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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

I live in the UK and don't get much sun even in summer. After a year of feeling ill with pain in my arms (mainly) I was finally given a vitamin D test that showed a level of 12 nmol/ml and calcium of 2.17 (minimum being 2). My GP told me to buy vitamin D, no prescription, but it is not easy to find high dose (over 1000IU) d3 without a prescription. I was not told how much to take. Eventually I found a health food shop that sold D3 in 3000IU doses and I bought two bottles, taking 6000IU a day. I started to feel a little better and after 3 months on this dose my level was 86 nmol/ltr so I was advised to reduce the dose. I switched to 5000IU a day in tablet form from an online store that specialises in body-bulking supplements and started taking 5000IU a day of this. I started to feel unwell again, had another test which showed that my D3 had dropped to 79 nmol/ltr and my calcium increased to 2.27. My GP told me that as I now had normal D3 levels I should take no more than 1000IU a day and a guess was made that the drop in plasma levels was caused by a dosage that was lower than it should have been. Having read a considerable amount on the subject I returned to taking 6000IU a day plus a multivitamin that includes 200IU. I am concerned about taking too much D3 as I have now been taking 6,200IU a day for 6 months. and we are just starting to get a few sunny days when I try to get at least 15 minutes sun at midday. It is not easy to get a proper test here but are finger-prick tests accurate? Also am I putting myself at risk by taking approximately 6000IU of D3 a day? I don't know why my levels dropped when I switched to the cheap 5000IU tablets, but my doctor advised me to buy tablets from a pharmacist. The problem with that is I can only obtain 1000IU tablets without a prescription, they would be costly taking 6 tablets a fay, and I would need to buy from different pharmacies as 1000IU a day is considered the maximum that anybody should take without a prescription but doctors here appear very reluctant to prescribe and as my levels were last over 75 nmol/ltr which is the official minimum healthy level in the UK. Do you have any advice?

Ask the Vitamin D Council

Asked by  Lesley on May 18, 2016

Answers

  • Lesley
    Participant
     Lesley on

    See title

    Answered by  Lesley on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    Yes, I have lot’s of advice.
    The levels that they say you need to maintain are NOT healthy levels. This is why you started to feel bad again and it was NOT the “cheap” Vitamin D that did you in rather taking less was the problem.
    We promote having a minimum healthy level of 50ng/ml (which is 125nmol/l) and you only made it to 86nmol/l. The reason for that was is that you were VERY deficient. So you really should have taken even more than the 6000iu. You do not want to be at a level that is less than 40-50ng/ml (100-125 nmol/l) because your chances of cancer will increase dramatically.
    Once you get your level to at least 125nmol/l then you will probably only need a maintenance dosage of 5000iu a day to keep you there. This is for an average weight of 150lbs. If you weigh more, you have to take more.
    I do not remember the accuracy of the finger prick and will have to look for that and get back to you. I may also have another source for the Vitamin D but have to find it.
    Your calcium levels were low because your Vitamin D levels were so low. At 2.27 they are in range now and not even at the high end. They really should have told you to take calcium along with the D. Did they? Do you have any symptoms at the moment?
    We also encourage everyone to read http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/vitamin-d-and-other-vitamins-and-minerals/. It is very important. If you are low in magnesium and take Vitamin D, it can cause symptoms.
    If you would like to try and educate your doctor, you can print off the following: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/further-topics/for-health-professionals-position-statement-on-supplementation-blood-levels-and-sun-exposure/.
    So at 6000iu a day, you are in no danger of getting too much, even if you add sunshine to it.
    So since you are only at about 75nmol/ this is what I would do. Continue taking the 6000iu (don’t even worry about the 200iu in the multi because it is so insignificant) Add to that some sunshine when you can. (I live in US and where I live we have had rain for weeks and weeks.)
    If after about four weeks you can get 15 minutes just about everyday then you could do one of the following. Cut back to 5000iu get that 15 minutes and your level will probably just end up being higher but not over 100ng/ml (250nmol/l). You could cut back to 3000iu and hopefully the 15 min of sun will be enough and if it’s a rainy day take the 5000iu. Once you hit September than it’s back to 5000iu. The safe “official” limit to take is 10,000iu a day and levels not above 375nmol/l (150ng/ml) are proven safe.
    If you have more questions ask. Please come back in a day or two for the answers to the other questions.

    Answered by  IAW on

    • Lesley
      Participant
       Lesley on

      I’ve had symptoms since just after Christmas 2014 but I wasn’t tested for D3 until August 2015 and it took a couple of months for me to find any D3 in a strong enough form. After taking 6000 IU a day for 3 months my level was up from 12 nmol/ltr to 86, I was feeling better although I still had pains in my arms, but my calcium remained at 2.17 nmol/ltr. There has been no suggestion of taking calcium, the doctors seem more concerned about too much vitamin D and calcium and I was even warned to ask the pharmacist if it was safe to take the 200IU in the multivitamin when I could only find 1000IU tablets!.
      I’m taking a sub-lingual spray although I do have 1000, 2000 and also the cheap 5000IU tablets. Calcium phosphate is listed on al of them, but I think only as a binding and bulking agent, no quantity is given.
      The official range in the UK is 75 to 200 nmol/ml of D3 and 2 to 3 nmol/lir of calcium, so I’ve always been in ‘normal limits’ for calcium and as far as doctors were concerned I’ve had ‘optimal’ D3 since December when it was 86 after 3 months of the 6000IU daily spray. I have spells of feeling dizzy, nauseous, weak, generally unwell with pain in my arms and shoulders.
      I don’t know if I should increase my D3, possibly to 9000IU a day. Recently I made the error of dropping to 5000IU because I was able to spend a few days in the sun for a while, and thought the good weather would continue, but now the weather has changed to cold and wet.
      I think it would be very difficult to get another blood test because as far as my GP is concerned my vitamin D is perfectly normal because it’s above 75 nmol/lir but I know that it was extremely low when, after 8 months, I had the first test when it was only 12. I also know that I should aim for close to 150 nmol/ltr, but I was told that, at 76, I now only had to take a maintenance dose of 1000IU and that was back in February. I don’t understand why my calcium was at 2.17 when my D was so low, remained at that level when it increased to 86 nmol/ltr but when the D dropped to 76 the calcium increased to 2.27. Maybe because I was taking tablets that included calcium then?
      I asked about the finger-prick test because I can buy a kit for that in the UK.
      I don’t know if a weight of almost 170 pounds means I need more D3..
      I will print your leaflet, but UK doctors tend to ignore anything not approved by NICE here.
      I’ve read on your site that 5000IU is a reasonable maintenance dose and have considered increasing my D3 so it is closer to 10,000IU when I can’t get sun, but worry that I could take too much and I’m not being monitored. Should I take calcium and magnesium supplements, and if so, what dose? My magnesium levels have never been measured. I’ve read suggestions of adding vitamin k and it is in my multivitamin, but in a small amount..
      I feel ill to a greater or lesser extent most of the time. Recently I felt almost normal for a few days when we had sunshine and unseasonably high temperatures, but I often feel tired and fall asleep instead of grabbing what little sun we have. Probably my neighbours would call an ambulance. Laying on the lawn is just not socially acceptable here and the lawn is communal.
      I’ve read your link but would like advice on what is best for me to take as supplements with suggested doses for my age and weight, without risking toxic effects. It seems that the symptoms of toxicity I have read are very similar to the symptoms I have had for so long because of my deficiency..

      Answered by  Lesley on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    Here is one source that was posted to our website.
    You can buy BioTech products in Europe from:
    http://www.greenvits.eu Find BioTech Vitamin D products here:
    Vitamin D
    Delivery is free to all countries of Europe for orders of £15 or more ( €21 or $24 )
    You may also want to try Amazon.

    Delivery is free to all countries of Europe for orders of £15 or more ( €21 or $24 )

    Answered by  IAW on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    So taking 6000iu for three months got you to 86nmol/l but you need to be higher. So I think at your weight you should increase the amount but I would try 8000iu. (You will need a higher amount than 5000iu as a maintenance dosage.)
    To go with that you really need co-factors and you can learn about them here at ttp://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/vitamin-d-and-other-vitamins-and-minerals/. I would try adding any co factors that are not covered or not covered enough by the multi before increasing above 8000iu. Most people do not have enough magnesium in their diets and a normal blood test will not tell you anything. I think you better get some calcium too. Again you can be low in calcium and it will not show on the blood test. How much does your multi have? Calcium is not covered in the co-factors section so I would try for 500mg and hopefully your diet will contain the rest.
    I do think that some of your symptoms are coming from a magnesium deficiency. (Do not get magnesium oxide any other kind will do.) You probably need at least 500mg. Too much and you will get loose bowels and then need to cut back the amount.
    Magnesium deficiency symptoms •Irritability or anxiety, Nausea, Headaches, Insomnia, Fatigue, Muscle cramps/twitching, Weakness and constipation.
    HYPOcalcemia (not enough calcium)
    The symptoms of hypocalcemia are/can be muscle spasms/twitches, numbness and tingling of your fingers and toes or around the mouth 9pins and needles), depression, irritability, very low levels may cause confusion, disorientaion and heart irregularities.
    The upper limit of the range in the US is 100ng/ml in nmol/l that is 250.
    Just in case below are the symptoms of Hypercalcemia.
    The symptoms of hypercalcemia include: feeling sick or being sick, poor appetite or loss of appetite, feeling very thirsty, passing urine often, constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle weakness or pain, feeling confused, feeling tired and bone pain. If you start these symptoms then you need to stop the Vitamin D and tell me.
    So get the extra Vitamins and minerals, increase the Vitamin D and let me know how you feel. It will be very hard to overdose on anything at 10,000iu or below!

    Answered by  IAW on

    • Lesley
      Participant
       Lesley on

      Taking advice from the last reply, after I provided more information, I managed to source and buy a calcium and magnesium supplement from Holland and Barret (probably the largest UK seller of supplements, herbal remedies and health foods). So I bought two more bottles of the 3000IU sub-lingual spray and tablets containing 500 mg of calcium, 250 mg of magnesium. I’ve increased the D3 to 8000 IU a day (two sprays of the sub-lingual), two 1000IU tablets of D3 from the local pharmacy plus a calcium and magnesium tablet a day.
      I’d ordered these before I saw the Biotech link so don’t want to use them unless I have to.. I have enough of all three for 3 months now and the only D that Biotech seems to sell that contains the vitamins and minerals recommended are very expensive for a pensioner in the UK.
      Anyway, I don’t know if it is co-incidence (I tend to get every virus around) or the change in supplements, but I seem to feel a little better although I only changed my supplements two days ago.
      I am concerned about my levels getting too high as my last blood test was in February (the one that was 7 nmo/L lower than the December test.
      I asked about finger-prick tests because a UK hospital sells them and analyse the results with gas chromatography (I think). Testing for vitamin D is rarely done here, it took 9 months before I had the first test and the second one was only arranged because parathyroid levels (which were normal) hadn’t been done before. The first doctor told me to continue with 6000 IU for a while as 86 nmol/L was still low, the second told me that I shouldn’t take more than 1000 IU as my (slightly lower) levels were in the normal range.
      Here we’ve had 2 years with little sun and so far this year there have been 2 days without cold winds, clouds and rain.

      Answered by  Lesley on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    Is this the UK hospital you are talking about at http://www.vitamindtest.org.uk/? I believe blood spot testing is quite efficient from what I know, so I would go with that.
    It would be very unlikely for your levels to get too high from taking 8000iu a day.
    If you take enough Vitamin D you should notice that you will not get as sick as often or at all. The other thing you can do is if you feel a cold/sickness coming on, then take an extra couple of 1000 iu’s for several days. It will usually lesson the severity or stop it from developing. If you have allergies, they may disappear. Two people recently told me that the “sugar” cravings they had been having stopped with enough Vitamin D. I could go on and on.
    The last place you want to be, though, is a level below 40ng/ml (100nmol/l) because your chances of cancers and autoimmune illness increase a lot.

    Answered by  IAW on

  • Lesley
    Participant
     Lesley on

    That’s the hospital. At some time in the future I’ll get a kit from there unless a miracle happens and my doctor orders a test.
    I’ve been taking 8000IU of D3 plus a pill combining 500 mg of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium each day (ordered them from a reputable UK company before I was given the other link), 6000 IU in a sub-lingual spray (comes in 3000 IU shots) plus two 1000 IU tablets.
    I think I am feeling a little better, including less pain and pins and needles on my arms, in spite of practically no sun and cold winds, something that doesn’t encourage spending time in the sun without a heavy coat. If we get warm sun this summer I plan to spend time getting a little natural D, but in recent years we get more rain than sun in the UK in summer. Last summer I think we had at least two good weeks.
    The problem here is it seems that the medical profession rarely considers vitamin D, are more concerned about overdose due to sun than deficiency, and regard anything close to the ‘minimum average’ on lab reports as fine. We use nmol/L as the measurement and lab normal limits are 75 to 150. I believe doctors are allowed to prescribe for anybody under 20 nmol/L but most are reluctant to prescribe. So I was just told to buy some D3, no dose, no follow-up, nothing, when I had an original level of 12..

    Answered by  Lesley on