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Ask the Nurse: Vitamin D

I keep reading about the importance of Vitamin D.  How much should I be taking and can I take too much?

The importance of Vitamin D is often overlooked.  We get Vitamin D from the sun, but for those of us who live in Minnesota and for those who use sunscreen regularly, you can be certain that your Vitamin D level is not high enough.  Current research has implicated Vitamin D deficiency as a factor in many forms of cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, depression, osteoporosis and many other illnesses.  There is no way to know for certain if you are deficient unless you check a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test.  Levels should be between 60-90 ng/ml all year.  In the Midwest we typically see levels decline in the winter and spring because of the low level of the sun and lack of skin exposure.   It is impossible to know how much Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol (not D2 or ergocalciferol) you need to take to maintain a healthy level.  Many individual factors determine our needs including age, weight, skin coloration, and genetics to name a few.  I would recommend that you start a good quality Vitamin D3 supplement at 5000 IU per day.  After 2-3 months you should have your level checked.  Then adjust your dosage until you attain a level between 60-90 ng/ml.  You may need to do this at the end of fall and the end of spring to know what dosage to use each season.  It is rare to take too much although, like any medication, it is possible to become toxic if taking very high doses for long periods of time.  I wouldn’t recommend using levels above 10,000 IU daily without regular testing and follow up with someone experienced in Vitamin D deficiency management.  A good database of Vitamin D research can be found at www.vitamindcouncil.org .

Reference:  Julie Tebben RNC, WHNP Nurse Practitioner -- Ms. Tebben is an experienced certified nurse practitioner with advanced training in functional medicine and application of bioidentical hormones. Her focus in on women's health, age management, and the functional management of chronic illlness.

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