Do you often have that nagging feeling of being fatigued? Do you easily get sick? Suffer from low back pain? Or often get the blues? If you said yes to one or more of these, you may be deficient in vitamin D3.
Normal levels of D3 in the blood are 30 ng/ml, and ideal levels are 40-50 ng/ml. If you are below 30, which is very common, you may feel some of these signs. Statistics show that 42% of adults in the US are deficient in D3. And as we look at subpopulations like African Americans, that number rises to 82%.
This chronic, epidemic deficiency is significant because vitamin D3 is considered by many to be the most important vitamin you can take. The term “vitamin” is a misnomer, as it is actually a hormone with every cell in your body having a receptor for it.
Vitamin D3 is one of the fat-soluble vitamins that is widely known to be good for the bones, as it aids in the body’s ability to absorb bone building minerals like calcium and phosphorus.
Researchers have shown evidence that vitamin D3 is a neuro-steroid or hormone active in the brain. Because of this, vitamin D3 is crucial for healthy brain development, while a deficiency of this critical vitamin is associated with a variety of neurological disorders such as dementia, depression and psychosis.
Many of you know that Vitamin D3 is produced when your skin is exposed to the sun. Where I am in Virginia, you would need about 30 minutes of sun exposure in a swimsuit (i.e. most of your body exposed to the sun) to get the daily dose you need, which can happen during the summer months. If you work in an office or if the weather outside is cold, you are not getting enough D3. And as we age, our skin produces less vitamin D3 from sun exposure.
Additionally, having more melanin decreases the skin's ability to make vitamin D3 from sun exposure. This is why higher the incidence of vitamin D3 deficiency is seen in African Americans, as noted above.
Vitamin D3 can be naturally found in foods like salmon and sardines and is also found in fortified breakfast cereals. But while I like sardines, I’m likely not going to eat enough to get the 5000 IUs per day of vitamin D3 I need. So, I take a supplement. The particular brand I take is Zhou D3 which also has vitamin K2-Mk7 in it, but most brands with K2-Mk7 will be fine. Taking a Vitamin D3 supplement with Mk7 is important due to the synergistic relationship between the two vitamins. Taking vitamin D3 with vitamin K2-Mk7 facilitates the absorption of calcium transported by the D3 into your bones. Without vitamin K2-Mk7, the D3 can accumulate in deposits in your arteries.
Unlike vitamin C, which is water soluble, because vitamin D3 is fat soluble, it can accumulate, and you can overdose on it. And if you’re like me and say: “I’ve never heard of anyone overdosing on that,” my mother overdosed in 2020 (she read D3 helped combat COVID), and it took about 4 months for her D3 levels to go back to normal.
So, where do you start? If you have a clinician, a good starting place is to see where you’re at by requesting your blood be tested for vitamin D3 levels. Since most of us won’t do that, the next best starting place is to begin supplementing with vitamin D3 with vitamin K2-Mk7. And if you’re concerned about taking too much, then start low at 2000 IU/day. Or better yet, take time to get out in the sun while it’s still warm outside. Regardless of where you start, take that first step and be sure to note the difference you feel after you do.