I know, I know. You already know everything about vitamin D (mainly because you ALWAYS read this blog).
Besides, your doctor has already checked your vitamin D and (almost assuredly) told you that your levels were low and you need to take 10,000 of prescription vitamin D once a week. Or maybe he or she just told you to run to the store and buy your own and take 1,000 IUs per day.
And, since you have heard that vitamin D does everything from protect you from cancer to making your lawn greener, you dutifully ran out and complied. But was this the best course?
Here are a few things to note that your doctor might not be aware of:
- If your doctor checked your levels, you can rest assured he or she is at least a decade behind the researchers who say not to bother—everyone’s low so just supplement everyone (with very few exceptions).
- While the labs say you should be over 20 ng/dl, this is NOT optimal. Optimal is recognized by vitamin D experts as being between 60-100 ng/dl.
- The prescription forms of vitamin D (which are usually vitamin D2, NOT the D3 form) just don’t budge blood levels very much. Don’t waste your time, money or health.
- If you’ve had your gallbladder out or have had bypass surgery, there is NO way you’re going to absorb a vitamin D that’s not emulsified (and few are).
- There are many factors that go into how much vitamin D you should take, but I can almost guarantee that, if your bloodwork has been low, 1,000 or even 2,000 ain’t going to get you to optimal. Most I have come across need 4, 6 or even 10,000 per day to get up to optimal levels.
- If you are at optimal levels, you’re in a very, very small elite group. Consider yourself a 1-percenter.
Despite, all the evidence and concern floating around everywhere about vitamin D, how could a mere 1% of the population reach optimal levels?? Before you think it’s unreasonable to think the number is so low, I can count on a single hand how many times I’ve seen patient bloodwork in the optimal range.
This particular study drives this point home. In it, researchers looked at 14,641 men and women aged 42–82 years who were living in England (arguably a less-than-sunny location). They were put into 5 groups based on their initial blood levels of total 25(OH)D (less than 12, 12-20, 20-28, 20-36 and more than 36 ng/dl). Here’s the details of what they found after following them for 13 years:
- The average vitamin D levels was 23 ng/dl.
- Participants risk of dying from any cause went lower as the vitamin D levels went higher than the lowest group (16% lower in the 2nd group, 28% lower in the next level up, 29% next and 34% lower risk of dying in the group with the highest vitamin D levels.
- To put this into perspective, for every 8-ng/dl increase in 25(OH)D in the blood, there was an 8% lower risk of dying from any cause, 4% lower risk of having heart disease, 11% lower risk of being diagnosed with a respiratory disease and 11% lower risk of having a fracture.
- There was, however, no change in the risk of total cancers (although I would not be surprised, given past research, if we saw a lower risk with certain cancers if looked at individually).
- Those who had levels above 36 ng/dl where the least likely to die.
- Less than 1% of the population studied had vitamin D levels above >48 ng/dl.
I think we could run this same study anywhere in the world and get similar results with similar percentages of protection as well as similar levels of very low vitamin D levels.
It’s time to take the 6 factors noted above and take action. In our office, we offer Biotics brand emulsified vitamin D that is ridiculously inexpensive (otherwise I’d be writing this from first class…). Most patients spend around $20 PER YEAR for a top-quality vitamin D and even have to share it with their family so that it doesn’t expire before they use it all.
THAT is a good bang for your buck.