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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've been taking 5000 IU of D3 a day to try and overcome a blood level of 28 ng/dL. We're having a spell of sunny weather here in the PNW and I was thinking of sunbathing to get my D the natural way. Should I stop taking the supplements and when the clouds come back then continue? The other thing is how do I know how much I'm actually getting from the sun? Almost seems like sun exposure can throw too many unknowns into the recovery process where supplements only are precisely controlled. Any advice is appreciated.

Ask the Vitamin D Council

Asked by  Jon on May 6, 2016

Answers

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    See title

    Answered by  Jon on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    Well sunshine does give us other benefits than just Vitamin D. So we always recommend getting some if you can. You are right about the “unknowns”, so all we can do, is the best we can do.
    When you say “sunbathing” you would have to define that a little bit more. Do you have the opportunity to do that everyday between the hours of about 10-2? How long would you be able to spend each time? Are you going to expose large areas of skin, not just face and arms?
    One of the premier Vitamin D researchers once said to “take the 5000iu and get some sun”. He obviously feels doing both is probably not going to be too much. I would agree. Now if you are taking larger amounts like 10,000iu or more, on a regular basis, then you may want to cut back if you can get some regular exposure.
    Your level will probably end up higher in the range for the summer if you do both. So if you started the 5000iu not too long ago, you could probably skip another test for your level until next October/November and test again to make sure you are at least getting to a minimum of 50ng/ml. Any of this advice is predicated on you having an average weight of 150lbs and you have no illnesses. If so my answer could be different!
    There use to be Vitamin D “calculators” out there but the link I have to one of them will not load today.

    Answered by  IAW on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    Thank-you for your reply, very helpful! I can get out between the hours you mentioned with just some shorts for maximum exposure. Everyday is another story here in Washington state but we are in for a dry sunny spell for the next several days. I’ll stick with the 5000iu and not worry about overdosing from the additional D from sun exposure.
    OK, I actually just found this calculator, (http://vitamind3-cholecalciferol.com/vitamin-d-dosage/), on adjusting dosage based on sun exposure, percent of skin exposed, etc. Seems overly complicated. I’ll stick with your advice and check my level in the Fall.

    Answered by  Jon on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    Anyone experience sort of a burning numb feeling pain in the buttocks from a D deficiency? I can’t sit for more than a few minutes as a result. It started not too long after learning I had a deficiency.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  Jon.
    Answered by  Jon on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    So far no one has given this specific symptom. Sometimes people come back much later and will post to someone’s question.
    May I suggest the following or give you some “food for thought”.
    Because of your original question, I never pointed out that if you have not already you should read http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/vitamin-d-and-other-vitamins-and-minerals/. A deficit in any co-factor could impede getting better. (I just found a posting on the internet that described “numbness and tingling” was solved by magnesium. We usually say a sign of magnesium deficiency is “Muscle cramps/twitching”. )
    At a level of 28ng/ml you are deficient according to our standards, but I have seen much lower here at the Q&A. Do you think your original measurement included “sunshine”? Meaning could you have started off with a much lower level, got some sunshine and then were measured? Since you were taking our recommended 5000 iu a day, I did not ask if you have an average weight of 150lbs? If you weigh more you have to take more. So you could try adding 2-3000 iu more and see if it makes any improvement in your symptom. Do you have any more symptoms???? (Your level combined with symptom(s,) is throwing me off.)
    The other thing to think about is that it might be two separate issues so you might want to go see a doctor. If nothing else they can rule other things out.

    Answered by  IAW on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    I did start taking co-factors of k2 and magnesium at about the same time although for the prior several months before my test I had been taking 1000iu of D without co-factors not knowing better. I have had no sun exposure since summer. My weight is about 183, I’m 61 years old.
    Other symptoms were increase in pain in my feet starting in the Fall of last year. I do have metatarsalgia but it became worse and it is now more a burning pain. New orthotics did not help. I thought I had developed a case of high hamstring tendonopathy in March due to having pain in the high hamstring and lower glute but the specialist tested and said it was muscle fatigue and sent me to PT, The PT tested me for muscle pull and that also came up negative so she thinks it is nerve related and has me doing a couple things to hopefully help. They don’t. I’ve now developed pain in the right heel, same leg as the mystery hamstring/glute pain. Oh, and about two weeks after the hamstring started hurting is when both glutes started feeling painful/numbish. Also, my calves are tighter than normal (they are always tight), and more painful, I have an occasional transient tingly itchy spot in various place on my body, some days worse than others, and and I’ve suffered with insomnia for years but lately it’s worse probably from the stress of what I’m going through. The only other wild card I can think of is I had a titanium dental implant last December. Seems a smallish percentage of people are allergic to titanium and can have some nasty symptoms after implants are placed. Whew.
    I’ve always been sensitive to sugar, salt, caffeine, and supplements, with supplements of any kind causing odd reactions like discomfort, pain, and even joint stiffness and it used to worry me that some day, if I needed to to use a supplement to overcome an actual deficiency I might be in trouble. I’ve told many doctors about this and know one has had an explanation. Usually a blank look, actually.
    I do have an appointment with a neurologist. They are a busy bunch so mid July is the soonest I could get in to see one.
    Sorry, I realize, as I read over this, that there is not much that makes sense and probably no solution. I’m starting to think maybe I’m an alien with so many puzzling problems. Maybe I need to just stop everything and see what happens. I’ve read on the easyimmunehealth.com website that increasing pain is normal. Here is a quote from her website if I may?:
    “One of the problems that occurs when someone is deficient in vitamin D for a very long time is that they have loss of calcium and minerals from their bones. Over time, this leads to a condition called osteopenia or osteoporosis. But loss of bone minerals can occur even if your Bone Mineral Density appears ‘normal’ to doctors.

    However, if you are experiencing pain while taking vitamin D, then your bone mineral status is definitely not normal and your pain proves it. You see, when your bones are seriously depleted of minerals, and you begin to take vitamin d, the vitamin d will help you start absorbing minerals and depositing them into the bones where it is needed. But water always attaches to minerals, and when your bones begin to remineralize, it will also draw water with those minerals.

    Unfortunately for many, when this happens, the periosteum, a thin layer of tissue that surrounds the bones, will swell with the water, causing pain similar to the pain of a bone bruise. This pain is ‘temporary’, meaning that it can last weeks to months, sometimes even up to 6 months or longer, depending upon how long it takes for your bones to stop remineralizing at such a high rate.”
    Thanks again for your time.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  Jon.
    Answered by  Jon on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    So the 28ng/ml is a reading with taking 1000iu a day and we really do not know what your beginning level was???
    Are you taking a minimum of 500mg, if not more, of magnesium a day and NOT magnesium oxide? The worst case scenario, for most people, is that too much magnesium will give you loose bowels and then you have to decrease the amount taken.
    Do you take any calcium whether in a multi vitamin or separate?
    You said “been sensitive to sugar, salt, caffeine, and supplements” it would not surprise me if it came from a Vitamin D deficiency.
    At 183 lbs, you need to take more. The “official”safe upper limit is10,000iu and a blood level of 150ng/ml although most ranges go to an upper end of 100ng/ml. So if you still want to go outside for some of your D then go to 8000iu plus some sun and see what happens. If you add a new symptom or the one’s you have get worse, stop the D and tell me.
    Taking the Vitamin D in larger amounts or if there is just not enough minerals in your diet can cause hypocalcemia (a low enough level can be dangerous). The symptoms of HYPOcalcemia are/can be muscle spasms/twitches, numbness and tingling of your fingers and toes or around the mouth (pins and needles), depression, irritability, very low levels may cause confusion, disorientation and heart irregularities.
    Although calcium is not listed in the co-factors, you need it to repair bone and other things. You may want to get some and see if it changes any of your symptoms.

    Answered by  IAW on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    The 28ng/ml was taking 1000 iu a day but not consistently, (I figured it was probably a good idea to take some D in the winter but was really ignorant about how important it is, or how to take it), and I stopped about two weeks before the test because I was thinking it might be causing some of my problems. I am taking magnesium malate and Doctor’s Best chelated magnesium but have been inconsistent with the amount as when I take the recommended dose I seem to get worse. Too tough to get sun where I live so will rely on supplements. I just took some calcium before reading your post thinking perhaps I’ve got an imbalance between the two (Cal/mag). My stress levels have been super high for years so am also thinking high cortisol levels could be causing me grief. So I’m also working on that, with meditation, getting a better nights sleep, etc.
    So, I will up the D, get more calcium, and try to be consistent with the magnesium amount of at least 500mg and keep my fingers crossed. I’m also waiting for the results of a vitamin D blood level test I ordered from this site. It’s been two weeks so should be available soon, I hope.
    I really appreciate the advise and will certainly let you know if there are any changes for the worse, or hopefully the better.
    I just thought of something in regards to calcium. About 10 years ago I went to my doctor because I notice my right shin just below the knee had developed a rather prominent bony ridge. The doc said it was nothing to worry about so I didn’t. I’ve noticed lately that my left shin has also developed a ridge in the same place but not as pronounced, yet. I have no idea if it has any relevance but thought I should mention it just in case.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  Jon.
    Answered by  Jon on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    Jon I am not a doctor, so there is only so much I can help with. Most times I answer simple questions like “is 1000iu enough because that is what my doctor says”. (Answer is no!) Sometimes it’s “every time I take Vitamin D I get a terrible headache, why?” (Answer you are low in magnesium.) I also ask people to update me if they have good results because I may be able to help others with it. One person told me it was about 6 months till he felt better. More Vitamin D up front may have helped him to feel better faster but it’s not a guarantee. I have told others to increase the amount taken and two days later they have started to feel better.
    If levels are low enough, then you can have osteomalacia. “The dull, aching pain associated with osteomalacia most commonly affects the lower back, pelvis, hips, legs and ribs.” At this point once you start taking D, I would assume if there is not enough minerals to go with it, might make everything worse. If your levels are low enough, standard treatment is to prescribe calcium with it. So at this point I do not know if you can avoid all pain or not when healing.
    Have you ever had a thyroid test?
    I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

    Answered by  IAW on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    I appreciate that. I’m trying to keep my fingers crossed, too.
    I have not had a thyroid test recently. It’s been perhaps about 6 years ago or so.
    I apologize for dumping so much on you. Just kind of spilled out. I’m frustrated. I know I need to be patient and disciplined with the vitamin and mineral regimen needed to overcome the deficiency. The constant pain kinds of wears a person down after a while so I will need to work on trying to stay positive for my sake and my wife’s as well. This is causing her a lot of stress and worry, too.

    Answered by  Jon on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    OK. So after taking 5000iu of D with co-factors for a about 5 weeks, and then buying a D Council test kit, the result just came in and I’ve gone from 28ng/mL on March 9 to 29.4ng/mL with lots of pain in the process as documented in previous posts.
    I’m thinking that quitting the D and getting my magnesium levels up, (and I’ve had problems historically with low Mag levels confirmed by blood tests), and also taking K supplements might be the way to solve this as I’ve come to understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, that it’s futile to take D unless mag levels are normalized.

    Answered by  Jon on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    Was your original measurement of 28 from one of the VDC’s kits also?
    The worse that will happen if you do not have enough magnesium and take Vitamin D, is that you will start to have symptoms. Magnesium deficiency symptoms are usually
    •Irritability or anxiety, Nausea, Headaches, Insomnia, Fatigue, Muscle cramps/twitching, Weakness and constipation.
    Now let me ask this question again. Did your symptoms and problems get worse taking Vitamin D or are they the same and just not any better?
    We recommend the blood tests to make sure your level is going up. Since yours is not, and if you do not think the Vitamin D is making it worse, then Dr. Cannell would say you need to take more. One of the things we do not know is how much Vitamin D your body will use if it is trying to correct a “diseased state” for lack of better terminology on my part.
    So you can double the 5000iu to 10,000iu and see what happens. If your symptoms get worse then STOP but if they do not then continue. (You might even have to go higher than the 10,000iu.) I am most worried about you taking a higher amount and it making your symptoms worse.

    Answered by  IAW on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    PS Do you take any medications?

    Answered by  IAW on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    PS2 Do you have any digestive issues?

    Answered by  IAW on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    The original measurement was from a blood test at my request during a routine physical.
    My symptoms became considerably worse after starting D and notched up even more after your recommendation to take more based on my weight.
    No medications.
    Acid reflux on and off

    Answered by  Jon on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    If you think the following symptoms fit, someone could check your calcium levels.
    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. Under certain conditions and medical issues taking Vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia see http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/further-topics/vitamin-d-hypersensitivity/.
    A Vitamin D deficiency would fall under Endocrinology if you wanted to try a specialist. Only problem is if they only think you need a level of 30ng/ml.

    Answered by  IAW on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    My calcium levels were 9.9 mg/dL when I had my physical/blood test in early March.
    I do pee a lot but stress has always done that to me and I’ve been drinking coffee and lately tea. The only other symptom is pain but it feels more like nerve and/or muscle.
    I’m still leaning toward it being the fact I react oddly to taking supplements and have for about 26 years. Never really been able to make sense of it but everytime I think I could benefit from some supplement or other I find I don’t. i just start getting weird pains and a sort of numb feeling mostly in my legs if I take any supplement more than a few days.
    I’m telling you, I’m extraterrestrial. I should probably be taking plutonium supplements.
    Seriously, I really appreciate your advice and the service you do here at VDC.

    Answered by  Jon on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    I had another person, not too long ago, that was having problems taking Vitamin D in supplement form. I finally said that he could try a sun tanning parlor as long as their beds also supply the vitamin d wavelengths or get a sunlamp. He was going to get his own sunlamp. He has not reported back yet, so I cannot comment on how he is doing.

    Answered by  IAW on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    I think all nutrients are best taken as nature intended, if possible. I think a sunlamp might be something to investigate. And even on our many cloudy days here in the PNW I can still get out and get some natural D even if it’s just arms and head.

    Answered by  Jon on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    Just realized I’ve NOT been taking all the co-factors. Boron and zinc have been ordered an will try resuming the D after I’ve had a chance to build up both in my system.

    Answered by  Jon on

  • Jon
    Participant
     Jon on

    This is probably a dumb question so my apologies ahead of time, but if one is trying to get D from sun exposure are the co-factors still needed?

    Answered by  Jon on

  • IAW
    Participant
     IAW on

    Yes co-factors needed either by supplements or diet! (It’s why some people get headaches or very tired after sun exposure. Not enough magnesium.)

    Answered by  IAW on