Happy healthy women in the sun getting vitamin D

Vitamin D and the Empowered Patient

What’s your vitamin D level? How do you know if you’re getting enough? If you eat a balanced and healthy diet, could you still have a vitamin D deficiency? The quick answer—yes. Let’s examine how important this nutrient is, in order to feel empowered and make wise decisions regarding your nutrition and supplement routine.

Since insurance companies rarely cover vitamin D lab testing, you might not realize the importance of this essential nutrient. Here at Integrate Internal Medicine, we believe that optimizing this nutrient level is crucial for your health as it strengthens your immune system, regulates metabolism, governs hormone production, improves mental health, and even helps to prevent cancer. 

While it’s easy to assume vitamin D deficiency is uncommon during the sunny summer months, my clinical experience shows otherwise. Perhaps this is because we’re told to lather up with sunscreen or wear the latest UPF 50+ shirt to block sun exposure. Genetics play a role as some individuals don’t synthesize vitamin D as readily as others. Thus, testing your vitamin D level is an important step toward empowerment.

What’s an optimal vitamin D level? Traditional guidelines state that vitamin D levels above 30 international units (IU) are sufficient. However, there’s ample research suggesting 30 IU is too low to support overall health. Unfortunately, achieving a vitamin D level greater than 50 IU—which is ideal—is difficult via diet alone. Fatty fish like salmon, is a great source of vitamin D, especially when wild-caught. Other good sources of dietary vitamin D include sardines and egg yolks. 

How much vitamin D should I take? This depends on several factors, including your baseline vitamin D level, body habitus, and underlying genetic code. While the accepted recommended intake for vitamin D is just 400 IU daily, clinical evidence suggests that aiming for 2,000 IU daily in summer and 5,000 IU daily in winter may be necessary to optimize health, especially in our northern climate. 

While there’s a risk of taking too much vitamin D, it’s extremely rare and I’ve never seen it in my clinical practice. Excess vitamin D can lead to a condition called hypercalcemia, which is too much calcium in the bloodstream. Working closely with your healthcare provider and monitoring your nutrient levels will help ensure you don’t over-consume vitamin D. 

Are you interested in discovering what your nutrient levels are? Schedule a consult with Dr. Kate today and become empowered through personalized laboratory testing and treatment recommendations. We offer both member and non-member consultations. Let’s work together to optimize your health.

The Empowered Patient

-Dr. Kate

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