When the warm sun hits your skin, your body begins producing vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol. If your sunshine is limited, vitamin D3 is also available from fortified foods, cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, egg yolks and dietary supplements, with the recommended daily intake for adults being 600 International Units. Regardless of how you choose to meet your daily needs, adequate intake of vitamin D3 is beneficial to your health.
According to a report in the July 2009 issue of "Annals of Epidemiology," vitamin D3 is associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancer, including breast, renal, ovarian, colon, pancreatic and prostate. The report stated that D3 helps prevent the breaking apart and spreading of cancer cells and also attacks the cells in other stages of cancer growth. The authors concluded that taking vitamin D3 daily in the amount of 2,000 International Units would not cause harmful effects and would help reduce the number of cancer deaths per year.
Vitamin D3 plays an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy, according to a review in the September 2012 issue of "Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America." Vitamin D3's bone benefits are attributed to the fact that it aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphate, which maintains bone mineral density and reduces the risk of breaks and fractures.
You may avoid frequent respiratory infections by getting adequate vitamin D3. According to a study published in "BMJ Open" in 2012, subjects were given 4,000 International Units of D3 or a placebo daily for a year. Those who supplemented with vitamin D3 experienced significantly fewer respiratory infections. The researchers stated that one benefit of vitamin D3's ability to reduce frequent infections is a reduction in antibiotic use. Another study, published in the May 2010 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," found that when children were given 1,200 International Units of vitamin D3 per day, their risk of getting the flu was significantly reduced.
Too much vitamin D3 can be harmful, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. The safest daily intake, or upper limit, recommended for adults is 4,000 International Units. The ODS reports that too much vitamin D3 is the result of supplement intake rather than sun exposure, as your body naturally limits the amount of D3 produced in the skin. Symptoms of excessive D3 intake include weakness, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, irregular heartbeat, confusion and disorientation. If you experience these symptoms while taking vitamin D3 supplements, consult your physician immediately.
- Mayo Clinic: Vitamin D
- Annals of Epidemiology: Vitamin D For Cancer Prevention: A Global Perspective
- Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America: How Vitamin D Works on Bone
- BMJ Journal: Vitamin D3 Supplementation in Patients With Frequent Respiratory Tract Infections: A Randomised and Double-Blind Intervention Study
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation to Prevent Seasonal Influenza A in Schoolchildren
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."