Vitamin D Deficiency and It’s Health Benefits

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Vitamin D Deficiency, common during the Winter months.

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Thousands of studies over the last decade show health benefits  of having an optimal vitamin D blood level. These studies demonstrate that those with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood have lower risk for heart attacks, breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and much more.


In my Southern California medical practice,  a place where we have sunny skies more than 300 days per year, four in five  of my patients have clinical vitamin D deficiency.  This is  defined by a blood level 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/l)  or lower.  

Few people spend the required 15 to 20 minutes each day in the sunlight, allowing their face, arms, chest and legs to be exposed to the ultraviolet light.   Up to  9 in 10 people around the world are deficient. Those with more melanin, which is responsible for darker pigmented skin, require up to 20-30 minutes in the sun to generate  adequate vitamin D in their blood.  Those over age 65 years also require more time outdoors to generate vitamin D due to thinning of the skin. 

Vitamin D is made by sun-exposed skin only during certain times of the day.  If your shadow is “shorter” than you are tall,  which is usually between 10AM to 2PM,  Vitamin D production occurs.  

Those who apply sunscreen prior to going outdoors block the sun’s rays from hitting the skin and generating vitamin D. Sunscreen should be applied after getting 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight exposure.


High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Heart Attacks

Breast Cancer

Colon and Stomach Cancer

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Numerous other studies show those with lower vitamin D levels have higher rates of the following: dementia, strokes, peripheral artery disease, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, fibromyalgia, falls, fractures, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, autism, psoriasis and much more.  The importance of vitamin D  is obvious, and supplementation is crucial to your health.

Know your Vitamin D Level

Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D blood level. She will need to order a vitamin D 25-OH blood test.  Most labs report normal results being  30 ng/ml (75 nmol/l) to 100 ng/ml (125 mmol/l).  An optimal vitamin D blood level should be 50 ng/ml  to 100 ng/ml (125 nmol/l to  225 nmol/l).


Most deficient adults will need to take a daily dose of Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) ranging 2,000-5,000 IU of Vitamin D. Some may need more.  Pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding should also consider supplementing with vitamin D at 5,000 IU daily. Vitamin D can be taken by most healthy children from 1 to 18 years of age. The usual dose is between 1,000-2,000 IU daily.

Supplementation with vitamin D is crucial year round. However, it is even more important  during the seasons of the year where sunlight is minimal.  Some doctors may recommend a vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) prescription, which is 50,000 IU once weekly.  Based on the research,  Vitamin D3 is  clinically more effective and the preferred supplement.  

You can also increase your vitamin D levels by spending 15 minutes in the sun each day, without sunscreen, allowing your arms, face and legs to be exposed. Routine physical activity outdoors has a lot of health benefits.

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