Popping Pills 1: Vitamin D3

My vitamins


I have mixed feeling about dietary supplements.  Most vitamins and minerals that we need can be taken in natural food form.  That seems so much better than popping pills to make up for holes in our diet.  Pills do not always absorb into the body and without the enzymes and other nutrients that accompany the target vitamin in whole foods, they may not be as effective.  There are a few areas that I just seem unable to ingest the desired amount no matter how many juices and smoothies I mix up.

I thought I would share my list and my justification for needing each.  Today is D3 day.  Everyone should thoughtfully consider and research any supplement that is added to their regimen.

Do you take supplements?

Vitamin D

I take this supplement because I have tested low.  Sunshine without sunblock is not a good option for me because I have a skin condition (vitiligo) that takes pigment out of my skin and may increase my risk for sun damage.  Another reason is that I have eliminated most fortified foods in my quest to eat more whole foods and avoid dairy.

I have had two tests with results of 15 and 23 ng/mL.  The table below is from the National Institutes of Health.

Table 1: Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] Concentrations and Health* [1]
nmol/L** ng/mL* Health status
<30 <12 Associated with vitamin D deficiency, leading to rickets in infants and children and osteomalacia in adults
30–50 12–20 Generally considered inadequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals
≥50 ≥20 Generally considered adequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals
>125 >50 Emerging evidence links potential adverse effects to such high levels, particularly >150 nmol/L (>60 ng/mL)

* Serum concentrations of 25(OH)D are reported in both nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) and nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
** 1 nmol/L = 0.4 ng/mL

Trying to research recommended levels can be very confusing.  There has been an explosion in vitamin D research around the world.  Most seem to agree that you want your level to be over 20 and suggest between 30-50.  There are many sites that suggest levels 50-65 are ideal for people who have cancer and/or autoimmune problems.   You can have too much vitamin D so be careful and have your levels tested as recommended by your doctor.

Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

This is one of the areas that researchers are delving into.  Stay tuned, it seems that everyday brings a new diagnosis that may be affected by vitamin D levels.

  • Rickets
  • Bone Pain
  • Muscle Weakness

Things that are being researched that may be helped by vitamin D supplementation:

  • Flu
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Asthma
  • Cognitive disorders in elderly
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • High blood pressure and heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Mental Illness

Things that may contribute to a vitamin D deficiency

  • Any condition that decreases the ability to absorb nutrients (Celiac, Chrohn’s, kidney disorders)
  • Obesity (Vitamin D is fat soluble)
  • Low sunlight exposure
  • Strict vegetarian diet

Related Websites:

Wed MD

The Conversation

Vitamin D Council

Dr. Weil


Coming Soon on Popping Pills:


Fish/Krill oil



B Complex


31 thoughts on “Popping Pills 1: Vitamin D3

  1. It’s especially important for those of us who live in the northern hemispheres during the winter months. When we are lacking in sunlight and work indoors all day, it’s really hard to get it naturally. My doctor recommends massive doses during the winter until we get to the point where we see sunshine again.

        • Those lamps are cool. Sorry about the SAD, but it looks like you are well armed for the fight. My last winter up north I had insomnia and gained 20 pounds. I was just starting to hear people talk about season issues. Hope spring comes quickly!! 8)

  2. Great post. I take calcium and vitamin D and try to take fish oil tabs since I don’t eat any kind of fish. But that’s it as far as supplements go. Whether or not we need vitamin supplementation seems to be an ongoing debate, but most consensus is on getting the nutrients in our diets instead, as you pointed out. So I strive to do that. Some days are better than others…

    • Sounds like a good list! Some days it is really hard to get more than the basic protein and carbs in. My dark chocolate supplement is pretty consistent. 8)

  3. Hi! I am a breast cancer survivor who has been enjoying the best of health for seven years now, after a mastectomy and refusal of entire treatment plan (chemo/radiation/prescription drug for life!) for stage 3 breast cancer–five of the twelve recommended chemo treatments were enough for me to realize that the treatment would kill me if the cancer didn’t!

    Vitamin D3 is one the twenty or more supplements I take daily–in addition to (organic) vegetable juicing. I am being closely followed by an integrative oncologist. We keep my D3 level around 80. I am fit as a fiddle and twenty years younger than my chronological age.

    Don’t dismiss the benefits of supplementing a balanced organic diet. And please exercise! Preferably outdoors in fresh air.

    • Integrative oncology, what a great specialty! Congrats on finding a way out of the storm. Thanks so very much for sharing that info…interesting and great to hear a real life example. This past year I have really begun to appreciate juicing and getting back to nature, both with food and exercise. Have a great week! 8)

      • Good communicating with another “health nut!” I write about my cancer experience at http://voices.yahoo..com/accepting-breast-cancer-as-messenger-soul-12032059.html Also, you may check out my blog here at WordPress–http://toniroberts.wordpress.com where I wax poetic about my journey to wholeness.

        May you too enjoy a beautiful almost spring week.

  4. I have vitiligo, too. It was present when I turned 50. I have heard that a newer treatment for it is to bask in the sun rather than avoid it. I do take a daily vitamin supplement with D, but if I miss a day, big deal.

    • I have about given up on getting rid of the vitiligo. I have started to exercise outside more so, maybe? Mine started when I was 18 and I have more non-pigmented areas than regular areas. I tried a medicine back then that involved sun exposure in certain amounts. It was taken off the market because it could cause liver damage. I figured at that point it wasn’t really worth fighting something that wasn’t really hurting me.
      I miss days with the vitamins as well. Can’t say I have list sleep over it. 8)

      • Hi Katie, This hasn’t been the best week, but I am still here so I can but will not complain. Hope all is and has been well with you…

          • Same here. It seems that one day it’s snowing and the next it’s almost spring like, and my poor joints are just fed up. I also found out that my hands are worse then I that and that I have RA, which really made my week. Hoping and Praying for a peaceful week for us all… Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you also…

  5. Pingback: Popping Pills 2: Iron | Real Woman's Health

  6. Thanks for coming to my blog, otherwise I wouldn’t have found yours. Now I’ll be following you! I have asthma, hubs has diabetes, we share many things D3 related. BTW we do take it with Calcium, but I’m sure your other posts will be equally informative. I’d sure love to ditch some of my prescriptions in favor of more natural ways.

    • Thanks! The chair suspense has me on the edge of mine! 😉
      I do not take calcium, at the moment. The almond milk I use in my smoothies does have extra calcium. So, I guess I do take calcium in a way. I need to take that into more consideration when choosing between flax and almond milk.

  7. I have taken vitad3 supplements for a little over three months started at 40,000 iu a day down to 20,000 after a month, and now down to none., one because it seems I dont seem to make enough no matter how much sun I get (unprotected) also I did some research and it turns out if your obese your vitad3 is sequested into the fat cells and very little reaches your blood, which is bad since all your cells need it to handle gluocose properly (you become insulin resistant the lower your vitad3 becomes (as you need it to absorb and use calcium which is vital for glucose tolerance, and if your defiicit in nutrients I am finding you have to mega dose on a particular vita/min you lack (for 6 months I had ot take 325 mg iron since i was so depleted, this despite eating iron rich meats and other foods per doctors instructions)for a time period, oh yea improper glucose handling is implicated in dna damage hence cancer as sugar is sticky and oxidative and oxidizes your cells (and high sugar in your blood can triggor cancer because cancer cells is how your body copes with all the sugar as cancer cells can handle the large amounts and convert to lactate (brain fuel) which our bodies can use for fuel and you need littel insulin to handle lactate (lactic acid). so this is some of the research I read about. so cancer is your body’s last ditch effort to handle high glucose load your constantly dealing with (before the sugar finally kills you?) now I am cutting back on vitad3 since many of my symptoms have subsided quite a bit, and I am getting alot of sun now, hopefully mega dosing on the vitad3 has repaired the severe deficient conditions (if your obese, prediabetic your deficent in vitad3, calcium I can almost guarantee that.) I also stopped to because I am starting to get joint pains I never had before so this maybe my clue.

    • Interesting mega dose strategy to get caught up. That is probably why some docs want blood tests at 6 months… To see when someone is caught up.
      Thanks for sharing your experience!! 8)

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