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Vitamin D – Why You are Probably NOT Getting Enough

Vitamin D – Why You are Probably NOT Getting Enough

WHAT VITAMIN DO WE need in amounts up to 25 times higher than the government recommends for us to be healthy?

What vitamin deficiency affects over half of the population, is almost never diagnosed, and has been linked to many cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic muscle pain, bone loss, and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis?

What vitamin is almost totally absent from our food supply?

What vitamin is the hidden cause of so much suffering that is so easy to treat?

The answer to all of these questions is vitamin D.

Over the last 10 years of my practice, my focus has been to discover what the body needs to function optimally. And I have become more interested in the role of specific nutrients as the years have passed.

Two recent studies in The Journal of Pediatrics found that 70 percent of American kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D, and this puts them at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and lower levels of good cholesterol. Low vitamin D levels also may increase a child’s risk of developing heart disease later in life.

Overall, 7.6 million, or 9 percent, of American children were vitamin D deficient, and another 50.8 million, or 61 percent, had insufficient levels of this important vitamin in their blood.

Over the last 5 years, I have tested almost every patient in my practice for vitamin D deficiency, and I have been shocked by the results. What’s even more amazing is what happens when my patients’ vitamin D status reaches optimal levels. Having witnessed these changes, there’s no doubt in my mind: vitamin D is an incredible asset to your health.

That is why in today’s blog I want to explain the importance of this essential vitamin and give you 6 tips on how to optimize your vitamin D levels.

Let’s start by looking at the massive impact vitamin D has on the health and function of every cell and gene in your body.

How Vitamin D Regulates Your Cells and Genes

Vitamin D has a huge impact on the health and function of your cells. It reduces cellular growth (which promotes cancer) and improves cell differentiation (which puts cells into an anti-cancer state). That makes vitamin D one of the most potent cancer inhibitors — and explains why vitamin D deficiency has been linked to colon, prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer.

But what’s even more fascinating is how vitamin D regulates and controls genes.

It acts on a cellular docking station ,called a receptor, that then sends messages to our genes. That’s how vitamin D controls so many different functions – from preventing cancer, reducing inflammation, boosting mood, easing muscle aches and fibromyalgia, and building bones.

These are just a few examples of the power of vitamin D. When we don’t get enough it impacts every area of our biology, because it affects the way our cells and genes function. And many of us are deficient for one simple reason …

For example, one study found that vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of getting type 1 diabetes by 80 percent.

Your body makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. In fact, 80 to 100 percent of the vitamin D we need comes from the sun. The sun exposure that makes our skin a bit red (called 1 minimum erythemal dose) produces the equivalent of 10,000 to 25,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D in our bodies.

The problem is that most of us aren’t exposed to enough sunlight.

Overuse of sunscreen is one reason. While these product help protect against skin cancer – they also block a whopping 97 percent of your body’s vitamin D production.

If you live in a northern climate, you’re not getting enough sun (and therefore vitamin D), especially during winter. And you’re probably not eating enough of the few natural dietary sources of vitamin D: fatty wild fish like mackerel, herring, and cod liver oil.

Plus, aging skin produces less vitamin D — the average 70 year-old person creates only 25 percent of the vitamin D that a 20 year-old does. Skin color makes a difference, too. People with dark skin also produce less vitamin D. And I’ve seen very severe deficiencies in Orthodox Jews and Muslims who keep themselves covered all the time.

With all these causes of vitamin D deficiency, you can see why supplementing with enough of this vitamin is so important. Unfortunately, you aren’t really being told the right amount of vitamin D to take.

The government recommends 200 to 600 IU of vitamin D a day. This is the amount you need to prevent rickets, a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. But the real question is: How much vitamin D do we need for OPTIMAL health? How much do we need to prevent autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, depression, osteoporosis, and even cancer?

The answer is: Much more than you think.

Recent research by vitamin D pioneer Dr. Michael Holick, Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, recommends intakes of up to 2,000 IU a day — or enough to keep blood levels of 25 hydroxy vitamin D at between 75 to 125 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter). That may sound high, but it’s still safe: Lifeguards have levels of 250 nmol/L without toxicity.

Our government currently recommends 2,000 IU as the upper limit for vitamin D — but even that may not be high enough for our sun-deprived population! In countries where sun exposure provides the equivalent of 10,000 IU a day and people have vitamin D blood levels of 105 to 163 nmol/L, autoimmune diseases (like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus) are uncommon.

Don’t be scared that amounts that high are toxic: One study of healthy young men receiving 10,000 IU of vitamin D for 20 weeks showed no toxicity.

The question that remains is: How can you get the right amounts of vitamin D?

6 Tips for Getting the Right Amount of Vitamin D

Unless you’re spending all your time at the beach, eating 30 ounces of wild salmon a day, or downing 10 tablespoons of cod liver oil a day, supplementing with vitamin D is essential. The exact amount needed to get your blood levels to the optimal range (100 to160 nmol/L) will vary depending on your age, how far north you live, how much time you spend in the sun, and even the time of the year. But once you reach optimal levels, you’ll be amazed at the results.

For example, one study found that vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of getting type 1 diabetes by 80 percent. In the Nurses’ Health Study (a study of more than 130,000 nurses over 3 decades), vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of multiple sclerosis by 40 percent.

I’ve seen many patients with chronic muscle aches and pains and fibromyalgia who are vitamin D deficient – a phenomenon that’s been documented in studies. Their symptoms improve when they are treated with vitamin D.

Finally, vitamin D has been shown to help prevent and treat osteoporosis. In fact, it’s even more important than calcium. That’s because your body needs vitamin D to be able to properly absorb calcium. Without adequate levels of vitamin D, the intestine absorbs only 10 to 15 percent of dietary calcium. Research shows that the bone-protective benefits of vitamin D keep increasing with the dose.

So here is my advice for getting optimal levels of vitamin D:

    1. Get tested for 25 OH vitamin D. The current ranges for “normal” are 25 to 137 nmol/L or 10 to 55 ng/ml. These are fine if you want to prevent rickets – but NOT for optimal health. In that case, the range should be 100 to 160 nmol/L or 40 to 65 ng/ml. In the future, we may raise this “optimal” level even higher.
    2. Take the right type of vitamin D. The only active form of vitamin D is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Look for this type. Many vitamins and prescriptions of vitamin D have vitamin D2 – which is not biologically active.
    3. Take the right amount of vitamin D. If you have a deficiency, you should correct it with 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day for 3 months — but only under a doctor’s supervision. For maintenance, take 2,000 to 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D3. Some people may need higher doses over the long run to maintain optimal levels because of differences in vitamin D receptors, living in northern latitudes, indoor living, or skin color.
    4. Monitor your vitamin D status until you are in the optimal range. If you are taking high doses (10,000 IU a day) your doctor must also check your calcium, phosphorous, and parathyroid hormone levels every 3 months.
    5. Remember that it takes up to 6 to 10 months to “fill up the tank” for vitamin D if you’re deficient. Once this occurs, you can lower the dose to the maintenance dose of 2,000 to 4,000 units a day.
    6. Try to eat dietary sources of vitamin D. These include:
      • Fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil. One tablespoon (15 ml) = 1,360 IU of vitamin D
      • Cooked wild salmon. (3.5) ounces = 360 IU of vitamin D
      • Cooked mackerel. (3.5) ounces = 345 IU of vitamin D
      • Sardines, canned in oil, drained. (1.75) ounces = 250 IU of vitamin D
      • One whole egg = (20) IU of vitamin D

You can now see why I feel so passionately about vitamin D. This vitamin is critical for good health. So start aiming for optimal levels – and watch how your health improves.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

Have you experienced any symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Do you think you are not getting enough sun?

Have you experienced any health benefits from getting more sun or correcting a vitamin D deficiency you may have had?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (141)

  • Vitamin D3 has been great for me. It really helps me avoid soreness from working.After a brown recluse bite and having to stay home for weeks , I returned to work. I was very sore at the end of the day. I got home, took my D3. The next morning I was 90-95% better! I listened to a chiropractor talk about it on the radio one time. Ever since then, I see it as VERY important. The doctor mentioned how good it is for athletes (bones /muscles). My son are athletes, but so far not taking my advice. Hopefully that’ll change.
    Thank you Dr. Hyman

    • I have been through a deficit of Vit. D3 for the past 6 years minimum. During that time I had 5 surgeries, healing more slowly every time. I read the book by Jeff Bowles in June of 2012, 6 weeks before my last ssurgery on July 26, 2012. Prior to that, I had weight loss surgery that healed reasonably. I had spinal surgery that took about 1 year to heal. Then I had two bladder surgeries about 6 months apart. The second bladder surgery would not heal properely and I was sent to a wound clinic. For 8 months, I went in once a week and the wound was scraped and a ‘Wound Vac” was reinstalled. After 8 months, I was refered back to my surgeon. About this time, I discovered Jeff Bowers book, and started taking 10,000 IU daily, Vit D3. By the last surgery, I was taking 75,000 IU Vit D3 and 8 caps of 1000 Units vitamin K2. I have completely healed in 5 months. Though I am now taking 100,000 IU V3 and 10.000 IU V K2 and I am feeling great for the first time in 12 years I am feeling great. My weight is falling in at a regular pace and previous injuries, etc. are slowly healing,. I am also eating a minimum of 80 grams of high quality protien daily, but then I am a type O+, and require more protien than other blood types.
      If you want to read Jeff’s book, look on You will find the Jeff agrees with Dr. Hyman, particularly in reguard to the lack of Vitamin D3 in your diet.

  • Now I know why I am stiff and sore all the time, and it also makes sense why when I’min the sun the stiffness seems to lessen. Thank you Dr. Hyman

  • Well i am delivering mail for the living, means at lest 7 hours of sun a day no sunscreen and still deficient in vitamin d. anybody have any idea why?

    • DariusZ, your body may have a hard time converting Vitamin D. You should talk with your doctor as to why this is, but it seems that you are definitely a good candidate for Vit.D supplementation and lots of it.

      • .. also we found the same in India with many people deficient in vit D but this was because they were covered up a little more and their skin is darker making it harder to penetrate. I am sure when you are delivering the mail you are clothed and just your head and arms are exposed.

    • …check your latitude on the planet. If you are at the 37th latitude or above, the sun’s rays are not strong enough to produce D on your skin. The higher you go up the latitude the less months of the year the sun’s rays make enough D on your skin. Also, look at how much time your indoors. How much clothing you wear when you are getting sun. And your age. The older you are you make less D on the skin, especially after 50 years old. Right now is Oct 3, 2012. I live at the 38th latitude and my region’s last day to make D on the skin was Sept 21, 2012. My region’s sun strength will not produce D on people skin until mid-March next year. So that means, at the 38th latitude, my region goes almost 6 months with sun rays that are not strong enough to creat D on the skin no matter how hot it is outside. In fact the sun rays right now are harmful UVA. The UVB rays are what creates D on the skin. So I’m supplementing for sure! Here is a video to watch and the Navy site that shows when the strength of the sun makes D in your region: (this video should be seen before you do the Navy data sun chart)

    • Is your skin tone darker? The more melanin you have the more sunlight you need to produce adequate D.
      Are you getting on in years? Older people make less.
      Do you bath and scrub with soap daily? It takes the body 24-48 hours to absorb the vitamin D made in the skin.
      Are you covered either by clothing or sunscreen? Both cut down the D made.

  • Yes, about a year and a half ago I was diagnosed as vitamin D deficient and found that I had been sleeping a lot and felt sluggish. The doctor prescribed Vit D and I snapped out of being sluggish. I’ve been making an effort this summer to get more sun, but don’t get enough during the winter months. I plan to suppliment then and to regularly have my blood tested for Vit D.

  • I appreciate this information; as a brown-skinned woman living in AK (plenty of sunlight alternating with minimal sunlight) I have been supplementing since I moved here 4 1/2 years ago. I suspect some of my other aches and pains may be Vit. D related, so I need to be more consistent in taking the supplement even in summertime.

  • for the past 6 – 8 months i have been sore in my back between my shoulder blades i have pains in my legs and hands that come and leave and have neck pain, also have no energy unless I take a bottle of 5 hour energy and then i am able to do a few things around the house…… I have thought walking might help because I have been inactive since retirement…..I have the feeling that I may have a deficiency of vitamins. I am a type 2 diabetic so I try and watch my intake of carbs and sugar. My meds are Metformin tabs, 1000 MG 1 tab twice daily. Simvastatin tab 20 MG 1 tab. daily. Glimepiride tab 2 MG 1 tab daily. Do you think that my meds could be causing my being without energy and causing my soreness and pains?

    • Hi Ron,

      Thank you for sharing your health concerns. Please read : to get an idea of some actions you can take to help feel better. Next, look into a trained practitioner in functional medicine. To locate a practitioner of functional medicine in your area see the “Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner” link at the Institute of Functional Medicine’s website. Here you will find a place to enter your zip code and look for practitioner’s in your area that have completed the institute’s five-day training course in functional medicine. Understand that not all of the doctors listed here will fit your particular needs. Many different medical professionals complete this training, and you will have to do additional research on your own regarding a particular practitioner’s approach and whether or not it fits your specific medical requirements. This may include calling the practioner’s office, visiting his or her website, and/or scheduling a consultation

      Also, stay tuned for the release of Dr. Hyman’s upcoming book and interactive tool, The Blood Sugar Solution coming out this winter. You sound like a great candidate and could probably reap a lot of wonderful benefits.

      In good health

  • Dariusz. How much of your body is covered while you are delivering the mail? If you wear long sleeved shirts and pants, then the amount of vitamin D you will make will be considerably less than what you would if your arms and legs were exposed to the sun. Also, do you have light or dark skin? The darker your skin, the less vitamin D you can make.

  • Thanks for this timely and good article. I do have some questions: If lifeguards routinely show levels in the 250 range without ill effects or any sign of toxicity, then why do you so strongly state the cautions in point # 4:

    ” 4. Monitor your vitamin D status until you are in the optimal range. If you are taking high doses (10,000 IU a day) your doctor must also check your calcium, phosphorous, and parathyroid hormone levels every 3 months.”

    Isn’t that maybe being a bit overcautious, maybe even discouraging people from taking enough vit D?

    Also, how about differentiating some of the diffierent vit Ds, e.g. D3, D2, etc.

    Lastly, how about explaining that vitamin D is not really a vitamin, like vitamin C is. Rather it is a hormone that regulates many crucial functions in the human body, including how the immune system behaves? I think that would be useful information for anyone wanting to optimize this aspect of their health.

    By the way, I often recommend daily amounts up to 16,000 iu of D3 per day for a few weeks to get people quickly up to a healthy level. Then we back off the amount until they are stable at around 100 or slightly above.

    • What about women who are survivors of estrogen positive breast cancer? Is it safe for them (including me) to take upwards of 10,000 mg of D3 a day–at least for a short period of time? I am 57 and have chronic muscle and nerve pain.

      The latter was caused by an aggressive dose (per my onco) of a taxane-based chemo drug during BC treatment that had me in such pain that I often had to use a wheelchair. I was 46 at the time. The foot neuropathy has never fully healed and I often have terrible aching and burning in my feet. The bottoms of my feet turn very red.

      I suspect the chronic muscle aching is due to the lack of estrogen, which started when chemo launched me into menopause. I have of course been warned by my onco never to take any form of hormone.

      I think D3 might help my pain level significantly, but will I be raising my risk if cancer recurrence if I take high levels? For many months I have been taking 5,000mg per day, after testing low, but it is not enough to help with my pain. I think 10,000 mg is what I need!

      I am asking this question on behalf of all women (and men!) who have had hormone + breast cancer!

      Thank you for any guidance you can give me!

  • Response to Dariusz question above:

    Do you have significant portions of your skin exposed while you are outdoors? If not, that could be the problem.

    Also, if other nutrients, dietary components or hormones are out of balance, deficient, or otherwise not optimal, that could disrupt your body’s ability to use sunlight to generate vitamin D in “normal” amounts.

    Lastly, a trick to really boost vitamin D and particularly D3 levels is to be out in the sunlight everyday between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm (in most latitudes and times of the year), without any sunglasses, or any glasses or even contact lenses on. This allows the sunlight to stimulate the retina, which then causes a chain of events that results in your body making lots of vitamin D. Of course, for some folks who are prone to cataracts that could be risky. But that is a whole other kettle of fish. I would maintain that if the body’s biochemistry is healthy, the risk of cataracts is low. I do not believe they are a natrual results of exposure to sunlight anymore than I believe that skin cancer is, provided the essential mineral and nutrient levels are healthy.

  • I discovered D3 about two years ago and take 4 -6,000 IU per day. It has helped my immune system immensely. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and my antibodies are dropping since I have been on the D3 and I took gluten out of my diet (much easier than I thought, by the way!)
    AND, when I feel myself coming down with something I take a one time dosage of 10,000-12,000 IU and it has successfully warded off numerous illnesses. Do you know the research is on that larger dosage for one time usage? Several MD and nutritionist friends told me about it, so I felt safe trying it, but I am curious about the research behind that strategy…thanks!
    Also, I have a daily blog “Presence Matters” and I am going to link to this blog post early next week.
    Thanks for your wonderful work!
    Suzanne Scurlock-Durana

  • A few weeks ago I had a seizure-like episode. I lost most of my vision for about 15 minutes. I had been taking about 4,000 IU of Vitamin D3 for a couple of months. In the weeks leading up to this episode, I had experienced an overall feeling of not feeling right, mostly accompanied by a feeling of dizziness and acute ‘awareness of my entire head’. Sometimes with a tingling type feeling (as you feel when you are frightened by something’ or maybe more like the feeling of chills in my hair). I went to the ER and they found nothing wrong. I since decided to stop taking the extra D3 and just go with the regular 600 mg of calcium with 400mg of VitD-3. The symptoms are beginning to let up. Is there a possible connection?

    • Hi Denise, thank you for your question. You should work with your physician to determine the cause of your symptoms, we cannot advise you over the internet.

      Wishing you good health!

    • That is really interesting Denise. My 22 year old daughter was put on 4000 mg of vitamin D. She has been complaining of dizziness, extreme fatigue and anxiousness. I was wondering if she was allergic to liquid form of vitamin D. She hasn’t tried the tablet. I also wonder if vitamin D is good for people with over active immune response?

  • Hello, If my blood level of vitamin D is 37.2 ng/ml (so slightly below the range for optimal health) should I take the “deficiency” level of vit D 3 supplement or the “maintenance” level? Thank you!

  • Thanks for this great blog post. I have suffered with psoriasis for the last 10 years and have found that both prescribed bit d cream with 2000 mg of d3 helps my skin tremendously.

  • Thanks for this interesting post. A few weeks ago my Vitamin D level was checked because I have developed osteoporosis. The result of the Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy test showed a level of less than 13.0. My doctor has prescribed 50,000 units of Vitamin D once a week for 8 weeks. After wandering the internet for information on Vitamin D I learned that the most effective form of Vitamin D is Vitamin D3. I was prescribed Vitamin D2. And so now I feel very frustrated and actually a bit angry because I feel that i cannot really have a conversation about this with my highly regarded, highly trained doctor who i want to respect, yet how can i when more and more am beginning to believe she is a little old-fashioned and find myself informing her instead of vice verse and it is somewhat unpleasant and certainly a lot of work. I only have so many minutes for my consultation like every one else. And any conversation about this can only come to a bad end no matter how thoughtfully i approach the subject. My plan is to begin to take 2,000 units of Vitamin D3 either every day or every other day after the end of 8 weeks. My doctor advised 800 units of Vitamin D per day after the end of 8 weeks. Apologies for complaining…..

    • Hi There,

      We truly sympathize with your frustration. It is simply a matter of training and most medical doctors have not recieved the current knowledge maintained by Dr Hyman. Congrats on informing yourself. It seems like it would be prudent for you to take 2,000 IUs of D3 daily. Im sure you are curious to know more and learn why your values may have been low to begin with. Please visit Dr Hyman’s nutritionists to learn more about how your personal lifestyle choices effects your nutrition status:

  • I asked my PCP for a vitamin D level test. I gave her my reasons – significant low energy, fog, family history of osteoporosis, and leg pain at times. She refused to give the test. A year or so later I requested the same test from a functional medicine physician. I had low vitamin D. He prescribed a regimen of Vitamin D supplementation. Another year or so later I showed the test results to my original PCP. She re-tested me and prescribed an higher dose short-term regimen of Vitamin D. I will be insisting on yearly testing. I also plan to consult with the functional medicine doctor on a periodic basis. Thanks for your books that showed me where I might need changes, how to advocate for myself, and where to find functional medicine physicians. I find that self-advocacy is difficult, but I am improving in my skills in this area. I wish I had a database of functional medicine research that I could easily access. For example, the rare physician might recommend fish oil, but I have not had anyone specify amounts for children, how much DHA is ideal, or how to identify a quality product. I’d like to be able to quickly an easily find that information. Thanks, again.

    • Article on vitamin D3 sounds solid, what I have suspected; especially by the drop in energy and well being in the winter months. Question, how do I balance skin damage from sun without sunscreen (I’m a golfer)?
      Question 2 – Do you have a residential program similar to Canyon Ranch, where I can come for a week of instruction on dieting, cooking vitamins and perhaps some limited testing?
      Thank you.
      Joan Miller

  • Since sunlight is the best source of Vit D, then how long should one be exposed to the sun when UVB rays are optimum?

  • We need more than sunlight and foods that contain vitD…we also need a probiotic as we have destroyed our GI systems and some romaine (vitK) to be able to synthesize and absrb the vit D.

  • I read some information regarding Vitamin D about 2 years ago. I had chronic back pain and been experiencing many other health problems as well, but it was the back pain the drew my attention to Vitamin D. I started taking 2000 mg of Vitamin D3 a day and noticed immediately that my chronic back pain was gone. It was so bad that I sometimes had difficulty getting out of a chair or sitting down. Climbing stairs was painful on my knees and even worse going down. All these things were gone once I started taking Vitamin D. My hair become more shiny and sores in my mouth were gone as well. Vitamin D is a very important part of our diet! Thanks for sharing your information!

  • How about getting a UV lamp? I think a UV-B bulb in a lamp could help for those who are in the north and/or don’t spend much time outdoors. Use a lamp that can shine directly on you. The question is how much wattage or lumens and how long exposed.

  • Hi Mark

    I live in Australia which has one of the highest rates of melanoma inthe population. There are simultaneously reports of increasing numbers of people suffering from Vitamin D deficiency. I live in Canberra which is at an altitude of 600m and the air is incredibly clear meaking it extremely easy to get burned. I spend a reasonable amount of time in the sun (gardening, cycling, walking) bearing in mind my GP’s advice to avoid being in the sun between 11am and 2pm. Nonetheless I have been diagnosed as being deficient in Vitamin D.

    This is very confusing to me and I would be interested in hearing your views on how it is possible for a population to experience both Vitamin D deficiency and extreme levels of melanoma.


    • Susan

      UVB is strongest at midday when you are avoiding the sun. UVB gets filtered out by the ozone
      so you need to be out between 11am and 2pm for optimal D production plus you have to expose
      at least 40% of your body!

      The Sun is by far the best way for your body to get the best form of D as well as Nitric Oxide
      and as many yet undocumented photo nutrients. Avoid SUNBUN not Sunlight. SPF is a
      terrible carcinogin so use it sparingly and only when you must.

  • What are the recommended requirements for children? I have an 8 year old son who through blood work from his asthma physician, determined that he is slightly immuno-compromised. He is also blond haired, fair skinned and has freckles already. My husband has had skin cancer (type 3 melanoma) so we have been using a high SPF sunblock faithfully. Now I’m concerned that we have been over-doing it. Any thoughts on D3 for him?

  • I had a scary experience with low vitamin D levels this past winter. I moved from Southern Calif. to Prague, Czech Republic and was not used to the lack of sunlight for months on end. Last winter I experienced disturbing symptoms such as numbness and tingling in my hands and legs. My hands and feet would fall asleep often, and it would wake me up at night. I became worried that I had MS. I even went as far as to schedule an appointment with a neurologist. I wanted to find out what was happening to me, so I started researching on the internet and figured out my lack of sunlight exposure (5 months of very little sunlight) was what was causing my symptoms. I got a PX for liquid vitamin D and if there was a patch of sunlight, I would sit in it for as long as I could. My symptoms went away. I am convinced if I started living in this environment I would develop an autoimmune disorder. Maybe it’s because my body does not adapt well to lack of sun. I am moving back home before winter comes back!

    • Hi Christine,

      I know your post was a while ago but I was wondering if your symptoms of tingling ever came back? I am having the same issues and my Vitamin D level is 18…

  • I am constantly reading up on Vitamin D. It’s crucial to our overall well-being. My mother passed away two years ago from Dementia. Had I known about Vitamin D deficiency, she still may be alive and coherent. Since then I was introduced to a product called Life Shotz. It has changed every aspect of my life, my health. Along with the 2000 IU of Vitamin D it also has the B vitamins and much more. I no longer suffer from seasonal depression or fatigue. I am full of natural energy all day long into the evening, and I sleep very well. That just tells me that I was deficient in many areas.

      • You can get your hair tested for mercury, EDTA can chelate excess heavy metals in your blood and tissues. However you should take a supllemental multivitamin so you don’t get deficient in beneficial metals like zinc, copper, iron etc.. dangerous heavy metal levels can be toxic, deadly, etc… especially lead, mercury, and Arsenic.

        I know Mr Hyman means well, but you can have dangerous levels of The hormone vitamin D, the symptoms of excess levels are increased anxiety, among other things. So 30 to 120 or so depending on your bodies need, skin color, duration of exposure, level of cloud coverage, UVB index, amount of clothing worn. You can also use a light box, bright light therapy can raise your Vitamin D and Vitamin E levels as well in darker climates. The correct dosing is 1000iu per 25lbs of body weight, you will need to reduce intake once your body attains proper levels. Good luck.

        • Andrew Keim,
          What are your personal qualifications and sources for these dosing recommendations of yours?

          And BTW, that’s DR. Hyman, not “Mr.” Hyman! 🙁

  • I am continually below the “normal” level for vitamin D, even when taking 5,000 iu per day. I am fair skinned and try to get at least 20 minutes sunlight per day, without sunscreeen. I am ok with taking a vitamin D supplement, but I want to know what else is going on in my body that is causing me to be vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficient. What is the underlying process?

    • HI Lea,
      There could be many reasons why you arent absorbing the D you are taking from hidden celian disease to a dysfunction in your kidneys. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      Sometimes it just takes time to “fill up the tank.”

      For more personalized nutrition care to help you figure out how to improve your D levels, please visit nutrition caoching at:

  • In 2007 I developed bothersome stuffed up nose and was given Flonase for two years to no avail. In July 2009 I developed severe pain in the back of my neck, head, check, ears and behind the nose. I went to my primary of many years and again she gave me Flonase and restated I had allergies. I got worse. I dropped her and got a collegue of the first Dr down the hall. When she came in to see me she looked angry. She stated that I had allergies and to keep taking Flonase. I begged her to help me as I was in so much head pain. She got angrier and said, “Like I said, keep taking the Flonase. If it’s not gone in two months then there is nothing more I can do for you.” And she left. I continued to deterioriate and was in horrific pain. I politely sent the 2nd primary Dr asking if I could see an allergist since they all insisted I had allergies. By the time I got in to see the allergist I was hesterical with pain and couldn’t sleep and was trying to work and hide my horrific pain. I was so ashmed of having this horrible problem. The allergist asked me to get on the table and in 30 seconds diagnosed me with severe LPR. He put me through a battery of tests, I suspect so that no Dr would ever tell me again I had allergies. The sinus scan came out perfectly clear. The oodles of allergy tests came out that I didn’t have any (zero) allergies.

    I was then referred back to a primary and I dropped the 2nd primary because I didn’t feel that she listened to me or cared I was in horrific pain. I got a new primary and she began her algorythem of double doses of antibiotics for H-Pylori. I got worse and worse. I couldn’t bare the pain. I suffered horribly. When that didn’t work they sent me to ENT and GI. The GI did the usual tests and the ENT diagnosed me with severe LPR. The acid vapor from the stomach was escaping because the LES/UES spinchters/muscles were not closing off the stomach processes, the acid was burning through the thin layer throat tissues and burning through the nerves that go up into the head.

    After graduating up through all the levels of PPIs (Proton Inhibitors) I finally was prescribed the highest doses of the purple pill and developed severe pnuemonia and the GI felt that nothing was working to help my severe burning throat. I went into a nissen fundoplication surgery in May 2010 and came out of surgery 10 times worse. No it wasn’t the surgery. The surgery went perfectly. The tests afterwards showed that my acid score went from 40 to .4 so I improved alot with surgery. But I was burning to death worse. I moved due to a retirement and for 5 months my first set of Drs said there was nothing more that could be done. I rolled into the ER room in Sept 2010 in the new region, not sure I could take another day of searing to death. The ER Dr referred me to mental health for stress. They asked me at numerous appts what was stressing me. All I could say was that I wasn’t stressed. I was burning to death.

    I finally was able to get a new GI in the new region I had located to. She was so angry with me as she took my explanation of what had been done and what I was feeling. She contradicated everything I said. I was so despondent. When she came to physcially check me I could tell she was disgusted with me wasting for her time. I felt like it would be ok if I didn’t wake up anymore. I just couldn’t go on. When she got to my neck I flinched. She asked if it hurt. I said queitly yes. I had lost my voice. She didn’t say a word. She was still angry at me. She made a call and stated, “Can you check one, I just want to be sure.” When I got into the new ENT he clincal observation was that I was severely burned on the top end of my throat. When he got to my lower throat he exclaimed that I was severely burned and that he had to do a biopsy immediately. I was stunned at the incompetence of the whole health system. I listened to him and told him I wanted to do the biopsy but I was in so much pain and couldn’t take any medication as I burned to death. I asked for a little time to try to get things under control. He said ok but he couldn’t give me much time. He had to do the bioipsy soon.

    I went home and demanded a new GI. Someone who was companssionate and who took me at my word. I got a young GI who immediately and quietly apologized. She quietly said, “We believe you now.” Even having a Masters degree does not allow women from being charaterized as having “stress issues.” I was privately so upset at how much I had been suffering and no one listened. And I wondered how many other poor people go through this type of horrible medical care.

    The new GI tried Carafate to no avail. I continued burned to death. I began to slowly take over my treatment plan and the GI went along with it. I found that heavy doses of probiotics gave me a 30% relief. I was still burning but at least I could get out of bed. When the GI saw that I had some improvement she gave me medical probitotics. I took those for 6 months and asked for a referral to a UC system. After 6 months of getting the round a round with a new regional GI and the local GI they told me they had to cut me loose as they could do nothing more for me. And that they denied my referral to a UC system to get a second outside opinion. I was devastated. I realized that my health care provider was trying to save money and didn’t care about me. It was a terrible feeling. I felt at my lowest.

    I came home that day despondent. I knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life like that…burning to death. But I had been researching the anatomcial problem I had and I knew what was wrong with me. The esphogeal spinchters (LES/UES) were not closing off the acid vapor coming up my esphogus. So I sat in front of the computer and typed in “what strengthens muscles”. Up popped several articals on Vit D. The more I read the more I thought this could work for me. I studied the best type of D to take. I ordered it on line. I then requested by email a Vit D test. I knew I had avoided the sun for 40 years. I had only recently gone out in the sun for 5 months because we just built a pool and I learned how to swim as I wanted to know how when the grandchildren came over.

    When my Vit D test came back it was 25. I knew it had to have been lower than that for a long time (probably 40 years) and that it probably went to 25 because I had been in the sun learning to swim for the first time in 40 years.

    During the past year I had also developed incontinence, swollen wrists and ankles, aching bones, I couldn’t raise my arms to wash my hair or comb it, I couldn’t put on clothes. I needed help. But I never botherd to tell my Drs as they didn’t want to help me anymore.

    When I received the Vit D3 drops I took 6.000 IU for the first 6 months. My incontinence, aching bones, horrible pain in my shoulders, swollen wrists and ankles disappeared almost immediately. And the LPR (burning throat/silent acid reflux) got better and better each month that passed. Its been 13 months since I started Vit D and my LPR symptoms have improved 95-99%. I still have a touch of LPR but I’m so much better. Vit D should be the first test any time anyone of any age goes in to the Dr. It is essential to have levels at least at 65. I will be pushing my D level to 80 to see how much better I can get.

    The only thing I would add to your article is there are several variables, as you have mentioned, in deceiding how much D to take. Ones skin color, ones weight, the latitude one lives in addition to those you have mentioned. Vitamin D saved my life. My Drs never thought of testing me. If I had not done my own research I don’t know how long I would have lasted as the pain of severe LPR is like being a burn patient. Only you are not offered pain medication. Your on your own to suffer unbearable pain. I feel so sorry for all the populations of the world who are so deficient in this critical “hormone”. Its a crying shame all the needless suffering. I suspect that sitting right under our nose is the very thing that would reduce by 70 % all types of illnesses known to humans. But there is too much money to be made on pushing medications and people being sick. Keep talking about Vit D and lets hope it will become a mandate for health care of every person to be tested and given proper amounts.

    • Hi Elena. Thank you so much for sharing your story here. I have all the symptoms of LPR and a weakened UES – and feel like you’ve now given me a lifeline! I’m so sorry to hear of all your suffering but hope it helps you to know that you could be savings others from the same fate. Much love and gratitude to you.

    • I’m also a patient of LPR, I take zantac 300 a day. I think you are absolutely right, during winter months I noticed my LPR get worse. I have Vit D deficiency, I take it once a while. Thanks for the post.

  • “3. Take the right amount of vitamin D. If you have a deficiency, you should correct it with 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day for 3 months — but only under a doctor’s supervision.”

    What is the danger of having too much D / D3?

    • Hi Fred,

      This is a great question. Just like anything else, too much of a good thing isnt necessarily useful and can cross the threshold from healthy to harmful. Because Vit D acts like a hormone in the body, we need just the right amount to function at our best. Because most of us actually dont have enough, we are usually recommended to take a supplement. But if we take too much Vit D, we can see hypercalcemia, mineral depletions, UTI’s, appetite and weight changes, GI risks and potentially, cancer.

      So, get your levels checked and work with a qualified practitioner to ensure you’re getting your needs met!

      To work with Dr. Hyman’s nutrition team, please go to:

  • I have Hashimoto’s and had been brusing when someone even touched me for years; my ribcage also hurt if it was pressed; my hands hurt when I played piano. Eventually, my grasp became weak and my muscles hurt as if I had the flu. I told my doctor I was willing to pay for a vitamin D test if my insurance wasn’t going to pay, and my level turned out to be 23–insufficient. I feel like a new person taking 500 to 800 a day and now know that with Hashimoto’s you have faulty receptors for D so it has to be supplemented. Almost all my muscle and joint aches are gone and my strength is almost back. Thanks for your advice about magnesium too, Dr. Hyman!

  • I began taking 3000 i.u. of high quality liquid Vit D over three years ago after it was recommended for my son upon receiving a functional blood test. I had read that studies indicated the large doses of Vit D reduced the chances of contracting the flu and colds, particularly during the winter months when those ailments are prevalent. Typically, I would get sick at least a couple of times during the Winter with colds or the flu, causing me to spend 2-4 days in bed each time to recover. So, I was not only miserable from these illnesses but suffered from lost productive time to the tune of 5-10 days each Winter.

    So, I decided to experiment on myself by taking Vit D. This will be my fourth flu season, and i haven’t gotten sick once during that time. This is a radical departure from my usual experience. The one and only time I have contracted a cold was last May (late Spring) upon traveling cross country in a passenger jet and then staying in a hotel with heavy air conditioning. I also traveled without my Vit D.

    Anecdotal? Sure. But I’m sufficiently convinced by its protective properties to put all of my kids on Vit D, and I recommend it to friends who will listen and want to stay healthy, particularly during the cold and flu season.

  • I have been diagnosed with Vit D deficiency. I actually had asked my Dr. to do the test as I had been supplementing with Vit D3 liquid and wanted to make sure I wasn’t taking too much. Living in Canada it’s not easy to keep your levels up.

    Recently a Nutritionist told me that being overweight has a bearing on your Vit D levels as your fat cells absorb it and it doesn’t get into your body to do it’s good work.

    I was also told that Vit D3 should only be taken with food in order to help it be absorbed. I don’t see anywhere in your blog where you mention HOW to take Vit D3 or WHEN to take it for optimal absorption. Could you please provide this info.

    This has been a great read and I’ve learned from it. I woke up stiff this morning and found that unusual as I had had a soak in an Epsom Salts bath last evening. When I read about Vit D3 helping stiffness almost immediately I realized that I hadn’t taken my supplements yesterday so jumped up and downed my D3. Hopefully in a day or two I will feel much more relaxed.

  • I was diagnosed with osteoporosis as a young mother in my early 30’s. It is a family disease (Grandmother sat in a chair since 60 years old, having many compression fractures with movement, her son permanently disabled from the age of 31, myself, and now my son diagnosed at 38). I was told by my naturopathic dr, do NOT supplement with “artificial” sources of vit d because it will adhere calcium deposits in locations that are dangerous – ie. organs, cell walls, etc. My vit D comes from the sun (I live in a very sunny location), but I have a hard time with a busy life being able to get enough sun. It sounds as though you do not believe supplementing with D3 is dangerous in any way. Do you know what she may have been referring to? She is no longer here in the US. Her advice has left me confused.

    • Hi Tuni,

      She most likely was referring to D2. You should take D3 and get out in the sun from 10am-2pm, uncovered for 15 minutes daily.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • I am 49 years old female. I checked my 25 Hydroxy 9 months before, it was 20 approximate . Now I am taking calcium tablets + D3 ( 1000iu) daily after breakfast. When should I check my 25 Hydroxy level again?
    Article on vitamin D3 is excellent and very informative. Please tell if I can get required sunlight through glass windows ?
    Or glass will block the supply of vitamin from sunlight.

    • Hi Shahina,

      You can check your levels at about 3-6 months. Sunlight is best in the summer months with direct exposure between 10am and 2pm daily. Glass is ok, but going outside for a walk AND sun is best!

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • I have been blood tested with low vitamin D levels and the doctor had suggested supplementing with vitamin d3 although I have used higher amounts of D3 than she mentioned. I was supplementing with D3 2000 mg daily until the better warmer weather came around. I had stopped all supplements for a good length of time and noticed vitamin D levels again decreased very low, and had a colonoscopy which showed a dangerous flat polyp which was removed. My vitamin D3 supplementing is once again in place and will continue at the 2000 mg. I pick up what seems to be every cold virus going around as careful as I try to be with hand washing, avoiding crowds etc.. Again, I think it is all related. My age, 62, I have high blood pressure which I am taking Benicar HRT for and am overweight…Working to lower the weight and blood pressure readings and increase the vitamin d level

  • About twenty years ago, I insisted on a bone test for osteoporosis. I had so many risk factors, and an unexplained fracture. I was very thin as a child. My doctors opposed this but I insisted I be tested. It turned out I already had osteopenia and they put me on medication for it. Plus I took calcium and walked more. After five years of my bone density declining, my doctor was looking at all my medications. I had been taking an anticonvulsant since childhood. My doctor told me anticonvulsants, as well as a number of other drugs, can cause vitamin D trouble, making it hard for the skin to absorb it. So I started taking 1000 I.U. of Vitamin D. The next bone test, there were improvements. The only change was the D! I also felt a lot better, less back pain and fewer colds.

    It turns out there are a bunch of medications that make it hard to absorb Vitamin D from sunlight. Anticonvulsants, Prednisone and other steroids, statins, vitamin A, alcohol or sleeping pills.

    Anyone taking any of these meds should get tested and consider increasing their supplements. It amazes me how few neurologists know about the Vitamin D connection when they prescribe anticonvulsants.

  • I suffered with aches and pains for years, I am dark skinned, always stayed in the shade, and lived for the last 12 years in UK, it worsened after being here, I had scalp folliculitis which worsened every winter and would become pus filled (staph aureus ) infection. I became increasingly lethargic and in severe pain, Went from one rheumatologist to the other, no definite diagnosis, finally now one of them decided to do vitamin D levels which were low.
    Supplemented and all these problems vanished in 2 weeks time.
    My scalp folliculitis still persists and I am looking for solutions, though the infection that used to occur with them happens no more.

  • My 25hydrox test showed a level of 15.8, which I was told is very deficient. I am a runner, am outside at least 45 minutes to an hour a day, do not use sun screen or sunscreen treated protective clothing. I live in San Diego-lots of sun all year round.

    I took supplements, got the level up to 32, then weaned back and in 6 months it dropped to 22. I started back on D3, 5,000 units every day for a few months and it was up to 60.I was told that was high enough and to back off the 5,000 units.

    It seems my system does not Osborn the Vit D for long, due to all the levels I have had.

    There has never been any checking of parathyroid, or calcium levels. Should I ask for this?

    • Hi Annette,

      Yes, if you plan on taking more than 5,000IUs daily you should have those labs monitored. You should have 1,25 OH vitamin D checked as well to see if you are converting 25 OH into the 1,25 form. Your supplementation regimen should be monitored by a trained professional who can help you get to the root cause of your vit d metabolism.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • Hi I was tested last week and it came back that I was deficiant in Vit D, I believe the number was 20.She said it shouldnt be lower than 30 something. My dr put me on 50,000 vit D once a week for 12 weeks. She also wants me to take 2000 a day on top of that I am a little nervous about that 50,000 since I haven’t seen anyone talk about that high of a dose. Is this ok??

    • Hi Elise,

      It really depends on the age and stage of your child. It also depends on where you live, how mucy sun exposure the child receives and what his or her blood levels are to start with. Usually we suggest 1,000- 2,000IU. Again, functional medicine is personalized medicine so Dr Hyman would need to know more information to provide personal medical advice.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • I have acid reflux and i am having trouble tolerating vitamin D gel caps. Is there another recommendation? Tablets? Drops? Take a lower dose more often? Help

  • I have RA and Fibromyalgia. Never knew my Vit D level was low till diagnosed with RA in 2007. It is currently checked two weeks ago at 16.7. Some doctors have mentioned toxicity and don’t want to give me the prescriptions. Just went to a Hormone and Wellness Center where they checked it. She wants me on 50,000 IU a week till she rechecks it. I also take fish oil daily and a daily complete nutrition liquid vitamin which has 1,000 iu in it. I need to be on Bone Up because my bones are week but it has 400 iu of Vit D and I can’t get clear answers as to how much is too much. Each doctor has a different opinion and I feel like I’m stabbing in the dark. I so want to feel better. My wrist are fused from the RA. My neck and shoulder area stay still (not sure if RA or fibro), I have a tendon that is very painful in my ankle because the ankle is weak and the tendon is locking down of me, and I just had double knee replacement 7 months ago. I desperately need some direction and help. Just moved here to FL and can’t see an RA doc till May 22. On prednisone and methotrexate but I try to do everything natural and would like to get off these meds. Desperately seeking help.

    • Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • For Celiacs out there: I was very deficient. Enough to be prescribed 50,000 iu once a week and 2,000 daily. Three months — twice. Did not move the dial at all. My doc gave up saying I didn’t have any other serious symptoms, so oh well. We gave up trying. Then my demonologist suggested that I try sublingual Vit D3 and guess what? My readings were in normal range on my next check up. Absorption in my digestional tract was the problem. It’s crazy that the medical profession does not draw relationships to the things that are happening in our bodies. After 10 years of knowing I have Celiac, or gluten intolerance, I’m finding that Vit D deficiency, my gall bladder removal, low thyroid, are all related to the autoimmune disease of Celiac.

  • Hi, I noticed that you said your levels should be 100-160. It has been a few years since I was tested but I was told they should be between 50-100 and over a 100 is too high. Has the type of measurement changed or are there different tests that measure differently?

    • Hi Brooke,

      Dr Hyman says your levels should be between 50-80ng/dl.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • Taking either Vit D2 or D3 makes me very sick. Constricted chest, weakness, nausea….must be an allergy. Very upsetting. I have been doing 5 minutes of tanning in UVB & UVA tanning beds and feel dramatically better. Vitamin B 12 has been helping me too. My question: is there another way to get Vit D for me other than food and tanning booth. I really don’t feel comfortable with tanning booth but I’m thinking how can it be much different than the real sun. The sun emits rays sporadically as opposed to a tanning bed. Also, there are many sites on the internet with people like me. We’re suffering and no one is addressing our concerns. My doc is an intern and she has no other solutions for me other than getting in the sun and eating Vit D rich foods. It’s winter now. No sun. Help!

  • I am 27 years old and living in India, where sunlight is not a problem. Recently, 2 months back I started feeling weak after a flu hit me. Although I am living very near to equator and I have sun exposure, but I feel irritated in sun like everyone in India. I had neck pains, weak legs/thighs, sore jaws, everytime I tried to walk, I feel like I am doing something big. My Vitamin D3 level was -19.2 ng/ml and Vitamin B12 was – 191 mg/ml. Everything else was normal in blood picture.

    Issues were –

    – Head spin
    – Weakness in legs
    – Lathargy
    – Very tired

    I had taken 1 ml Arachitol injection of 600,000 IU for Vitamin D and 2 methycobalamin injections for Vitamin B12. This is my 4th week and I am like 40 % recovered from my worse.

    The problems in 2nd week after vit D supplement was gastric issues, nausea and vommiting.

    Another issue I have developed recently is acid reflux(GERD). Though I have checked up with doctor and there is nothing alarming. But this really calls for a very tight regime of eating. To maintain acid in stomach I am taking Neksium 40 before breakfast and Aciloc 300 at bed time.

    My head spins are gone now, vomiting not happening, nausea in morning is still there. I am taking small meals now. Somewhere in my heart I know I will get better but the day is far as of now.

    Please guide me how to overcome this or speed up recovery.

    • Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

    • Hello sunder basanti
      I am also from India, Delhi. How’s your level now and have you completely recovered? I have been diagnosed with only 10.85 only. Treating with calcirol 60k once weekly for 2 months. Only in my 2nd week treatment not feeling better yet. How long does of takes for you to feel better.

  • I am concerned that regardless of the positive outcomes mentioned by some, that taking artificial D3 will be problematic in the long run. Have you done any studies on how well D3 that is made from lanolin performs? It is DEFINITELY more natural. I think that there are 2 or 3 companies that make it. I would like to see you do this since you are already working and testing with VitD. Thanks!!

  • I have been taking 1,000 IU/day for about 8 months. I’m feeling better than I have in 25 years! I’ve made other changes, also, so I cannot say it is the Vitamin D. However, I’m certain it’s helping! I’m probably going to increase to 2,000 IU/day. I live in central wisconsin……long winters!

  • Good evening,

    I had been struggling with fatigue since I had pneumonia in February. Thinking the constant fatigue and muscle aches were lingering from my pneumonia, I saw my physician on Tuesday of last week to see if he could help. He ordered a series of blood tests, xrays etc.; the results were a serious Vitamin D deficiency and anemia (always have been borderline with anemia). What I had not taken into consideration with the Vitamin D, is that I have been staying out of the sun (I live in Florida) since having skin cancer issues five years ago and I don’t eat fish. So I have been depleting myself without knowing it.

    My doctor has prescribed 50,000 units of D2 once a week for four weeks and then he will check my levels again. I am hoping that the prescription will help me and I am going to try and get 20 minutes of sun a day to see if I can get myself kick-started the “right” way.

    Thank you for your information on this condition. I think the connection between fatigue and aches and pains with staying out of the sun is pretty compelling.

    • Dear Jan,
      Thank you for your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Please check to ensure the type of Vitamin D you are taking is actually D3.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.
      In Good Health,
      The Nutrition Team

  • I hope I’m going this right.

    I’m a 29 year old female that has been diagnosed with low calcium in my bones yet high in my blood and at the beginning stages of osteoporosis, yet have a high parathyroid level. I’m not to sure what to do. There telling me to just take vitamin D. They did not say how much or how offer I should do this to correct this problem.

    I’m just tired of being tired all the time. Plz if you have any suggestions I’m willing to try anything.

    • Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to:

      Did you know you can work with Dr. Hyman’s nutritionists virtually? For personalized nutrition coaching where you can receive 1:1 support with Registered Dietitians, please see:
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I have great issues with articles suggesting we are deficient in Vitamin D which is not actually a vitamin. It was incorrectly named many years ago and is actually a pro-hormone.
    Most doctors only test 25D and don’t include 1,25D. When 25D is decreased generally 1,25D is elevated which indicates an inflammatory process.
    it is difficult to believe that anyone living in Australia, could be deficient in D

  • Hello,
    I was tested last week and it came back that I was deficient in Vit D, my result were around 8.2
    My doc described EURO D10000 UI twice per week for 3months

    Should i stop it after 3months? or i can continue and stick to the FDA recommended daily dose which is 600UI per day? btw i barely see the sun & my diet doesn’t included much Vitamin D 🙂


    • Hi Shad,
      We recommend that you work with your doctor to get your vitamin D level retested after 3 months to adjust your dosage as needed.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Hello, dr Hyman. I did 25 oh D test and found out i’m at 11,6 ng/ml, now i also know i m homozigous for the VDR bsm polymorphism and i’m wondering if i should adjust differently the doses because of that. Obviously i had various health issues but i don t know if vit D deficiency is the cause but it could be. Here in Italy Drs are absolutely ignorant on Vit D.

    • Hello Roberto,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Is the lack of vitamin D is due to the higher levels of iron found in those with diabetes ?
    “Iron Depletion Therapy for Type 2 DM and NAFLD”

  • I was diagnosed with vitamin D and given 50,000 units D2 twice a week for six weeks and then told to supplement with 2000 d3 daily. The D3 gives me severe acid reflux. I hate salmon and fish oil keeps me up all night burping regardless of the brand. I have been suffering with acid reflux for 20 years and it has caused asthma from shooting up and being inhaled into my lungs. Without vitamin d, I am tired and have lost muscle mass. Prednisone has made my skin paper thin. I want vitamin d because I used to feel wonderful on it. Will liquid vitamin d cause less stomach upset?

  • how long does it take to recover from v d deficiency,taking vd3 tablets for around a month now,i have pain in joints and swollen feet,with trouble walking,go back to see doctor in a few weeks. Sharon age 57.

    • The article mentioned how long it takes to “fill your vitamin D tank” at the end. Did you read the entire article? See 6 Tips and point number 5 under that.

  • I started taking vit d3 for my pain in my knuckles I think it helped .. bit I was taking a lot of other vitamins too and developed a rash on my chest so I stopped taking them all and the rash disappeared .. I then got really bad muscle pain here and there which I never used to get which worried me a bit but I also feel sleepy again like I used to and no energy so I am going to start the tablets again perhaps reintroduce one at a time see how it goes. Just wondered why I got muscle pain which I never before when I stopped taking them.

    • Hi Jen,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to:
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I am so glad I came across this article. I’m a critical care nurse and know the importance of Vitamin D but I did not realize how little we actually are getting and that the “normal” is so low. What makes me the most angry is the fact that my pediatrician hasn’t told me to use any supplementation for my 6 month old. I didn’t even think about it until I came across it in my 6 month well-check newsletter. I am deficient and breastfeed. Thank you again for the research and article. I will be asking questions tomorrow morning and hopefully will get a correct dosage from the doc for my baby (and myself).

    • The article mentioned how long it takes to “fill your vitamin D tank” at the end. Did you read the entire article? See 6 Tips and point number 5 under that.

  • My D level is 5 ng/ml. I started on Vit D 5000 IU qd and will return for follow up in 3 months. Based on everything I’ve read online, it sounds like this may be the answers to a lot of my health issues. I’m looking forward to feeling better. I’m also relieved to finally have an answer…

  • I have variegate porphyria, so I get zero sunlight exposure. I’ve been taking 5,000 IU’s a day of vitamin D3. Should I be taking 10,000 a day for optimum health, or should I stick with my current dosage?

    • Hi Michael,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to:
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • You didn’t mention how much sun exposure, i.e. 25 minutes/day without sunblock, etc. I was just tested as Vitamin D deficient and my doctor prescribed D3 10,000 units 5x/day for 5 days/wk for 3 mos. You mention 10,000 units/day for 3 months but it isn’t mentioned how many days/wk so I have to assume that instead of 5x/wk, it would be 7x/wk. You also didn’t mention the side effects to expect while taking high doses (10,000 units/day) of Vitamin D. That would be important because if I’m experiencing something I shouldn’t, then I should stop taking the vitamin and contact my doctor. It can be toxic in some people and I don’t want to create another problem from a problem. Thanks.

  • I been having body aches all over..especially my neck, back, wrist and legs. I also have tingling in my hands and feet and have occasional brain fog feeling. I also have muscle twitching..I am not to sure if this is from my Vitamin D deficiency but they tested me for auto immune diseases and all came back normal. The only abnormal results were my vitamin levels are 18..I just started 5,000 units a day and am on my 3rd day..after starting the vitamins I feel like my body hurts even more. How long will is take for me to feel better…

  • my daughter was told she was low in D then a few months later she was told she has lupus .This was good information.
    will past it on to her. do you know of a dr. in St.Louis county that she can go to .
    to help with this.

    Thank you



    • Hi Nicole,
      We recommend that you work with your doctor to determine your vitamin D level and to determine the appropriate level of supplementation for you and baby.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • My recent labs showed I was low on Vit D (20 ng/mL and should be min optimal is 50 ng/mL according to the lab sheet). I started taking 2000 iu Vitamin D3. However, it’s giving me heartburn. Why is that? Is there something I can do to still be able to take it without the heartburn? I drink 16 oz of water when I take it and take it just after breakfast.

    • Hi Lynn,
      It’s best to take your vitamin D supplement with a meal containing fat to enhance absorption. Try taking your supplement at the beginning of a meal that contains healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds) to see if this helps. If you continue to have symptoms, please see your doctor for further assessment.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Hi Christie..I have Fibromyalgia and many of the symptoms you are describing sound very familiar to me. If you haven’t been checked for this disease, I highly recommend that you seek out a Dr. who is qualified to diagnose it. It can be a tricky thing to diagnose and often is missed. Good luck to you!

  • I suffered chronic muscle and bone pain and was becoming disabled with loss of function. I was at a stage where sometimes I struggled to dress myself. I was on several pain/anti-inflammatory medications. I have several autoimmune diseases. In May 2014 my hair started to fall out and I did some research to find out the best supplements to stop this. As a result I began taking various supplements including 5 000 iu vitamin D daily. All my muscle and joint pain has gone. My functioning and mobility has returned. It is amazing. I no longer need ANY pain medication at all. My hair has stopped falling out as well! This information and research needs to be more mainstream to stop people suffering needlessly. Such a simple solution but most doctors are very behind in their knowledge and thinking regarding this.

    • Steffi,
      What other supplements were you taking besides D3? I have similar symptoms except for the hair falling out.

  • I am a kidney stone former, calcium oxalate, 44 stones from .5mm to .6 cm that we know of since 1988. I have learned to avoid my treasured garden favorites, high oxalate foods. Now I learn Vitamin C and D are culprits, so I stopped taking those supplements. I am 69 years, have a pacemaker, weigh 240, but more active than most my age. I avoid sunlight due to too much of it fishing all my life, a lifetime forester/wilderness rescue, resulting in a history of sarcoma skin cancers, and have been diagnosed diabetes 2, but keeping my doctor quiet through healthy diet, so don’t need diabetes meds. I realize I need to up my C & D intake. None of my doctors have a clue about prevention, none showing concern. I last tested 28 for D, so am borderline low. If I go low my primary care will put me on 5000 units for 3 months. The stones are serious events, more serious each year. I must balance the threat of more stones and their damages against the possibly more serious long term threats of D deficiency. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Jim,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Wow. This Article is amazing. I have had an on-going Vitamin D deficiency ever since I started into menopause. At first I thought I had a Thyroid issue or Arthritis. I am pre-diabetic and struggling with weight gain (Until recently, I had always been thin.) I went to an Endocrinologist and she discovered the Vitamin D deficiency and prescribed 50,000 units for a few months. I felt better almost instantly—and all my crippling joint pain subsided. But once I finished the regimen all my symptoms returned—over the counter dosages weren’t helping. Then my primary care physician tested me again. I was still horribly deficient. Now I take 50,000 units once a week. It’s amazing that the day AFTER I take my weekly pill, I feel like I can do anything! I have tons of energy, and I’m just plain HAPPY. But it slowly subsides, again. I don’t think it’s “in my head”—I think it’s in that darn little Vitamin D pill that I take. Who knew that a vitamin (I know it’s really a type of hormone) could make that big a change in the way I feel!! I’m so thankful that the medical community if learning about this more and more about Vitamin D—it a life-saver for me!

  • hi I have vitamin d definiey and it keeps dropping they have me on 50,000 vitamin d pills a week and it keeps dropping can u tell me what I should do im tired all the time I have no energy for so scared..

    • Hi Sandra,
      We recommend that you ask your doctor about supplementing with an emulsified liquid vitamin D vs. pill form to help you increase your vitamin D level.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Do tanning booths help at all? No sun to be had during winters in the Midwest!

    • Yes, tanning beds can raise your vitamin D. Research out of Boston University did confirm this, but the real question is: at what price? If the price is melanoma, look for your vitamin D elsewhere. A World Health Organization position paper on tanning beds placed them at highest risk as a cause of skin cancer. Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level and consider taking a supplement if it is low.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Hi, I’ve been taking Vit D supplement for the last year — admittedly on and off. I have one with K2 in it as well and have been trying to make sure i take it daily. I recently found out my D was still low – 27 so I have been taking 8000 a day or so (1000 IU per drop). Doc finally called today and wants me to take Drisdol 50,000 units once a week. From the brief reading I’ve done this appears to be D2. … so my question is would taking both of them hurt? … I definitely feel better when it’s sunny out! I have had issues with hormones, weight, hair loss and fatigue for at least two years now.

    Thank you

    • There is no need for a prescription for Vitamin D…that is just nonsense. Even worse is that its D2 which only converts between 1/4 to 1/16 of it into D3. You can order 50,000 IU of D3 easily on amazon for $17 for 100 caplets.

      Get K2(LEF Super K with advanced K2) and magnesium(transdermal magnesium oil is best) and you will be amazed at how you feel within a short time…i promise…

      Awaken your body from its everlasting hibernation its been in…

  • I have recently tested deficient in Vitamin D, for the next 8 weeks my doctor prescribed 50,000 IU’s of Vitamin D2, which I realize is not the best form. Is it okay to supplement with Vitamin D3? Or would that be too much?

    • Hi Karen,
      We recommend that you work with your doctor to retest your vitamin D level to determine the appropriate supplementation dosage and time frame. Dr. Hyman recommends eating foods rich in vitamin D and supplementing with vitamin D3.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Our perpetually low vitamin D levels have turned our bodies into a perpetual state of “hibernation” Consider that studies show other mammals that hibernate do so when their Vitamin D3 levels drop and their inactive levels of vitamin D2 rise. This signals the body to gain weight, slow down, conserve energy and only perform necessary functions and repairs to the body.

    Humans through lack of sunshine and sunscreen and inadequate vitamin D levels have put their bodies into a perpetual mode of hibernation. We don;t hibernate, but our ancestors certainly would have been effected in similar ways—the long summer months caused a drastic increase in D3 signalling food was abundant and there were “good times” and the body could completely repair itself. This was followed by declining D3 levels during fall and winter months and the body prepared for a “long hard winter” conserving food and energy and only doing needed repairs.

    Through lack of vitamin D, we have made our body think we are in an everlasting winter. It doesn’t completely repair itself. It only does enough to get by. It makes you hold onto fat. It slows down your body functions. It conserves energy. It makes you tired(Seasonal Affective Disorder anyone?).

    People would be amazed at what happens when proper vitamin D levels are achieved. There is also a subset of the population, especially those with autoimmune disorders, who do not convert D3 into its active form in the body, calcitriol, as effectively as normal people and hey require much larger dosages. A pilot study in Brazil obliterated psoriasis with 35,000 IU dosages of Vitamin D3 daily. This ineffective conversion could be due to lack of Vitamin K2, which controls the “activation” of vitamin A and D3 in the body and the signalling proteins it controls. I completely cleared my psoriasis with a regimen of 50,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily, Vitamin K2(LEF Super K with advanced K2 complex) and 1600 mg of Magnesium daily. Calcium is not required, as most people have plenty of calcium, but its stuck in their soft tissues, arteries and skin(psoriasis) instead of where it should be—in their bones and teeth. That’s where K2 comes in—it directs calcium to go to where it should be and away from where it shouldn’t be. The magnesium is needed as calcium gets pulled out and is replaced in the soft tissue by what should be there—magnesium. Without K2, the calcium gets pumped into the soft tissue but cannot be pumped out and replaced with Magnesium.

    The medical profession has caused more preventable diseases, suffering and deaths than all the wars in history combined with their ridiculous stance on vitamin D3, and even more ridiculous stance on its “toxicity” which in the presence of proper amounts of K2 and magnesium doesn’t exist. The heads of the FDA, AMA and other important groups need to be tried in front of the UN for Crimes against humanity and be held accountable for their actions, fueled by greed and money.

  • I have just recently begun to explore vitamin D deficiency. I live in the great state of WA and spend a fair amount of time indoors. I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome type 3 , poly cystic ovarian syndrome, overweight and borderline diabetic.
    I have not been tested for vitamin D deficiency but I have no doubt that I am and will see if I can get a text done. Ultimately, I found this looking for pain management solutions. I am taking 10,000 iu D3 a day for right now until I see my doctor. It has only been 5 days but I look forward to seeing what I feel like after a month. I try to take it at night as I get very sleepy after taking it.

  • Hello, My name is Sherry. I was recently prescribed by my doctor to take 50,000 mgs of Vit. D…. I do not understand why, he did not elaborate but I was told over the phone. That seems like a very high dose to me. I had been telling Doctors for a few years how I have no more strength in my legs. How I went to pick out a pair of shoes one afternoon, and I had to get down on my knees. I tried to get up and my legs would not help me up. This scared me. I had to crawl to the frame of the door, and it took me like three times to pull myself off from a bent position at the knee. I knew something had to be terribly wrong, and it has just gotten worse. I finally said , I am going to bring this up to my Endoencrinologist.. Hoping he would help me. He is the one who finally seen I guess that this is serious. I have read upon all the benefits you have upon taking the Vitamin D supplement . I am so hoping this helps me the way it says. Because I am feeling ALL the above with low Vit. D….

  • I was tested for my Vitamin D levels and they listed them as
    VIT D, 25-OH, D2 < 4
    VIT D, 25-OH, D3 27

    She indicated that I was deficient in VitD
    I was only told to make sure I was taking 2000 IU of Vit D3 a day. I was already taking that amount, so was confused. This was in 2012. Since then I have developed bone pain and muscle pain and bad shin splints if I walk for any distance. I brought this up with my doctor and she told me I needed to lose 60 pounds and the problem would go away. She suggested swimming as a low impact form of exercise. I Iive where it is cloudy all winter (PacNW) and I never had these issues when I lived in CA. I have read and read about vitamin D, but knowing it is fat soluable, was always worried about taking too much. The more I read, the more I believe it will help. I started taking 10K IU a couple of days ago and will continue for at least a month to see if it makes a difference.

  • Try a SunFriend UV monitor to get wholesome long lasting vitamin D from the sun.

    We are the only fitness tracker for tracking the sun, which gives us long lasting vitamin D, among other benefits. SunFriend helps people maximize the healthy benefits of the sun while reducing the risk of over exposure which can lead to skin cancer.

    20% of the US population is at risk for skin cancer, while 70% has vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to over 100 cancers and chronic illnesses such as MS, Epilepsy, Diabetes, etc.

    SunFriend tracks the exposure of the wearer to the sun, a super new tool for healthy living. It is for all ages, waterproof and customizable to every skin color and type.

    Thank you!

  • Please check your children too! My daughter is 12 and she has been very tired and not looking well and has had one swollen ankle for 6 months and no one has found anything wrong with her. Finally her doc tested her Vitamin D and is is 14! I am hopeful that raising her vitamin D will help her feel better, reduce her inflammation so her ankle is no longer swollen and she will feel better. My vitamin D is low as well as her older sister who is 13 and has lyme disease.

  • I just found this article and found it very interesting. My Dr, doesn’t seem to think that the Vitamin D is the right answer to my dizziness, and only wants to suggest over the counter supplements. I had taken prescription supplements from a different Dr and found that it made a difference. SO, a question, would taken more of the over the counter supplements make a difference or should I stick with the 1 tablet once a day? In other words, should I take two or three of the 2000iu D3 tablets a day? (Vitamin D, 1,25 Dihydroxy 18.8)

    • Hi Henri,
      It is best to get your vitamin D level tested to determine the appropriate supplement dosage to replete your vitamin D if needed. You can learn more at the Vitamin D Council site at
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Hi, i am a 41 yo male. Routine blood work showed Vit D level of 17. slightly elevated LDL and liver enzymes. After 4 months on Vit D3 1700 IU daily, Fish Oil daily and making a point to go outside at least 30 mins daily, Vit D is still very low. I was also on Nexium for 10 yrs, which i switched to Pepcid. Now wondering if Topiramate for my migraines could be the culprit. Any thoughts?

    • Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff