Do vitamin D caps help in winter to make up for lack of sunlight?


Vitamin D deficiency in Germany

Studies have shown that the supply of vitamin D in Germany is deficient. Not only adults, but also many children and adolescents have degraded values. If there really is a vitamin D deficiency, the intake of supplements – after the medical examination – in many cases advised. But some people take such preparations without being examined first. That does not make sense, experts warn.

Many believe that you should absolutely swallow vitamin D supplements in the winter. In fact, these funds are only recommended for some people. (Image: blackzheep /

No protection against chronic diseases

Some people take supplements because they think they are doing something good for their health and preventing diseases. Stiftung Warentest points out on their website that this does not make sense.

Because scientists have evaluated hundreds of studies in recent years on the question of whether vitamin D protects against other chronic diseases and found no convincing effect.

For example, in an earlier statement by the German Society of Endocrinology, it was said that vitamin D probably could not reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Sunlight in cold months is not enough

Vitamin D is also known as "sunshine vitamin" because the human body makes about 80 to 90 percent under the influence of sunlight. The high energy UVB rays that also brown the skin are decisive.

However, not everyone does the same amount of vitamin D – it depends on the age, thickness of the skin and type of skin.

According to the Stiftung Warentest, the general rule is that the sun in Germany from October to March is not enough for people to produce enough vitamin D. But it is not as if the skin does not produce vitamin D in the fall and winter.

"The body also produces vitamin D if you spend some time in winter with your face and gloves for some time, about 20 to 30 minutes," said spokesman of the German Society of Endocrinology, Professor Helmut Schatz.

But especially in hot months, it is necessary to recharge enough sun. Because under the spring and summer sun, vitamin D storage can be easily filled, as the body stores fat-soluble vitamin D in adipose tissue and muscle and liver.

This stock is usually enough to come without deficiencies during the dark season.

About diet can cover only a small part of the need

As the Stiftung Warentest writes, only a small part of the vitamin D requirement can be satisfied with food, for example, 10-20%. Therefore, there are only a few foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin D.

By far, most of them are in greasy fish like salmon and herring. To a much lesser extent, liver, egg yolk and some mushrooms, such as chanterelles and mushrooms, provide vitamin D.

Those who have very low levels of vitamin D due to the lack of sunlight in the winter months can, according to health experts, resort to dietary supplements.

However, tablets with vitamin D are not recommended for all people, as experts warned the Apothekerkammer Niedersachsen.

Basically, not much of that can be taken. Because according to the German medical profession's drug commission (AkdÄ), it can also lead to an overdose with vitamin D supplements.

Another problem is that many of these products are not recommended, as a study commissioned by the "Öko-Test" showed.

Nutritional supplement for groups at risk

"Healthy and active people rarely benefit from vitamin D supplements," Stiftung Warentest writes. "For certain at-risk groups, however, they may be useful."

This includes, but is not limited to, people over the age of 65, as many people of this age reduce their ability to produce vitamin D. In part, it produces only half the vitamin D of previous years.

Even younger people, who rarely get into the fresh air due to illness, may resort to vitamin D supplements after consulting a doctor.

Under these conditions, Stiftung Warentest classifies such remedies as suitable for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Vitamin D pills may also be useful for certain other diseases: For example, diseases of the small intestine can impair the absorption of vitamin D from the intestine.

Chronic liver disease, renal failure, insufficiency of parathyroid glands or certain medications, such as anti-epileptics, may also interfere with vitamin D production.

Never take vitamin D supplements under suspicion

In addition, the Foundation recommends child health according to scientific organizations of pediatricians:

All babies in Germany from the first week of life until the second early summer, depending on the date of birth for a year and a half, plus breast milk or infant tablets or drops with 400 to 500 units daily of vitamin D 3 prescribed by a physician,

Vitamin D supplementation should be better combined with fluoride prophylaxis against dental caries. Premature infants less than 1,500 grams should receive a higher daily dose of 800 to 1,000 units of vitamin D during the first few months of life.

"Vitamin D supplements should not be taken under suspicion," said Antje Gahl of the German Nutrition Society (DGE).

The doctor then determines the current status of vitamin D if necessary. However, legal insurers are only reimbursed for this blood test if there is a reasonable suspicion of a deficiency, such as osteoporosis.

The doctor and the patient have to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether the test makes sense. Most patients pay the cost of the research for about 20 to 30 euros and also pay for vitamin D supplements only in exceptional cases. (Ad)


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