The amount of vitamin D from all sources has long been at issue. The amount required for health as well as to treat disease has plagued us since the 1920s. Yes, that is right; for about 100 years now, we have been struggling on the amount of vitamin D that is needed for health. The main struggle was the toxicity discovered when vitamin D2 entered the picture. Large amounts were given to test subjects, as high as a 1,000,000 IU per day. This sounds like a lot, but is actually only 25 mg. Twenty-five milligrams is a small amount when comparing to other things that we consume (like aspirin at 325 mg). However, when comparing to steroids in the body, it is a huge amount. So why is it that we can’t seem to balance the benefit with the risk of supplementing or spending time in the sun? It is about the money involved in the largest segment of the US economy – healthcare.
It is amazing to me how many people still think that the normal amount of D3 that you make in the summer sun is too much. With most of your skin exposed, you will typically make about 10,000 IU (only 0.25 mg or 250 micrograms) of vitamin D3 in about twenty minutes in the mid-day summer sun. Of course this varies with skin type, body size, and the lack of production of cholesterol in the skin (if you are taking statins, you may be seriously affecting your health). We owe this misinformation directly to our medical industry. The last blow to health for our God-given source of natural vitamin D3 can be attributed to a mathematical error by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). They only got it wrong by more than a factor of ten. They stated that 600 IU per day was adequate intake for a ten pound baby as well as a three hundred pound man. Two different groups have now published papers saying that to get the population to a healthy level (20 ng/ml as described by the IOM) should be more like an average of 7,000 to 8,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 from all sources.
We typically get about 2,000 to 4,000 IU equivalent per day of vitamin D3 from the sun, natural diets, and food fortification. This means to achieve a level above 20 ng/ml of 25(OH)D, you would have to supplement (on average) with about 4,000 IU of D3. Again, this depends on body weight and personal absorption of supplemented vitamin D3. But the bad news is that the IOM stated they were only concerned about bone health which they believed that 20 ng/ml was adequate because this prevents rickets. So, what about heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and a host of autoimmune diseases? Most doctors and scientist now believe that a healthy level of 25(OH)D is 50 to 70 ng/ml.
- Bone Health to prevent rickets – Above 20 ng/ml.
- Healthy level to prevent disease – 50 to 70 ng/ml.
- To treat disease – 70 to 90 ng/ml.
- Above the normal range is exceeding 100 ng/ml.
- Toxicity starts at about 200 ng/ml – that is a huge safety factor! Typically you would have to supplement with 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for months without missing a day to reach this level.
How do we know that 70 to 90 ng/ml will treat disease? There was a medical practice that decided to take all of their patients to 70 to 90 ng/ml. The office visits went from an average of four per patient per year to one visit per patient per year. Here is the video by Vitamin D Wiki that describes this as well as the need for vitamin D3. Take the time to watch it as it is very informative – “Vitamin D in Five Minutes.”
Can you just imagine what that would do to the medical economy in America if all people were at an average of 60 ng/ml (at this level, we should be able to reduce our health insurance and health visits by huge amounts – Oh, sorry, medical-industrial complex)? Can you imagine how healthy everyone would be? The key to being healthy is not how much you take; it is a healthy level of vitamin D3 as 25(OH)D.
Please note that if you are using the typical prescription form of vitamin D as vitamin D2, do not exceed a 25(OH)D level of 50 ng/ml (test for 25(OH)D include a sum of D2 and D3). If you do, then your health will decline. This has been the conundrum since the medical profession declared that vitamin D3 was equal to vitamin D2 in the 1930s. If your doctor prescribes vitamin D2, then request a change to vitamin D3. Fifty thousand IU capsules are readily available from BioTech Pharmacal. Believe it or not, a 100 count bottle is only $30. This would be a two year supply if you take one per week for an average of 7,140 IU per day.
How much should you supplement? It depends on your time in the sun, how much grass fed meat you eat (sun exposed animals have significantly higher levels of vitamin D as 25(OH)D, particularly in the summer months and lower latitudes – give me Texas and Florida beef), and how much you are getting from fortified food. As a rule of thumb, you may want to start supplementing at about 40 IU/lb. body weight/d. If you weigh 100 lb. then about 4,000 IU per day, 150 lb. about 6,000 IU per day, and 200 lb. about 8,000 IU per day. You can go to Grassroots Health and use their chart to adjust to reach your 25(OH)D goal. Of course this means serum testing. It is a small price to pay for health. I should add that the practice that adjusted their patients to 70-90 ng/ml of 25(OH)D, also suggested their patients get about three grams of vitamin C and about four mg of absorbable magnesium (not magnesium oxide) per pound body weight per day. Here is Krispin’s take on magnesium to help you understand. We are also significantly deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is the positive ion that is responsible for over 300 enzymes in the body. If you do not get enough magnesium, then you can expect diseases states as described by Krispin even with an adequate amount of vitamin D3. Heart arrhythmias with magnesium deficiency are of particular concern.
An adequate amount of all natural vitamins and minerals are necessary for health. It looks like we cannot depend on the IOM to get this right. You will have to explore on your own to determine, what an adequate intake of all vitamins and minerals is. Natural vitamins A, B, C, D, and E are all important. Minerals include: magnesium, potassium, sodium, calcium, zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfate, iron, and many other minor minerals like boron, chromium, and manganese – and many others. Our health authorities have gotten this wrong on so many levels. The folic acid debacle is an example of a man-made molecule that has now become the standard of supplementation for folate (eat your greens). There is about one third of the population that cannot convert folic acid into a bioactive form. I personally have to be careful with foods (primarily grains) that are fortified with folic acid to keep my intake below 600 mcg/d. Otherwise, I just feel miserable.
Spend a reasonable amount of time in the sun this summer. The goal is to not get burned. If you start your sunning experience with a small amount of time and then increase, you will allow your skin’s melanin to adequately develop (tanning) so as to shield you from burns. When you have spent a responsible amount of time in the sun then cover yourself with clothing and hats that will stop the UV rays. If that is not possible, then sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide will block and reflect the rays (similar to a mirror).
The dangers of standard sunscreens are enormous. They are better than they used to be as now sunscreen has to block both UVA and UVB or state otherwise on the label (before, they typically only blocked UVB which was reradiated in the UVA range). But what happens to the incident energy of both UVB and UVA? It typically is absorbed at other wavelengths that may not be beneficial to health. The greatest danger of sunscreen is to put it on before any sun exposure, thus blocking the formation of vitamin D3. Why is there not a warning label on all sunscreen products stating this hazard? First sun, after an adequate amount of time before burning, then apply sun reflecting products, put on clothing, or get out of the sun. – Pandemic Survivor