Yes, this deficiency affects over half the population and is rarely diagnosed. Vitamin D is actually a hormone that is produced from a photolytic reaction with ultraviolet (UV) light – which can be hard for those of us who spend a lot of time indoors.
Why it’s so hard for most people to get enough vitamin D
Many people in Europe and the US live in more northern latitudes where ample sunlight is not available year-round. Even for those who do have access to lots of sun, many spend the majority of time indoors and put on UV-blocking sunscreen when they go out. As you get older, your body also slows down its production of natural vitamin D. Skin color also makes a difference, as people with dark skin produce less vitamin D.
An essential hormone that is required for the body to produce vitamin D is cholesterol. Even though I haven’t been able to ascertain that taking cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) could lower the body’s vitamin D production capacity, I think it should be considered.
All things considered, you probably need to look beyond the sun to get enough vitamin D, especially if you’re older or are taking cholesterol lowering drugs.
While there are some vitamin D rich foods, including yeast, fish, mushrooms, and liver, most don’t have high enough levels of the hormone. Unless you’re eating 30 ounces of wild salmon a day or downing 10 tablespoons of cod liver oil with breakfast, you might need to start taking supplements to make sure you’re getting enough.
What’s the right amount of vitamin D?
The National Institute of Health, in the US, recommends 200 to 600 IU of vitamin D a day. That’s the amount to prevent rickets, a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. But the real question is: How much vitamin D do you need for optimal health? Probably more than you think – but at the same time, very high levels of vitamin D can become toxic.
Here are five ways to optimize your levels to get all the benefits from this unbelievable hormone.
- Get tested
Before starting to supplement with vitamin D, ask for a 25-hydroxy test with your blood work. This will give you and your doctor an idea of how much you may need to supplement.
- Take the right form
Use D3, not D2. To improve absorption, take vitamin D with food that contain some fat since it is a fat-soluble nutrient.
- Take the right amount
If you have a deficiency, correct it with 5,000 to 10,000 IUs of vitamin D3 a day for three months – but only under a doctor’s supervision. High doses should ideally be combined with vitamin K. For maintenance, lower doses are needed, up to 4,000 IUs a day. Some people may need higher doses, but please discuss this with your doctor.
- Get rechecked every three months
Since vitamin D is a hormone, it fluctuates for everyone differently, and obviously seasonal changes affect it too.
There are different “optimal ranges”. Experts and organizations have different ranges. You want levels over 30ng/mL and not more than 80ng/mL.
- Be patient
It could take six to 10 months to “fill up the tank” for vitamin D if you’re deficient. Once you’ve reached the right level, you can lower the dose to a maintenance dose.
Don’t forget to consult with you doctor.
That’s it my friends; see you all the next time.