the vitamin I’m asked about the most

Low levels of Vitamin D are rampant in our country — some even call it an epidemic.

It’s also the supplement I get the most questions about, more than anything else I routinely recommend to my patients.

The questions usually come in one of two forms: First, people ask how much they should be taking. Second, people want to know if the amount they’ve been taking is still the right amount.

These are great questions to ask!

We know vitamin D is critical for bone health and immunity. It also has important effects on inflammation, pain and even mood. So having enough on board does matter.

But when people ask how much they should take I’m stuck with this kind of unsatisfying answer: It depends on how much you need.

And the best way to know what you need is to get tested. It’s a simple blood test (25OHD is the one to ask for). I run it with all my patients.

The amounts of Vitamin D you find in multivitamins and most combination supplements is generally pretty conservative and safe. For most people, though, I think those doses are too low for maintaining optimal Vitamin D levels.

Yes, I have opinions about what the daily minimums should be. But because vitamin D is fat soluble – meaning it’s stored in fat cells in our bodies and can build up – I also want to make sure no one is getting too much. (In the 14 years I’ve been working with patients, only once have I seen someone’s labs suggest they needed to cut back.)

Not all doctors test Vitamin D automatically, so make sure to ask yours specifically. And if you hit a wall with the order or insurance reimbursement, know that there are others you can ask to help you access these labs more affordably.


—Dr. Orna

P.S. Looking for one-on-one health care? I’m seeing Oregon and Alaska patients online through my clinic, Celilo Natural Health Center.

Further reading: 
Vitamin D basics
The sun is more than just a vitamin
Linus Pauling Institute (Oregon State University) on Vitamin D


Photo by Samuel Toh on Unsplash