Living in sunny southern California, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is blessed with an abundance of sunshine and the vitamin D it creates. As summer comes to an end and the shorter, darker days of winter approach, it’s more important than ever to shore up your vitamin D stores and make sure they stay in the protective range year-round.
In last week’s blog, I shared my personal supplement regimen with you. It was quickly pointed out to me that I made an important oversight: I forgot to list vitamin D, which I also take every day.
Bountiful Benefits of Vitamin D
I’ve been extolling the benefits of vitamin D for more than a decade now. High blood levels of this vitamin reduce the risk of 17 different types of cancer. Supplementation during pregnancy and infancy drastically lowers risk of type 1 diabetes in children. And—especially important during the fall and winter months—vitamin D plays an important role in flu prevention. But the list doesn’t stop there. Vitamin D is also protective against:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Autoimmune disorders
- And much, much more!
There are now more than 38,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles in the National Institutes of Health database on vitamin D. To see for yourself, Google pubmed and enter “vitamin D” in the search field. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything negative about this vitamin—and overwhelmed by the diversity of conditions for which it has been shown to be protective.
Get Some Sun, Test Your Levels, and Supplement Accordingly
So what can you do to increase your vitamin D levels naturally? Start by getting out in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes every day between 10:00 and 2:00—or longer if you’re obese or have dark skin. (Do not use sunscreen during this time, as it blocks the UVB radiation that stimulates vitamin D production in the skin, but it is a good idea to wear a hat.)
To test your blood level of vitamin D, have your (25(OH)D) checked and take enough supplemental vitamin D3 to bring it into the optimal range of 50–80 ng/mL. One easy way to keep an eye on your level is to enroll in D*action. Participants in this study receive a test kit and questionnaire in the mail every six months for five years. The cost is $65 per test kit (or you can buy a one-time test for $70). I encourage you to participate in this worthwhile study. This information will be analyzed to determine the health effects of optimal levels, something that’s rarely seen in study populations. For more information, visit joindaction.org.
Because there is no one-size-fits-all dose, I’m reluctant to give a specific dosage. However, if pushed, I would recommend daily vitamin D3 doses of 1,000 IU for infants, 2,500 IU for preteens, and 5,000 IU for adolescents and adults, with regular blood tests for all. Vitamin D3 is exceptionally safe and well tolerated.