When I graduated Chiropractic school, we were still under the impression that Vitamin D was really only useful for growing and maintaining strong bones. Since then, research has demonstrated links between low levels of Vitamin D with weak immune systems, pain and inflammation, and even mood and anxiety. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) hits many people in the winter, and it is not likely a coincidence that during the winter months, we are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D.
Not only were we wrong about the vast number of things that Vitamin D does, we were also grossly wrong about the appropriate dosage. The National RDA was established at 400 IU, largely because this was the quantity required to prevent Rickets and Osteomalacia. Not having bone disease is much different than being healthy. The final verdict is probably not in, but it is not uncommon for people to take 5000 to 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a regular basis if they want to be healthy, and 2000 IU is a common maintenance dose. In cases when a person has a blood test and is found to be clinically low in Vitamin D, it is fairly customary to briefly take dosages of 50,000 IU at a time.
In a perfect world, we should be able to make most of our own Vitamin D in our livers with the assistance of ultraviolet light from the sun. However, this far North, we really are only subjected to the right wavelengths to do this between June and September. It is also alarming to find that many people who are tested end up being low regardless of the time of year, the amount of time they spend in the sun, or the amount of milk they drink, all of which were old school ways of predicting Vitamin D health.
If you don’t have a baseline on your Vitamin D levels, it would be worth having the test done to determine what, if any, additional action steps may be needed. It’s not just your bones, but your immune system and mental health that may be at stake. As always, it is important to check with your own doctor before starting nutritional supplements or other medications to rule out any contraindications that may be present.
-Dr. Russell Petersen, DC. Creekside Chiropractic and Rehabilitation, 4000 Enterprise Dr., Sheboygan, Wisconsin.