Can a simple, inexpensive test save your health?
If you live in the northern hemisphere, the dark nights are drawing in and sunlight exposure is in rapid decline.
With optimised vitamin D levels absolutely crucial in avoiding a wide variety of degenerative diseases and for optimal health, this is a time of year when I advise ALL of the clients in my nutritional therapy practice here in Manchester, to get their levels tested quickly, easily and cheaply.
If there’s one test everyone, and I mean absolutely every person living in the UK and around the world (1), should take, it’s a vitamin D test. I find that even people living modern lives in the tropics don’t have optimal vitamin D levels.
Why’s it such a big deal?
We’re designed to walk around outside half naked most of the time, naturally making about 10,000IU of vitamin D per day, but our modern lives mean we only get a fraction of the direct sunlight exposure we need to maintain optimal vitamin D levels.
When we do get sunlight, we’ve been educated by cancer specialists and general media hysteria to slap factor 50 sunscreen all over ourselves, thereby blocking vitamin D synthesis and exacerbating the problem.
You couldn’t make it up, but vitamin D deficiency caused by not getting enough sunlight actually contributes to an increased risk of cancer (3).
Back to the real story…
It’s estimated that 90% of us in the UK are in a state of vitamin D deficiency. That includes the young, the old and everyone in between. Up to 20% of us are not just deficient, but severely deficient. And we’ve all read about the return of rickets in children born in the UK over the past 15 years.
In our experience at Optimised Personal Wellness, not a single first test result to date has shown optimal levels. Not even one.
‘Yeah but I spend loads of time outdoors and I’ve just had two weeks in Spain’ I hear my clients say.
That doesn’t get close to giving you what you need. 48 weeks of minimal sun exposure cannot be rectified in just 4 weeks of holiday, as the test results we see week in and week out prove.
We’re at a critical point
With no sign of significant improvement in Vitamin D status in over a decade, many UK Clinical Commissioning Groups have now banned testing in all but the most severe of cases.
But what dose is safe and effective? First it is essential to get your levels tested, because too much vitamin D can be toxic. Where deficiency exists, doses of 10,000IU a day have been taken for 5 months with no adverse effects (this study was performed in men) (4). However at a dose in 10,000IU a day, we recommend getting your levels re-tested regularly. 50,000IU of vitamin D once a week for 8 weeks has been successfully used in a number of studies. This is enough to double levels in most people (5). A daily dose of 2000IU is recommended to correct a deficiency in children (6), and getting levels re-tested regularly is wise.
The optimal range for serum vitamin D (D2 + D3) is 50-80ng/ml or 125-200nmol/L according to the Vitamin D Council.
How a deficiency can affect you
- Poor immunity / increased infections
- Autoimmune conditions
- Metabolic Syndrome (syndrome X)
- Muscle aches / weakness
- Bone pain
- Increased risk of cancer
People at high risk
- Those with higher body fat mass and obesity
- Pregnant women
- Under 5’s
- The elderly
- Those with darker skin pigmentation including African and Asian populations
- Those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- People with fat malabsorption (cystic fibrosis and cholestatic liver disease)
- Gastric by-pass patients
The take home point
It’s simple. Get your vitamin D levels tested. Take a high quality supplement that delivers exactly what it says on the tin, to bring levels to within the optimal range (2).
And maintain your levels long term.
To your lean, healthy, optimised future,
1. Even in countries with high amounts of sunlight and close to the equator, vitamin d deficiency prevalence is very high
2. Seek advise from a suitably qualified healthcare practitioner, if your test result is below 80 nmol/L (30 ng/ml) and your told your levels are normal, you need to find a different practitioner.
3. Holick MF (2012). Evidence-based D-bate on health benefits of vitamin D revisited. Dermatoendocrinol 4(2): 183–190. Available at; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3427198/ (Accessed on 18 October 2012).
4. Vieth R, Chan PC, MacFarlane GD (2001). Efficacy and safety of vitamin D3 intake exceeding the lowest observed adverse effect level. Am J Clin Nutr 73:288–294.
5. Malabanan A, Veronikis IE, Holick MF (1998). Redefining vitamin D insufficiency. Lancet 351:805–806.
6. Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Gordon CM, Hanley DA, Heaney RP, Murad MH, Weaver CM (2011). Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin d deficiency: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 96(7):1911-30