Would you like to know how to recognize a possible vitamin D deficiency? How to get your vitamin D level checked? How much vitamin D do you need to take to get to the healthy vitamin D levels you want? We have put together the most important information about vitamin D for you so that you can raise your vitamin D level to an optimal level so that you can alleviate any existing diseases and reduce your risk of disease in the future.
Maintain healthy vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin at all. The body can produce it itself and maintain healthy vitamin D levels with the help of the sun.
On the other hand, only insignificant amounts of vitamin D can be ingested through food – unless you would prefer to eat oily fish.
If there is no sun, the vitamin D level is inevitable.
However, vitamin D deficiency contributes to the development of almost every disease, and vitamin D deficiency makes almost every disease worse. Conversely, this means that a well-controlled vitamin D level can improve almost any disease.
And so it is not surprising that studies are being published almost every day, in the course of which it was again possible to show that patients with this or that disease have a particularly low vitamin D level – regardless of whether it is increased susceptibility to infections, flu, asthma, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, ADHD, dementia or simply “just” tooth decay, hair loss, high cholesterol or chronic exhaustion.
However, there are also quite a few people who initially have no symptoms at all but still have low vitamin D levels.
After all, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other serious diseases do not develop overnight, but over the course of many years, if not decades.
Are your vitamin D levels too low?
Before you measure your vitamin D level yourself with a test kit (which can be ordered online) or have it measured by a doctor or naturopath, you can use the following questions to determine whether your vitamin D level may be too low and You may or may not be a vitamin D deficiency candidate.
Do you get enough sun?
You don’t get enough vitamin D if you don’t get enough sun.
As mentioned above, your body is normally able to absorb all the vitamin D it needs through regular exposure to direct sunlight through the skin.
So if you are often in the sun in summer, you may be able to produce enough vitamin D – enough for your body to store it up, which will even last through the winter.
However, many people are not in the sun long enough – neither in summer nor in winter, simply because they (have to) spend too much time indoors.
Do you use sunscreen when going out in the sun?
When some people are out in the fresh air or when they go to the sea or to the mountains in summer, they use sunscreen cream. However, these prevent or reduce the body’s own vitamin D formation in the skin – at least that’s what sunscreens with a higher sun protection factor do.
Do you live north of Rome?
Those who also live in Central or Northern Europe (north of Rome or Barcelona) can only get enough UVB radiation from around March/April to October. In the remaining months, the sun is too low to stimulate the skin to produce vitamin D.
Are you taking a vitamin D supplement?
If you answered no-yes-yes to the above three questions, then you may not be getting enough vitamin D.
If you also do not take vitamin D in the form of a dietary supplement, there is a high risk that your vitamin D level is very low, i.e. you have a vitamin D deficiency.
Furthermore, if you belong to a risk group for vitamin D deficiency, then not only is it very likely that you have a vitamin D deficiency, but you definitely have one:
Do you belong to the risk group for vitamin D deficiency?
The following information will help you determine if you are at particularly high risk of vitamin D deficiency.
For example, there are certain population groups that are at a comparatively higher risk of suffering from vitamin D deficiency than other population groups.
The risk groups for vitamin D deficiency include:
- People with dark skin. The darker your skin, the more sun you need to get in order to build up the same amount of vitamin D as fair-skinned people. For this reason, if you are dark-skinned or if you are dark-skinned, you are more likely to be vitamin D deficient than fair-skinned people.
- People who are always indoors during daylight hours, even on weekends. This is the case, for example, if you are in hospital, if you are bedridden, if you are otherwise unable to leave the house or if you have to work night shifts.
- Older people, tend to have thinner skin than younger people. Under certain circumstances, this can significantly affect, i.e. reduce, the production of vitamin D.
- Of course, babies who are breastfed and whose mothers suffer from a vitamin D deficiency may also not be getting enough vitamin D.
- People who are extremely overweight, i.e. obese, need more vitamin D than people of normal weight or people who are only slightly overweight, so their risk of vitamin D deficiency is also higher.
So if based on all of the preceding information, you think you may be vitamin D deficient, it would be useful to know exactly where your vitamin D levels are.
Because only then can the correct vitamin D dose be determined, which is necessary to raise the vitamin D level to a healthy level.
How to measure your vitamin D levels
There are now test kits for measuring vitamin D levels that you can order online (from around 30 euros).
Inside you will find the equipment and instructions for easy finger blood collection.
You then immediately send your blood sample to the specified laboratory, which will send you the evaluation, i.e. your personal vitamin D value, within a few days.
Of course, you can also consult your family doctor or naturopath for this purpose.
It is not the actual vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) that is measured, but the storage form of vitamin D. It is called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which usually looks like this for short: 25(OH)-vitamin D3 or even simpler: 25(OH )D
If you were to measure vitamin D3, you would only get a snapshot of the current status. The storage form, on the other hand, provides information about the long-term vitamin D supply.
How to evaluate your vitamin D levels
When the result of your vitamin D analysis arrives from the laboratory, it can be expressed in three different units:
- ng/mL = nanograms per milliliter
- μg/l = micrograms per liter
- nmol/l = nanomoles per liter
If you get your values in nmol/l and you want to convert them to ng/ml or vice versa, this is how it works:
- x nmol/l : 2.5 = z ng/ml
- y ng/mL x 2.5 = z nmol/L
Insert the values of your analysis values for x and y. z stands for the converted result.
Now you only need the so-called standard or guideline values with which you can compare your values to see whether you are well supplied with vitamin D or whether you have a deficiency.
These outdated standard values are often still given:
- normal: 20 to 60 ng/ml
- slight deficiency: 10 to 20 ng/ml
- severe deficiency: less than 10 ng/ml
Today, however, we know that values below 30 ng/ml are already deficient or at least not sufficient to survive the winter without deficiencies and that values between 40 and 80 ng/ml would be desirable.
So use these standard values as a guide:
- normal: 40 to 60 ng/ml (50 ng/ml would be great)
- slight deficiency: 20 to 30 ng/ml
- severe deficiency: less than 20 ng/ml
- How to increase your vitamin D levels
There are basically four ways you can increase your vitamin D levels:
- Direct sunlight on your uncovered skin
- Visiting a tanning salon
- Through the diet
- By taking vitamin D supplements
The most natural method is the first.
The second (tanning salon) is an emergency method when, for whatever reason, the first and fourth methods are temporarily unavailable.
The third method (diet) is very uncertain because food contains very little vitamin D and can therefore only CONTRIBUTE to meeting the vitamin D requirement, but cannot ensure it on its own.
The fourth method (vitamin D supplement) is the safest, along with the first (Sun). In addition, the fourth method is suitable for covering the vitamin D requirement in a very targeted manner.
Below are all the details on each of the four methods:
Boost Vitamin D Levels in the Sun
As we saw above, this is not easy, especially if you live in the “wrong” region.
In central and northern Europe, you have to use the summer to fill up your vitamin D stores.
But especially in summer, there is a risk of sunburn again.
It is important in this context that you do not have to turn brown, let alone read, in order to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D production starts much earlier.
It is true that sufficient vitamin D production takes half the time it would take for the skin to blush slightly. During this time, your skin can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D – of course only if you have not applied sunscreen.
So if you know that you will be sunburned in 20 minutes on the beach in Mallorca, you will already be well supplied with vitamin D after 10 minutes – on Mallorca. But not in Zug’s Unterägeri and not in Gunzenhausen in Franconia – certainly not in April or September. Here you need much longer.
In summary, the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D depends on the following factors:
- From the season
- The position of the sun, i.e. the time of day (more vitamin D is produced at noon than in the morning or evening)
- When the sun’s rays hit the earth at too acute an angle, the atmosphere blocks the UVB component of the sun’s rays. However, UVB light enables the skin to produce vitamin D in the first place.
- This blocking of UVB light occurs during the early and late hours of the day and most of the winter days.
- A good rule of thumb in this context is to observe your own shadow more closely. If this is longer than you are tall, you will not be able to produce much vitamin D.
In winter, your shadow is much longer than you most of the time, while in summer, especially at midday, your shadow is much smaller than you are tall.
- Where you are (the closer you are to the equator, the easier it is for you (and your skin) to produce vitamin D all year round)
- The altitude (the sun shines more intensely on top of a mountain than down on a beach, meaning that the “closer” you are to the sun, the more vitamin D you can build up)
- The weather (the more cloudy, the less vitamin D can be produced in the skin)
- The level of air pollution (polluted ambient air ensures that a large proportion of UV light is either blocked or even reflected directly into the cosmos; consequently, your body produces less vitamin D if you live in a place where air pollution special problem)
- The size of the skin area that is exposed to the sun (the more skin that is directly exposed to the sun, the more vitamin D your body will synthesize; you can therefore build up more vitamin D in a bikini than in long pants and a T-shirt)
- Skin type (pale skin is more efficient at producing vitamin D than darker skin types)
- The more melanin – the so-called skin pigment – your skin has, the darker it is and the longer it has to be exposed to UV light in order to produce enough vitamin D.
However, melanin also protects your skin from damage caused by UV rays, which is why dark-skinned people are not as likely to sunburn as fair-skinned people.
For this reason, if you have dark skin, you will need to be in the sun proportionately longer to build up the vitamin D you need than people with lighter skin.
Caution: Don’t forget that glass blocks UV light. In the car, in a bright office behind a closed window, or under a glass roof, your vitamin D production is not particularly high.
So you can see that many different aspects play a role in your skin’s vitamin D production capacity. General information on the duration of sunbathing can therefore not be given.
But with the tips above, you can organize your sunbathing yourself so that you can fill up with enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D and the risk of skin cancer
If you are worried about a possible risk of skin cancer, here are the following:
Exposing your skin to the sun for too long and getting sunburned frequently can increase your risk of skin cancer.
However, the moderate but regular sunbathing that we have described is not only healthy, but it also is downright vital, and can even reduce the risk of cancer.
Once you have spent time in the sun appropriate for vitamin D production, you should move to the shade. If this is not possible, e.g. B. during a hike, a sailing trip, etc., you should apply sunscreen from the natural cosmetics sector.
Raise vitamin D levels in the tanning salon
Your skin can also build up vitamin D if you lie down on an appropriate sunbed in a solarium.
In the solarium, too, your skin can produce the vitamin D it needs within a few minutes, just like in the fresh air. It is therefore by no means necessary for you to “sizzle” under the sunbed until you have achieved a certain tan.
If you decide to go to the solarium, you should behave just as carefully there as when sunbathing outdoors.
This means: Half of the time that your skin type would need for a slight blush is sufficient for the production of vitamin D.
Look for tanning salons of the highest quality, with equipment that is regularly maintained and that not only uses UVA radiation, but also UVB radiation, which is necessary for vitamin D production.
However, the tanning salon should only be an emergency solution if you are unable to stay outdoors and have not yet stocked up on a suitable vitamin D supplement.
Couldn’t the easiest and healthiest way to meet the vitamin D requirement be to eat the right foods?
Elevate vitamin D levels with food
Our body can easily get most of the vitamins and minerals it needs every day from food.
With vitamin D, however, things are quite different. There are very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. And those foods that do tend to have very small amounts of the vitamin.
For these reasons, it is almost impossible to get the daily amount of vitamin D you need from food alone.
Vegetables, salads, fruits, grains, and legumes contain no vitamin D at all, while dairy products contain only a little.
A liter of milk or yogurt contains just 1 µg of vitamin D, which is extremely little even if one assumes the – according to official sources – far too low a requirement of 20 µg of vitamin D per day.
The only exception from the vegetable fraction are the mushrooms. Outdoor mushrooms contain around 3 µg vitamin D per 100 g (porcini mushrooms, chanterelles), while cultivated mushrooms that are grown without UV radiation (often the case with mushrooms) clearly have less vitamin D.
Eggs are often cited as a good source of vitamin D. But you would have to eat 100 g of egg yolk (just the egg yolk) to get just 5 µg of vitamin D.
The liver from beef or lamb also provides little vitamin D (around 2 µg per 100 g), so you would have to eat a kilogram of it every day to at least approximately cover your minimum requirement.
Fish, on the other hand, is actually a good source of vitamin D, but again only some types of fish, such as B. herring (from the Atlantic) or eel. 100 grams of these two fish provide 20 to 25 µg of vitamin D.
If staying in the sun is not possible – for whatever reason – then vitamin D preparations are the best alternative for reliably covering the vitamin D requirement. With them, a vitamin D deficiency can be specifically corrected and ensure vitamin D supply reliably and in a healthy manner and without side effects.
Elevate vitamin D levels with supplements
If you have now decided to improve your personal vitamin D status with a dietary supplement, then many questions usually arise.
- According to official recommendations, how high is the vitamin D requirement?
- How much vitamin D do I personally need?
- So how much vitamin D do I need to take to achieve healthy levels?
- Which vitamin D supplement should I take?
We will answer all of these questions below.
How high is – officially – the vitamin D requirement?
Recommendations for the daily intake of vitamin D supplements vary considerably by the organization.
The nutrition societies in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria recommend these intake amounts, for example:
- Infants (0 – 1 year): 10 µg / 400 IU per day
- Children (1 – 15 years): 20 mcg / 800 IU per day
- Adults (including pregnant, breastfeeding, and elderly): 20 µg / 800 IU per day
The US health organization Institute of Medicine (IOM), on the other hand, finds that the daily requirement of vitamin D for adults is no more than 15 µg / 600 IU.
However, many experts feel that these officially recommended doses are far too low. And that’s exactly what came true in March 2015, when scientists at the University of California found that decades of vitamin D recommendations were based on a statistical error.
Vitamin D specialists – such as B. the Vitamin D Council (details on this below) – have therefore long been advising not only much higher but also very individual amounts – depending on one’s own vitamin D status.
Official vitamin D maximum values
It is interesting here, however, that even according to official opinion, much higher values than the officially recommended ones would not lead to any damage.
According to the Institute of Medicine and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), the highest amounts of vitamin D that one could take daily without fear of damage (tolerable upper intake level) are in the following areas:
- Infants: 25 mcg/1,000 IU per day
- Children (1 – 10 years): 50 mcg / 2,000 IU per day
- Adults: 100 mcg / 4,000 IU per day
But even with these values, it can be assumed that they are set very low and that at least adults can take significantly higher amounts – especially if there is a deficiency and it has to be remedied.
The conversion factor is:
- 1 µg = 40 IU (International Units)
- 1IU = 0.025 µg
Why are the recommended amounts so different?
Unfortunately, some researchers still believe there is insufficient evidence of benefits from increased vitamin D intake.
Many other scientists, on the other hand, are convinced that the officially recommended doses of vitamin D cannot cover the daily needs of the organism, promote vitamin D deficiency and increase the risk of disease.
If you compare the recommendations of the vitamin D experts with the official recommendations, the differences are sometimes very large, which could lead to a certain degree of uncertainty.
But always keep in mind that your body can produce between 10,000 and 25,000 IU of vitamin D per day – after just a few minutes in the sun!
Vitamin D toxicity, in which the vitamin can have negative effects on your health, could therefore only occur after 40,000 to 50,000 IU per day according to vitamin D advocates – and then only if you take one and consume such a quantity regularly over a period of several months.
High doses of vitamin D in serious illnesses?
For some diseases, there are now even unequivocal studies showing that higher doses of vitamin D than those usually recommended can have enormous health benefits, e.g. B. for multiple sclerosis and prostate cancer.
If you suffer from such a disease and are considering taking higher doses than recommended, consult your doctor closely.
In this case, also have your vitamin D levels measured accurately every three months and make sure that your blood levels are always within a safe and healthy range in this regard.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Personally Need?
The following recommendations for increasing your vitamin D levels come from the Vitamin D Council, a non-profit organization based in California.
The Vitamin D Council was founded in 2003 by the current head of the organization, Dr. Founded by John J. Cannell. dr Cannell has always believed that vitamin D deficiency is the cause of many diseases and that health problems can be alleviated or even eliminated with sufficient vitamin D.
To spread this information to as many people as possible, he founded the Vitamin D Council.
Please keep in mind with the following tables that every organism works differently, and therefore not every person absorbs the same amounts of vitamin D at the same dosage in the same way and in the same amount.
The tables therefore only provide average values that should serve as a starting point for a rough orientation and should in no way be regarded as a “guarantee” or “promise”.
It is ideal if you have your vitamin D status checked twice a year so that you can always adjust the vitamin D dose you need.
Now take the value of your current vitamin D analysis and look below to see which vitamin D doses you could use to achieve which desired values.
Its value is between 30 and 40 ng/ml
A value in this range is officially considered perfect. However, vitamin D experts are of the opinion that vitamin D levels of up to 40 ng/ml are not yet optimal, even if such a value is of course far better than is the case for the majority of the population.
The amount of vitamin D present is also sufficient for calcium to be well absorbed. Some research studies have also shown that vitamin D levels at this level could reduce the risk of developing cancer and also have a positive effect on the immune system.
However, it is questionable whether such values are sufficient to get through the winter well.
Its value is between 40 and 60 ng/ml
If you were to expose your entire naked body to the equatorial sun for an entire year, these would most likely be the vitamin D levels you could have as a result.
Nowadays, such a vitamin D status is only found in traditional “hunter-gatherer societies” (e.g. in Africa). If your body has such a supply of the vitamin, an almost perfect regulation of the parathyroid hormone and the calcium in your body is guaranteed.
If you are currently breastfeeding your child, there is enough vitamin D in your breast milk with values at this level, which you can pass on to your baby.
Their value is between 60 and 100 ng/ml
The Vitamin D Council refers to these readings as the “High-Normal Range.” Several studies have shown that you can achieve such high levels of vitamin D simply by spending a lot of time in the sun.
Therefore, it is assumed that a vitamin D concentration of this level corresponds to healthy and nature-intended values.
However, since there is not enough scientific evidence to date that such vitamin D levels confer any greater health benefits compared to levels around 40 to 60 ng/mL, you do not need to make an effort to get levels above 60 reach.
Their value is between 100 and 150 ng/ml
Although these are not yet toxic levels of vitamin D in the blood and are not usually dangerous, it is believed that these levels are too high.
There are no known positive effects of vitamin D that could only be detected at such a high concentration of over 100 ng/ml.
A University of Utah research group found that vitamin D levels above 100 ng/mL may be associated with a slightly increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia.
In any case, you should take measures to bring your vitamin D blood levels below 100 ng/ml.
To do this, stop taking vitamin D supplements. After three months you should have your vitamin D status checked.
Your value is higher than 150 ng/ml
Such a value is definitely too high. It can lead to health problems.
Therefore, in any case, stop taking vitamin D supplements if you are taking them and ensure that your vitamin D status falls below 100 ng/ml.
These vitamin D supplements are recommended
If you now know how much vitamin D your personal vitamin D level needs, then all you need is information about the type of vitamin D supplement that is right for you.
Research has shown that vitamin D3 is better absorbed and utilized than vitamin D2, so it can better regulate vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D3 preparations are often obtained from lanolin, i.e. the wool wax from sheep. They are therefore not suitable for vegans.
But there are also vegan vitamin D3 preparations, namely products that are extracted from lichen or fungi or obtained with the help of microorganisms.
On the other hand, it is irrelevant in which form you take vitamin D3 – be it in the form of capsules, tablets, or as a liquid. They all increase vitamin D levels.
It also doesn’t matter what time of day you take the vitamin D, or whether you take the supplement before, during, or after a meal.
Of course, cod liver oil also contains a lot of vitamin D. However, since cod liver oil not only contains plenty of vitamin D but also large amounts of vitamin A and these amounts could possibly lead to a vitamin A overdose, cod liver oil is not the ideal form vitamin D supplementation to increase vitamin D levels.
Your vitamin D levels also need vitamin K2 and magnesium
It is also ideal if you choose a combination preparation to regulate your vitamin D level that combines vitamin D3 with vitamin K2 in one capsule.
Vitamin D3 helps you absorb calcium and vitamin K2 ensures that the calcium gets into the bones.
Since the body also needs vitamin D in order to use it, you should also make sure that you have an adequate supply of magnesium when increasing your vitamin D level with food supplements, as otherwise there will be magnesium deficiency symptoms on the one hand and vitamin D deficiency symptoms on the other. Symptoms can occur despite good vitamin D levels.
How drugs affect vitamin D levels
If you (have to) take medication, such as for cardiac arrhythmias (cardiac fibrillation), high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, kidney stones, etc., you should discuss regulating your vitamin D level with a dietary supplement with your doctor. Also, do not take vitamin D without medical supervision if your blood calcium levels are very high.
There are also medications that impair the effect of vitamin D and can reduce your vitamin D level despite dietary supplements. In this case, you need to take a higher dose of vitamin D. If you are dependent on medication, also discuss this problem with your doctor.
We wish you a healthy vitamin D level as quickly as possible and – if you are ill – a speedy improvement in your symptoms as a result.