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If your vitamin-D levels are low and you can’t safely or sufficiently raise them with whole foods or sunshine, taking a supplement can help. “Vitamin-D replenishment represents the single most cost-effective thing we can do in medicine to boost baseline health,” argues Gregory Plotnikoff, MD. Here are a few guidelines:

Know your levels. The Institute for Functional Medicine recommends the following supplement dose based on measured blood levels of vitamin D. Retest in three to six months. If your numbers have improved, lower your dose accordingly. If not, ask your doctor about testing for genetic polymorphisms that may slow or inhibit your body’s ability to convert vitamin D.

Nutrients Supplement Chart

Choose vitamin D3. “A lot of people are prescribed D2,” says Tiffany Lester, MD, referring to a synthetic version of the nutrient called ergocalciferol. “This is not the most bioavailable form. D3 (cholecalciferol) is 85 percent more effective in raising blood levels of vitamin D.”

Also take vitamin K2. Vitamins D3 and K2 work together to strengthen bones, explains Lester, adding that high doses of D on its own can deplete vitamin K2 in the body. When taking D, it’s also important to get adequate amounts of magnesium to ensure you can absorb calcium effectively.

Try liquid forms. If you don’t like swallowing pills, or you’re trying to get children to take vitamin D, try sublingual or liquid D. It’s just as effective, says P. Michael Stone, MD, MS.

Eat healthy fats. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means it requires dietary fat to be absorbed by the body. A great source is fatty fish, which also delivers vitamin D.

This originally appeared in “Vitamin D: What You Need to Know” in the December 2017 print issue of Experience Life.

Photography by: John Kuczala

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