studies have shown that vitamin D helps to improve the mood.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency has very vague and generalized symptoms such as feeling tired and achy, which can be attributed to many other factors. The best way to ascertain vitamin D deficiency is through a blood test.
Vitamin D Toxicity
Though quite rare, it is possible to have too much vitamin D, resulting in vitamin D toxicity or hypervitaminosis D. Vitamin D toxicity causes loss of appetite, weight loss, irregular heartbeats, and excessive urination. If this is accompanied by excessive calcium, then cardiovascular and renal problems may occur.
In conclusion, a deliberate walk while the sun rises is a quick way to boost your vitamin D levels and a Vitamin D supplement is best enjoyed with a wonderful breakfast.
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