Monday, July 6, 2009

Blood Test Analysis: My Experience with Vitamin D3 Supplements

Blood Test Analysis: My Experience with Vitamin D3 Supplements
For those who stay out of the sun, vitamin D3 supplements are a must. (Photo by respres)

In my last post, I analyzed my cholesterol levels and revisited the debate surrounding saturated fat. The main reason I went to have a blood test, however, was to see how my vitamin D levels were.

I have learned about the importance of vitamin D only quite recently. After some reading, I decided to start taking vitamin D3 supplements. For the first couple of months, I took 2,000 IU (equal to 40 mcg) daily, which is fairly conservative and often the minimum dose recommended by people who've done their homework. Conventional wisdom on the other hand still sees 400 IU of vitamin D2 as sufficient, even though it produces serum levels that are way too low for optimal health.

About one month before the blood test I increased my intake to 5,000 IU per day. Since I still had plenty of 2,000 IU capsules left, I took 2 capsules every other day and 3 every other day, thus averaging 5,000 IU. Since the serum half-life of vitamin D is quite long, this shouldn't make any difference.

After supplementing with 2,000 IU vitamin D3 for a few months and then increasing to 5,000 IU for a month, my serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were 113 nmol/L, or about 45 ng/mL. This is considered to be within the optimal range, which is 32-100 ng/mL (link).

Considering that
  1. Most people have suboptimal serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  2. Most foods provide only small amounts of vitamin D
  3. I live in the north and avoid the sun,
I think it's safe to say that the fact my serum levels are within the optimal range is mainly due to supplementation. I'm also fairly certain that prior to starting taking supplements, my levels have been even lower than average – that is, I've been deficient in vitamin D for most of my life.

Whether or not you enjoy the sun, I encourage you to get your vitamin D levels checked. And if you have already done that, feel free to post your results in the comments. I'm currently collecting data from other people to do a post on how people's serum levels have varied with and without vitamin D3 supplements.

For more information on vitamins, sun and health, see these posts:

Topical Vitamin C for Skin: Re-examining the Case
How to Get Natural Sun Protection by Eating the Right Foods
Sesame Seeds Increase Absorption of Vitamin E Tocotrienols by Up to 500%
Lutein for Skin Elasticity, Hydration and Photo-Protection – Experiment Begins

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15 kommenttia:

Jill July 15, 2009 at 9:12 PM  

I have been taking 4000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day for about 4 months now. I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis at age 29 so my doctor was very concerned. My latest blood test shows my D3 level at 58, I think I will keep taking 4000 IU for awhile

JLL July 16, 2009 at 9:32 PM  


Thanks for visiting the blog and posting your results! Vitamin D levels from taking 4,000-5,000 IU seem to vary considerable between different people; looks like your values are in the lower response range. Increasing the dose and seeing what happens probably wouldn't hurt.

Regarding osteoporosis, have you considered taking vitamin A (fish oil would be a good source) and vitamin K2 along with vitamin D3? It seems that the three work synergistically and could be helpful with osteoporosis.


Jill July 16, 2009 at 10:49 PM  

I am also taking "Super K" Which is Vitamin K2 in a higher dose, and also taking "Mega Red"

I tried taking regular fish oil but the aftertaste was just horrible so the Mega Red is a good substitute.

The Doctor is hoping that the supplements along with exercise will reverse my bone loss in a few years!

Anonymous September 2, 2009 at 9:44 AM  

my doctor tested my Vitamin D levels and it's a good thing he did because i was very low. I take roughly 5000 IU a day and i think it has been the key in decreasing the fatigue component of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Hotpepper November 7, 2009 at 7:29 PM  

Hi I am a 48 yr old healthy female- 3 kids 8, 13, 14 I am athletic- race walking weight lifting pushups strength training nutrition oriented 5'10 150--158 lbs taking control or health through Dr Randolph, life extension and life line screening with results on cardio work up, cholesteral #s fab! hormones ect. everything great except
Found out D3 levels were 20.5 ng on Sept 9th.
I am daily taking 5000 iu D-3 to get my levels up and
plan to retest in the spring- I thought I would follow up with this and maybe get your thoughts....
Trying to age gracefully keeping energy level up and exercise moderately 6 days a week.

Greg December 11, 2009 at 7:56 PM  


Had my D levels checked in September after spending a summer outside as much as possible and supplementing with 1000iu a day. My level was 39. I am now supplementing with 5000iu's and hope to get to 70 by next summer. I live in MN, so even during the height of summer the Sun just isn't as bright as it is in other locales.

Blackhawk July 18, 2010 at 11:43 PM  

@Jill, @ JLL,
Regarding osteoporosis, if the problem is low vitamin D, taking the retinol form of vitamin A can be counterproductive as retinol, as found in cod liver oil, directly competes with vitamin D for the shared vitamin A/vitamin D receptor. Beta-carotine is a better choice of vitamin A. Regarding K2, I recommend that you check out the 10 vid series of the interview of Cees Vermeer by Dr Mercola on Youtube: , 180 mcg/day being the saturating dose of K2.

The best source I've found on the web for vitamin D info is the symposium presented by UCSD. You can easily find it by searching on Youtube for: "UCSD vitamin D". Stick to the vids presented by UC Television. After watching the symposium, I decided to try and get my vitamin D level up to 100 ng/ml (250 nmol/L) to prevent my BPH from progressing to prostate cancer. At that time I increased my daily intake from 2000 IU to 15,000 IU for 45 days. I then reduced my vitamin D intake to 10,000 IU/day for 90 days. Then I had the blood test which reported 267 nmol/L (107 ng/ml). Then I reduced my daily intake to 5,000 IU. At one point, I was concerned about overdosing on D. Then I read the following article by Reinhold Vieth: , which eased my mind.

The main effect I've noticed is that my previously severe constipation has disappeared and my need for saw palmetto for my BPH has been reduced by half. I'm 65 and don't take any drugs.

Anonymous July 22, 2010 at 5:32 PM  

Just as an FYI, I recently had my D level checked by my neurologist and found my level to be low. He told me that about half of his patients taking seizure meds are low in D level. So get yours checked if you are taking these types of medications.

Anonymous December 6, 2010 at 11:08 PM  

I had my blood tested 2 months ago and my Vitamin D level was 9- deficient. I too live in the north and avoid the sun, however, I am African American. This means that I would have to spend at least 60 grueling minutes in the sun daily to get optimum levels of Vit D- that's not going to happen nor do I wish to drink Vit D fortified dairy products as I am lactose intolerant. I have been taking 8K IUs of Vit D3daily. I go back for another blood test in 2 months. I have noticed that I have more energy but, I'm not convinced that's a direct result of supplementation.

Anonymous August 31, 2011 at 3:38 PM  

my experience is differ to most people bcus i used d3 injections.
i was injected 5 d3 ampoules with 30-32 days gap between each and tested my level 1 month after last injection and it was 111 ng.i must lower my dose.
and i feel good benefits from d3 my main problem with my health was chronic diarrhea.and now im alot better after 8 months on male 25 yo 185lbs
i just want share my experience with who need it,bcuz iknow alot of people suffer from low vit d like i was,,,,
paymanspam >> yahoo id

Anaa June 15, 2012 at 3:41 PM  

I am suffering from muscle weskness and fatigue since my level was 27 not too low, but experienced alot of sickness in terms of tiredness and general weakness.i have had 3 injections of 400,000 iu every two weeks gsp. aftr my i.jections finidhed i m getting back to feeling same fatigue and muscle weakness.doctors wont test me until next 6 weeks
i m taking gud multivitamin and stsrted taking vit d 10,000 iu n still havnt fully recovered. hopefully i m not overdosed as i have no choice.i don feel well with out taking them.
Has smone else experienced same problem

Anonymous December 19, 2012 at 3:53 AM  

Dx # was at 9 for VD25 as deficient. 49 yr old female. Live in SD CA. Walk 4-5 miles daily 5x week. 5'10 193. Eat healthy mostly. Started rx of single pill 50,000 iu D3 per week. 4 mos later VD25 was still only 29. Began taking 10,000 iu per day. 10 mos later VD25 is at 43.2. Would like to see it at 50 or 60. Afraid to OD but find the absorbing issue a bit disconcerting. Why does it take so much supplement?

Alok Sharma March 19, 2013 at 9:48 PM  

I have been suffering from low mood ,fatigue,lack of concentration and some sleep disorder for last 22 years.I am 41,male. Recently I researched a lot on Vitamin D and found that this could be due to vit deficiency. Then I myself got tested for Vit D level and in Feb,2013 it came out to be 12 nmol/l (4.8 ng/ml) which was severly deficient. I immediately started 5000 iu/day however even after a month, I don't see any improvement in any of these symptoms. Any idea how long before I see any improvements on 5000 iu/day? Do I need to increase my dosage?

JLL March 19, 2013 at 10:09 PM  

@Alok Sharma,

A month of 5,000 IU should result in higher blood levels. Have you gotten tested again? I wouldn't increase the dosage before a retest. In fact, I've split my daily dosage to 2,500 IU based on the latest research.

Maybe you're also deficient in something else besides vitamin D?


Sam March 30, 2013 at 8:33 AM  

I am a 220 lbs male. Taking 6000 iu for several months made my level at end of last summer 35 ng/ml.But my level dropped by the end of winter to about 20 ng/ml. I noticed that my sleep quality was much worse.
For the last month and a half I took on average 20000 iu daily. I was taking Vit K2, Magnesium, low calcium dose, omega-3 and Zinc. Initially I was constipated but I increased my magnesium and that went away. My levels just came back 42 ng/ml. I am planning to reduce the dose to 10000 iu daily. The problem I had was very dry eyes. Anyone has a suggestion for the dry eyes resulted by Vitamin D? Thanks

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