For many, summer is upon us and that means more sun exposure to soak up vitamin D. There has been a lot of debate over the amount needed to be sufficient in the body, and in the June, 2011 Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, the Endocrine Society has deemed levels between 40-60ng/mL to be necessary. Are your levels good enough?
Vitamin D is commonly absorbed through our skin via the sunlight when we are outside without sunscreen. Some foods, such as milk, might be fortified with vitamin D but otherwise it is a difficult nutrient to acquire. Many adults and children too find themselves needing an extra supplement to get the boost they need even in sunny states because sunscreen and clothing blocks most vitamin D exposure.
Many laboratories show the lower limit to be at 30ng/mL however research is showing that higher levels are protective against autoimmune disease, cardiovascular problems, certain cancers such as colorectal cancer, muscle pains, bone problems like osteoporosis, and seasonal depression. The Endocrine Society believes you may need between 1,500-2,000IU of vitamin D everyday to raise your low levels and not to exceed 4,000IU per day in adults without your health care provider’s direction. As an example, those with very low levels may need up to 10,000IU per day and some health care providers prescribe 50,000IU per week with repeated lab monitoring.
The test of choice is the 25 hydroxy vitamin D otherwise abbreviated as 25(OH)D3. Remember that vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, therefore it can become toxic if levels elevate and it does require some fat for better absorption.
If you aren’t taking vitamin D, then talk with your health care provider about getting tested. It is a simple blood test that is often covered through insurance. If your numbers are below 40ng/mL, begin the appropriate supplementation to help keep your body at optimal amounts.
1. Endocrine Society Issues Practice Guideline on Vitamin D
2. Protean Manifestations of Vitamin D Deficiency, Part 1