What is vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure, food, and supplements is biologically inactive and must undergo two hydroxylations in the body for activation.
The first occurs in the liver and converts vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25OHD3), also known as calcidiol. The second occurs primarily in the kidney and forms the active metabolite, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3), also known as calcitriol.
Calcidiol is circulating in the blood and bound to vitamin D-binding proteins (DBPs). It has a half-life of approximately 2 to 3 weeks and is converted to calcitriol by renal 1α-hydroxylase.
Calcitriol is the hormonally active form of vitamin D. It binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which is present in almost every cell in the body. Once bound, calcitriol activates and regulates more than 200 genes, making it one of the most pleiotropic hormones.
Vitamin D has many different functions in the body, including:
- Aiding in calcium absorption
- Regulating cell growth
- Modulating neuro-muscular and immune function
- Reducing inflammation
How to get vitamin D
There are two major ways to get vitamin D: through exposure to sunlight and through diet.
When ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun hit the skin, they trigger vitamin D synthesis. The body can make up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 in as little as 20 minutes of sun exposure. However, the amount of vitamin D3 that the body produces depends on a number of factors, including:
- The time of day (UVB rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm)
- The season (UVB rays are stronger in the summer than in the winter)
- Latitude (UVB rays are stronger at lower latitudes, closer to the equator)
- Use of sunscreen (SPF 8 or higher sunscreens reduce vitamin D3 synthesis by 95% or more)
- The amount of skin exposed (more skin = more vitamin D3 production)
- Skin pigmentation (melanin absorbs UVB rays, so people with darker skin produce less vitamin D3)
Vitamin D is found in a small number of foods, including:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines
- Fish liver oils
- Egg yolks
- Fortified milk, yogurt, and orange juice (check the labels to be sure)
- Fortified cereals and grain products
- Some mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light
Because vitamin D is found in so few foods, it can be difficult to get enough from diet alone. This is especially true for people who do not eat fatty fish or eggs, or who do not drink milk.
Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D3 is the form that is naturally made by the body when exposed to sunlight.
The two forms are equally effective at raising vitamin D levels in the blood. However, D3 is more effective at maintaining those levels over time.
Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by taking a supplement. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 IU/day for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU/day for adults over age 70.
Some people, including those who are housebound or have dark skin, may need to take a higher dose to reach and maintain optimal levels. Speak with a doctor or dietitian to determine the right dose for you.
Vitamin D toxicity is rare, but it can occur if you take too much. Symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking vitamin D and speak with a doctor.
Does vitamin D cause weird dreams?
There is no definitive answer to this question as dreams are a very personal and subjective experience. However, some people who take vitamin D supplements have reported experiencing strange or vivid dreams. It is unclear if this is a direct effect of the vitamin D or if it is due to other factors, such as changes in sleep patterns or underlying health conditions. If you are concerned about strange dreams, speak with a doctor or sleep specialist.
Other reasons you get weird dreams
There are many other potential causes of strange or vivid dreams, including:
- Changes in sleep patterns: disruption to the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle can lead to changes in dreaming. For example, jet lag or working night shifts can cause erratic sleep patterns and result in strange dreams.
- Sleep deprivation: not getting enough sleep can also cause changes in dreaming. Dreams may be more vivid or intense when a person is sleep-deprived.
- Medications: certain medications, such as antidepressants, can cause changes in dreaming.
- Underlying health conditions: some medical conditions, such as anxiety disorders and Parkinson’s disease, are associated with changes in dreaming.
If you are concerned about the cause of your strange dreams, speak with a doctor or sleep specialist. They will be able to rule out any underlying health conditions and offer guidance on how to improve your sleep.
Conclusion on does vitamin D cause weird dreams
There is no definitive answer to whether or not vitamin D causes weird dreams. However, some people who take vitamin D supplements have reported experiencing strange or vivid dreams. It is unclear if this is a direct effect of the vitamin D or if it is due to other factors, such as changes in sleep patterns or underlying health conditions. If you are concerned about strange dreams, speak with a doctor or sleep specialist. There are many other potential causes of strange or vivid dreams, so it is important to rule out any underlying health conditions before attributing them to vitamin D.