Supplementing with Vitamin D
Supplementation with vitamin D is recommended if your vitamin D level is below 45ng/mL or if you are one of the many people who have trouble converting vitamin D into the active form.
Of the two types of vitamin D, D3 is the preferred form for supplementation, as it is superior in its ability to raise and sustain the blood and tissue level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. While vitamin D3 supplements are available over the counter at any pharmacy, drugstore, or supermarket, it’s important to consider the dose you need, and the source, before purchasing just any supplement.
Vitamin D3 supplements are dosed in IUs (International Units). Oftentimes, people may be inclined to take high doses such as 10,000-50,000 IUs, either for therapeutic effect or to correct a deficiency, but I disagree with that approach. First, there is no such thing as such a high dose of vitamin D from nature. Even if you spend an entire day in the sun, you wouldn’t receive that amount of vitamin D.
Secondly, Vitamin D is a fat soluble substance, meaning it is absorbed along with the fats we eat, and can be stored in our body fat. This makes it much more difficult for the body to get rid of excess vitamin D, and if too much builds up it can lead to toxicity.
For most people, a serving of 5,000 IUs once daily is safe and helpful, and aligns with what we might naturally obtain.
There are thousands of over the counter options for vitamin D3 supplementation, but just as important as taking the right dose, is finding the right supplement. Sadly, supplement companies are not regulated in the same way that pharmaceutical companies are. This means that the quality, safety, and efficacy of supplements can vary vastly across brands.
I recommend looking for professional, name brands that use strict quality control and independent testing to ascertain there are no toxins or harmful fillers in their products, and that the ingredients listed on the bottle are consistent with each batch produced. Designs For Health is one reputable brand with an excellent vitamin D supplement that I use in my practice. They have both a liquid, Emulsi D3 Synergy, and a small capsule option, Vitamin D Supreme!