A friend of mine sent me a nutrition related question on facebook (I am quite honored that she thought of me) about vitamin d3. Her doctor actually strongly recommended that she start taking vitamin d3 and calcium but she was not really sure about the implications or what vitamin d3 really was in the first place. So this is what I told her:
Vitamins d3 is actually a form of vitamin d that is involved with getting calcium properly absorbed into the body. Any vitamin d deficiency will affect your calcium levels (low vitamin d=low calcium) and any vitamin d toxicity will also affect your calcium levels (high vitamin d=high calcium levels). People who live in sunny areas do not need to worry about getting proper amounts of vitamin d because they get enough exposure from the sun for their body to form enough vitamin d3. But for people like who live in cloudy, gloomy Places (like my friend and i who live in michigan) we have to seek out other sources such as vitamin d fortified products (such as milks and cereals). Vitamin d3 is also found in animal sources of food (eggs and fish, for example) But it’s still a good idea for Michiganders, and any other people living in non-sunny areas, to supplement. My recommendation is the Gnc brand. But if you don’t like Gnc or prefer a different brand, just be sure to read the ingredients list. You want to make sure that your supplement contains vitamin d3 aka cholecalciferol so look for that in the ingredients list. Toxicity can be a concern when it comes to vitamin d so just be sure to stick to 1000-2000 IU a day.
While you’re scoping out a d3 supplement, also take a look at your calcium supplement (if you take one). A quick little test is to drop one of your calcium tablets into 6 ounces of vinegar. If it is a high quality pill, it should dissolve within 30 minutes. If it doesn’t, find a new calcium supplement. Calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, and calcium phosphate are all types of calcium that are generally well absorbed by the body. Be sure to look for one of those forms in your calcium supplement.
If you take a multivitamin, it may contain both the proper forms of calcium and vitamin d so be sure to read your ingredients lists carefully!