It appears that certain aspects of medicine are stuck in some time warp—a revolving door that doesn’t stop.
Practitioners use an unreliable and antiquated diagnostic algorithm, an unspecific drop-down menu way of treating people and their ailments.
I’m not talking about the advances in medical science with targeted therapies, gene sequencing, prosthetics, etc, I’m talking about the standard healthcare that is supposed to help people overcome their health issues, prevent recurrence, and just prevent disease in the first place.
Doctors still take blood pressure in only one arm; they run cholesterol testing to determine the perceived risk of heart disease; and they tell patients that their vitamin‑D levels are normal, based on a very old reference range found in routine blood work.
The importance of vitamin D, as well as the need to test vitamin-D levels, is now common knowledge—at least from what I see. Many patients who bring me their blood work have had it tested for various reasons, including chronic health issues and serious disease.
This is great.
The problem is that they have been given false, possibly dangerous, information regarding the proper levels of vitamin D based on their blood work.
Before I tell you the therapeutic levels of vitamin D (not based on a reference range), here’s a quick blurb on how we get vitamin D.
Vitamin D is created when sunlight contacts the skin. It is also ingested though food and, of course, through the use of research-based nutraceuticals (supplements).
Once activated through sunlight or ingested through food, vitamin D travels to the liver then the kidneys, where it becomes a powerful hormone needed for countless reactions and functions in the body. Some of these functions include:
- Supports the health of the immune system;
- Maintains healthy bones and teeth;
- Regulates insulin levels needed to maintain normal blood sugar;
- Regulates inflammation;
- Controls gene expression involved in the development of cancer;
- Important for heart health and reducing inflammation of the coronary arteries;
- Supports brain function and can reduce depression;
- Boosts weight loss; and
- Responsible for calcium and phosphorous homeostasis.
As you can see, vitamin D plays many roles in the body to stave off disease. What happens when vitamin D is too low?
Here is a list of health issues found to be linked to low vitamin D:
- 17 varieties of cancer, including breast, colon, prostate;
- Heart disease;
- High blood pressure;
- Metabolic syndrome;
- Countless autoimmune diseases;
- Parkinson’s disease;
- Seasonal affective disorder;
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- Chronic fatigue;
- Psoriasis; and
- Immune dysfunctions.
If this list is not making an impression, here are some facts regarding vitamin D and cancer.
A study published in Annals of Epidemiology found that raising blood levels of vitamin D from 30ng/ml to a higher level of 40 to 60ng/ml would prevent 58,000 new cases of breast cancer (and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer) each year. Although 40ng/ml is still too low, raising it just beyond the standard medical reference range of 30ng/ml had profound effects.
This said, you want your vitamin-D level to be in a specific range in order to prevent chronic and serious health issues. This is known as the therapeutic range.
As you look at the levels of vitamin D in your blood work, you will see the lab’s reference range. Typically it is 30-100ng/ml. However, this is not the therapeutic range needed to prevent disease, or rebuild from one. The therapeutic range you want for vitamin D is closer to 50-80ng/ml.
Most practitioners will simply look to see if your vitamin-D level is within the lab’s reference range and call it a day.
This is irresponsible, as the scientific community is saying that the vitamin-D level needs to be much higher than just 30 or 40ng/ml for good health, and anything below 30ng/ml is dangerous to your health.
Take a look at your blood work and find your vitamin-D3 level. Is it below 30ng/ml? Is it closer to 50 or even slightly higher than 50ng/ml?
If your vitamin-D level is below 30ng/ml, or even between 30-40ng/ml, you must get those levels up.
How much vitamin D do you need to take to get the level where it needs to be?
Because we are all different, it is difficult to give recommendations that will specifically work for you. However, if your vitamin-D level is low (less than 30ng/ml—40ng/ml), consider taking 4-6000IU/day of a high-end vitamin D3.
Besides supplementing with vitamin D, the foods that provide dietary vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish (Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines);
- Cod liver oil;
- Almond milk; and
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it is best absorbed with fat from the diet. So, take your vitamin-D supplement with your food.
Don’t forget sunlight. As the dark months are ahead of us, try to get sunlight daily to get the D level up. This doesn’t mean you bake in the sun for hours on end. Rather, let the sunlight hit your skin 30 minutes a day if possible.
Once you start supplementing, getting more sunlight, and eating fatty fish, get your vitamin-D level measured again in 4-6 weeks to see what the new level looks like.
To rebuild from disease, or some chronic health issue, get your vitamin-D level up to 50-80ng.ml.
For more information on rebuilding from disease, go to: www.drzembroski.com/rebuild
Garland, C. F., Gorham, E. D., Mohr, S. B., & Garland, F. C. (2009). Vitamin D for cancer prevention: Global perspective. Annals of Epidemiology, 19 (7), 468–83.