Do vitamin D capsules really help us in the dark season?

Insufficient vitamin D supply in Germany

Studies have shown that the vitamin D supply in Germany is inadequate. Not only adults, but also many children and adolescents have affected values. If there is actually a vitamin D deficiency, the intake of supplements – after medical examination – is advised in many cases. But some people take such preparations without having been examined before. This does not make any sense, experts warn.

Many believe that you should definitely take vitamin D supplements in the winter. In fact, such funds are only recommended for a few people. (Image: blackzheep /

No protection against chronic diseases

Some people take supplements because they think they are doing something right for their health and preventing disease. Stiftung Warentest points out on its website that this is not really logical.

Because scientists have in recent years assessed hundreds of studies on whether vitamin D protects against other chronic diseases and has not found a convincing effect.

For example, in a previous 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 the cold months is not enough

Vitamin D is also called & # 39; sun vitamin & # 39; because it is made by the human body for 80 to 90 percent under the influence of sunlight. The high-energy UVB rays that also tan the skin are decisive.

Not everyone, however, makes the same amount of vitamin D – it depends on age, skin thickness and skin type.

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

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

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

This stock is usually sufficient to get into the dark season without shortcomings.

Only a small part of the diet can be covered over the diet

As the Stiftung Warentest writes, only a small part of the vitamin D requirement can be satisfied with food, for example ten to twenty percent. Accordingly, there are only a few foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin D.

By far the majority of them are in oily fish such as salmon and herring. To a much lesser extent, liver, egg yolk and some mushrooms such as chanterelles and mushrooms produce vitamin D.

Those who have too low a vitamin D content in the winter months as a result of a lack of sunlight can, according to health experts, resort to food supplements.

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

In short, it should not be taken too much. Because according to the medicines committee of the German medical profession (AkdÄ) it can also lead to an overdose of vitamin D supplements.

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

Dietary supplement for risk groups

"Healthy, active people hardly benefit from vitamin D supplements", writes Stiftung Warentest. "However, they can be useful for certain risk groups."

This includes, but is not limited to, people older than 65, because many people of this age reduce their ability to produce vitamin D. In part, it then produces only half the amount of vitamin D as in previous years of life.

Even younger people, who rarely get out in the fresh air due to illness, can resort to vitamin D supplements after consultation with a doctor.

Under these circumstances, the Stiftung Warentest classifies such medicines that are suitable for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Vitamin D pills can also be useful for certain other diseases: for example, small intestinal diseases can interfere with the absorption of vitamin D from the intestine.

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

Never take a vitamin D supplement on suspicion

In addition, the Foundation recommends the health of children in accordance with scientific organizations of pediatricians:

All babies in Germany from the first week of life to the second experienced early summer, so depending on the date of birth for a period of one to one and a half years, in addition to breast milk or baby food tablets or drops with 400 to 500 units of vitamin D daily 3 get prescribed by a doctor,

Vitamin D supplementation should best be combined with fluoride prophylaxis against tooth decay. Preterm infants weighing less than 1500 grams should receive a higher daily dose of 800 to 1,000 units of vitamin D in the first few months of their lives.

In short: "Vitamin D supplements should not be taken on suspicion, they are only recommended if insufficient care has been proven by a doctor," said Antje Gahl of the German Nutrition Society (DGE).

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

The doctor and the patient must decide on a case-by-case basis whether the test is useful. Most patients pay the research costs of about 20 to 30 euros themselves and only pay for vitamin D supplements in exceptional cases. (Ad)