I believe everyone should have their vitamin D level checked at least once a year, preferably twice because it is one of the most common nutrient deficiency. There is widespread debate in the medical community about “optimal” Vitamin D levels, and as with most nutrients, the answer likely varies for each unique person given their genetics, environment, lifestyle, and existing health challenges. However, clinical research is starting to uncover that significantly elevated Vitamin D might have as many negative consequences as too little.
Many of my clients have suboptimal levels of vitamin D, and it makes no difference if they live near the equator with sunny weather year-round or if they live in the northern hemisphere with much less sunshine. Therefore I find it one of the very important markers to check out.
Unfortunately, vitamin D is not a marker that automatically gets checked on patients’ annual check-ups and is often missed.
The darker your skin, the more sun exposure you need to make enough vitamin D.
Your skin makes vitamin D from a precursor to cholesterol when it is exposed to a pinking dose of sunlight. How much vitamin D you make depends on your age, your genetics, how much skin is uncovered, and your skin tone. Without sunblock and with arms and legs exposed, your skin will typically make 10,000 to 15,000 units of vitamin D in one pinking sun exposure, on average. (Sunblock with an SPF of more than 15 blocks 100% of vitamin D production in the skin.) Also, the darker your skin, the more sun exposure you need to make enough vitamin D.
Depending on where you live (latitude), you may only get enough radiation from the sun for vitamin D production between May and October (e.g. Northern Europe). These populations definitely need supplement support from October through April.
Genetic variants can render even those living year-round in sunny California and Dubai with rock-bottom levels. Testing is the only way to know your needs for sure. We also have varying levels of Vitamin D receptor sensitivity, so paying attention to your symptoms and overall wellness is also key to understanding when your body needs support.
What are the right Vitamin D Supplementation Doses?
We each have a unique physiology. Some of us can metabolize and retain Vitamin D quite well while others require very large doses to maintain even baseline healthy levels.
Normal dosing of vitamin D depends on your blood levels and your medical history. Those with impaired digestion and absorption of fats (and thus fat-soluble vitamins) may also need sublingual forms or higher doses to gain optimal blood levels. Be sure to consult your practitioners for your unique needs. Treatment doses for blood level ranges.
What is the right level of vitamin D?
Generally, I aim to support my clients to maintain their Vitamin D in the 40-60 ng/ml range.
<30 nmol/L = deficient
40-60 nmol/L = likely optimal levels, varying by individual
60-80 nmol/L = Support for cancer treatment and decreased risk of all solid cancers
70-80 ng/mL = Slowing of cancer growth in patients with diverse types of cancer
over 100 ng/mL = Increased risk of toxic symptoms (e.g. hypercalcemia), especially if not matched with adequate Vitamin K2 and magnesium intake. Vitamin A also required.
Symptoms of Insufficient vitamin D level:
Insufficient vitamin D may lead to:
Increased calcium loss from bones and therefore cause osteoporosis -
Poor wound healing,
Increased joint and back pain
Increased autoimmune disease (lupus, scleroderma, thyroiditis)
What benefit would optimal vitamin D levels bring you?
A Swedish cohort study followed nearly 30,000 women aged 25-64 years in a prospective 20 year follow up found that women who avoided the sun had a twofold higher mortality rate
There are numerous studies that indicate the same outcome. Optimal vitamin D level may be one factor that gives you a long and healthy life.
Rechecking Your Vitamin D Level
We each have a unique physiology. Some of us can metabolize and retain Vitamin D quite well while others require very large doses to maintain even baseline healthy levels. Make sure you check your levels after no more than 2-3 months of supplementing and make sure your magnesium levels are replete before starting a Vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D is not active in our bodies and therefore needs to be converted into its active form. Magnesium is required for the body to convert Vitamin D into its final, usable form; it’s also a very common nutrient deficiency, especially for those with cardiovascular or blood sugar control (e.g. diabetics)
Summer is here or just around the corner and I hope you will catch the "sunshine vitamin" before lathering your skin with sun protection lotion.
On that note, I wish you a great and happy summer :)
Until next time