Vitamin D deficiency can be a big problem in the winter months, especially if you live up in Michigan! At Plum Health, we delivery direct primary care services, meaning that we can get you wholesale medications and at-cost laboratory services, including Vitamin D Levels and Vitamin D supplements.
You should have a vitamin D level of 20 - 50 ng/mL - some experts in the field recommend 20 - 40 ng/mL as the appropriate range, others recommend 30 - 50 ng/mL as the best range. However, experts agree that a Vitamin D level of less than 20 ng/mL can lead to problems with skeletal health.
Having a sub-optimal vitamin D level can lead to osteoporosis, an increased risk of falls and possible fractures. Additionally, having a low vitamin D level can put you at risk for immune problems and cardiovascular problems.
We make vitamin D in our skin, and this production is aided by sunlight. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) noted that "humans typically obtain 90 percent of vitamin D from sunlight". Unfortunately, because of low sunlight levels in the winter, our Vitamin D production ceases in temperate areas like Detroit, Edmonton, and Boston.
Furthermore, you are at an increased risk of having low vitamin D levels if you are sedentary, if you have dark skin, if you are obese, if you are over 65 years of age, or if you take medications that alter Vitamin D metabolism, like steroids or seizure medications.
So, unless you are a young, active snowbird, it is wise to take a vitamin D supplement to offset your lost productivity in the winter months. According to the AAFP, a 3.5 ounce piece of fresh, wild-caught salmon has roughly 600 - 1,000 international units of vitamin D. Other sources of dietary vitamin D include tuna with 230 IU's for every 3.6 ounces consumed and milk at 100 IU's for every 8 ounces consumed.
If you'd rather get your vitamin D in pill form, Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol comes in doses of 400, 800, 1,000 or 2,000 IU's. These can be purchased over the counter, but it is best to talk to your primary care doctor before deciding on which dose is appropriate for you.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
Paul Thomas, MD, Family Medicine doctor in Detroit, Michigan