When is the Best Time to Take Vitamin D?
If you are lactose intolerant, follow a vegan diet, or have limited exposure to the sun, the chances are you are low in Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies often go unnoticed; however, if left untreated, they can lead to chronic health problems over time.
If you suffer from low levels of Vitamin D, dietary supplements are often the most effective and convenient way to boost your intake.
However, knowing exactly when and how to take a supplement can be confusing. How much Vitamin D does your body need? Should you take it when you wake up, or before bed? With food, or without?
Many factors can influence how effectively your body uses your Vitamin D supplement, so when is the best time to take Vitamin D?
Why Do We Need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is primarily responsible for maintaining our bone strength and health. Deficiencies have historically been linked to rickets, a disease in which the bones become soft, and even deformed.
This is because Vitamin D plays a key role in helping our bodies utilize the calcium in our diets, without which our bones can become weak.
Further research has since found that Vitamin D is essential for protecting against a whole host of other health problems, such as:
It is therefore vital that you keep your Vitamin D levels healthy, to prevent the onset of a variety of illnesses.
But how can you make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D, and how can you boost your intake?
Natural Sources of Vitamin D
Known as the sunshine vitamin, a lot of our Vitamin D comes from sunlight. This is because exposure to sunshine causes synthesis of the vitamin in our bodies. Most people can make enough Vitamin D by being out in the sunshine for short periods of time every day, provided they have some parts of their body uncovered. The best time for this is at noon, as this is the best time of day for optimal sun exposure.
However, there are a number of factors that can affect how much Vitamin D your body is able to make. People living in areas with limited sunlight will need longer outdoors to produce enough of the vitamin, as will people with darker skin colors.
If you have fair skin, you must take care that you don’t burn. Lighter skinned people may need to limit the amount of time they spend in the sun, or even avoid it altogether.
It can, therefore, be difficult for some people to get all the Vitamin D they need from sunshine alone.
A few foods naturally contain Vitamin D, such as oily fish, red meat, and eggs. Some dairy and grain products are also fortified with Vitamin D, to help you boost your intake.
However, eating enough of these foods to get all of the Vitamin D you need can be tricky, particularly if you follow a vegan diet.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
The symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency are usually mild and often go unnoticed, which may account for its prevalence throughout the world. You may be suffering from Vitamin D deficiency if you experience the following:
If you think you are deficient in Vitamin D, consider spending more time outdoors, or including more Vitamin-rich foods in your diet. Alternatively, taking dietary supplements can be a highly effective way of combating deficiencies.
Who is Most at Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Certain groups of people are more at risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency than others:
+ People with limited sun exposure:
There are many reasons why you may not be getting enough sunlight. People who are very fair skinned will need to avoid prolonged sun exposure to prevent sunburn.
Those living in areas with little sunlight, particularly during the winter months, will also have limited time in the sun. If your job requires you to spend most of your day indoors, you may also be low in Vitamin D.
Even if you sit by a window you will not get the benefits of sunlight, as glass filters out ultraviolet B, which is responsible for stimulating Vitamin D synthesis.
+ People who follow a vegan diet:
Most natural sources of Vitamin D are animal-based, such as oily fish, egg yolks, and red meat.
If you follow a strict vegan diet, you are therefore unlikely to be getting enough of the vitamin from your food and are more at risk of developing a deficiency.
+ People who are lactose intolerant:
Many foods fortified with Vitamin D are dairy and milk products. If you suffer from lactose intolerance this can limit your options significantly, especially if you are also vegetarian or vegan.
For many people, the most effective solution for combating Vitamin D deficiency is through the use of dietary supplements. When taken daily, these can boost your intake of Vitamin D in a way that is effective and hassle-free.
For people with restricted diets, this can remove the stress of trying to find suitable products that are fortified with Vitamin D. For people who get limited sun exposure, whether due to geographical location or skin type, this can also be the easiest way to raise Vitamin D levels.
However, dietary supplements are only safe and effective when taken correctly. Knowing when and how can be tricky, so when is the best time to take Vitamin D?
Morning vs Evening
Most people prefer to take their dietary supplements at the same time every day, but when is the best time to take Vitamin D?
If you take Vitamin D alone, and not as part of a multivitamin, the best time to take it is in the evening. This is because low levels of Vitamin D have been found to cause abnormal sleep patterns. This can cause a variety of problems, including insomnia, sleep apnoea, waking up a lot, night terrors, and sleep paralysis.
Aside from leaving you feeling poorly rested, this can have a number of other implications for your health. Poor quality sleep can impair cognitive function, make you snappy and irritable, and limit concentration.
It can also cause headaches, depression, and memory loss. Over time, poor quality sleep can even increase your risk of developing more serious medical conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
Taking Vitamin D a few hours before you go to bed can ensure that you have the highest levels in your blood just as you are getting ready to sleep. This can improve your sleep quality, allowing you to get the full range of health benefits from Vitamin D supplementation.
With or Without Food?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is absorbed in the intestines. This means that is is more readily taken up by the body in the presence of oils or fats, and so should always be taken with food.
Studies have found that taking your Vitamin D supplement with the largest meal of the day is the best way to optimize absorption. For most people, this is their evening meal.
By taking your Vitamin D after eating a large meal, you can ensure that your body absorbs as much of the nutrient as possible. This means that you get the best possible effects for your health.
How Much Vitamin D Should You be Taking?
The amount of Vitamin D your body needs depends on many different factors, including your age, race, and level of sun exposure.
For 97.5% of people, the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D is 400–800 IU, or 10–20 micrograms.
However, if you have limited exposure to the sun, eat a vegan diet, are lactose intolerant, or have dark skin, you may need to increase your intake. If you feel that this dose is not sufficient for you, try incrementally increasing the amount you take each day.
Taking between 1000–4000 IU, or 25–100 micrograms of Vitamin D per day is considered healthy and safe.
Conclusion: When is the Best Time to Take Vitamin D?
The best time to take Vitamin D is after your largest meal, and a few hours before you go to bed. This will allow your body to absorb as much of the vitamin as possible, boosting your blood levels significantly.
By doing this in the evening, you can also enjoy the benefits of Vitamin D on your quality of sleep.
Increasing your Vitamin D levels can help you to feel better rested and more energized when you wake up. It can also help to protect you from the onset of a wide variety of medical problems.
By making sure you have a healthy intake of Vitamin D, you can maintain the health and strength of your bones, teeth, and muscles. You can also reduce your risks of developing more serious medical conditions, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.