Reading the most recent issue of Life Extension magazine I was struck by not one, but three articles on the benefits of vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the truly hot topics in nutrition these days.
The first article comes from the journal Anticancer Research which reported on a study that found, in a survey of 3667 men and women, that intakes of 4000 to 8000 IU of vitamin D daily were needed to reduce the risk of several diseases by half. Those diseases were breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.
The second article from American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that mice born to mothers with low levels of vitamin D had a reduction in lung volume. Not only were the lungs involved but the mice had decreases in body length and weight.
The third article from the journal Neurology found that sun exposure had a protective effect on the development of multiple sclerosis. As we all probably know vitamin D is produced in our bodies by sun exposure. High levels of serum vitamin D also helped protect the individual.
With all the information coming out about vitamin D levels and health it is interesting that many doctors are seemingly not concerned with their patients’ blood levels of vitamin D. The other day we had a patient who had seen their doctor and had a very low level of vitamin D. The patient started to take 4000 IUs daily of vitamin D3, resulting in blood levels just barely above the published norm for the blood test. What amazed me is the doctor advised them to cut down their vitamin D3 intake and bring their level back down to 25 ng/ml from the barely above published norm of 40 ng/ml. This would put them back in a deficient state. That is like reducing a cholesterol level to norm and then saying I think we want it to be a little bit above normal. Not all doctors are this ignorant of the benefits of vitamin D but it is a good idea to educate yourself and oversee your own health journey.
One of the best places to educate yourself is the Vitamin D Council. I suggest signing up for their informative newsletter. The Council has available a home Vitamin D test kit for purchase. Testing your levels and making sure you are above 50mg/ml or 125nmol/l vitamin D serum level will help ensure you aren’t walking around with low vitamin D levels.
I myself kept testing low for vitamin D and ended up taking 10,000 IUs a month to finally see my levels rise. At 5000 IUs it didn’t go up at all. I’m still working on maintaining my levels around the 50mg/ml level and still taking 10,000 IU’s daily. I would not recommend everyone just start supplementing without doing proper blood testing. To determine your levels you can partner with your doctor or order the test online.
It is important to realize that 30 minutes of full body sun exposure will cause our bodies to make about 10,000 IU’s of vitamin D. So many of us are indoors most of the time and when we are outdoors we use sunscreen which keeps us from producing vitamin D.
So to summarize, remember that there are a variety of new and exciting studies showing the positive effects of healthy vitamin D levels. Educate yourself and work toward healthy vitamin D levels. Read the Vitamin D Council’s website. If your doctor won’t work with you and test you, you can order the tests and make sure your levels are in the healthy range. Remember vitamin D production is done naturally in your body when exposed to direct sunlight. If you have decreased exposure to sun your level may be too low.