Should I be taking a Vitamin D supplement?
Updated: Apr 13
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins in our body. It keeps our bones strong, helps with calcium absorption, keeps our glands working appropriately, plays a critical role in our immune system, helps protect against heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, and even helps prevent some types of cancers.
Vitamin D occurs naturally in many foods, but unfortunately not in terribly high concentration, which is why some foods are fortified with extra vitamin D. Most of our Vitamin D is converted from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, studies indicate that for the majority of people living north of Missouri the amount and type of sunlight we get is insufficient to provide for adequate levels of vitamin D.
People with low Vitamin D often experience symptoms that may mimic depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or may manifest as muscle weakness, poor sleep, low energy and brain fog. A simple blood draw can tell you if your vitamin D level is low. Reference ranges often indicate normal values of 30-90, however therapeutic/recommended values would be 60 to100. Foods high in vitamin D include cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, sardines, beef liver, and fortified orange juice or milk--not things most of us consume a lot of, so we recommend supplementation with quality vitamins for most of our patients.
Depending on your diet and needs, most people would benefit from 2500 to 5000 IU a day of vitamin D3, which must be taken with fatty food or suspended in oil as it is a fat soluble vitamin and will not absorb otherwise. Children should get 400-1500 IU a day. If you have any questions about your vitamin D levels or ways of supplementing, don't hesitate to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
~Dr. Lawrence Hutchison, MD