We’ve had several patients ask for our opinion on the US government report on Vitamin D and Calcium supplementation. We understand why this issue is so confusing for so many of our patients — heck, most docs are not even entirely clear on the why and how of Vitamin D and Calcium supplementation. This article, Government Gets it Wrong Again: U.S. Recommendation for Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation is Too Low by William B. Grant, Ph.D. answers all of the assertions made by the USPSTF in their report and the subsequent poor reporting done in virtually all media outlets on this issue. In addition, the article Top Vitamin D Papers of 2011: Dosage Recommendations and Clinical Applications does a nice job of reviewing the latest research in this area.
Since we began routinely testing patients’ serum Vitamin D levels, we have literally not had one patient whose levels could be considered in the ideal range. We were questioning our internist about his experiences in his patient population and he also stated that out of “probably a thousand” patients, he had only seen a few whose Serum Vitamin D levels were ideal.
Unfortunately, my own levels were suboptimal even though I had been taking 4,000IU/day of what I considered to be a high-quality pharmaceutical grade Vitamin D supplement — one which I had been recommending to patients for years. I had placed one of my staff members on the same supplement about the same time I went on it so I had her levels checked and she also came back low. I have subsequently stopped using that particular company’s product and I am now using 10,000IU/day of a liquid emulsified Vitamin D3 supplement that has proven to be much more effective.
Beyond our discovery that, even among the pharmaceutical grade supplements, not all Vitamin Ds are created equal, there has been a flood of research on the effects of Vitamin D on health in many different manners and mechanisms. Yet, dosage still remains an issue. Our practice is to get a serum level before initiating therapy of 10,000IU/day. (We used this study to justify our 10,000 IU daily dosage) we then check the levels again at 90 days and then every six months until a serum level of 50 on the LabCorp study is achieved.
Bottom line: I’m still personally taking 10,000IU of a high-quality D3 supplement and will continue to recommend higher doses, along with careful blood monitoring of serum levels, than this government panel suggests.