What are the optimal levels of vitamin D? | Exercise.com Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

What are the optimal levels of vitamin D?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • Most doctors agree that approximately 15 to 20 nanograms of vitamin D per millimeter should be present in adults of all ages.
  • Vitamin D overdose almost never occurs unless a user takes a massive amount of supplements.
  • Vitamin D supplements are available over the counter, but they should be taken with caution.

Many essential nutrients cannot be properly absorbed and processed by the human body unless a sufficient amount of vitamin D is present.

In order to determine if you have an optimal level of vitamin D in your system, you will have to take a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test.

Most doctors agree that approximately 15 to 20 nanograms of vitamin D per millimeter should be present in adults of all ages.

Having a higher concentration of vitamin D will not cause any medical issues.

Although vitamin D blood testing can determine whether a patient has enough vitamin D, usually the telltale signs of vitamin D deficiency will manifest well in advance if there are any issues.

According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin D overdose almost never occurs unless a user takes a massive amount of supplements. This is because people get the vast majority of their vitamin D intake from the sun.

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Can You Cure Vitamin D Deficiency With Supplements?

Vitamin D deficiency usually happens when a person has limited exposure to the sun for an extended period of time. Although eating foods that are rich in vitamin D is recommended, it is nearly impossible to get the daily recommended amount by way of diet alone.

People living in tropical climates close to the equator have more exposure to the sun, thus making them less susceptible to vitamin D deficiency. While vitamin D supplements are regularly used to combat vitamin D deficiency, exposure to sunlight also plays a major role in recovery.

Many dark-skinned people, especially those that live far away from the equator, have vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D supplements can be prescribed to restore proper vitamin D blood levels, but treatment usually takes several months of continuous exposure to sunlight on a daily basis.

What Are the Signs of Vitamin D Overdose?

If you are able to maintain a healthy vitamin D blood level, taking supplements is completely unnecessary. In some cases, it can even lead to vitamin D overdose, which can also be referred to as hypervitaminosis D.  

Since having too much vitamin D in the bloodstream is toxic, symptoms usually include heart palpitations, rapid weight loss, and regurgitation. Having too much vitamin D in your system will cause your body to accumulate much more calcium than is needed. Calcium buildups can cause blockages that can lead to serious medical complications.

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How Much Sun Exposure Do You Need to Keep Your Vitamin D Levels Within a Healthy Range?

The most efficient way to maintain healthy vitamin D levels is via the sun. Your skin tone and type will actually have a major impact on the way that your body is able to absorb vitamin D. Individuals with fair skin need no more than a few minutes of exposure to the sun.

By contrast, darker-skinned individuals will need considerably more time in order to get the same amount of vitamin D. Many doctors recommend dark-skinned people take vitamin D supplements as a precautionary measure.

The time of day that you go out into the sun will also play a role in vitamin D exposure. Sunscreen and sunblock might be good for preventing skin cancer, but they can greatly reduce natural vitamin D absorption.

Which Foods Contain the Most Vitamin D?

There are many foods that contain high concentrations of vitamin D. It would still be difficult to get the total amount of vitamin D needed each day without spending at least a little time in the sun.

Some of the foods that have the most vitamin D are fish, oatmeal, milk, and mushrooms. However, eating these foods alone in an attempt to get all of the vitamin D that you need would cause your diet to be dangerously unbalanced.

Other food sources that contain a large amount of vitamin D include fish oil, powdered milk, gelatin, and wine. Combining an active, outdoor lifestyle with a diet that includes many vitamin D rich foods is the best way to go.

Can You Get Vitamin D Supplements Without a Prescription?

Vitamin D supplements are available over the counter, but they should be taken with caution. If your doctor has not indicated that you are deficient in vitamin D, taking supplements could possibly do more harm than good.

When you obtain vitamin D naturally your body will better be able to process it. Introducing large amounts of vitamin D into your system via supplements can cause future complications.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I have to take vitamin D supplements?

Not unless your doctor has instructed you to take supplements to increase your vitamin D levels.

Are vitamin D supplements safe?

Whether or not vitamin D supplements are safe to take depends on a number of factors. Learn more about the safety of supplements here.

How much vitamin D do I need to take?

No one can answer that aside from your doctor. Speak to your doctor about a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.

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