Vitamin D is both a vitamin (found in many foods and supplements), as well as a hormone that your body makes in response to the sun. Most people are aware it helps the body use calcium for strong bones. Some know of its importance in immune health but did you know it’s also been associated with improved metabolic, heart, mental and prenatal health.
Everyone should have their vitamin D levels checked at least once a year with your primary care physician, preferably twice. If not, you should ask for it. If you do supplement, do you know if you are absorbing it and if you’re getting enough to keep your immune system strong, especially this time of year when the sun exposure is less and immune support is a priority?
The tricky part about Vitamin D is that everyone absorbs it differently. A standard recommended dose of 2000 IU’s might be fine for someone to get them into the optimal range, but the next person might need 10,000 IU’s to get to the same level.
Here’s what to shoot for:
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports that people are at risk of vitamin D deficiency at 25-OHD levels below 30 nmol/L (12 ng/mL), and that some people — but not everyone — may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency at levels from 30 nmol/L up to 50 nmol/L (12-20 ng/mL).
The Vitamin D Council considers an optimal vitamin D level to be between 40 ng/mL and 70 ng/mL. (However, higher levels can be immunosuppressive; and may be used as a targeted therapy short-term in the case of autoimmune or other aggressive, inflammatory disease)
After supplementation starts, it’s recommended to recheck your levels in 2-3 months and adjust dose if necessary.
It’s also worth noting the body uses nutrients in a symphony. If you are taking a vitamin D supplement, adequate Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Magnesium intake are also required. Increasing Vitamin D increases the body's need for all of these nutrients. Particularly for people trying to regain bone density, Vitamin K2 supplementation along with D is vital. Magnesium is required for the body to convert Vitamin D into its final, usable form (it’s also a very common nutrient deficiency).
As the days get shorter and we don’t have much direct exposure to the sun this time of year, it pays in multiple ways to have your levels checked and in the optimal range. Don’t miss this simple opportunity to support your health and immune system. Make sure to ramp up to a proper dose, to give your body and cell receptors time to adjust.
Best food sources of Vitamin D:
Cod liver oil
(It's not recommended to rely on Vitamin D2 fortification in processed foods. D2 is an inactive form and takes up receptors that we want active Vitamin D to have available to use and thus drive cellular effects)
Luckily there is a very simple test you can do at home to see if what you are currently doing is sufficient. A simple finger prick test done in the comfort of your own home, sent to the lab with results in 5-10 days. No doctor visit necessary.
Here’s a link to order our own at home test:
Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions about the forms of these nutrients are most bio-available.