Vitamin D — Which One? How Much?

You should have gotten your vitamin D level checked by now. Is your level below 50? If so, you should probably be taking vitamin D. Below 30? You should definitely be taking vitamin D. If you walk into your neighborhood pharmacy or the pharmacy section of Target or Walmart you will find a variety of vitamin D types and dosages.

Most, although not all, manufacturers of stand-alone vitamin D get high marks in quality assurance tests. They are not likely to contain harmful ingredients. Third party tests also determine whether a particular company's supplement contains the advertised amount, and that they break down properly to be absorbed by your body. Still, some supplements are safer than others. And some of the combination supplements like vitamin D with calcium, vitamin D with potassium, vitamin D with herbs, etc. have been found to contain lead and other contaminants. While I know you would like to limit the number of pills you take, it is best to take individual stand-alone supplements. Another thing to keep in mind with combination supplements is that they may contain too much or too little of one ingredient or another for you.

Another thing you may notice in the store is more than one type of vitamin D. You can buy D2, ergocalciferol, or D3, cholecalciferol. Some studies suggest that D2 is better. Most recommend D3. A few say the two are equivalent. Buy vitamin D3. It is the type produced by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight. It is more potent in raising and maintaining your body's vitamin D levels. It is converted into the active form faster than vitamin D2. If the supplement container says only "Vitamin D" without specifying, don't buy it. Pick a different brand.

The only way to know exactly how much vitamin D YOU should take, or even IF you should take vitamin D, is to have your level checked. If you haven't done that yet, see your doctor and get it done. There is no particular dosage that will fit everyone. That being said, almost all of my patients had levels less than 40 when first checked. The majority had levels at or below 30. One patient had a level of 6! I started them all on 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day. Then I checked their levels after three months, and again after six months. Now I check their levels every six to twelve months. Most still take that same daily 5,000 IU. That doesn't mean that that's what you should do, or that that's the only way to correct a low vitamin D level. Speak to your doctor today if you haven't already.

Looking for an excellent quality vitamin D? Try Life Extension. It's what I use, and what I recommend to my patients who are vitamin D deficient.

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