Vitamin D Supplements

To better appreciate the crucial value of vitamin D, see this list of 25 benefits. This links to an excellent article on vitamin D that I highly recommend. The evidence of the benefits from vitamin D is now overwhelming and it presents an exciting opportunity to improve our health with one easy step. If we aren’t getting sufficient sunshine, it seems we had darned well better supplement with vitamin D.

Supplement doses. Everyone is an individual and testing is the best way to know how much vitamin D you need. On average, it takes most people an intake of 5,000 to 8,000 IU per day to reach optimum  blood levels of 70-100 ng/ml. (see “testing” below) That dose is the total of what is in our diet, multiple vitamin, bone formulas and other supplements combined. Note that vitamin D is not utilized as well if a person is low in the mineral magnesiumwhich has its own long impressive list of benefits. Those who take statin type cholesterol drugs should be careful because those drugs remove the cholesterol that vitamin D is made of. Research shows that statins can lower blood levels of vitamin D. You might find this vitamin D calculator of interest as it will tell you how much D to take to achieve the blood level you want. Of course, this works with averages and you and your circumstances might not be average. It is also theoretically possible to determine how much vitamin D you will make in the sun. This calculator is not very user friendly, but might be worth a try.

For children, the government recommends a dose of 400 IU a day. But, understand that they are mainly trying to prevent the bone-deforming deficiency disease, rickets.That is quite different than for example trying to optimize immune function to prevent respiratory infections.  Dr. Pizzorno points to a study showing that, after 2 years on that dose, most children were still not into a sufficient range. A Japanese study had good results with flu prevention and asthma at 1,200 IU per day. Some children may need more, especially if the only light their skin gets is from the glow of the video game display! Research showed that 2,000 IU per day was safe for adolescents. Be cautious with the liquid vitamin D drops because it is easy to give more than you plan to.

Note: a study showed that absorption of vitamin D was 32% higher when supplements were taken with meals containing substantial fat when compared to low fat meals. That makes sense since it is a fat soluble substance. With a liposomal spray vitamin D3 plus K2 supplement like this one it wouldn’t matter.

Safety. Some doctors use single prescriptions of 50,000 IU per week or more to play catch up for very low levels but, that is not a plan that mimics nature. During the summer, in the midday sun in a bathing suit, we’d make 10,000 IU in just a few minutes. Research shows that supplemental doses of Vitamin D3 up to 10,000 IU per day are safe for adults for extended periods. French researchers gave adolescents single doses of 200,000 IU’s in the winter with no side effects observed.  Dr. Cannell (founder of the non-profit Vitamin D Council) told me that he takes 200,000 IU of vitamin D3 for one day at the first sign of an illness like the flu and that scares it away. Other experts say to take 50,000 IU per day until you recover. The real risk is not “overdose” but “underdose”.

We have been warned to stay out of the sun because of the risk for skin cancer. However, study completed in South Africa showed that 90% of those suffering non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell or squamous) had blood levels that were deficient or at least sub-optimal in vitamin D. That makes sense because vitamin D is crucial for the immune system. Vitamin D3 is very safe and the biggest risk is from not having enough. Reports of toxicity are usually regarding patients whose physicians prescribed overly aggressive treatments of the active form of vitamin D (not store-bought supplements). Even when there is an overdose, the theoretical risk is that it could cause you to acquire too much calcium. As it turns out, the issue is not D toxicity, but having too little magnesium or vitamin K2 which help to manage the calcium. One rare exception to the safety rule is that Sarcoidosis patients don’t seem to tolerate vitamin D3 supplements very well.

Testing. About the only way currently to know if we are getting enough vitamin D is to test blood levels. The correct test is called the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test or 25(OH)D. (NOT 125 Hydroxy Vitamin D which 20% of docs mistakenly order.). Be advised you may need to request the test and pay extra. Doctors and patients are often misled by the “normal ranges” printed on reports. Those standards are too low according to most vitamin D experts. (Labs don’t look for perfectly healthy bodies when establishing the norms—they average anyone well enough to walk in.)  Optimum blood levels appear to be 70-100 ng/ml. Outdoor workers average 65+. The safe upper limit is generally considered to be 100. However, the lowest documented toxicity is 150 and, as noted, that may have been a deficiency of magnesium, K2 or another nutrient need. There is not much to worry about until a level of 200 and at which point the body will absorb an unhealthy amount of calcium. Stopping the D reversed the problem.


Study shows better survival from colon cancer with higher doses of vitamin D compared to standard dose.

My review of a November 2018 study.

Read my June 21, 2018 blog about the so-called debate.

Breast cancer risk 80% lower with D blood levels above 60

5 times the risk of diabetes if vitamin D is low

Seniors 3 times more likely to be dependent (versus independent) if low in D

Article – The big vitamin D mistake.

Another study proposes daily intake of 7,000 IU. Researchers believe early recommendations were flawed.

Please watch this short and very exciting Charles Gibson ABC News report about Vitamin D’s important role in reducing breast cancer, its spread and deaths from the disease. Click here.

Even mild insufficiency of vitamin D worsens surgical outcomes and pneumonia in children. LINK.

The media is quick to jump on recommendations to use sunscreen but they usually forget to mention vitamin D.

Radio interviews:

Jeff T Bowles – Sept. 19, 2020 (on the covid mysteries), November 21, 2020 (coming soon) on the cure for all diseases and November 28, 2020 (coming soon) on the other nutrients that work with vitamin D.
John Cannell, MD

Copyright 2010-2019 by Martie Whittekin, CCN