Trouble Getting Vitamin D Level above 40ng/mL

by Tony

My original vitamin D level before supplementation was 18! Started taking 1,000 Units D3 a day my level went to ~30. Bumped up daily dose to 2,000 units/day level went to ~40. Went to 4,000 units /day split dose but after 5wks still stuck at 41?


Hi Tony,

I commend you on getting tested. A lot of people think they could not possibly be vitamin D deficient, but research shows that most of us are.

Back in 2006, a study showed that LESS THAN 25% of people tested in Arizona had levels about 30ng/mL (enough only for strong bones). That means more than 75% of the participants had a moderate or severe deficiency.

Remember, to maximize vitamin D's numerous health benefits we really need to get between 50ng/mL and 100ng/mL.

More recent studies all over the world are showing the same thing - vitamin D deficiency is a real health threat. I just always refer to that 2006 study because it was done in Arizona, our sunniest state. If Arizonans can't get enough sun (minus the sunblock), that doesn't bode well for the rest of us.

Your initial vitamin D level, 18ng/mL, is on the low range of moderately deficient. Severely deficient is under 10ng/mL, known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults - both resulting in soft bones.

I'm not surprised that you are having trouble getting your levels up high enough with the doses you mention. Vitamin D experts recommend 5,000 IU per day as a maintenance dose once you reach that over 50ng/mL mark.

I've noticed this first hand. I take 5,000 IU per day and my levels hang close to 60ng/mL. I got tested last winter and was shocked to see that my levels had fallen to 36ng/mL. After staring at that number for a bit, scratching my head, I looked at my bottle and discovered that the 5,000 IU pills I thought I was taking were actually only 2,000 IU! I had accidentally grabbed the wrong dosage when I bought a new bottle. Oops...

10,000 IU per day is a perfectly safe vitamin D dose to take when trying to get your levels up faster. That's what I did when I realized my mistake.

And to be clear, I'm talking about natural vitamin D3, not the synthetic D2 most doctors prescribe. I see you are taking D3, which is great. I just want to point that out for the benefit of other readers.

Since we are in May now, you could also forget the supplements for the summer and get your daily dosage from outside. We cannot overdose with sun exposure - just keep in mind that sunscreens block vitamin D absorption and burning is NOT wise.

If you want to go the sun route, which I do recommend for summertime, just use some common sense.

Whole body exposure is best, as opposed to just arms, legs, and face. So put on a bathing suit, or, if you have privacy, your birthday suit!

If you go out during mid day, say between 10am and 2pm, you'll just have to stay out for 10-15 minutes if you are white (those with darker skin will have to stay out longer). If you notice your skin turning pink, time to cover up. Remember, no sunscreen during this time. And no burning.

I've noticed that the higher my vitamin D level, the easier I tan. I've seen others talk of similar findings.

If you can't get outside, than certainly take your vitamin D pills. I just like to get my vitamin D during the summer months as nature intended.

And if you find you have trouble taking the higher doses (such as stomach upset, diarrhea, rapid heart beat), or if your level still won't go up high enough, check out this page on vitamin D absorption problems. You could also be deficient in another key nutrient that vitamin D needs in order to work properly.

Wishing you the best of health,

Approach Wellness

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