What level of vitamin D should I take?
Vitamin D has hit the headlines lately and here at Orchard Barn Health we talk about it alot! There is no doubt it is important for bone health but more recent studies have also found an interesting possible link with autoimmune conditions, cancer outcomes, immunity to respiratory infections and possibly COVID prevention or outcomes. I also find in practice supplementing with Vitamin D and optimising levels can help with aches and pains, fatigue and mood.
The recommendations for Vitamin D doses and ranges can vary widely, here at Orchard Barn Health we use the Institute of Functional Medicine ranges, which state that optimum Vitamin D3 levels are between 80-125nmol/L. In the UK it is difficult to absorb sufficient UVB rays through the winter, in particular from September to March so supplementation is routinely advised at this time and for particular groups of people all year round.
People who are most likely to be at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency include:
- People with naturally brown or black skin from African, Afro-Caribbean or South Asian backgrounds.
- People who have low or no exposure to the sun. For example, those who are housebound, confined indoors or who usually wear clothes that covers up most of their skin when outdoors.
- People over the age of 65
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Babies and children aged under 4
The recommended dosage ranges vary between sources and countries. There is much debate at present about what is the correct maintenance dose and how much is needed for optimum health. I tend to advise 1000iu/ day as a reasonable maintenance dose for an adult throughout the winter, but usually do suggest a Vitamin D finger prick test which can be done via Birmingham NHS Hospital, as baseline levels can vary such a lot between different individuals, this are available from Orchard Barn Health, by clicking the link below. Over the last 15 years I have seen many people with deficiency all year round and for those with chronic health conditions this is particularly important.
There are very few food sources of Vitamin D, it is almost totally gained from sun exposure. However, foods that contain some Vitamin D include mushrooms, oily fish, egg yolks and liver.
Sustained high levels of Vitamin D above 275nmol/L have the potential to cause elevated levels of calcium in the blood. It can lead to hypercalcemia, a condition in which too much calcium builds up potentially causing calcium deposits in the arteries or soft tissues, or renal stones. Therefore Vitamin D supplements should not be taken by people with hyperparathyroidism or hypercalcaemia.
In 2017 the British Medical Journal published a meta-analysis concluding that Vitamin D supplementation was safe and that it protected against acute respiratory infection overall. Patients who were very Vitamin D deficient experienced the most benefit. Read full article by clicking here.
‘Among those receiving daily or weekly vitamin D, protective effects were strongest in those with profound vitamin D deficiency at baseline, although those with higher baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations also experienced benefit.’
We have a full range of vitamin D supplements available online or in store.