During our company retreat, we started talking about German winters and how pretty much everyone needs to take vitamin D because of how gray the sky is. According to a Statistica report, during the winter months, there are about 30-40 hours of sunshine in Germany per month.
Considering a study from the University of Valencia said that most of us need at least two hours of sunshine during the winter, it means that many should speak to their doctors about supplements.
Already taking vitamin D? You might be taking too much.
Chances are, if you look at the back of that bottle you bought on Amazon or in the store, you’ll see that it says to take one pill every three or so days. This is because, for the average person, they will only need about 600 IU per day (recommended by the National Institute of Health).
A lot of bottles, however, come in doses that range from 600 IU to 1800 IU and more. This means that if you miss the label on the back and are taking it daily, you’re at risk for vitamin D toxicity. According to MayoClinic, this can cause nausea, going pee more often, and weakness. If the toxicity lasts for a prolonged period of time, this can lead to even more serious problems like kidney failure, calcium stones, and bone problems.
This can be a problem with vitamin D supplements like the one offered by WeightWorld that has a dose of 4,000 IU which the National Institute of Health lists as the “upper limit” for vitamin D intake.
Which foods have vitamin D?
Another problem with high doses is also that food and other supplements are packed with it under the assumption that people aren’t getting “enough.” If these foods are paired with high pill-based doses, this can lead to an even higher intake. Some common foods that are supplemented are:
- Milk alternatives like oat, rice, soy, madel, pea milk among others
- Butter and other spreads
There are foods that naturally contain vitamin D like liver and fish as well. To be sure, check the back label of the product to see how much there is per serving.
How to take vitamin D
You might be wondering how to take vitamin D properly then since there seems to be a lot of things to watch out for. Our first line of advice is to go to your doctor and ask to have your blood drawn.
They can see how much vitamin D is in your system and if you would need to either take a supplement every day or if you only need to take one every few days. Each person is different and to recommend something to everyone would be misleading. Only through a blood test will you know how much you need to be supplementing and how often.
Eat something fatty
Vitamin D is fat-soluble and many of the websites we’ve already listed recommend eating something with a bit of fat to help it absorb better. Maybe some peanut butter toast or a handful of nuts.
What is vitamin K2 and why should I take it with vitamin D?
You might see vitamin K2 on a lot of bottles when purchasing the supplement recommended by your doctor. Vitamin K2 is also a fat-soluble vitamin that is considered to be essential when supplementing vitamin D because they work in combination. While vitamin D helps to make sure your calcium levels are at normal, it doesn’t regulate where that calcium goes which is where K2 comes in. K2 is responsible for the distribution of calcium throughout the body.
K2 promotes bone growth and limits the buildup of calcium stones which is one of the risks mentioned previously if someone has vitamin D toxicity. Unregulated calcium intake can also lead to heart and liver disease which K2 can help prevent.
According to Healthline that cites 9 separate medical studies, vitamin D intake can be dangerous without vitamin K2.
For more on K2, see Healthline’s article.
The sun vitamin
Winter is here, and while over 66% of all Europeans take vitamin D, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vitamins are a good idea for all people. To really know if you should be taking supplements and how much of each, you should consult your doctor after taking a blood test.
If you want more information on life in Germany or the German healthcare system, make sure to check out the rest of the articles on our blog.
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