Vitamin D ensures your bones and teeth stay strong and healthy.

What are its health benefits?

One of the crucial benefits of fat-soluble vitamin D is its role in helping the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for the normal development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. So, even with adequate calcium intake, if your vitamin D intake is low, you’ll have poor calcification of bones.

Vitamin D (also known as calciferol) can be found in some food sources, but sunlight switches on your inactive stores. So if you stay out of the sun completely, you might need to take a vitamin D supplement, which is not normally something to worry about in South Africa as incidental sunlight usually ensures enough vitamin D.

There’s also evidence of a link between vitamin D and weight loss.

Do you have a deficiency?

Strict vegetarians and vegans, especially those who get no sun, run an increased risk of a vitamin D deficiency. In children, a serious shortfall causes rickets (a condition that affects bone development in children). In adults, loss of bone density from a lack of vitamin D increases the risk of osteoporosis.

There is a growing amount of research into the link between vitamin D and depression. Studies show a connection between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and depressive symptoms.

Find it in these foods

Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. These include:

  • Oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel)
  • Milk
  • Egg yolks
  • Chicken
  • Calf liver

Other sources include fortified fat spreads, fortified breakfast cereals and powdered milk.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

A typical dosage for an adult is 25mcg. However, consult with your Clicks pharmacist first regarding the right dosage of daily oral supplements to make up for a vitamin D deficiency.

Know the overdose risks

Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause more calcium to be absorbed than can be excreted. This excess calcium can be deposited in and damage the kidneys. Excessive intake of vitamin D can also encourage calcium to be removed from bones, which can soften and weaken them. 

Other vitamin D side effects include:

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015