Vitamin D is Essential for Your Health, Is Your Doctor Getting it Right?

by,

Suzanne Coleman, MD

Vitamin D is a type of healthy, naturally-occurring steroid.  It works within our body’s cells and is necessary for our health.  We are only now learning more and more about how important it is, and about how many people do not have sufficient levels to be optimally healthy.  It’s important for everyone to get their levels tested, regardless of their race or age.  Low vitamin D can cause both physical and mental health problems, and correcting low vitamin D may help to treat some problems that were previously thought to be untreatable.

A lot of research is being done lately on vitamin D, and rightly so.  So far evidence points to its importance in our mental health, allergies and atopy (like eczema and psoriasis), heart health, bone health, immune system, and likely others.

Here in the United States, doctors will check vitamin D levels using a test called 25 (OH) vitamin D.  The results of this test are important, and you should ask to look over them together with your doctor.

The test result will show a number that represents how much vitamin D is in your blood, and the test will have a range of what that particular laboratory thinks is an okay number for you to have.  The range is usually between 30 and 80 ng/ml or so.  These numbers bring up a very important point.

Some doctors will tell you that a number of 30, or even 20, is enough vitamin D.  I am going to tell you that in my opinion, that is NOT enough.  I have seen both severe osteoporosis and depression in people with levels in the low 30s.  When they started taking an appropriate amount of oral vitamin D3, their blood levels increased to around 50 over the next several months or so.  Their moods and energy improved significantly.

In order to stay healthy, both mentally and physically I recommend trying to keep your blood levels around 50-60.  Your doctor can monitor these with testing every 3 months or so.  If your initial level is low, she can tell you what to try to take to improve it.  Vitamin D3 is the correct type of oral vitamin D to take.  For the people I mentioned above, with levels around 32, taking 5000 IU a day of a USP-tested vitamin D3 was sufficient to raise their levels into the healthy range of 50 or so.

Not all vitamins for sale are tested to ensure that they actually contain what they are supposed to contain.  That is why I recommend using only vitamins which have a USP seal on their label.  The USP seal means that the vitamins have been tested and should contain what they say they do.  Taking a vitamin without the USP seal on the label is not a good idea as they may not contain the vitamin, and they may also contain unhealthy substances.

Depending on where you live, sun exposure will raise your vitamin D level.  So if you get a lot of sun in the summer, you may not need to take a vitamin D supplement during that time.  If you never get much sun, then you likely will benefit from taking a supplement year-round, as long as your levels are being monitored.

When you first start taking vitamin D3, if you have low levels, you may feel a burst of energy.  Because this may impact your sleep, I would recommend taking the vitamin in the morning, or avoiding taking it anywhere close to bedtime.  After a while, maybe a month or so, once your body’s levels start to become more normal, this effect will not necessarily be seen.

If you have any other medical conditions, be sure to check with all of your doctors before starting vitamin D supplementation, to ensure that you can take it safely.

You also need to know that you can get too much vitamin D.  Levels can be too high for your health, that is why if you take supplements, your levels need to be monitored on a regular basis.  Vitamin D toxicity can present with symptoms like nausea, loss of appetite, feeling tired, having pain, being thirsty, and other somewhat vague symptoms.

I hope that everyone will get their vitamin D levels checked so that they will be as healthy as they were meant to be.  For some, possibly many, vitamin D deficiency just may be one problem that you can correct that will change the rest of your life for the better.


 

I have found very useful information on vitamin D from the Vitamin D Council who has great online resources.  Here is a link to their page on general vitamin D testing and the various lab levels recommended by different groups.

My recommendations and views in this article are based on my experience and readings, previous recommendations by endocrinologists, and the views of the Vitamin D Council.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not establish a doctor-patient relationship.  I hope this information is helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: