The gap between current research and clinical practice is well illustrated with the importance of Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is crucial in every disease from inhibiting cancer and heart diseases to mental disease, recurrent infections, tooth loss, osteoporosis, narcolepsy and auto-immune disease.  In fact, there are more receptors for Vitamin D in the body than for anything else except Thyroid hormone.  The importance of maintaining adequate levels can’t be over stated enough.

Over the past several years, more physicians have been ordering Vitamin D tests for their patients.  That’s the good news.  In fact, if your MD is ordering your blood tests, I recommend that you ask him or her to include vitamin D as one of the tests.  Most of them will agree to do this.

The bad news is that most MD’s use reference ranges (usually 30 – 75 nmol/l) that are based on out-dated science to determine if you have adequate levels.  Many of my patients frequently say that their MD has suggested they take no additional vitamin D, as they are in the normal range (i.e. above 30 nmol/l).  Alternatively, patients who are above this range are often told by their MD that they are taking too much vitamin D.  This advice is dangerous and puts the patient’s health in jeopardy!  Some MDs prescribe 1,000 units of vitamin D and consider this to be a substantial amount, but as I explain below, they are mistaken.

My dosage recommendations for vitamin D are based on research that has clarified the required vitamin D blood levels necessary to significantly reduce the risk of numerous diseases.  Scientists who are experts in vitamin D chemistry are now finding that the actual need for vitamin D is greater than 75 nanomols per liter (nmol/l).  Based on that research and the amount of sun a patient is exposed to (percent of time they are in the sun and not covered in clothes, or clothes plus the ubiquitous sunscreen), I usually recommend a daily dose of Vitamin D3 anywhere from 4,000 – 10,000 IU.  I follow the patient’s blood test results to see what level this amount brings them to, and based on those tests I can increase or decrease their dosage or leave it just as it is.

The really good news is that scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha have conducted new research confirming the ideal dosage of vitamin D, and it just so happens to agree with me.  It is groundbreaking research because it establishes the relationship between vitamin D dosage and circulating vitamin D levels in the blood.  They also confirmed that there were no vitamin D toxicity issues in the group of 3,600 test subjects, even in those with levels up to 200 on their blood tests

We found that daily intakes of vitamin D3 by adults in the range of 4,000 to 8,000 IU [international units] are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half, the risk of several diseases—breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis and type 2 diabetes said Dr. Cedric Garland.

The other key nutritional principle that the researchers confirmed–but that has been mostly lost, even among many alternative health practitioners—is the principle of patient individuality. This seems obvious but is rarely considered anymore.  This research clarifies that some individuals need much higher dosages than others to reach the same ideal levels of vitamin D in their blood. We really want your vitamin D levels to be in the 60-100 range to maximize protection against the many diseases that vitamin D can reduce the risk of.

Let me clarify one other very important point here:  Many writers of health-related articles, whether they are about nutrients or drugs, often misuse the term “prevent.”  What vitamin D does, when at proper levels, is “reduce” the incidence of certain diseases, however it does not “prevent” that disease from happening.  This is only the case with some specific nutrient deficiency diseases and specific amounts of a nutrient, e.g., beriberi and vitamin C, or rickets and vitamin D.

The take home message when it comes to nutrition is please don’t listen to the vast majority of MDs.  It will take many years before medicine catches up.  Basically, people who have too little vitamin D are told they have just enough, and people who think they are taking enough will be told they have too much and should cut back.  Also understand that cheap and synthetic forms in foods and nutrients lower the good level of D3, so make sure you use a quality Vitamin D3 supplement and don’t forget the value of 30 minutes of natural sunshine.  Please check with me as to a good amount for you, and then always be sure to include it on your blood test so we can make sure you are in the ideal range.

Please let me know if you have any further questions on this subject.

Yours in health,

Dr. Hall