Mayo Clinic’s Stunning Vitamin D Research

I’m not suggesting you spend a weekend (as I did) reading the historically important and game-changing 30-page article in this month’s Mayo Clinic Proceedings entitled “Vitamin D for Health: A Global Perspective.” The study’s authors have written an exhaustive meta-analysis, which means that although they didn’t perform any original research themselves they reviewed the research of others around the world and also looked at previous meta-analyses.

In essence, they sat down in front of a computer, typed the words vitamin D supplementation into medically oriented search engines, and read everything. If there’s one single take-away from today’s health tip, it’s that quite likely you yourself are deficient in vitamin D and you’d be wise to do something about it.

We all learned in grammar school that D is “the sunshine vitamin” because when our skin is exposed to sunlight, we make our own D. What happens is that the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) waves trigger chemical reactions in our bodies so they manufacture a pre-vitamin D that penetrates our bloodstream and then converts to the active form, vitamin D-3. Your vitamin D status is determined by measuring one of D-3’s metabolic products, 25(OH)D.

However, manufacturing D is a lot more complicated than sunshine or my shorthand description above. We also get some limited D from foods (oily fish like wild salmon and fortified milk among them) and from nutritional supplements. Just take a quick glance at this diagram by one of the article’s authors, Michael Holick, MD, which shows the intrepid reader the complete synthesis and metabolism of vitamin D. But brace yourself.

Low D spells trouble
Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with so many seemingly unrelated diseases that it took awhile for doctors to figure out exactly what was going on. How could inadequate levels of a single molecule be responsible for increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, many (many!) cancers, autoimmune diseases, cognitive decline, pregnancy complications, bone disease, allergy, and even frailty?

Recent studies have also proved that low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy or in a newborn increase the baby’s lifetime risk for susceptibility to schizophrenia, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis and, even more startling, the baby’s late-life risks for chronic illnesses including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and premature aging. This second (and decidedly easier to read) diagram by Dr. Holick shows the various conditions linked to low vitamin D as a person ages.

D helps genes function efficiently
To understand how vitamin D works, remember that every aspect of you is very much determined by genetics. Each organ and chemical reaction in your body has at its basis a set of genes that govern its operation. If you’re lucky, you come from a family of good genes (aka The Lucky Sperm-N-Egg Club) and unless you throw a wrench in the works with alcoholism or unsuccessful skydiving you’re likely to live a long and healthy life. You can also come from a family with a lot of heart disease, cancer susceptibility, or mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

But despite genetic predispositions to certain conditions, no one need capitulate to genetics. In fact, by living a consciously healthy life, you can “up-regulate” your genes so the organ they control functions more efficiently, thereby reducing your genetic health risks dramatically. In fact, a lot of what we do at WholeHealth Chicago is teaching patients how to thumb their noses at their genetic risks with a combination of good nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction, enhanced by the encouragement (some call it well-intentioned nagging) of our dedicated practitioners.

It seems that it’s on a genetic level that vitamin D affects so many apparently unrelated parts of the body. It’s currently estimated that somewhere between 200 and 2000 of our genes are in some way responsive to vitamin D. To rephrase this, if your vitamin D levels are good, your genes function more efficiently. If D is inadequate, they all function poorly, and the genetic expression of poorly functioning genes is the menu of chronic illness.

To give you an idea of the numbers involved, it’s estimated that 60,000 Americans die prematurely of cancer every year because of vitamin D deficiency. Add to this premature autoimmune disease (such as multiple sclerosis), heart disease, allergies (like asthma), diabetes, and Alzheimer’s and the numbers become mind-boggling.

Moreover, a pregnant woman’s vitamin D level can “imprint” genetic susceptibilities onto her developing fetus. It was likely quite shocking for researchers to realize that low levels of D during pregnancy increased a newborn’s later risks for autism, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, and a variety of chronic illnesses, any of which can shorten longevity and most of which compromise the quality of our lives.

So let’s talk about some effective strategies to get your vitamin D to a healthy level.

What’s the ideal D level?
It’s still open to debate, but current thinking places it between 40 and 70 ng/ml–nanograms of 25(OH)D per milliliter of blood.

Levels 20 ng/ml and lower are definitely dangerous.

Ironically, I’ve yet to come across a single free wellness screening offered by health insurance companies or large corporations that includes 25(OH)D measurements. Testing is covered by most health insurance, but the cost applies to your deductible. For those without insurance, the cost is about $60.

Who’s at risk?
We’re not entirely sure about this either, but as many as 91% of Americans with dark skin pigmentation are deficient because darker skin requires more sun to generate the same D as fairer skin. Generally, all people who work indoors, wear extensive clothing, avoid the sun (shaded hats, sunblock), live in polluted cities, and get their sunlight only through window glass are also at increased risk for deficiency.

Conversely, the East African Maasai tribe, living outdoors with minimal clothing, have the best vitamin D levels on the globe.

What about skin cancer?
For patients, nothing shakes faith in doctors like opposing points of view. On one hand, dermatologists trying to prevent skin cancers tell us to stay out of the sun, wear big floppy hats, and apply plenty of sunblock. They equate tanning beds with cigarette smoking.

Vitamin D researchers say dermatologists have this all wrong. Superficial skin cancers usually occur on the face, are easy to remove, and rarely are dangerous. Melanomas, which everyone agrees are dangerous skin cancers, usually appear in unexposed areas anyway, so covering every inch of skin as a protection from melanoma is counterproductive and by doing so your vitamin D levels will plummet.

There’s no evidence—not a scrap–that sensible sun exposure like our hunter-gatherer ancestors experienced increases skin cancer risk. Interestingly, melanoma is least likely to occur among people with outdoor occupations, indicating that vitamin D is involved here as well.

Quick sun-exposure guideline…and a free app
In the Northern hemisphere, exposing your arms and legs (and abdomen and back whenever possible) to sunlight twice weekly for about 15 to 30 minutes of June noontime sun produces adequate levels of D. There’s no need to expose the sensitive skin of your face because, ironically, your face is highly inefficient at D production anyway.

I hear you thinking, “Doesn’t he remember we live in Chicago? What about the other 11 months of the year?” Here’s a helpful free app called dminder that provides data on sun exposure based on location, time of day, and skin color. And yes, in the darker months you’re definitely going to need some help.

For that there’s always the tanning bed. The Mayo group points out that regular tanning bed users all had robust levels of vitamin D and better bone density than non-users. Moreover, if everyone in the US used tanning beds to boost their 25(OH)D to 45 ng/ml or higher, there would be 400,000 reduced deaths from cancer and heart disease in comparison to 11,000 increased deaths from melanoma and other skin cancers.

D3 supplements
Or you can take vitamin D3 supplements. In fact, you’ll do better with a supplement than trying to elevate your D by diet alone. Even a generous portion of salmon contains just 400 IU (international units) and it’s one of our richest D food sources. Moreover, the amount of D in a typical one-a-day supplement is also only about 400 IU, not nearly enough to bring you to a good level.

From my own clinical experience raising my patients’ D levels from pathetic to decent, I’ve seen better results with liquid D forms than with pills. I’ve had several patients dutifully take tablets totaling 5,000 to 10,000 IU daily to raise their low levels and…nothing happens. When I move them to a liquid form, up it goes.

The brand I use in my practice is Bio-D-Mulsion Forte. Each drop contains 2,000 IU of D. Have your doctor measure your blood levels of 25(OH)D. If you’re low, take 5000 IU daily and get your level rechecked in three to four months. Once you’re at a good level, maintain at 2,000 IU daily.

The sun is high in the sky right now, so get outside, take off some clothes, and enjoy taking the free medicine.

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD

 

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112 comments on “Mayo Clinic’s Stunning Vitamin D Research
  1. david says:

    Is Bio D Mulsion Forte vegan? If not, what vegan vitamin D supplement do you recommend?

  2. Linda Silbert says:

    Thanks for this article. I love the idea of getting Vitamin D from a natural source but I read that it takes up to 48 hours for Vitamin D3 to be absorbed into your bloodstream to elevate your vitamin D levels, so you should not wash your skin with soap after sun exposure for 48 hours, do you agree?

  3. erin says:

    Whole Health should offer a medicinal tanning bed!

  4. Dr E says:

    Bio D Forte is vegan

  5. Dr E says:

    The skin washing issue is from a very old medical article (1937) that to my knowledge has never been confirmed by retesting.
    Helmer AC, Jensen CH: Vitamin D precursors removed from the skin by washing. Studies Inst Divi Thomae 1937, 1:207-216.
    Personally, I think that if the washing were to make a difference, that difference would be a small one

  6. abner cunningham says:

    re “superficial skin cancers usually occur on the face, are easy to remove, and rarely are dangerous”. That’s what I thought until I had one that required two days of Moh’s surgery, a 4.5 hour reconstructive s/p, as it was close to brain and eye, plus I lost partial use of left arm as a cranial nerve was inadvertently severed. Prior to that, I thought exactly as you stated: easy to remove. Maybe “coverup and sun block” is not bad advice…

  7. Dr E says:

    Hi Abner
    Having had facial skin cancers removed myself, I do recommend facial sunblocks and floppy hats for shade. The Mayo article did not discourage the use of facial sunblocks, especially (as they point out) the facial area doesn’t make much vitamin D anyway

  8. Betsey O'Brien says:

    Dr. E, I currently take Nordic Naturals Omega-3 supplements fortified with D-3. I guess you would call them liqu-gels. Is this a good source since it is not in hard-pill form?

  9. Betsy says:

    Great article; thanks for all of the helpful info. Please make an app for Android as well! Thanks.

  10. Dr E says:

    Hi Betsey
    Although the Nordic Naturals product you are referring is perfectly good, it only has 500 IU of D per capsule. If you are taking 4 of these daily to reach 2,000 IU, that would be a good Vitamin D dose. However, I see it listed at 120 caps for about $50 or about $1.60 a day. You can get separate products and save about $30 a month

  11. Beverly Bojanowski says:

    Doesn’t anyone take cod liver oil anymore? I had to take a spoonful every day growing up — Vitamin A and D?

  12. Dr E says:

    Hi Beverly
    The problem with cod liver oil is that vitamin D-wise, there’s not much bang for your buck. A typical good brand, TwinLabs, has 400 IU of D per tablespoonful. With current recommendations around 2,000 IU a day, more if you’re D deficient, that’s quite a gulp of cod liver oil!

  13. Tamra says:

    This article states that Mayo Clinic says tanning beds can increase Vitamin D levels…..interesting….I will ask at Zac;s appt on Monday and will bring a copy of this article.

  14. Llewllyn Sumantha says:

    Hi,
    My Wife’s Blood test-25-HYDROXY ,Vitamin D observed value is 13.80ng/ml
    Shows insufficiency.Her age is 64.What precautions we have to take to improve her vitamin values.How long will it take to bring her level to normal?
    Please advise

  15. Dr. R says:

    Hi Llewllyn
    25-hydroxy-vitamin D levels should, at a minimum, be above 30.
    Supplementing with 2,000 – 5,000 I.U./day of a high quality vitamin D will raise the level over the next few months. If you live in a region allowing for outdoor sun exposure, this will be most beneficial. Get blood levels checked periodically to assure the levels are improving. See your primary care physician if levels do not increase in spite of supplementation.

  16. Laura Denhart says:

    My vitamin d level is 31.2 and I had been taking 2000IU a day. I have Fibromyalgia and neuopathy. I would really like to get the liquid prescription because I take 500 mg. of neurontin along with 25 mg. of amitriptyline. I feel these meds may be contributing to low d. Any other advice?

  17. Dr. R says:

    To Laura: You might try bumping your daily vitamin D intake to 5000 IU’s for 8-12 weeks and re-test at that time. In addition, speak with your doctor for specific advice regarding the prescribed medications. There are liquid OTC products available as well.

  18. Richard Davies says:

    This article has been very he.. M

    This article has been very helpful… I’m 85..lived on a sailboat in the carribeabn for twenty years.. Plenty of sunshine.. Have darker skin… Prostate cancer surgery in..
    1991.. Continuing results good.. Massive 7.5lbs…liposarcoma in abdomen surgery 2010.goodresults.. Recent tests showed vitamin D level at 21…this after many tests for vague symptoms.. General malaise.. Stiffness all joints.. Focus… Balance etc..tests included r
    Brain. Mri… All negative considering my age… Been on a daily 3000iu vit D… Irregularly i admit. For about 4_ weeks four days ago I took the 3000 per day religiously.. Today I swear I feel much less fatigue.. I’d very much like your opinion… Thanks Richard Davies

  19. Josh says:

    “Going to a tanning bed once increases your [skin cancer] risk by 20 percent,” said Brewer. “And then every time you go after that in a calendar year, your risk increases by 2 percent.”

    “It may take a couple of decades for the real effects [of indoor tanning] to catch up,” he added. “ The Mayo Clinic researchers strongly recommend, however, that middle-aged people receive regular skin-cancer screenings. […] In addition, Brewer suggests that all of us take the following four simple steps to lessen the odds of developing skin cancer:

    Don’t use tanning beds.
    Use sunscreen whenever you’re outside.
    Familiarize yourself with your skin by performing frequent self-skin examinations.
    Check in with your dermatologist annually.” I’ll skip the tanning salon, I think.

  20. Gale says:

    My level was just tested at 7.7. I have been given a prescription once a week for 50,000 IU D2. When should my levels get back to normal? I have experienced many symptons such as hair loss, sleep and intestinal issues as well as muscle pains. Will these all correct when my level is normal?

  21. MsMoneypenny says:

    Am in process of having a superficial skin cancer on my face treated and it still won’t keep me out of the sun. I just plan to have my skin checked more often.

  22. Tina Moore says:

    great read! I have Alpha-Gal the red meat allergy from a tick bite. I just had my D done and was told my 20 is normal. I do not feel normal! I am going to share this information with our group because most of us seem to have issues with nutrients. Mammal based anything is pretty much out of the question.
    Thanks again.
    Tina

  23. David says:

    Dear Dr. E,

    My d3 was tested last week and is 24 ng/ml. My doctor prescribed a 50000iu tablet once per week for 3 months. I’ve been taking 2500iu daily supplement because my d3 level was 21 ng/ml as of 3 years ago. I was intrigued by your comment that some patients had to switch to a liquid supplement before the saw improvement in d3 levels. If I were to try a 2000iu liquid per day, how long should I wait before testing to see if it helps? Is it necessary to wait at least 3 months to determine if any specific approach to supplementation is helping?

  24. Carolyn Schroeder says:

    My Vitamin D level when first tested was 30.
    I took a supplement D3 for a couple of years…about 2000/daily…and my level was 29. !!
    I have been taking 4000-5000 D3 for this year, and the level has risen to “30”. What is going on?

  25. Dr E says:

    David and Carolyn (even though you don’t know each other)

    Both of you should switch to BioD Forte Liquid, 5 drops daily for a month, then retest. The problem you’re experiencing is with the pill form. The liquid is simply better absorbed

  26. David says:

    Dear Dr. E,

    This is an update from David. On Nov. 3, 2015, you responded to my question above. My D level was 24ng/ml at that time. I began using Bio-D-Mulsion Forte Vitamin D (2000 IU per drop) around Nov. 14, 2015 and took 2 drops daily. I took it with Nutrigold Vitamin K2 MK-7 Gold capsule daily. I didn’t want to swallow the K2 capsule, so I chewed it slighty to squeeze out the contents and spit out the capsule.

    I had a 25-OH vitamin D test done on January 29, 2016 and my D level is now 37ng/ml.

    Thank you for your helpful recommendation.

  27. stan metlitz phd says:

    I have cbf leakage in to ear and have learned that. Vitamin d
    Is very low in my body. Have been put on vitamin d. 50mu weekly. X’s 9 weeks. Than 2000 units daily ..please coment

  28. Dr E says:

    Hi Stan
    2,000 IU a day is fine

  29. Margaret says:

    Dear Dr. D,
    When tested my vitamin D level was 27. I am on prescription liquid gels of 1 per week for three months, I need to verify the dosage after reading this article. My retention of new information has been very low over the last few years causing me to take a stop out on my PhD, will my retention of information (read/heard/seen) improve with the raising of vitamin D in my system?

  30. Dr. R says:

    Margaret. Low vitamin D has been shown to have an effect on cognition. If you get your levels to 50 and still have issues, I’d recommend further investigation with your doctor.

  31. Crystal says:

    My vit D level is at 26. My doctor put me on a 50,000 unit capsule once a week and I have to be retested in 3 months. How long can I expect before I start feeling more energized? I can literally sleep all day, I feel like someone has put me under anesthesia.

  32. Dr. R says:

    Crystal. Everyone responds differently; give it a few weeks.

  33. Angela skala says:

    I need to rephrase my keyboard messed up just diagnosed with vitamin D level at 14 started out with low back pain in hips.teeth hurting ,feet burning . And whole entire body aches and hurts feels like spasms I get these little pictures of pains in my side stay come and go like it’s a nerve.I do have IBS from food poisoning five years ago which I have under control I have no Domino pain but my bathroom habits have changed again and low vitamin D caused us and if I was at 14 how long do you think I’ve been low in vitamin D

  34. cliffmaurer says:

    Hi Angela –
    It’s hard to say how long you’ve been deficient in vitamin D. It’s a fairly common problem for folks who live in middle and higher latitudes (such as in the Chicago area). It can take several months to bring levels up with supplementation, but you should be certain that your physician knows of all of your symptoms so that they can be properly addressed. Vitamin D deficiency can cause symptoms you’ve listed, but it is only one cause.
    Best wishes to you,
    -Dr M

  35. April says:

    Hi, I’ve been dealing with low D for a number of years now. Throughout I’ve been experiencing fatigue, bone pain,insomnia, headaches, vertigo and most notably cognitive issues. Other issues as well. I’ve been back and forth to the Dr due to the associated symptoms. Mostly for the extreme fatigue and cognitive issues. I feel like I’ve been living in a cloud or what I call the “matrix”. I live in Arizona and was first diagnosed with a level of 2. I’ve been misdiagnosed with depression, Lupus, and a vitamin absorption disorder. After my own research I began to think it was Allergy related specifically mold with the thought of being exposed to mold. No one seems to get it and I’m really frustrated. My D has leveled since my last bloodtest (taking a high dose) but I continue to experience the same symptoms. Any thoughts on the link between Vit D and toxin/mold exposure? I have brought it to the attention of management that refuses to recognize that there is a problem and will not do an air quality test.

  36. Beverly says:

    I work nights, sleep days, and avoid the sun because I have vitiligo. Maybe ten years ago I noticed cognitive changes and started requesting my Dr send me for tests. It took a couple years to convince him because he felt my increasing forgetfulness was simply age related. Drs always seem to minimize the importance of a patient knowing themselves. Most of the tests came back within normal ranges and since there were no earlier test for comparison it was all dimissed. A slow processing speed was the only score that stood out. Fast forward a handful of years and I’m beggining another Dr for tests due to extreme fatigue and weakness. I felt sometimes as if my legs could not support me and I hurt all over, all the time. A Vitamin D check came back at 6.34 and I went on the Rx for 6 months. I know that my D level was that low for a long time because a sympton that I did not connect to the low D dissappeared after 3 months of the Rx…. a peeling lower lip. For over ten years my lower lip peeled and bled all year except about 6 weeks in the summer. Of course in hindsight I should have connected it to the extra sunshine, but I thought it had to do with humidity. During that time i also had four teeth just crumble within 5 years. Two years later, when my lip was starting to peel again I had it checked again, this time it was 13. Backon the Rx I went and it stopped. My worry is for my muscles and how much damage can be repaired. I no longer fear my legs will give out, but I still hurt all over and my muscles tire quickly. Also, I haven’t noticed any improvement in cognitive function. It’s pretty bad when my 83 year old mother is worried about my memory enough to express concern to my friends. I’ve not been very compliant about my vitamins since my gastric by-pass in 1998, but I started a thorough regimen a month ago out of desperation to ease all the muscle pain. I’ve gotten about 15 years behind in my life and need some energy to catch up.

  37. Maya says:

    I was at 24 a year ago and have been taking 5,000 I.U./day. I was much lower a few years before that. I’m now currently at 36. Does it normally take that long to get it up?

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, so don’t know if that mixes with anything. I have seen 2 different oncologists and they say there is no correlation with Vitamin D, but I believe differently.

  38. Dr E says:

    Hi Maya
    You’re right, they’re wrong. Low Vitamin D does increase all cancer risks.
    I would suggest changing to a liquid Vitamin D. Bio D Forte is excellent, available in most health food stores and our apothecary. Take 3 drops daily and get your level rechecked in 8-10 weeks

  39. Scott says:

    Sir,

    I understand that taking Vitamin D is all but pointless without Vitamin K to get it absorbed into the system. Perhaps I am wrong. I ask because when I was tested last year, my levels were at a 21. After a year of supplementation (started at 1x weekly =50K iU for 12 weeks, and then 5K iU daily), my levels dropped to a 9. Am I missing something here? Thanks in advance for your insight and very informative article.

  40. Dr E says:

    Hi Scott
    Some patients just don’t seem to absorb the tablets. Switch to the liquid BioD Forte and take five drops daily. Retest every month

  41. Janet says:

    My son, 14yo dark skinned hispanic/guatemalen adoptee, has had low levels in the past. His EBV titres are currently very high but dr says not mono, just high titres. He is very fatigued, headache, foggy at times, had been horizontal all summer. Can hardly get him to school at all now, and he LOVES school. We had him tested for Vitamin D last Friday and Monday were told his level was 31. However we had started him on 10,000iu of liquid D on Wednesday, so he had 3 days of high dosage liquid before he got the bloodtest. Would the liquid D at that dosage raise his level that quickly? (In 2010 ago he was at 26 in May – so all summer, no sunscreen and 4,000iu liquid daily – by end of August he was at 51) Also, 2 years ago (October 2014), he was fatigued as well (actually had a concussion we later found out) but his EBV test was high again and his D was 29. Thoughts on how quickly 10000iu would raise level? Thank you.

  42. Tina Moore says:

    This is so confusing, my levels were 25 and I was told it was normal.

  43. Barbara Baron says:

    My son was recently diagnosed with a Vit D level of 22. He is 14yrs old 6ft, 200lbs. I was told by his pediatrician he needed to take 1000iu daily for 3 months. Is that enough? In addition, does he need to be taking calcium and magnesium? If so,in what doses?

  44. Dr. R says:

    Barbara Baron. I’d recommend doubling to 2000 IU daily especially if you’re moving into grey winter as we are in Chicago. Recheck vitamin D levels in three months and adjust as necessary.

  45. Cheyenne says:

    I’ve been sick for the past 2 1/2 months. Constantly feeling weak to the point of feeling like I’m too tired to just breathe, no strength. Dizzy & lightheaded. Sick to my stomach, body aches. Numb tingly legs & arms. I get very shaky when just trying to do little things around the house. I feel like I’m in a daze. My memory isn’t the best anymore. I’ve been in & out of the hospital, my blood pressure, blood sugar & oxygen level are normal. I did have blood work done & had seen my VD25-OH: 10 L no/mL. Can someone please tell what this means, & what I should/need to do?

  46. Dr. R says:

    Hi Cheyenne. Your vitamin D levels are low and supplementation will help to correct this deficiency. Your symptoms need to be investigated by your PCP as they are not necessarily related to vitamin D. A thorough examination with blood work is recommended.

  47. Cheyenne says:

    What type of supplements should I start taking!? With my vitamin d being at 10… I started taking vitamin d3 400 units with some prenatal vitamins that also have 400 units of d3 in it. I did have kidney stones, that did pass & also found I had multiple cysts on my ovaries & one on my kidney. Hopefully I can start to see another dr at a different hospital. & hopefully they can find out what’s wrongs.

  48. Dr. R says:

    Hi Cheyenne. You probably need to be taking 5,000 IU daily for a few months. Again, with the symptoms you previously described, you need to be under the care of a primary care physician who can not only monitor your vitamin D levels but evaluate your overall health.

  49. Cheyenne says:

    I started taking 50,000 units of vitamin d once a week. I was wondering if I can take vitamin b12 1000 units as well!? & is it ok to take it while being on vitamin d 50,000 units?

  50. Dr. R says:

    Hi Cheyenne. Again, it would be best to speak with your primary care physician who is familiar with you overall health conditions.

  51. Brandy says:

    Thank you so much for this article!I’m a thin,relatively healthy 40yr old woman who after years seeing doctors for severe muscle pain(fibromyalgia)fatigue etc,shaking,anemia,etc.I found one who ran EVERY test imaginable & found that my vitamin d levels were very low(19.4)ferritin(7)reticulocyte(0.3)and immunoglobulin G(594)so he’s started me on 5,000 units Vitamin D BUT what you’ve taught me is liquid form of it is superior to the hard form so I thank you so very much & will order the brand you specified in your very informative article!I’m hoping with all my heart that getting my Vitamin D levels up will resolve these health issues that I’ve been battling for years!

  52. claudia says:

    for along time ive felt like my body is just not right, alsways have GI issues, always feel tired and grouchy, I feel like im super forgetful, my levels were 14, ive started taking 5000u daily but haven’t really noticed a difference, but its only been a week. any other suggestions?

  53. Margaret says:

    I went for about 6 months with undiagnosed low Vitamin D levels. When it was discovered that the low level was the source of many of my health issues (fatigue, confusion, muscle pain/weakness) my level was at 18 ng. I am on meds and hopefully on the mend. How long can I expect it to take to be feeling myself again. It has been 5 weeks and while I see some improvements, my muscle strength still has a long way to go.

  54. Dr E says:

    Hi both Claudia and Margaret
    Both your levels are really low!
    Ask you doctor to prescribe vit D in the 50,000 IU tablet, taken weekly and to check your levels every 6-8 weeks.Otherwise it can take months to get your levels back to normal

  55. Dwight Turner says:

    I have been checked for Vit. D levels and they are at 7.7. My doc put me on 50,000 once per week. Problem is, the pill just knocks me out, makes me non functional for several days. Will 5000 per day help? I live in Alabama.

    Dwight

  56. Dr. R says:

    Dwight. Sure try 5,000 or 10,000/day and get sunlight and/or light box exposure. Check vitamin D levels again in 6-8 weeks.

  57. Deanna says:

    My Vitamin D level is extremely low. My Dr prescribed 50,000 units of vitamin D2 once a week for 8 weeks. My husband had the same issue and the same Dr and he was given vitamin D3. My question is, which one is better, D2 or D3? I have read that there are more side effects with D2 and that most people take D3. I have tried to figure out why I was given D2 instead of D3. Which would you recommend? Thanks, Deanna

  58. Dr. R says:

    Deanna. We usually recommend D3 as it is the form that is made by human skin when exposed to sunlight.

  59. Greg says:

    Dr. R,
    Thank you for this very helpful article. I have had symptoms of fatigue, muscle and body aches, brain fog, and headaches. Also, neuropathy on my left side. September 2016 my Vitamin D level was 30. I was told no worries but got it rechecked by a different doctor in February 2017 and it was 10. Dr advised 5000ius and I’m taking the liquid gel form for 1 week.
    My questions are will the naturemade liquid gels work well enough? Should I take any other supplements to help with absorbing? Everyone is different, but assuming D deficiency is my issue, how long will it take to build up to potentially reduce symptoms?

  60. paulrubin says:

    Greg. If you’ve got a vitamin D level of 10, it may take some time for improvement. Assuming there are no other medical issues, we usually recommend 5000 IU’s/day for 6 weeks and then get your levels re-checked.

  61. Lil says:

    My vitamin d level is 25. I hurt muscle pain, fatigue. No energy, muscular pain severe. How long will it take, taking 5000ui of vitamin d to feel better? And vitamin d levels in a safe zone.

  62. cliffmaurer says:

    Hi Lil –

    Very difficult to tell. Typically we like to ensure that a patient’s levels (when they are low to start) increase over about 8-12 weeks. However your symptoms are likely related to more than just a low vitamin D level. Please be certain that you have a good working relationship with the medical provider who is helping you, and ensure that she or he is looking at all of your symptoms in the context of your history. Likely there is more than a simply low vitamin D level to blame here, so best to have a complete picture.

    Best,
    Dr M

  63. Greg says:

    While in an ideal world our doctor would work well with us, I find that generally that is not the case with many of the doctors I have seen. Mine, for example, has not looked at all into why my Vitamin D is low. Also, I found helpful info on forums like this one about Magnesium. Lil, I suggest you read about Magnesium and Vitamin D here.
    https://www.easy-immune-health.com/Normal-Vitamin-D-level.html
    I’ve been taking Magnesium as well as a Magnesium bath (Epson salts), and I feel like it’s calmed down my muscles which were a little achy and very twitchy. I really hope that helps and if your doctor isn’t giving you answers, ask your family and friends if you should change doctors.

  64. Sandy says:

    Hello,
    I recently had my D level checked, which was 8.3. The doctor prescribed 50,000IU D2 weekly, but I went ahead and purchased D3. My doctor said that I won’t have to recheck my levels, which I find very surprising.
    I’d been experiencing worsening nightly foot cramps and a stiff neck that I oftentimes have to crack or stretch in order to improve the stiffness. Am hoping that D3 will help with the stiff neck as well as the foot cramps.
    If my doctor won’t recheck my D levels, at what point should I switch from the weekly 50K IU dosage onto a maintenance amount?
    Had a bone density scan today to see if my low levels have negatively impacted my bone density as all. Since this is the first time I’ve ever had my D level drawn, I could have been D deficient for a very long time.

  65. Dr.R says:

    Hi Sandy. Without retesting to determine your vitamin D levels, it’s just guess-work as to when to move to a maintenance dose.

  66. Beverly says:

    Sandy, mine was 6.3 and it has taken almost three years to get it up to 28. I wouldn’t take the Rx and the D3 at the same time. I did that and it caused headaches, constipation and lowered my magnesium. Finish the Rx first. During the three years they have tested mine at least three times and given me three prescriptions. Warmer weather is here, make a point to spend time in the sun each day. I am going to make that effort even though I work nights/sleep days and avoid the sun because I have vitiligo.

  67. Dominique says:

    Hi! I work in a medical practice and we see patients with low vitamin D all the time. Across all providers, they generally prescribe 50,000 IU D2 once a week for 8 weeks, and then 2000 IU D3 once a day for 8 months or until the patient’s next physical to recheck levels since it takes a while for your body to absorb the vitamin D.

  68. Bridgette O'Malley says:

    My Vitamin D level was an 8. I have been taking 50,000 units once a week for 5 weeks. I will be on that dose for 12 weeks. I am 64 years old, female.I live in the rainy NW. I have SADD and do light box therapy 9 months a year. I have a whole host of problems from the lack of Vit. D but the depression has been the worst in years. I need to feel better. I do believe EVERYTHING in the article. I have been spending time in the sun for the last 3 years without sunscreen every day.

  69. Dr. R says:

    Hi Bridgette. It may take some time for your vitamin D levels to elevate so try to be patient. I’d also recommend speaking with your PCP to rule out other possible causes for the depression since you’ve apparently been living with it for some time. In addition, you might look into a gentle restorative yoga class or a beginner tai chi class. Both will get you moving and have an energetic component that might be helpful.

  70. Adam Endress says:

    My levels were at 39 when recently checked and I was wondering if it would be safe for me to take 5,000 D3 to get my level up to at least 50-60. I read a few places that you really want over 50-60, is that true?

  71. Dr. R says:

    Hi Adam. It is typically safe to supplement with 5,000IU’s of D3. Check with your PCP and get retested in 6 weeks. 60 is a good target.

  72. Sue Malloy says:

    My Vitamin D2 was <4 and Vit D3 was 56. I take vitamin D3 2000 IU daily. Do I need to do anything different since my D2 level was low?

  73. Nicole says:

    Hello, I’ve just had some blood work done and it turns out I am quite Vitamin D deficient. My level is a 12. I’ve had some symptoms for months (especially muscle weakness in the legs for a good few months – but put it down to being rather sedentary for my job lately, and not quite having enough time to exercise like I was).

    My doctor has put me on 4000 IU a day until my levels start to increase. My question is, approx. how long does it take for levels to increase, and also before I start to regain some of the strength in my legs again. Thanks in advance….

  74. Dr. R says:

    Nicole. Everyone is going to respond differently. Vitamin D levels should be checked again in 6-8 weeks. If your symptoms are related to the vitamin D deficiency, you should begin to improve in that time frame as well.

  75. A. Fay DeVeau says:

    My physician directed me to take 5,000 IU’s of Vitamin D3 daily which created problems for my 114 pound body. I am 79 years old. I have vertigo, and my prescription eye drops have a side effect of dizziness. Problems that I experienced with Vitamin D3 were: extreme dizziness and bloating, almost zero energy, no appetite, aching joints, headaches, and a rapid heart beat. I have tried taking smaller quantities, but anything over 800 IU’s per day appears to be too much for my system.

  76. Dr E says:

    Hi Ms DeVeau
    For decades 800 IU was considred the best maintenance dose. I would return to it and have your D level recheck in 8-12 weeks or so

  77. Allie says:

    My level is 24.7 and my Doctor said to take 3000IU per day. Is that enough?

  78. Dr. R says:

    We usually recommend 3-5,000 in the summer months when people are getting sun exposure as well. Have your levels checked again in 8-10 weeks.

  79. anne cates says:

    I am 75.. months ago, with 5000 it d daily, i built my d level to 95, with a blood check. Then i changed brands, still taking the same amount. Over the next 3 months it fell to 18. I went back to the orinal brand and incr3ased daily intake to 15,00 daily over 3 months. 2 days ago, a new blood check my blood level at at 150. Obviously, i want to bring it back down, so i stopped intake entirely.. but for how long? At some point i plan to begin 5,ooo daily again. I have untreated small cell lung cancer and am just fine for now. I want my immune system at peak performance. I,d really appreciate an answer. Thanks.

  80. Dr E says:

    Hi Anne
    Whatever the original brand was, you want to avoid it. High Vitamin D predisposes to kidney stones, something you’re best off avoiding.
    I have found a wide variation in Vitamin D products in terms of absorption and a variety in how people absorb the same brand.
    So far, I find Thorne D at 5,000 IU a day to be good BUT don’t take any D for at least a month to bring your toxic levels down

  81. Alex says:

    My vitamin D level was a 23 I have been prescribed 5,000iu a day. How long can I expect before I am back into normal range?

  82. Chris says:

    My Doctor has had me on 50,000 IU weekly for 15 months and just now told me to stop because my vitamin D in my blood was to high reading all the comments, it seems like he had me on it for to long.

  83. Dr. R says:

    Alex. Check your blood levels in about six to eight weeks.

  84. Laura says:

    Hi i have a question about my vitamin d levels

  85. Lyn Hull says:

    Hi, I’ve recently had surgery to remove bowel cancer & just started my 1st round of chemo. Unfortunately 7 days into taking the meds i developed a racing heart/left arm pain & had to stop all meds. My blood tests revealed my vitamin D level was 20 instead of the base line 60. Has anyone else had these sorts of problems? 16 days after stopping chemo meds, i still have almost continual rapid heart that i have to take other meds for. Just curious if low levels do cause tachycardia & if the symptoms will go away? I had an angiogram & ECG-all thankfully, came back as clear & a strong heart. Just want to be able to live well & hope the heart racing is just to do with low vit D. Thanks in advance.

  86. Dr E says:

    Hi Lyn
    You’ll need to discuss your symptoms with your oncologist. Some forms of chemo have this as a side effect and he’ll probably know what you should do (if anything)

  87. Lyn Hull says:

    Thank you Dr. E., I had a brief chat with the cancer unit nurse today. They were going to look at raltitrexed for my next therapy but being in Australia it doesn’t look like its available. It seems the only option they are giving me is to go back on the capecitabine -its either that or just take my chances theres no microscopic spread.

  88. Eddie says:

    My levels are at 15 my doctor said to take 2000 IU daily for an unspecified time and didn’t want a follow up to retest. I have been feeling down and in pain for well over 20 years, it started when I was 22. I lived in Alaska for over 20 years. Is 2000 enough, should I be concerned with levels at 15?

  89. Dr. R says:

    Eddie. We usually recommend 5000 IU daily. Symptom improvements should occur as lab numbers rise. Retest in 30-45 days.

  90. Eddie says:

    I appreciate the information Dr. R. are levels at 15 ish for several years and bad thing? I’ve been feeling horrible for a very long time.

  91. Dr. R says:

    Eddie. We like to see vitamin levels at 40+

  92. Angie says:

    Very tired, sore all the time felt like Mono again (had years ago) Vit D 14 .. taking VD3 50,000 once a week will recheck in 2 months. Why did my PCP give D3 and not D2 like some others received? Does it make a difference? I will call tomorrow and ask if it does? I have to go in anyways in the afternoon.

  93. Kat says:

    My level was 28 after I went to the doctor with increasing anxiety that felt physical, bad back ache for no reason, foot cramps, and GI issues, low appetite, cognitive issues, weakness, and headaches. Is it possible that a level of 28 could cause these problems? It’s been distinctly different and I do have a sensitive system in general to hormonal changes. Thank you.

  94. Dr E says:

    Hi Kat
    Low D can cause those symptoms but so can a dozen other conditions, almost all of which are correctable with dietary changes and nutritional supplements. Start by getting your D in the 40-50 range

  95. Edwin Julyan says:

    I am from South Africa and have been experiencing similar problems Vit D Def. Tests reflected as follows:
    2010 – Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and Idiopathic Hypersomnia – Lost my job.
    Jul 2016 – 16 – Weekly 50,000 units prescribed.
    Oct 2016 – 24 – Dosage changed to 5,000 units daily with Magnesium intake.
    Jan 2017 – 15 – No further meds taken as it was not absorbed.
    Since diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetics as well. Also on 200mg Serdep depression pills.
    Any advice!!

  96. Dr E says:

    Hi Edwin
    Idiopathic hypersomnia is generally not part D deficiency. Have your levels recheck because these should be normal.
    Best treat is the ADD med Adderall

  97. Glenda Olvera says:

    Is it ok to take Magnesium while taking Vitamin D? 50,000. I was just diagnosed as vitamin D deficient(18) I also am on Hydroxyurea for Polycithemia vera

  98. cliffmaurer says:

    Hi Glenda – Magnesium supplementation is generally safe but you should check with whomever prescribes your other medication to be sure.
    Dr M

  99. Sandra L Schatzer says:

    I have Vitamin level of 11. I just took one pill of 50,000 units of vitamin d2…I am concerned that I should take d3 and not 2. But, my doctor said to try this and recheck in 3 months. what do you think? also how long will it take to get my level up?

  100. Gary says:

    How much vitamin k2 should I take
    With 4,000 IU daily.I heard that you can’t take vitamin d3 alone cause it may cause hardening of the arteries.

  101. Patricia Crosdale says:

    I have a vitamin D level of 28, and mgus paraprotein of 17.88, risen from 16.1, 9 months ago. Started taking liquid vitamin D3 3/4 weeks ago, could it help lower the mgus factor? Also struggling with weight. No other myeloma markers in the blood apart from the raised mgus. Am also taking turmeric in powder form, made into a milky drink each day. Is there anything further I need to do? Many thanks.

  102. Janice says:

    Could you comment on the Vitamin K2 association with Vitamin D. I am taking Calcium/Magnesium along with Vitamin D drops. Initially taking Vitamin D was because I tested low and the Cal/Mag was to help prevent bone loss. I’ve read that it takes all four: Cal/Mag, Vitamin D and K2 to prevent the bone loss. What would you recommend? Also how often would you recommend using a tanning bed and how long should each session be (fair skin).

  103. Dr E says:

    Patricia
    Your D is low at 28 so you need to continue your D until you are in the 50’s. This may benefit your mgus but most often mgus are completely harmless. Most people with high mgus do not develop disease
    Janice
    K2 is useful for bone development. Alan Gaby’s Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis called attention to this 25 years ago. Despite internet ads to the contrary, there is no such thing as a safe tanning bed

  104. Julie says:

    I’m glad my Dr is from Canada & I lucked across him. I’m 58 now, but a few years ago I started having hip problems. The x-rays showed some small osteoarthritis taken because I had a bad fall. Eventually I couldn’t stretch my leg to get out of the car without pain which would generate pain for hours or days & most days it was painful to walk or sit. Everybody would tell me I was getting old. I remember thinking on days when it was really bad that I wasn’t interested in getting to 65 & how did I get old in just a few years? My Vit D level was 22. Within 8 days I noticed that my hips weren’t hurting & I could walk without pain, I can get out of the car without pain, too. My muscles are still really weak, but I can get down on the floor 3 times now & don’t need help getting up (there was never pain with this move just muscle weakness). I am on 50000 iu’s of D3 a day & I take another blood test in 4 weeks. I could have believed articles that I’ve read that 22 is a good #. It’s certainly not for me. I’m walking sometimes a mile (not everyday due to muscle weakness) & I can manage a total of 3 min on a stairstepper. I used to be able to do 40 min. It would have been interesting to check after 2 weeks when the pains had disappeared to see what my level read. I started getting rashes, hives & being sick all of the time which is what prompted the Dr visit. Rashes are almost gone & hives have not come back. Whether this is related to D deficiency or not I don’t know. I just wanted to put out a testimony as there is so much controversy out there about D & you hear more questions than testimonies. I don’t know what my optimum level of D will be, but I will be on D the rest of my life as I am sold & I’m glad that this Dr checked & I never told him about my pains.

  105. Lisa says:

    I am 48 years old and recently diagnosed with Hasimotos/Hypothyroidism. My VIT D level is 14. I’ve been taking 50,000 units of D3 gel capsule per week for three months and my number is still 14. Would the liquid do better than the gel caps? Is the hashimoto causing the low VITD? I have also been going in the sun a few times a week with no results. I have joint, bone pain and extreme fatigue.

  106. Dr. R says:

    Lisa. There are a number of reasons why vitamin D levels do not respond to oral supplementation. I’d recommend that you speak with your physician who prescribed the high dose vitamin D to determine what your issue might be. However, handling the Hashimoto’s disease is paramount.

  107. Karen says:

    I am 58 and recently diagnosed with a vitamin D level of 15. One of my symptoms has been heart palpations. Are they related to the vitamin D deficiency?

  108. Dr. R says:

    Hi Karen. Speak with your primary care physician regarding the heart palpations and the low vitamin D. You definitely need to raise your vitamin D levels with oral supplementation (5,000 – 10,000 IU’s/day) for 6 weeks or so then recheck your labs prior to continuing.

  109. Amy says:

    Hi there,

    Do you still recommend the Bio Tech D Multion product?
    (Liquid d3)

    Thanks in advance!
    Amy

  110. Wanda barnhart says:

    Am 81, v it bit d at 12, high calcium at 10.6. Is it safe to take suplimental vit D?will that raise calcium to dangerous levels?

  111. Dr. R says:

    Hi Wanda. I’d speak with your primary care physician as a vitamin D level of 12 is very low and she might recommend vitamin D injections to more quickly raise your levels.

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