Demystifying “D” – Your Health Detective

How Much is Enough?

Currently the U.S. RDA for Vitamin D is 400 IU (international units); IU is frequently shortened to just “units.”). This amount of dosage was originally recommended to prevent rickets. It works extremely well for that disease, however, does nothing to provide protection against heart disease, cancer, type 1 diabetes, hypertension, colon cancer and infectious diseases.

In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled its recommended dose of Vitamin D for infants, children and adolescents; raising it from 200 to 400 units daily. Unfortunately, these new levels are still sadly inadequate. Recent research reveals that children may need ten times the newly recommended amount for optimal health benefits.

The conventional RDA recommendations as of today are:

–     400 IU for infants, children & adolescents

–     200 IU for adults up to the age of 50

–     400 IU for adults age 50-70

–     600 IU for seniors over age 70

According to the most recent integrative medical research, the recommendation is 35 IU’s of Vitamin D per pound of body weight. For example, a child weighing 40 pounds would need 1,400 IUs daily, an adult weighing 140 lbs. would need 4,900 IUs daily, and a person weighing 200 lbs. would need 7,000 IUs daily…this is the guide I use for recommendations.

I’m not comfortable with generic recommendations because our needs and health are so individually complex. For instance, during my illness with leaky gut syndrome and the resulting multiple allergic responses, even 400 IUs daily made me extremely photo-sensitive and I developed huge welts from simply walking from the parking lot to my office, which was approximately 50 feet away. Many of my very compromised immuno-suppressed patients report the same symptoms from even low doses.

Recommended Testing

There are two Vitamin D tests that are currently available: 1,25 (OH)D, and 25(OH)D. The test that is recommended as an indicator of overall health is the 25(OH)D – also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. These measurements are values used in the U.S. If your test results are measured elsewhere in the world they are most likely measured in nmol/l, simply multiply the above values by 2.5 to get the correct ranges.

It’s important to remember that the above recommendations differ from what conventional medicine considers “normal,” and what integrative medicine considers optimal.

The “normal” 25-hydroxyvitamin D lab range is between 20-56 ng/ml., this conventional range is really a sign of deficiency, and is too broad to be ideal.

According to renowned integrative medicine physician Dr. Joseph Mercola, “…your Vitamin D level should never be below 32 ng/ml, and any levels below 20 ng/ml are considered serious deficiency states, increasing your risk of as many as 16 different cancers and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few. The optimal level that you’re looking for is 50-65 ng/ml. This range applies to everyone; children, adolescents, adults and seniors.”

Vitamin D3 vs D2

Basically, there are two types of Vitamin D supplements.

–     D3 (cholecalciferol), is natural and basically the same as your body makes when exposed to sunshine

–     D2 (ergocalciferol) is synthetic

Once the vitamin is consumed, it still must be converted to the more active form. Vitamin D3 is converted 500% faster than the D2. Vitamin D2 also has a shorter shelf-life because it metabolites and binds poorly with protein, making it less effective. I have found that if an individual has a weakened immune system or allergic responses, Vitamin D2 is better tolerated for, let’s say, 30 days and then switch to the natural better absorbed and utilized Iso-D3 . We don’t quite understand why, but I’ve seen this occur in dozens of patients. The D2 variety is the one most often prescribed by a conventional physician.

Benefits of Optimal Vitamin D Levels

According to Mercola, “As a result of flawed assumptions about sun exposure, and the subsequent recommendations, a vast majority of people are deficient in vitamin D. It’s thought that over 95 percent of U.S. senior citizens may be deficient, along with 85 percent of the general American public.” The longer this important information goes largely unnoticed, the more people will die unnecessarily from potentially preventable cancers and other diseases. Vitamin D, once linked to ONLY bone diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis, is now recognized as a major player in overall human health, particularly for:

  • Adaptive and innate immune systems
  • Secretion and regulation of insulin by the pancreas
  • Heart and blood pressure regulation
  • Muscle strength and endurance
  • Multiple brain activities
  • 36 organ tissues whose cells respond biologically to Vitamin D
    • Bone marrow
    • Breast
    • Colon
    • Intestine
    • Kidney
    • Lung
    • Prostate  
    • Retina
    • Skin
    • Stomach
    • Uterine tissues

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