Vitamin D is constantly in the news lately and for good reason. Optimal levels of Vitamin D have been linked to a host of benefits including prevention and treatment of many key diseases ranging from Osteoporosis to improved heart health with reduction in heart attack risk to prevention of many different types of cancer.
During the winter - high levels of serum Vitamin D are highly protective against illness and flu in particular - BUT you must get your serum levels high enough, and your individual dose to achieve this level is unique to you based on a host of factors. Based on genetic factors dosage to achieve ideal levels can be anywhere from 600iu to 10,000iu per day!
The ideal way to get optimal levels of Vitamin D is to let your body create it through Safe Sun Exposure (see previous blog on this subject here: http://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-facts-on-safe-sun-exposure-and.html However this is easier said then done, and too much sun is clearly a strong risk factor for skin cancer! Enter Vitamin D supplementation. Also note that in order to produce Vitamin D from Sun Exposure it is critical that you are not magnesium deficient - Vitamin D synthesis is completely dependent on magnesium levels.
Vitamin D Supplementation
The amount and form of Vitamin D supplementation has changed substantially based on lots of emerging research. The form that should be taken is Vitamin D-3 NOT D-2 form and all experts agree on this! However when it comes to dosage things get much trickier. The confusion comes because Vitamin D is really a powerful compound and functions as a hormone in the body. As such it has profound impact on virtually every system in the body. In addition you can overdose on Vitamin D supplements so more is NOT always better!
Vitmain D Testing
Ideally you should order a blood test and test your levels. The test you want is called a 25(OH)D blood test and is offered by all major labs. You can either ask your doctor to order this test for you OR you can order an in-home test. You just prick your finger and put a drop of bloo on the enclosed paper and send back in to the labs. You can also your own blood test online and go to a lab to have blood drawn in the same way your doctor orders the test. For more information on testing go here: https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/testkit/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwh_bLBRDeARIsAH4ZYEPhv0MVkO5_S7USZZ8bwVlt5A3vPWGbBFFIbJiB8Wtva0x-IDH7UmQaAlGkEALw_wcB#
Confusion Regarding Effectiveness of Vitamin D Supplementation
There is a lot of misinformation regarding the effectiveness of Vitamin D supplementation. Many studies show no effect from supplementation. However in most cases the studies showing negative results did not customize dosage to insure that effective serum Vitamin D Levels where achieved. To be effective you must achieve specific serum levels of vitamin D so dosage by itself is not going to insure results since people are unique in their dosage requirements for many reasons including specific genetic polymorphisms that vary from person to person.
Ideal versus Acceptable Blood Levels of Vitamin D
There is a big difference between what is considered “acceptable” or okay and ideal blood levels. Here are the classifications of different blood levels of Vitamin D. according to the Vitamin D Council:
0 – 30 ng/ML is very low and considered a deficiency
30 – 39 ng/ML is better but still insufficient for optimal health and disease prevention.
40 – 100 ng/ML is optimal
Above 150 ng/ML is toxic!
The key is to test and if low take a supplement then retest 2 – 3 months after regular vitamin d use because each person is different in how much supplementation they need based on many factors including sun exposure and skin type. The RDA for Vitamin D for infants is 400iu. For Children 1 – 13 and adults through age 70 the RDA is 600iu and for those over 70 the RDA is 800iu.
Unfortunately, this is way too low to get many people into the sufficient much less optimal range so testing is really worthwhile. In many cases people need 4,000 – 10,000 or more iu's per day for at least a month to get where they need to be for optimal health!
Preventing Vitamin D Toxicity through the Co-Administration of Vitamin K-2
Like many vitamins Vitamin D has a co-factor or other vitamin that helps it perform its function better and in a more balanced fashion, and that other vitamin is Vitamin K-2 (not to be confused with K-1 found in many plants). In an ideal world, you can get all the Vitamin K-1 you need from eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables, and your body can turn it into K-2. Unfortunately, this conversion is lacking in many people.
More importantly K-2 is not easily toxic and can be taken with Vitamin D. K-2 is best taken as a supplement as MK-7 version which has been heavily researched and shown to improve bone health and prevent arterial calcification which can potentially occur with too much Vitamin D. For a more complete understanding behind how K-2 works with Vitamin D and why it is a great idea to take the MK-7 form of K-2 with Vitamin D check out this article from Dr. Mercola: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/03/26/the-delicate-dance-between-vitamins-d-and-k.aspx