There are many health benefits of vitamin D, from reducing inflammation to boosting your mood. But despite its importance, vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common around the world. So, when is the best time to take vitamin D if you're not getting enough, and how can it improve your well-being?

Research suggests that spending time outdoors may be exactly what you need to get your daily dose (which is 600 IU, BTW). You can also get the nutrient from certain foods. But sometimes, it's more beneficial and convenient to take a vitamin D supplement to get your numbers up. Vitamin D is important for reducing the risk of certain health issues, like cardiovascular disease, says Jessica Cording, RD, the author of The Little Book of Game Changers. And in some cases, it may even help with mental health (more on that soon).

If you're debating taking vitamin D, there are a few factors to consider—including the exact time for optimal absorption. Ahead, nutritionists share everything you need to know about the supp before heading to the pharmacy—and what the tiny, yet mighty capsule can do for your body, both physically and mentally.

Meet the experts: Jessica Cording, RD, is the author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. Keri Gans, RD, is the author of The Small Change Diet. Sonya Angelone, RD, is a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, is a certified nutritionist and founder of BZ Nutrition.

Benefits Of Vitamin D

Going for a walk on a sunny day can give you a boost of vitamin D, but does a supplement have the same effect? Experts say yes. “Vitamin D is an essential nutrient and has powerful antioxidant benefits—having a direct effect on so many of our bodily functions, organs, and overall health,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, a certified nutritionist and founder of BZ Nutrition. If you're feeling low-energy, vitamin D can also give you a boost, Zeitlin says.

Along with improving immune function and preventing colds and infections, vitamin D can also promote healthy bones and teeth by helping our bodies absorb calcium, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels, and even lower the chance of developing certain cancers by lowering body inflammation, Zeitlin says.

“There is also research to suggest that vitamin D plays a role in improving mood and mental health by reducing anxiety and depression, as vitamin D decreases inflammation in the brain,” Zeitlin says, acknowledging a recent study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). All this to say, vitamin D could be a small, but powerful way to help you reach your health goals—both physical and mental.

When is the best time to take vitamin D?

There is no magic, universal time when everyone should take vitamin D. However, experts generally recommend taking it in the morning, ideally with breakfast or your first meal of the day. “For a lot of people, it’s convenient to take vitamin D—or any vitamin—in the morning,” Cording says. “It can become a part of your daily getting-ready ritual.” You can keep the supp next to your coffee maker or even have a stash at work so you remember to take one, she adds.

Taking vitamin D later in the day may not be as effective if you want to reap the full benefits, and some evidence suggests that it may negatively impact your sleep. “Limited evidence suggests that it may affect melatonin production,” says Sonya Angelone, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics. “I haven’t seen it to be a problem when taken before bed, however, I don’t usually recommend taking supplements before bedtime."

Ultimately, vitamin D works best when taken with food and water, so you may want to plan your supplementation around meal time. “Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means your body uses what it needs at the moment and then stores the rest in your fat cells—so your body will pull the vitamin D out of your fat cells when it needs it during the day,” Zeitlin explains.

Research studies have consistently shown that vitamin D increases blood levels better when taken with a fat-containing meal," Angelone adds. So, take your supp with a scoop of peanut butter—or better yet, a full breakfast—for max impact.

Who should take vitamin D?

If you’re considering a vitamin D supplement, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for a blood test to make sure that your levels are, in fact, low, says Angelone. “It is important to check your blood level of vitamin D before supplementing so you know just how much to take,” she adds. A circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D greater than 30 ng/mL is required to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D, per the NIH—so if you're lower than that, your doc may suggest a supplement.

Vitamin D can also be beneficial if you're pregnant or breastfeeding (but always get your doc's approval first). “Women who are breastfeeding should consider higher doses of like 5,000 units daily, as opposed to the original 600 units, and then you won’t have to supplement baby with vitamin D separately,” Zeitlin says.

If you deal with frequent mood swings, energy loss, fatigue, anxiety, and/or depression, vitamin D supplementation may be helpful, Zeitlin says. However, it's not an overnight fix or substitute for medication. “Adding vitamin D into your routine can help reduce the severity of your symptoms and if you are taking any medication, speak with your doctor before adding in any supplements," she says.

How To Get More Vitamin D

Most people can get vitamin D from food sources like cod liver oil, trout, salmon, and mushrooms, says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet. But if you have a lack of vitamin D in your diet, it may be wise to take a daily supplement. This is especially true for vegans, vegetarians, and folks who don't eat as many animal products, Gans says.

Another easy way to up your vitamin D levels? Go outdoors. “The more time you spend in the sun, the more vitamin D you get,” Zeitlin says. “But also just the act of the sun on your face, breathing in fresh air, can help improve your mood and mental well-being. It’s hard to tease out the difference—is it the sun or is it the vitamin D? Either way, it’s a win-win.”

Best Vitamin D Supplements

2023-06-16T15:32:09Z dg43tfdfdgfd