If you’ve had a blood test for a physical (or perhaps any reason at all) since about April of this year, you probably were advised you have a Vitamin D deficiency. That’s what happened to me.
I’ve been having a physical each year since I turned 50. (I’m almost 58.) Each year, the blood test came back with nothing consequential. PSA – good. Cholesterol – excellent. And so on.
I had my blood test earlier this month and the results were mailed to me with a note: I have Vitamin D deficiency and need to take about 1,000 – 1,500IU’s daily. Whoa…! What’s this?
I look at the test and see that the Vitamin D report part is circled. The level of D in my blood is 25.8 and the report says the “range” should be between 32-100.
So of course the first thing I do is Google “Vitamin D deficiency.” Says here that most folks should not have a problem with D if they get even minimal exposure to the sun. Like even 15 minutes a day, a few days a week. No sunscreen, of course. That exposure will lead to the body producing thousands of IU’s of D. (Exposure time will be longer for darker skinned folks.)
Let’s see… I was in Utah and Vegas for two weeks in July. Sun exposure was about 6 hours a day easy in Utah. About two hours a day in Vegas. Even with sunscreen, I turned very brown. I figure I easily produced 1,000,000 IU’s during those two weeks, making me a gen-u-wine Vitamin D millionaire. (Look Ma – I’m a millionaire!)
But now, a month later, a blood test says my Vitamin D net worth is… heading to bankruptcy? Where’d it all go?
Turns out that the standards for Vitamin D were revised around April. Almost everyone is now considered “deficient” in Vitamin D under the new standard. About 75% of whites and 95% of blacks.
(One day at lunch after receiving the blood test report, I went out to catch some sun and stretched my arms out for maximum exposure of the “lighter” skin on the inside of my arms. A co-worker passed me and inquired if I was Vitamin D deficient. I asked how she knew about that. She said everyone she knew who’s had a recent blood test has been told they are D deficient.)
Fact is, I’m already taking about 1,000 IU’s a day of D supplements. I take a calcium supplement with 400 IU’s; a “senior formula” multi-vitamin with 500 IU’s; and I drink a glass of milk, good for 100 IU’s, every weekday. Plus, I often walk around my office building for about 10 minutes at lunch. Since I have more “natural” tan than most, even if that walk’s only worth 5,000 IU’s, I’m probably getting more D than most folks. And I’m still deficient….?
Something’s not right with this picture. The 900 IU’s I take with the calcium and multi-vitamin is “top grade” D… D3, the kind that stays in the body longest. (I never knew there was D1, D2 and D3.) Maybe something’s interfering with my body’s ability to put all that D to work?
But then I read that the Vitamin D Council says that healthy adults should get 5,000 IU’s a day and that the 32 “minimal” D blood level recommended in my test report is too low… it should be 50 . Well now, I probably am not getting 5,000 IU’s of D each day. And my blood level of about 25 is half what the Council says I should have.
On the other hand, the label on my multi-vitamin says that 500 IU’s of D is 125% of the Recommended Daily Allowance. Which means the RDA is 400 IU’s. Who came up with that? That’s not even 10% of what the Vitamin D Council says you should be getting. I wonder just who’s on this council… producers of Vitamin D supplements? 😉 Someone’s waaaay off base here… (Who’s on first?)
So when I see my doctor this week for the physical, I’m going to ask some hard questions about this “deficiency.” Such as, whether the testing lab used the new D testing standards released in July. If not, maybe it’s the test that’s deficient, not me.
And the fact that there is no consensus on just how much D anyone needs. Vitamin D is fat-soluble. That means whatever is not used is stored. So too much can be toxic.
The Vitamin D pushers say that most folks can tolerate very high levels of D with no ill effect. Are these the same folks who told us decades ago to substitute margarine for butter because margarine was “healthier?” Only to turn around and now say that margarine is a killer because of trans-fat?
I don’t put much stock in “experts” of any ilk. Especially medical experts. Less than a year after I was born, every pediatrician in Manila said I was going to die from gastro-enteritis and so no hospital would admit me. The beds were needed for someone they could treat. Well, all those doctors are dead and I’m writing this blog. Sunday Blogger: 1; “expert” doctors: 0.
So until I get more information that I find satisfactorily convincing about my Vitamin D “deficiency” I’m not taking a single IU more. That’s called taking responsibility for my health and for my life, not ceding it to some so-called “expert” whose ideas can be rebutted by someone with equally compelling credentials, such as the Mayo Clinic. (As Eric Burdon sang: “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want.)
Stay tuned for an update….
Until then, here’s some interesting links about Vitamin D:
Medical News Today discusses the “new” standard and disagreement about recommended levels.
Women to Women suggests Vitamin D is particularly important for women.