One problem that I see with my patients when it comes to Vitamin D supplementation is that they know their levels are low, and therefore are supplementing, but usually don’t have their levels re-checked.
Most people take a standard recommended dose of 2,000 IU/day of Vitamin D3, although for most people, that is not enough to raise your Vitamin D levels a significant amount. Many people find that supplementing 5,000 IU/day in the winter is a better amount, some even need to take as much as ten thousand per day (although I never recommend that amount without monitoring your levels with testing).
To aid absorption, Vitamin D should be taken with a health fat, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, people who are obese have lower absorption rates and need to supplement more, perhaps because of adipose tissue (fat) up taking the Vitamin D. Our bodies hold onto Vitamin D, so you shouldn’t take excessive amounts (>5,000 IU/day) for long periods of time (>6 months) without having your levels checked, or consulting with your doctor.
Why should you take it?
- Vitamin D helps build stronger bones.
- It also may lower risk of developing the flu, as it plays an important role in regulating our T-cells (immune cells). Who couldn’t use that this time of year?
- It is widely accepted that Vitamin D lifts your mood. Many studies show that people with depression and fibromyalgia report less symptoms when taking Vitamin D. The decreased sun exposure, and therefore decreased Vitamin D production in the winter months is believed to contribute to SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
- It may decrease your risk of heart disease. Mounting evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency could be linked to several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
- Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is prevalent. Studies vary in reporting these rates, but generally agree that it is a widespread issue. For children, I have seen estimates from 50% to 70% deficient and for adults between 40% and 50%.
Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies naturally produce Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. The winter light, more time indoors, and the increasing use of sunscreen all contribute to lower levels of Vitamin D.
I always recommend requesting to have your levels checked so that you have a baseline to start. It is equally important to have them re-checked after a period of time and adjust your supplementation as necessary.