With cancer rates on the rise year after year (2/3 of women and 1/2 of men), it is important to do whatever you can to reduce your risks. One very easy and cost effective way to cut your chances of developing cancer is to take a daily vitamin D3 supplement. The problem here however, is how much do you need? This is a question that sparks wide debate among healthcare experts and societies. Fortunately some new studies provides valuable information about just how much vitamin D to take in order to reach optimal levels.
According to statistics, three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D. According to findings published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, this trend marks a dramatic increase in the amount of vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. Between 1988 and 1994, 45 percent of people had 30 nanograms per milliliter or more of vitamin D, the blood level a growing number of doctors consider sufficient for overall health; a decade later, just 23 percent of those surveyed had at least that amount. Even more alarming is that only 3 percent of African Americans had sufficient levels for overall health.
What makes this topic even more confusing is the variability of what doctors consider to be optimal blood lab results for vitamin D. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) a vitamin D level of 20 ng/mL or higher is considered adequate for good bone health, and subsequently a level below 20 was considered a vitamin D deficiency. But in 2011, the Endocrine Society issued a report urging a higher minimum blood level of vitamin D. They concluded: “Based on all the evidence, at a minimum, we recommend vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL, and because of the vagaries of some of the assays, to guarantee sufficiency, we recommend between 40 and 60 ng/mL for both children and adults.”
To make matters even more confusing, the most recent opinion published in the New England Journal of Medicine by several of the leading epidemiologists and endocrinologists who were on the original IOM committee argue for a lowering of the currently accepted cut off level of 20ng/mL. Based on their analysis, a more appropriate cutoff for vitamin D deficiency would be much lower, 12.5 ng/mL.
When it comes to vitamin D, I look to the research presented by many functional medicine experts. I believe that Levels of 50 ng/ml to 80 ng/ml are considered optimal (with an upper limit of 100 ng/mL).
To achieve these levels you need to take into consideration your genetics, BMI, skin tone, climate, and diet. According to researchers people with normal body mass index needed 6,000 IU of cholecalciferol (D3) a day to reach levels over 40 ng/ml. Overweight individuals needed 7,000 IU daily to reach the same level, while obese participants needed 8,000.
The best determinant for your particular need is to get tested. A simple vitamin D blood test will reveal your vitamin D levels. If you are low, I recommend start supplementing with 5,000 IU per day and re-test in 2 months. Keep raising your supplement dose until you achieve your optimal levels. Keep in mind that you will require more vitamin D during the winter months and less during the summer months.
If you or someone you know is suffering with a health complaint, or if you want to get your vitamin D tested, give Stanly Wellness Center a call at 980-355-7600. We offer FREE 15 minute health consultations for all new patients. We look forward to helping you and your family.