Step 3

Vitamin D Status

Enhance muscle, brain, and immune function.

Vitamin D is essential for optimal health and fitness, yet deficiency is very common, even for those living in sunny locations.

Importance

The Hormone Vitamin

Technically a hormone, vitamin D is vital for maintaining high energy, brain and nervous system function, strengthening bones, teeth and muscles, and many other benefits. Vitamin D can also:

  • Improve exercise performance and recovery.
  • Help regulate inflammation.
  • Influence melatonin for sleep.
  • Help regulate hormones.
  • Reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other illness.
  • Improve calcium absorption and metabolism.

Low levels of this hormone can contribute to fatigue, mental impairment, stress fractures, injuries, muscle pain and weakness, weakened immune function, and reduction in the body’s ability to prevent infections, including colds and flu. Vitamin D deficiency can also increase the risk of death similarly to smoking, inactivity or obesity.

Testing

Vitamin D Blood Tests

Normal blood levels of Vitamin D are 50-80 ng/ml (125-200 nM/L) year-round. A good time for testing is when levels are in the lower normal ranges, such as in early spring in the northern hemisphere.

The average daily need for Vitamin D may be as high as 4,000 IUs, an amount obtained by many people exposed to summer sun for about 10 minutes (without burning).

Next step: Take the survey below.

Take the survey

Take the following survey to determine your risk of vitamin D deficiency. This survey will provide you with a personalized risk level (low, moderate, or high) that you can use to better understand your health status.

Disclaimer

A high level of risk doesn’t mean that you have a serious health condition. It means that due to your present situation (lifestyle, health and habits), you have a higher risk for this condition.

Solutions

The best source of vitamin D is the sun, but avoid getting sunburned. Other good sources include dietary supplements and tanning beds.

Sunlight

Applies to:

High Risk
Moderate Risk
Low Risk

In addition to vitamin D, other healthy brain and body benefits of sunshine can be obtained when direct outdoor light stimulates the eyes (without glasses or contacts).

Supplements

Applies to:

High Risk
Moderate Risk

The best vitamin D dietary supplement is from a fish source, such as cod liver oil. This contains the D3 (cholecalciferol) form of the vitamin, which is better utilized by the body than the vitamin D2 form found in plants.

Doses of dietary supplements should be made by a health practitioner based on blood tests, and are typically:

  • Less than 30 ng/ml (deficiency): 10,000 or more IUs/day.
  • 30-50 ng/ml: 5,000 IUs/day.
  • 50-75 ng/ml: 800-1,000 IUs/day

Other Sources of Vitamin D

Applies to:

High Risk
Moderate Risk

Very few foods have naturally very high levels of Vitamin D. However, some foods with significant levels include:

  • Wild salmon, sardines and tuna.
  • Egg yolks.

Processed foods (which should be avoided) are often fortified with very small amounts of vitamin D2.