Cholecalciferol is also known as Vitamin D3. It is a form of Vitamin D which is used to supplement in order to increase Vitamin D levels. This may be to prevent a deficiency from developing or to treat an existing deficiency. There are many reasons why a person might be recommended to supplement with cholecalciferol. Let’s take a look at how important Vitamin D is and why cholecalciferol is used.
What is Cholecalciferol?
It is likely that you already know that Vitamin D is a very unusual vitamin. While other vitamins and minerals need to be consumed because the body cannot produce them itself, vitamin D is produced inside the body. However, it is only produced through the skin’s exposure to UVB light in sunlight. So when people tell you to get outside and get some vitamin D, it is because you only need to be out in the sunlight to stimulate the body’s production of this essential vitamin. Cholecalciferol is a type of Vitamin D. When the skin is exposed to UVB light, cholecalciferol is produced. This is converted by the liver and kidneys into other useful chemicals that serve a range of functions in the body. It is found in small amounts in some foods such as oily fish, red meat, and egg yolks, but this is generally not enough to meet our daily needs. Some foods such as dairy produce and fruit juice are fortified with cholecalciferol in order to increase the daily intake of the public. Cholecalciferol is used as a supplement for various reasons, from preventing Vitamin D deficiency to helping treat some cases of low blood calcium.
Why is Vitamin D Important?
Vitamin D, or cholecalciferol, is an essential element of human nutrition. Essentially, it regulates the body’s level of calcium and phosphate, which has a significant impact on many of the body’s systems. Cholecalciferol does a number of things inside the body, including supporting the following:
- Bone and teeth health
- Cardiovascular health
- Immune system health
- Brain and nervous system function
- Lung Function
Vitamin D Deficiency
A vitamin D deficiency can range from mild to severe, and because the signs and symptoms of the deficiency may mimic those of other vitamins or mineral deficiencies, it can be hard to diagnose. In order to truly know if a person is suffering from a lack of vitamin D, a doctor can do a blood test and analyze the levels to determine whether they are high enough. Symptoms commonly experienced as a result of low cholecalciferol include the following:
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Bone pain
- Joint/muscle pain
- Slow healing
- Hair thinning/hair loss
- Frequent illness (low immune system)
- Mood swings, low mood, or depression
If a vitamin D deficiency is allowed to continue for a long period of time, more serious effects may occur. Those with long-term or very severe vitamin D deficiencies may suffer from cardiovascular problems, neurological conditions, autoimmune issues, and even a higher risk of cancer. Pregnancy complications can also occur in those with deficiencies. Cholecalciferol is often used to protect against serious deficiency, but if a person is experiencing severe symptoms of deficiency, it is important that they have the deficiency diagnosed by a medical professional before embarking on cholecalciferol supplementation, as many of the symptoms and complications are common to other health conditions and nutritional issues.
Who Needs Cholecalciferol?
So, the question is, who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency? Why do some people suffer from low levels of vitamin D while others do not? Who needs cholecalciferol? There are a number of risks that should be taken into account when assessing a person’s likelihood to be suffering as a result of low Vitamin D, and this can help a clinician to offer a patient an informed choice about the benefits of supplementing with cholecalciferol. Risk factors for a deficiency of Vitamin D include the following:
- Location – living further away from the equator means you experience fewer hours of sunlight. Those living in countries very far north, for example, are often advised to take cholecalciferol.
- Age – elderly people are more likely to be at risk because of a reduced ability to convert sunlight into cholecalciferol and also because older people are more likely to be spending longer periods of time indoors and out of sunlight.
- Dark skin – those with darker skin require more sunlight in order to produce enough Vitamin D. Those with dark skin who live in places with fewer hours of sunlight are especially at increased risk.
- Diet – people who don’t eat fish or dairy, for example, those who follow a vegan diet, are at an elevated risk of low vitamin D levels.
- Weight – those who are overweight are more likely to experience vitamin D deficiency.
- Lifestyle – staying indoors a lot, getting very little time in the sunlight, or being very covered up with clothing or sunscreen when outside can affect vitamin D levels.
How to Improve Vitamin D Levels
There are many ways to increase the levels of vitamin D, and one of these is to take a quality cholecalciferol supplement. This is an effective way to boost your intake of this essential vitamin, but there are other ways, including the following:
- Get outdoors – even a short 15-minute daily walk outdoors is enough to boost your intake of vitamin D. Use sunscreen wisely – it is important to protect your skin from the sun. It takes a very short time in the sunlight to produce enough vitamin D, so don’t neglect to care for your skin.
- Eat seafood – oily fish such as salmon is a good dietary source of vitamin D. People sometimes say that you cannot obtain vitamin D through diet, but there are a few good sources, and oily fish is perhaps the best.
- Choose fortified foods – swap some of your usual grocery items for those that are fortified with cholecalciferol.
- Add mushrooms – some mushrooms are exposed to UV light in order to boost their vitamin D content – check the labels of suppliers to find mushrooms that could help increase your vitamin D intake.