Restoration of vitamin D is one of the most powerful health strategies to have come along in years. Combine this with other Wheat Belly strategies and you have an exceptionally effective way to reverse the factors that allow numerous modern health conditions such as diabetes (type 1 and 2), hypertension, bone thinning, arthritis, depression, and autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D is such a crucial factor in health that you would therefore think that most doctors would be experts in vitamin D. Sadly, that is not the case. The majority of mainstream medical doctors are woefully ignorant, do not read the science nor try to understand the essentials, saying such silly things as “Your vitamin D blood level of 30 is just fine” or “Take this prescription for vitamin D” or even “You don’t need any vitamin D because you get enough from diet.” Such gross instances of ignorance are typically delivered with authority, the peculiar way of my colleagues.
Getting vitamin D right is really very simple. Just be sure you’ve got it right for full benefit. But, because most conventional doctors bungle it, YOU need to be sure it’s done right.
- Take oil-based gelcaps for assured absorption. Tablets are very poorly or erratically absorbed. For instance, I observed many people start with, say, a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood level of 15 ng/ml. They take 8000 units of vitamin D in tablet form and 2 or 3 months later, their blood level is 15–I’ve seen this happen countless times. Take 8000 units of vitamin D as oil-based gelcap and the level will more likely be something like 65 ng/ml, right where you want it. Liquid drops are okay and are better absorbed but tend to yield wildly erratic blood levels.
- Take D3 or cholecalciferol only, the human form–The prescription form is D2 or ergocalciferol that is different and yields different effects. D2 is also usually the form added to foods such as dairy products. There is NO reason to take this non-human form over D3. D3 is also widely available, effective, and inexpensive.
- Take higher doses if you are overweight–This is because fat cells sequester vitamin D and make it unavailable. Some overweight people need megadoses like 20,000 units per day, for instance. Conversely, as someone loses weight, there may be reduced need for vitamin D intake as the stored nutrient is released. And always rely on blood levels in these situations, never guess.
- Don’t assume that sun exposure will raise your blood level of 25-hydroxy vitamin D, especially if you are over 40 years old. We gradually lose much of our capacity to activate vitamin D in the skin with sun exposure. When in doubt, have a blood level of 25-hydroxy vitamin D checked. Only an occasional person has to seasonally adjust their dose to accommodate summer sun exposure. And don’t assume that, if you live in Miami or Maui, you have an ideal level of vitamin D—once again, check a blood level.
- Get your 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood level to 60-70 ng/ml, not the 20-30 ng/ml typically quoted by laboratories. This approximates the levels achieved by young people with plentiful sun exposure, thereby telling us that this is a physiologically appropriate level. It is also the level at which risk for diseases like cancer and osteoporosis (via high PTH levels) are maximally suppressed.
- Do not take vitamin D with calcium–Because numerous facets of the Wheat Belly lifestyle are associated with a marked increase in intestinal absorption of calcium (reduced urinary calcium loss from removal of gliadin, increased intestinal calcium absorption from vitamin D and cultivation of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species in bowel flora) and because calcium supplementation has been associated with increased cardiovascular risk and is next to ineffective for prevention of osteoporotic fracture, we do not take calcium and certainly never take combination tablets of vitamin D with calcium.
- Take a daily dose, not a weekly or monthly dose. Daily doses have been shown to exert greater beneficial effects.
- Wait at least 2 months after starting vitamin D or changing the dose before you check a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood level, as it takes that long for the blood level to plateau (read “steady state”). Checking a level too soon will yield misleading results.
- After 2-3 years of consistent supplementation, check a blood level–This is because many people develop a marked reduction in need at this point. I don’t know why, but speculate that all vitamin D receptors have become saturated, thereby yielding higher 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels allowing a reduction in dose.
- Take vitamin D in the morning–Some people develop insomnia if vitamin D is taken at bedtime, an effect I assume means that the body somehow equates vitamin D ingestion with sunlight.
It’s really quite simple. Once you get it right, it readily becomes habit and something you don’t have to think about much (unlike, say, cultivation of bowel flora that requires frequent consideration).