If you have gone in for a recent general checkup and had laboratory blood testing for routine purposes, there is an excellent chance that when you see the results, your Vitamin D level is marked as “low”. When your look at the normal range, you will see most likely “30-100 ng/ml”. Although I have not counted this exactly, I would bet that 95% of my patients come in with a level below 30.
Before we dive into Vitamin D, just a few words about “normal” ranges. One would think that “normal” would be a sort of Bell curve, meaning that 50% of people are below the average and 50% above that average number. If this was the case, why would so many people be labelled as “below normal”?
Okay, back to Vitamin D: This fat soluble vitamin is essential for helping the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. This, in turn, leads to normal bone building. Additionally, Vitamin D has been shown in some studies to reduce cancer risk as well as bolstering the immune system. Eating fish, milk, eggs and Vitamin fortified cereals will deliver lots of Vitamin D to you. However, vitamins containing Vitamin D will not bring any calories with them Exposure to the sunlight allows our skin to manufacture Vitamin D as well.
Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by inadequate exposure to sunlight, not ingesting enough Vitamin D in your diet and kidney problems may cause this as well. Malabsorption of Vitamin D from your diet caused by gastrointestinal problems may also lead to Vitamin D deficiency.
Now, back to the question posed in this entry: Most people with low Vitamin D levels will state that their diet contains plenty of Vitamin D and they get plenty of sun exposure. So, why are their levels below 30 ng/ml? Well, I really cannot find a good answer to this question and this gets me back to the issue of most people showing “below normal” levels. Maybe we need to investigate more why this “30-100” normal range has become the standard.
I guess from a “take action” standpoint, if your Vitamin D levels are between 20-30, I would recommend an OTC Vitamin D at 2000 IU a day. If you are below 20, see your doctor about a prescription strength 50,000 IU once a week.
We all want strong bones and a healthy immune system, right?
No songs about Vitamin D, but as I am writing “stuff” most days for my patients, here is a song by the Beatles called “Doctor Robert”. (hmm…this is sort of narcissistic, huh?)