Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol is not considered an essential nutrient. It need not be present in the foods that you eat because your body is capable of making it.
Only genetic defects and certain diseases can cause a person to be unable to produce it at all. But there are reasons to want to include it in your diet.
It is only produced by specialized cells in the skin and only during exposure to UVB rays of sunlight. During the wintertime, there is typically less sunlight and the sun’s angle is low, so, it may not be possible for your body to produce enough if you don’t get some from supplementation.
The only people who get enough are those who live and work primarily outdoors in locales near the equator.
Production is lower in people with dark skin. If you have dark skin, your body may not be able to produce enough D3 regardless of how much time you spend outside.
So, you could need another source. For dark skinned people who live in northern latitudes, most doctors recommend a vitamin D3 5000 iu supplement.
Wearing sunscreen or spending most of your time indoors means that your skin is not exposed to UVB and cannot produce cholecalciferol from UVB rays. For any or all of these reasons, you might want to know about important dietary sources.
As you may have noticed, milk is typically fortified with vitamin D, as are breakfast cereals and many foods that kids often eat.
The reason for this is bone development. Inadequate intake leads to rickets, a condition in which the bones are too soft and become deformed.
The reason that fortifying foods was considered necessary is that there are few good “natural” dietary sources.
Portabella, shitake and other mushroom species are reasonably good sources of D2, assuming they are exposed to UV light while they are growing.
Alfalfa shoots are also dietary sources of D2. D2 is not the form produced by the body during sunlight exposure. There is disagreement concerning how ergocalciferol D2 acts in the body as compared to cholecalciferol.
Catfish, salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish are sources of D3. The amount provided by these foods sources varies depending on the season, the diet of the fish and other factors.
Whether or not you could eat enough to prevent a deficiency is unknown. Beef liver and eggs are other potential sources.
You can also get vitamin D3 from reindeer meat and milk, but you would have to drink 10 glasses per day to get the minimum daily requirement and then you’d only be getting the less active form which is vitamin D2.
It’s not easy to include enough of these sources in your daily diet to ensure you are not at risk for deficiency. The easiest way to reduce your risk is to take a vitamin D3 cholecalciferol supplement.
There are some excellent vitamin D3 cholecalciferol brands on the market. Just be sure to do your homework and makes sure the supplement you purchase is made from lanolin, which is an all-natural animal source and the best and most active form available.