Here are some of the signs associated with Vitamin D deficiency:

  • Getting sick/ infections often
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Depression
  • Bone & back pain
  • Hair loss
  • Bone loss
  • Impaired wound healing

Vitamin D is a hormonal vitamin, which means cells have receptor sites dedicated for vitamin D. All human cells have some attachment sites for vitamin D on their surfaces. Vitamin D is able to attach to these binding site and influence cellular activity. While the totality of vitamin D in every organ is not yet fully understood, it is known we need it to maintain bone and blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.

A deficiency of vitamin D leads to bone loss, and increases the rate of falls with fracture, especially in the elderly. We know vitamin D supports immune function because deficiencies lead to increased rates of the flu and colds.

It also regulates inflammation, decreases the rates autoimmune diseases and cancer, and promotes cellular maturation. Deficiency in vitamin D is linked to depression, and it is used in the production of neurotransmitters. Vitamin D is needed for a variety of different metabolic pathways in the body, yet many seem to not get enough of it.

This leads to the issue of dosing when it comes to supplementing with vitamin D. For a very long time, 400 IU was considered sufficient, however this number is too low for most adults. As more research has been put into the matter by researchers, large institutional organizations, and health care practitioners, most agree adults need roughly 800 IU at minimum.

Most practitioners agree somewhere between 1,200 IU and 2,000 IU is the optimal range to increase vitamin D levels to normal levels long-term. Doses up to 2,000 IU have been researched to be safe for long-term use. If you want to use a higher daily dose, you should do so only under the guidance of your health care provider.

Your provider can monitor blood levels of vitamin D to optimize dosage specifically for you to help you achieve the best results. They can also help guide you when purchasing supplements, since quality, as with other supplements, can be an issue. If you are taking digoxin, you want to be cautious when taking vitamin D. Taking both of these simultaneously can raise blood calcium levels, which can lead to cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms).

It is important to remember exposure (but not too much) to sunlight is a fantastic way to get vitamin D. Exposing your arms, legs, and face to the sun for at least 15 minutes two to three times a week while the sun is at its highest point (10:00AM to 2:30-3:00PM) during the year except during the winter months, you should be able to maintain vitamin D levels without risking getting sunburned. If you are going to be in the sun for more than fifteen minutes, then you should wear some protection.

If you have a history of skin cancer, or have very fair skin you should absolutely limit your exposure to the sun. Other than those groups, a little sunlight will not hurt us. In fact, it can be very good for our health.

We talk more about vitamin D on our podcast here:

E12: Our Favorite Supplements (Part 1) from The Art of Eating

Hope this helps!