4 Surprising Benefits of Vitamin D3

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Vitamin D3 isn’t the most common vitamin on your supplement shelf, but it does have a number of unique health benefits to offer.

What is Vitamin D3?

Vitamin D3 is one of the two forms of vitamin D, which is one of the most important vitamins for overall bodily functions. When the body is exposed to sunshine and the ultraviolet rays from the sun, the skin is able to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is also the common name for cholecalciferol and is closely related to D2 (ergocalciferol), but slightly different. The body is able to generate vitamin D3 when it is exposed to sunlight, but it cannot naturally create vitamin D2. When people are recommended to take vitamin D supplements (perhaps if they live in a low-sunlight part of the world), it is usually in the form of vitamin D3, as it is easier for the body to digest.

Vitamin D3 written on a screen with ginger, tablets, and lemon on the top

Vitamin D3 helps your body absorb calcium. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

This vitamin is perfectly safe, but if you’re taking it in a supplemental form, you shouldn’t need more than 2,000 IU per day, and most dosages will range between 400 and 1,200 IU per day. While this can be an important boost when your body needs it, it is not recommended to use vitamin D3 supplementation over the long term, since it can have other negative side effects.

Vitamin D3 Benefits

The best benefits of this vitamin include improved bone density and brain health, strengthened immune system, weight loss, and a lower occurrence of autoimmune diseases.

Improved Brain Health

Studies, published in the Inflammopharmacology February 2018 issue, found that cholecalciferol is able to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by improving cognitive function. A deficiency of vitamin D has often been associated with neurodegenerative diseases; for that reason alone, supplementation with this vitamin is common in the aging population (Consuelo H.Wilkins, M.D., et al., 2006).

Boosted Immune System

One of the overlooked elements of vitamin D is the impact it can have on the immune system. It is a very powerful modulator of the immune system, so it can prevent infections from various pathogens, but can also help the body avoid attacking itself.

Lower risk of Autoimmune Diseases

Vitamin D deficiency is closely linked to autoimmune disease prevention, so if you suffer from one of these diseases, this is the supplement you need!

Weight Loss

In recent research, it has been found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity. This correlation likely relates to the effect on metabolism that vitamin D can have, along with optimizing the immune system and boosting the metabolic health.

Vitamin D3 Foods

The best foods for finding a natural source of vitamin D3 include the following:

Again, these are the dietary sources, but the most effective way to boost your vitamin D3 levels is simply to step outside!

Vitamin D3 Deficiency

If your body becomes deficient in this vitamin, you will experience a number of symptoms, including a decrease in bone mineral density, which can help prevent osteoporosis. A deficiency will also put you at higher risk of arthritis, and will compromise your control of the neuromuscular function. It can also impact the body’s ability to regulate its mineral levels effectively.

Difference Between Vitamin D and D3

The difference between vitamin D and vitamin D3 is simply a level of specificity. Vitamin D3 is a type of vitamin D, and the most highly recommended one since it is the type made naturally by the body. This is different than vitamin D2, which is typically found in food and is not made by the body when exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D3 Side Effects

If you consume too much of this vitamin, there can be some side effects, but generally, there are no negative side effects of this vitamin. In excess, however, you may experience the following:

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Kidney failure
  • Reduction in bone mineral density
  • Elevated blood levels of calcium and potassium

As mentioned, in moderation, this vitamin supplement will rarely have side effects.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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