Vitamin C Is Beneficial To Your Health

Vitamin C Is Beneficial To Your Health

  • April 8, 2021

Vitamin C is water-soluble and can be obtained from many fruits and vegetables, it is also an essential vitamin that the body is not able to produce, it has many roles and has been linked to some impressive health benefits.

While some take supplements to meet the daily requirements for vitamin C it is recommended to get your intake from food sources such as bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, kale, strawberries, kiwi, and oranges. 

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can help to strengthen the body’s natural defenses by boosting the immune system by protecting cells from harmful free radical molecules that can accumulate and promote oxidative stress which is linked to many chronic diseases. Studies have shown that vitamin C can increase blood antioxidant levels by 30% helping the body’s natural defenses to fight inflammation and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. 

According to the CDC, around one-third of American adults have high blood pressure, putting them at risk for heart disease which is the leading cause of death around the globe. Studies have shown that vitamin C can help to lower blood pressure in those with and without high blood pressure. This may be done by helping the blood vessels to relax that carry blood from the heart which helps to reduce blood pressure levels. However, this does not mean that those with high blood pressure should rely on vitamin C to rely on vitamin C alone to manage high blood pressure. 

Research analyzing 9 studies found that those taking at least 700 mg a day of vitamin C had a 25% lower risk of heart disease than those who did not. Another analysis of 15 studies found that consuming vitamin C from foods and not supplements was linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Additionally, another analysis of 13 studies found that taking vitamin C supplements significantly reduced risk factors for heart disease including blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These studies suggest that at least 500 mg of vitamin C each day can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, however, if you are consuming a vitamin C-rich diet taking supplements may not provide additional heart health benefits. 

Studies suggest that vitamin C may help to reduce blood uric acid levels and help prevent gout attacks which is a type of arthritis that affects around 4% of American adults. 

Vitamin C helps to improve the absorption of iron from the diet and assists in converting iron that is poorly absorbed such as plant-based sources of iron and turns it into a form that is easier to absorb. This is especially important to those that are vegan as meat is a major source of iron, and iron is important to a variety of functions such as making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. As a result, vitamin C may help to reduce the risk of anemia among those prone to iron deficiency. 

Vitamin C is involved in many parts of the immune system, helping to encourage the production of lymphocytes and phagocyte white blood cells that help to protect the body against infections. Vitamin C also helps these white blood cells function more effectively while protecting them from harmful free radicals. Vitamin C is actively transported to the skin where it is an antioxidant that also helps to strengthen the skin’s barriers and may help to shorten wound healing time. Vitamin C helps to boost immunity, and lower levels have been linked to poor health outcomes, such as those with pneumonia tend to have lower levels. 

Globally well over 35 million people are affected by dementia, studies suggest that inflammation and oxidative stress near the brain, spine, and nerves can increase the risk of dementia. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, lower levels of vitamin C have been linked to an impaired ability to think and remember. Studies have shown that those with dementia have lower blood levels of vitamin C, and a high intake of vitamin C from food/supplements have been shown to have a protective effect on thinking and memory as we age. Studies suggest that vitamin C might help protect against conditions such as dementia, and if you don’t get enough from your diet supplements might help. 

While vitamin C does afford many proven benefits, more research is needed on the effects on the nervous system. In addition to the proven benefits, vitamin C also has many unfounded claims supported by anecdotal evidence. The bottom line is that it has been linked to many impressive benefits such as boosting the immune system, increasing antioxidant levels, lowering blood pressure, improving iron absorption, protecting against gout attacks, and reducing the risk for heart disease and dementia. It is always best to get vitamin C from food sources, but if you are struggling to get enough from your diet a supplement may help (it is recommended to consult with your doctor or certified medical professional before taking any supplement). 

Add these foods to your meals, recipes and routine for a vitamin C boost

Add these foods to your meals, recipes and routine for a vitamin C boost

  • April 5, 2021

Bell peppers, kale, broccoli and other produce are naturally high in vitamin c.

Sure you can take vitamin C in pill or powdered form, but why not go straight to the source with fresh fruits and veggies?

Sharon Brown, a clinical nutritionist and founder of Bonafide Provisions, spoke to “Good Morning America” about what makes vitamin C so essential in a healthy diet.

“Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is critical for supporting the immune system. It helps our body absorb iron and make collagen — the foundation of all connective tissue, including blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, bone, and skin,” Brown explained. “While you can get vitamin C from supplements and powders, the human body evolved getting its nutrients from food, so it’s always best to try and meet your vitamin requirements through food first.”

Some of her favorite vitamin C-rich foods include broccoli, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, kale, kiwis, lemons and strawberries.

Because vitamin C helps build healthy tissue, the body can more easily “resist the entry of bacteria and viruses,” Steph Grasso, a Virginia-based registered dietitian who has nearly 2 million followers on TikTok, shared with “GMA.”

Other produce rich in vitamin C includes mango, citrus, tomatoes, dark leafy greens and even potatoes.

Could vitamin D protect Black people against COVID-19?

Could vitamin D protect Black people against COVID-19?

  • April 1, 2021

Person wearing a mask looking out of a windowShare on Pinterest
Researchers reexamine the role of vitamin D in COVID-19. Igor Alecsander/Getty Images
  • Previous research has linked vitamin D deficiency to a higher risk of getting COVID-19 and experiencing more severe disease, especially among Black and Hispanic individuals.
  • A new observational study suggests that even “sufficient” vitamin D levels, as guidelines currently define them, are associated with a higher risk of COVID-19 for Black people.
  • Current guidelines for assessing vitamin D status are based on maintaining bone health rather than immune function.

Vitamin D plays a wide range of roles in the body, including regulating calcium levels, maintaining healthy bones and teeth, and supporting the immune system.

In addition to getting vitamin D from dietary sources, the body can make its own in the skin through exposure to sunlight.

However, it can be difficult for people with dark skin and those with low exposure to sunlight to maintain sufficiently high levels of the vitamin, especially during the winter months.

One study found that, overall, about 42% of people in the United States were deficient in vitamin D. The figure rose to 82% among Black people and 70% among Hispanic people.

Accumulating evidence has shown that people with deficient vitamin D levels are more likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. They may also be more likely to develop severe disease.

This association may partly explain why the pandemic has disproportionately affected Black, Hispanic, and other non-white populations.

Clinical trials have found that vitamin D supplements can help protect people against other respiratory infections resulting from viruses.

The research suggests that taking a vitamin D supplement can even reduce viral infections among people who are not deficient in the vitamin, based on the recommended intake in the current guidelines. These recommendations are based on the levels necessary to maintain healthy bones.

Dr. David Meltzer, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Chicago, IL, wondered whether the same could be true of vitamin D and COVID-19.

The researchers analyzed the medical records of 4,638 individuals who had a vitamin D blood test in the 12 months before having a PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UChicago Medicine).

The researchers used the length of time since the vitamin D test and subsequent treatments to estimate the participants’ vitamin D levels 14 days before the PCR test.

In addition, they accounted for factors that are known to increase a person’s risk of COVID-19, such as age, sex, race, and medical conditions.

In total, 211 Black participants and 102 white participants tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers discovered that among Black participants, the risk of testing positive was 2.64 times as high for those with a serum vitamin D level of 30–39.9 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) — a “sufficient” level — as it was for those with a level of at least 40 ng/ml.

In other words, there appeared to be a significant protective effect from having levels above the range that experts consider to be sufficient.

Among Black participants with a vitamin D level of at least 30 ng/ml, every incremental 1 ng/ml increase in the level of the vitamin led to a 5% decrease in the risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.

“These new results tell us that having vitamin D levels above those normally considered sufficient is associated with decreased risk of testing positive for [SARS-CoV-2], at least in Black individuals,” says Dr. Meltzer, who is chief of hospital medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study.

“This supports arguments for designing clinical trials that can test whether or not vitamin D may be a viable intervention to lower the risk of the disease, especially in Persons of Color,” he adds.

There were no statistically significant associations between vitamin D levels and the risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 among white individuals.

The researchers attribute this to the relatively low number of positive SARS-CoV-2 tests among white people in their sample.

Similarly, the numbers of participants from other racial groups, including Hispanic people, were too small to yield statistically significant results.

The study appears in the journal JAMA Network Open.

“These results increase the urgency to consider whether increased sun exposure or vitamin D supplementation could reduce COVID-19 risk,” say the researchers in their paper.

They write that less than 5–10% of adults in the U.S. are likely to have vitamin D levels greater than 40 ng/ml. To attain these levels from taking a supplement — without increased sun exposure — would require more than the currently recommended daily dose.

“Lifeguards, surfers; those are the kinds of folks who tend to have more than sufficient vitamin D levels,” says Dr. Meltzer. “Most folks living in Chicago in the winter are going to have levels that are well below that.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend 600 international units (IU), which equates to 15 micrograms (mcg), daily for adults aged 19–70 years. For adults aged 71 years and older, the recommended amount rises to 800 IU (20 mcg) daily.

In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service (NHS) recommends 400 IU (10 mcg) daily. It advises everyone to consider supplementing the vitamin during the fall and winter months but notes that those at high risk of deficiency should do so all year round.

Dr. Meltzer notes that although some studies have found that vitamin D improves immune function and decreases inflammation, the evidence has been mixed.

He believes this may be because researchers have been testing doses that are too low to boost the immune system.

“Based on these results, we think that earlier studies may have given doses that were too low to have much of an effect on the immune system, even if they were sufficient for bone health,” he says.

“It may be that different levels of vitamin D are adequate for different functions,” he adds.

A key limitation of the current study is that while it can demonstrate an association between vitamin D levels and SARS-CoV-2 infection risk, it cannot demonstrate that one causes the other.

To address this problem, researchers from the University of Chicago and Rush University in Chicago, IL, are conducting two clinical studies to learn whether taking a daily vitamin D supplement can help prevent COVID-19 or decrease the severity of its symptoms.

Some of the results of the study were surprising. For instance, Black individuals with a vitamin D level of 20–30 ng/ml were not at an increased risk of COVID-19 compared with those with a level over 40 ng/ml.

Moreover, those with a level below 20 ng/ml seemingly had a lower COVID-19 risk than those with a level of 30–40 ng/ml. The authors suggest that potential variations in vitamin D treatment may explain these discrepancies, but they highlight that ongoing research is necessary in this area.

The authors of the new study also emphasize that social and economic inequities play a role in the increased susceptibility of Black people to COVID-19.

They write:

“The significant association of vitamin D levels with COVID-19 risk in Black individuals that was not found in white individuals could reflect their higher COVID-19 risk, to which socioeconomic factors and structural inequities clearly contribute.”

For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.

support your immune system with vitamin C-rich soup

support your immune system with vitamin C-rich soup

  • March 29, 2021

The light broth is perfect for cool evenings and the wontons are stuffed with spiced pumpkin for a dose of vitamins A and C to strengthen your immune system (because colds aren’t just for winter). On average, wonton wrappers contain an impressive 10 grams of protein while the mushrooms contain fibre, making it the perfect supper that supports both sleep and muscle recovery. So you can tackle tomorrow’s workout, no matter the weather. 


Cooking time: approximately 1 hour 


For the tortellini:

1 small pumpkin or squash

Olive oil

Small bunch of thyme, woody stems removed

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

Zest of one lemon

100g smoked ricotta crumbled – optional

Wonton wrappers

Semolina for dusting

For the broth:

Couple of spring onions, chopped

Handful of dried porcini mushrooms

1 glass of sherry

500ml stock (chicken or vegetable)

Squeeze of honey

Salt and pepper

Sage leaves 


  1. Heat the oven to 200c. 
  2. Roughly slice up the squash removing the seeds, but you can keep the skin on. 
  3. Place on an oven tray and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme and season. 
  4. Place in the oven and roast for about 30 – 40 mins till soft and starting to caramelise.
  5. Take out the oven and scrape the soft insides into a bowl, discard the skins.
  6. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, season and mash together, taste.
  7. Arrange the wonton wrappers in front of you and spoon a teaspoon amount onto the wrapper (then place a cube of the smoked ricotta on top if using).
  8. Fold into tortellini (this make take a couple of goes!). 
  9. Dust a tray with semolina and leave the tortellini on top whilst you make the broth. (They will keep in the fridge covered for a good day or so).
  10. To make the broth heat a little oil in a pan and add the spring onions, add the stock, sherry and porcini mushrooms and simmer for about 15 mins, season and add a squeeze of honey.
  11. To make the sage leaves simply heat a little oil in a pan and add the sage leaves for about 20 seconds, remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  12. When ready to serve bring a pan of salted water to the boil and drop in your wontons, simmer for about 3 – 4 minutes and remove and distribute between bowls. Spoon the broth over the top and finish with the crispy sage leaves. 

Want more simple and nutritious recipes? Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Feeling Down or dehydrated? Need an Immune Boost? IV Vitamin Therapy is For You!

Feeling Down or dehydrated? Need an Immune Boost? IV Vitamin Therapy is For You!

  • March 23, 2021

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Vitamin D study at University of Chicago will assess role in protecting Black population from COVID

Vitamin D study at University of Chicago will assess role in protecting Black population from COVID

  • March 21, 2021

University of Chicago researchers want to determine whether vitamin D supplements can help African Americans better fight COVID-19.

Dr. David Meltzer, chief of hospital medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead researcher of two upcoming studies, said Black people typically have lower levels of vitamin D than whites, though the health consequences are not well known.

Newly published research led by Meltzer found a lower risk of infection, particularly for Black people, when vitamin D levels are increased higher than what experts now deem sufficient for overall health.

In the wake of that data study, Meltzer is recruiting volunteers for two human trials to better understand that relationship between immune system and boosting vitamin D with supplements. Meltzer wants to hone in on the racial distinctions and see if boosting vitamin levels reduces either the risk of becoming infected or the severity of illness.

The benefit of taking vitamin D to ward off COVID-19 has sparked debate in the medical community. Some doctors caution too much of the vitamin can be detrimental to health. Nonetheless, attention around coronavirus-related research last year has driven sales of vitamin D supplements during the pandemic.

Meltzer argues there are unanswered questions about vitamin D as it relates to the overall health of Blacks, particularly for fighting infections. One benefit of Vitamin D is bone strength, a factor that can help prevent osteoporosis, but previous research suggests even though vitamin D levels are lower in Blacks than whites, bone density isn’t dramatically different between the racial groups, Meltzer said.

What isn’t well understood, he adds, is the role Vitamin D levels in Black people plays in boosting the immune system, another benefit of vitamin D.

“The effects on the immune system … have been much more difficult to define,” Meltzer said in an interview. “Even if one has enough vitamin D to be good for bone health, that doesn’t mean one has the right amount of vitamin D to be good for immune function.”

Sources of vitamin D include supplements and fatty fish. Exposure to the sun also help the body create its own vitamin D, but that also can mean low levels during winter in cold-weather locations like Chicago.

One U of C study, to be overseen by the U.S. government, will conduct lab tests of people taking low doses of supplements as well as the highest safe levels. The other study will include self-reporting online. In each trial, half of those taking part will receive vitamins, others will receive placebos. Meltzer hopes to attract 2,000 people for each trial and will be recruiting over the next two months. The studies are open to all, though researchers want a racially diverse group.

Those interested in taking part in the study, which is backed by the National Institute of Health, can email or call 773 834-8620. For the online study, go to

Meltzer acknowledges the research will likely be finished sometime after the COVID-19 pandemic is waning, at least according to current predictions.

“We’re doing this not just for the current pandemic but also for the next one,” he said.

“We’re doing this not just for the current pandemic but also for the next one,” Dr. David Meltzer says of his research of vitamin D and COVID-19.

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

Nano C Reviews - Real Vitamin C Side Effect Scam Complaints?

Nano C Reviews – Real Vitamin C Side Effect Scam Complaints?

  • March 18, 2021

Nano C is a liquid supplement that supports the immune system by supporting the need for vitamin C. This formula helps to protect the body from illness as it recovers at a much faster pace from colds and other viral infections.

What is Nano C?

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the body, but most people don’t think twice about how much they are getting in their diet each day. Though having natural sources – like an orange or a grapefruit – is rather easy to integrate into a daily diet, there are over 30% of people that still fail to get enough vitamin C in their body. Even the people that integrate it may find that they aren’t getting quite enough to help.

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Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the immune system, and it provides the body with the support that it needs to protect from disease. Supplements like Nano C can help greatly. With Nano C, users get a supplement that is unlike other products on the market for multiple reasons. To ensure that the formula gives users all of the nourishment possible, it breaks down vitamin C into excruciatingly small particles that can be absorbed by the immune cells.

With regular use, Nano C can:

  • Eliminate the bacteria and viruses that can cause illness in the stomach.
  • Protect the body from the onset of different illnesses.
  • Rush the body through sickness to reduce how long it takes to go through.
  • Destroy existing microorganisms that threaten the user’s health.

While many supplements try to give the user the support they need, the particles are far too large for the body’s enterocyte openings to accept. If it can’t fit, the vitamin C particles can’t be accepted into the user’s bloodstream and can’t support the immune system. Nano C is made in a liquid form, and the particles are reduced to a small enough size that are easy for the bloodstream to accept. Even the particles in juices and other supplements cannot match it.

With a stronger immune system, consumers have many other benefits, like better sleep at night and less stress. It also allows users to improve how strong their resistance to illness is, which means that they won’t have to cancel travel plans or risk their sick pay because of the flue or the cold. It recharges the immune system, preparing the user for anything.

Purchasing Nano C

The only way for consumers to get the Nano C formula is to go to the official website. Users can save significantly on the $79 retail value by choosing any of the available packages, which include:

Users won’t have to cover any shipping for the packages, and they all come with a 180-day money-back guarantee.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Nano C

How much is Nano C best to take daily?

Most users will need about 1 full dropper’s worth of the serum each day (preferably in the morning). It should be absorbed sublingually, taken by placing the formula beneath the tongue.

How long will Nano C take to make a difference?

Taking this remedy for at least 30 days will provide the full benefits that it has to offer.

What’s inside Nano C?

The only thing that consumers will find in the Nano C formula is 500 mg of Vitamin C. There are no other ingredients involved that will impact the body, though distilled water is used to make it into a liquid.

Is there any risk that users will consume too much Nano C?

No. In fact, there’s no way to overdose. The worst experience that may happen with other supplements is that the user will experience some discomfort in the gut and some gas. In Nano C, this risk is much lower of these problems.

The customer service team can be reached for any other questions or concerns by sending an email to They are also available via phone (1-800-928-1184).


Nano C helps users to improve how healthy the user can be by supporting the immune system. As it goes through the body, users can feel confident in the fact that the company puts the formula through extreme testing before it goes out. While the blend is rather simple, it doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. Much like other products from Zenith Labs, users can believe that this remedy supports their immunity needs.

(SPECIAL OFFER) Click Here to Get Nano C Immune Support with an Exclusive Discount Price Online

Good immunity can help stave off the common cold. Image: iStock.

How to get vitamin D in winter

  • March 16, 2021

Did you know that vitamin D is just as important as vitamin C when it comes to your immune system? All-star dietitian, Dr Joanna McMillan discusses the surprising ways you can get vitamin D into your diet to boost immunity. 

‘Immunity’ or ‘immune system’ tends to become a bit of a buzz word around winter, but it’s really something we should all be focusing on year-round. Whether that’s supercharging your immune system through diet, more ‘outside of the box’ ideas to boost your immunity or, everyday habits to keep your body happy and healthy.

It’s important that we understand the benefits of having a healthy, balanced immune system and findings uncovered by research from Australian Eggs have shown that a third of Australians are not concerned about immunity. Immunity should be on everyone’s agenda all year round and not just in the cooler months.

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Let’s talk about vitamin D and Immunity

We all know vitamin C as the go-to when we’re trying to up our health game but what about vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin as it is otherwise known? New research has found that 45% of Australians don’t understand the benefit of vitamin D for immunity, yet it is actually an unsung hero when it comes to strengthening our immune system.

While vitamin C is also essential for adequate immune responses, its actions are different than that of vitamin D. We know that there are vitamin D receptors on our immune cells, so they are key in strengthening our immune system’s responses.

A lack of vitamin D increases susceptibility to infection and having sufficient vitamin D has been shown to reduce inflammation and consequently lesson the severity of symptoms when or if you become unwell with a cold or flu.

What is in an egg?

While getting out into the sun is one way to up your vitamin D intake, this isn’t always so easy during winter. This is when food comes into play so it’s important to be aware of what food staples do, and eggs are at the top of that list.

Eggs are one of the highest natural food sources of vitamin D with a serve of 2 eggs able to provide 82% of your adequate vitamin D intake. Eggs are also easy to get into your diet, are cost effective and they deliver a whole bunch of other vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, protein and good fats at the same time.

Research from Australian Eggs found that 98% of Australians don’t know that a serve of eggs has over 80% of their adequate intake of vitamin D and may be overlooking the easiest way to look after their immunity.

For those more conscious about eating eggs every day, while eggs have in the past been controversial largely due to a misunderstanding of how dietary cholesterol affects our blood cholesterol levels, more recent research shows that eggs tend to raise our good cholesterol levels and consuming eggs does not raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Our Australian Dietary Guidelines state that up to 7 eggs a week is safe and nutritious for those with existing health problems while there are no limits on the number of eggs that can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet for others.

How to strengthen your immunity with eggs

  1. Eggs are a particularly good food source of vitamin D and they can boost your overall nutrition, particularly if you have them instead of less nutritious highly processed foods (like those common at breakfast).
  2. Swap a sugary, low fibre breakfast cereal for boiled eggs with avocado on wholegrain or wholemeal toast.
  3. If you usually have vegemite toast for breakfast, add some sliced tomato, handful of rocket or spinach and 2 poached eggs.
  4. Instead of snacking on biscuits or a muffin, have a sliced hard-boiled egg on wholegrain crackers & sliced tomato.
  5. Swap the ham in sandwiches for eggs with a little olive oil mayo.

Dr Joanna McMillan originally hails from Scotland, and came to Australia in 1999, where she won a scholarship to complete her PhD in Nutrition Science at The University of Sydney. As a dietitian and former fitness instructor, she is driven by a passion to promote the influence that diet and lifestyle have on our health and wellbeing. She is a published author, an international speaker and regular on our TV screens, including being the host for the Gut Revolution series on ABC Catalyst.

The 7 Incredible Health Benefits of Vitamin D

The 7 Incredible Health Benefits of Vitamin D

  • March 10, 2021

In the past year, much attention has been brought to vitamin D in light of the pandemic with some research emerging that vitamin D might help safeguard people from severe cases of COVID-19. But beyond its potential protective role in the ongoing war against coronavirus, vitamin D is also a boon for overall immune health.

So how can you make sure you’re getting enough of this essential nutrient? Vegans or those who are predominantly plant-based, in particular, need to pay close attention to their diet to make sure they’re getting enough vitamin D. “Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins (along with vitamin A, E, and K) that is naturally present in a handful of foods, fortified into other foods, or available in supplement form,” says Mackenzie Burgess, R.D., nutritionist and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices. “For the average adult, you should be getting 600 IU or 15 mcg/day to hit the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA),” she adds, noting that it’s also possible to get vitamin D from being outside in the sunshine as the sun’s UV rays help convert vitamin D to its active form in the body.

“Researchers suggest about 10-30 minutes of sun exposure daily to meet your vitamin D needs,” she says, cautioning that vitamin D becomes more of a concern in the colder months with less time outside and less exposure to the sun. Take note that we always recommend wearing sunscreen when you’re outside, even on cloudy days, to reduce your risk of sun-damaged skin.

For those over 70, it is 800 IU daily and some experts think our vitamin D needs are much higher, such as the Endocrine Society, which says people may require 1,500-2,000 IU per day.

Also worth noting: “A person’s ability to manufacture vitamin D [from UVB sunlight] decreases with age, so by the time people enter their senior years, their bodies make as little as 40% of the vitamin D made in childhood,” shares Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., author of Food and Mood, and medical advisory board member to Persona Nutrition, a personalized nutrition program. “As a result, dietary/supplemental intake becomes increasingly more important with each passing decade with every season and all year long.”

Plant-Based Foods With Vitamin D

Mushrooms are the only plant-based food that contains vitamin D naturally, and while plant-based milk, orange juice, cereals, and the like may be fortified with vitamin D, it may still be tough to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. That’s why a supplement may be your best bet: “When choosing a supplement, look for one that is third-party tested to ensure the best quality. Look for either a USP or NSF label on the bottle. Vitamin D supplements can range from 200 IUs and 10,000 IUs,” offers Burgess “The amount to take may vary from person to person but in general, Vitamin D3 is typically preferred because it’s converted more efficiently than vitamin D2. When in doubt, talk to your doctor or dietitian about the best vitamin D supplementation for you.” More specifically,

Now that we’ve got the three bases of vitamin D sources covered—getting direct sunlight, food, and supplements—let’s dive into the health benefits of vitamin D.

The Benefits of Vitamin D

1. It can support immunity

“Vitamin D is known to have positive effects on the immune system. It can strengthen aspects of the immune system that are able to fight off colds and flu,” says Dr. Nicole Avena, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Visiting Professor of Health Psychology, Princeton University, who penned the book What to Eat When You’re Pregnant. These days, vitamin D is making headlines because of its potential impact on the severity of coronavirus. “It has been found that people who are vitamin D deficient are more likely to catch COVID-19, and the mortality rate in this population is also higher. Patients treated with high doses of vitamin D while having the coronavirus needed less intense treatment in order to return to health,” says Avena. Of course, all this research is new and emerging, so that’s worth keeping in mind when evaluating the strength of these findings.

2. It helps with bone formation and maintenance

For bone health, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D, too. “Vitamin D is responsible for assisting with calcium absorption in the small intestine and helps the body maintain adequate serum calcium levels. Because of this, it’s necessary for bone growth and remodeling [the lifelong process where mature bone tissue is removed from the skeleton and new bone tissue is formed] and helps reduce the risk of bones becoming thin or brittle,” says Somer.

“A vitamin D deficiency in children can result in rickets, and in adults is seen as osteomalacia and osteoporosis,” she adds.

3. It may help with depression

Time in the sunshine each day keeps the doctor away? There’s a growing body of evidence that vitamin D may help with depression. “Almost all cells in the body have receptors for vitamin D, which implies this vitamin is important for many more functions than just bone,” explains Somer. “For example, recent research suggests vitamin D is important in the prevention and treatment of depression,” she continues, pointing to this meta-analysis of vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults.

Expanding on Somer’s words, Trista K. Best, MPH, RD at Balance One, says: “Vitamin D has been shown to significantly improve and prevent depressive symptoms.” She notes that this is an especially important benefit during the winter months when we have limited exposure to the sun.

4. And with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Another important link between vitamin D and mood: Low levels of vitamin D have been found in people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a type of depression that’s typically linked to the fall and winter months.

“One study reported in the 2014 issue of Medical Hypotheses found a link between vitamin D deficiency and SAD. Lack of this vitamin appeared to be a contributing factor in the development of this depression,” comments Dr. Carrie Lam, M.D., “The lack of seasonally available sunlight seemed to be the primary factor in the development of SAD. This may be because vitamin D is involved in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters involved in the development of depression. Low levels of these chemicals are associated with depression. When there is less vitamin D being produced by sunlight, lower levels of these chemicals can lead to SAD.”

5. It may reduce your risk of certain cancers

File this under impressive: “Research has shown breast cancer cells grow faster in an environment with low levels of vitamin D. This research from the Stanford University School of Medicine indicates a significant and direct link between the amount of vitamin D circulating in the body and the expression of ID1, a gene that is known to be involved in tumor growth and metastasis of breast cancer,” explains Lam, citing this study.

Vitamin D deficiency may also play a role in the development of prostate cancer. “The journal Clinical Cancer Research published a study in 2014 showing a link between low levels of vitamin D and prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in men and the second most common cause of death for American men,” says Lam. “This study showed that low levels of vitamin D led to aggressive growth of prostate cancer in European-American and African-American men. In the study, 667 men between ages 40 to 79 underwent prostate biopsies. African-American men with low levels of vitamin D had an especially increased risk of testing positive for prostate cancer.”

6. It may lower your risk of heart disease

Protecting your heart is another important reason to ensure you’re getting adequate vitamin D. “Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with increased risk of heart disease,” says Lam. Research shows 70 percent or more of those who underwent a coronary angiogram [a type of procedure to detect blockages in the coronary arteries] had a low level of vitamin D,” she continues, adding that the American College of Cardiology says that more severe heart disease has been found in patients with vitamin D deficiencies.

7. It may help you slim down

“Vitamin D may also help with weight loss efforts,” says Best. “One study showed vitamin D may reduce appetite in such a way that weight loss resulted,” she continues, referencing this study on calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and fat mass loss in females who have very low calcium intake.

Top 10 Sources of Plant-Based Protein According to a Nutritionist


Vitamin Sales Skyrocket in the Pandemic, but Buyer Beware

Vitamin Sales Skyrocket in the Pandemic, but Buyer Beware

  • March 2, 2021

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

As COVID cases exceed 28 million in the United States, many pandemic-weary people are trying dietary supplements, a market valued at $48 billion in 2019, which grew to $52 billion in 2020, and is projected to reach $58 billion this year.

Demand from consumers has grown in the backdrop of the pandemic as people search for new methods to elude COVID-19. But evidence supporting these efforts is scarce.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. They do not come with a prescription or warnings about side effects, yet many supplements contain active ingredients that can have strong biological effects, which can make them unsafe, even life threatening, in some situations.

Early in the pandemic, regulators started receiving complaints about illegitimate products. In response, the FDA launched Operation Quack Hack, and by June had identified 700 fraudulent and unproven medical products.

Warning letters issued by the FDA to companies selling products that claim to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 are available online. Recent letters issued include ones related to a so-called COVID-Aid tincture, a supposed corona destroyer tea, and a purported bioshield peptide.

It’s not the first time scammers have taken advantage of a crisis situation to sell their wares. The FDA issued 10 warning letters in 2013 to companies selling fraudulent products to combat influenza, and in 2014, regulators sent letters to companies selling fraudulent Ebola protection.

An FDA public service video warns the public to “be suspicious of any product claiming it’s a quick fix.” A claim of a miracle cure or secret ingredient “is likely a sham.”

Regulators have also flagged the registration of thousands of high-risk domain names that could become a source of misleading claims.

And the #immunebooster hashtag has already started to trend online.

The problem with this is the hashtag typically serves commercial interests, according to research published in BMJ Open by a Canadian team.

In nearly every post, “commercial endeavors are highlighted implicitly and explicitly,” warned Timothy Caulfield, research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

The hashtag has become a euphemism for strength and protection from viruses like COVID-19, and on Instagram last spring, the user-generated tag that enables content sharing jumped by 46%.

This helped supplement makers market unproven therapies and products, Caulfield said.

Immune Busted

Biomedical jargon and authoritative signaling can be used to give credibility to scientifically unsound ideas, Caulfield pointed out, and crowning misleading messaging with a “health halo” is an insidious trend that shouldn’t be ignored in the midst of a public health crisis.

An immune system on overdrive can become an autoimmune disease, an anaphylactic reaction, or a cytokine storm, problems that don’t fit the health hashtag, Caulfield said.

And misinformation or pseudoscience, whether it is about boosting the immune system or anything else, has no place in discussions of public health, he added. Caulfield is part of the COVID-19 Resources Canada network of 7000 science advocates helping to stop the spread of deceptive information.

Their #ScienceUpFirst Anti-Misinformation campaign was launched at the end of January to develop and share reliable health information with the public.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a marked rise in misleading information and conspiracy theories, Caulfield pointed out. The World Health Organization has classified this as a global infodemic.

Caulfield said he worries about how misinformation has exacerbated the pandemic. And if people are buying into the idea that vitamins, herbs, or enzymes are fortifying them against the virus, they can become more complacent and decline a vaccine.

Vitamins vs Vaccines

A study of Google searches for “boost immunity,” published in Frontiers in Medicine, showed that vaccines placed 27 on a list of 37 approaches to improve health. That put vaccines behind hygiene, ginger, and citrus fruits on predominantly commercial websites promoting biased information.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 514,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States. This has led to an uptick in studies evaluating the benefit of alternative health practices, such as dietary supplements.

There is not enough evidence to support a recommendation for vitamin D supplementation — a popular, well-tried option — according to a review reported by Medscape Medical News in December 2020.

Results from a randomized controlled trial on the efficacy of two more popular options, zinc and vitamin C, for patients with mild COVID-19 were published February 12 in JAMA Network Open. The idea of testing supplements for efficacy was “a no-brainer,” said investigator Milind Y. Desai, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic. “If it works, it’s a cheap way to help people. If not, we put this hoopla to rest.”

His team explored whether adding zinc and 8000 mg of vitamin C would improve symptoms. “We chose patients on the less-sick spectrum — at the base of the pyramid — because if we could have an impact there, we could get people back to work sooner.”

But the trial ended early because the results clearly showed there was no benefit.

“As a doctor, we take an oath to do no harm,” Desai said. “But medications are meant to make us feel better or live longer.” The burden of proof for taking anything should never be “it doesn’t hurt,” he noted. “People are saying, ‘it’s not harmful, so I might as well take it’.” This is a very low, potentially dangerous bar, he said.

Walter Willett, MD, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, agrees, but said that “many Americans are a metabolic mess.” In the United States, 70% of the population is overweight or obese, he explained, and less than 5% meet dietary guidelines. So many people were at a significant health disadvantage at the outset of the pandemic.

A list of healthy habits, including exercise, smoking cessation, drinking in moderation, sleeping well, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting vaccinated, has been published by Harvard Heath Publishing.

Most people shouldn’t be taking large amounts of expensive supplements, Willett said. Herbs and supplements should be used as an approach to get out of a vitamin-deficient state. “You can do that with a multivitamin, and it shouldn’t cost more than about $30 a year. It’s plausible that for some people, additional nutrient intake might be beneficial, but we have no direct evidence for that at this time,” he explained.

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