A vit D mystery: what made such a drastic change?

In the spring, I was found to be very deficient in vit D (blood results were 10) so I took high doses (15,000 IU daily) for three months and was able to raise it to 50ish. When I felt no better I got a bit dejected and unreliable, taking 5000 IU when I remembered but probably not every day, and my next test (autumn) showed I was back where I started again - 10. I still went through bottles of the stuff and I still ended up severely deficient.

My vit D was tested last week and it is up to 98! I had only just begun to supplement again (5000-10,000 IU per day) a week or two before the test, so it can't be that. Here are the only things I can think of that have changed.

1) I spent five weeks (Nov/Dec) in sunnier climes. My family in the US were hit quite hard by the massive storm at the end of Oct and I went over to help. I was very busy and spent most days out and about, mostly in a car, but still out of doors much more than usual. Of course it was still wintry weather, but much brighter than here. Can a bit of sun help that much, even when you're all covered up?

2) Because my family were displaced, I had to eat out a lot (no kitchen!) and ate a lot of eggs and dairy, like cheese omelettes for breakfast and lunch virtually every day. I normally avoid milk and cheese. I've had an unprecedented outbreak of psoriasis in places I've never had it before, which I think could be related so I guess that could be a tradeoff.

3) A friend who was deficient suggested that I a) spread my doses out throughout the day and b) take them with some fatty food, which I've been trying to do. It's harder to remember to take two doses than to take one, so I sometimes miss the second dose.

Any thoughts? I'd like to maintain this level but as I don't know how it happened it's hard to know what to keep doing!

20 Replies

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  • Do you have an absorption problem with your digestive tract? You seem to have sorted it through sunshine on your skin.... What form of vit D are you taking -D3 or D2? Dont' know if the link below is helpful :-

    easy-immune-health.com/vita...

  • Hi waveylines.

    I've been taking Solgar D3. I don't know if I have an absorption problem, but I began supplementing around the same time I stopped eating gluten, which I guess would improve absorption - ? That's an unscientific guess, though. :-) I imaging going gf would improve absorption for people whose gut is inflamed due to gluten. I don't know if I'm one of those people though.

    I was under the impression that one would require far more sunshine than the bit extra I got, what with being all bundled up and only my hands and face showing. Amazing if that is really what sorted it out.

    Thanks for the link.

  • Could be that you are usually also low on calcium which your body needs to take up Vit D and that the higher than normal dairy intake icreased your calcium levels and therefore your Vit D levels.

  • Hi MCoates.

    Interesting. I think my last calcium tests were normal. The GP did them when I asked about hypoparathyroidism (during my 'grasping at straws' period). I don't have the results to hand, but I think they were right in the middle of the range.

    It does seem like all the dairy might have something to do with the improvement. I know milk is fortified with vit D, and I was drinking it every morning in my coffee, putting it on my cereal, eating loads of cheese, etc. but when you consider what a struggle it was to get my levels up to a measly 50something, it doesn't seem like such a drastic change could come from fortified foods alone.

    I normally steer clear of processed foods, dairy and cruciferous veg, but while I was away, virtually every morning I'd have an enormous omelette with broccoli and processed cheese and a side of fried potatoes. I'd eat half of it and bring the other half home for lunch. We were always tutting about how cr@p our diet had become. Who knew?

  • Hi if on D it is vital that you have a calcium test and continue to . Calcium must always be in range and there is a strong inter reaction. Also if D gets high for you, it is important to have a calcium test, vit D and PTH ( parathyroid ) all done AM together. If PTH out you need investigations. I hope this helps you to clarify things.

    Jackie

  • Hi Jackie.

    My last parathyroid and calcium levels were fine, but I'll keep that in mind. Thanks.

  • Hollyann,

    Make sure you had it AM and a vit D at the same time. That is the most important factor. Neither of my GP`s knew that, endo told me.!

    I hope you sort it out.If you think you have problem with absorption, there is a simple test, specific called Faecal Elastase, stool test at home through a doctor. It shows the enzymes ( for absorption ) or lack of them It is normally also associated with large, unwanted weight loss.

    Jackie

  • Hi Jackie. Yes, I had it in the morning with a vit D test as well. I remember it well because the GP had failed to organise a courier to come at the correct time and there was a kerfuffle and a long wait while they arranged it.

    Thanks for the info about the enzyme test. I have had no problem with drastic weight loss. Quite the opposite. :-) Perhaps this should be encouraging re absorption.

  • You mention taking your Vit D with food - I take AdCal (Calcium and Vitamin D tablets) prescribed by my doctor. It specifically says on the enclosed leaflet in the packet - "Do not take less than 4 hours after taking Thyroxine medication or within 2 hours of FOOD" You might try to regulate when you take your meds and see if that helps.

  • Hi.

    It was my friend who also was deficient to said I should take the vitamin supplement with food, preferably with some fat, because it is a fat soluble vitamin. I wonder if your supplements say that because of the calcium - ? Dr Briffa says it improves absorption: drbriffa.com/2010/03/16/whe...

  • The information I mentioned is based on the info given by the pharmaceutical company who make the Vitamin D. (Nothing to do with the Calcium). I assumed they would know best. I did also discuss it with my excellent GP who agreed with the fact that food within 2 hours prevented the absorbtion of the VitD. Never heard of Dr. Britta before and the paper on the link is for 2010 so maybe things have been learnt since then? Anyway, just a thought.

  • Yes, sorry, I meant that the calcium in AdCal - as a calcium and vit D supplement - may mean that it is possibly better taken away from food because it's a combined supplement (though according to the Mayo Clinic, calcium carbonate is better taken with food as well). My vit D says to take "preferably with food."

    My understanding is that fat-soluble vitamins are better absorbed when taken with fatty food, which is presumably why vit D is added to milk, and why it is found naturally in fatty foods such as sardines. (How I wish I could like sardines!) Perhaps this is still in contention.

    It's great that you have so much faith in your GP; mine is absolutely clueless.

  • I have come to the conclusion --- not scientific either --- that many on thyroid medication lose the ability to convert VitD from sunshine. I also believe the the lower ranges are far too low for everyone not just those with some kind of condition. Vit D range is 50 -250: the low end needs to be raise to 125, same with B12 : range 200 -800 --- low end should be raised to a minimum 550. By this people, we hope will feel better, and --- we may find a decrease in alzheimer's.

  • My endo certainly seems to think my levels should be maintained around 100 to help me feel better, which I understand is still lower than you propose, but much higher than the 'normal' levels my GP would be happy with. I am finding my hand/foot pain and stiffness is much better, though who knows if this is because of vit D or because my thyroid levels are better.

  • I believe today, that we none of us get the nutrition from what we eat as we should because the food itself is deficient. This has been proven. Therefore, across the board lower ends of ranges need to be greatly raised. Glad you are feeling a little better, but I still think you need to reach 200 to feel an awful lot better. If this happens over a longer period of time then that is fine. If your thyroid meds have not changed, only the Vit D then I would say that it is definately the Vit D making your improvements.

  • My thyroid meds haven't changed recently, but this is the first time I've shown a TSH under 1, so perhaps I'm responding better to being on an appropriate dose for a sustained period. I'll keep in mind that I may need to raise my levels even more. I'm encouraged now I see the levels are no longer bumping along the bottom.

    Thanks for your reply.

  • I am finding out with research that you need to make sure so many vitamins and minerals are interactive with each other. It seems to be an never ending supplement list. After taking Vit D3 supplements and especially if you are taking extra (supplemental Calcium) you have to make sure your Vitamin K2 is enough. You can't overdose so better to take a supplement, approx 45mcg,,,note (microgrammes) daily. This moves calcium deposits from soft tissue and arteries and heart where it shouldn't be, to the bones where it needs to be. Any amount of research can be found on this. Google Kate Rheaume- Bleue, "The Calcium Paradox" and you will get the information you want about this.

  • Yes, it's very complex and no one (no professionals anyway) seems to know much about it. I'll have a look at that. Many thanks.

  • I assume your Solgar is a little a clear liquid capsule and not a tablet?

    I use Healthy Origins

    I was also told by my specialist that taking Adcal gives an increased incident of kidney stones. therefore i take vit D3 on its own at breakfast as i have a cereal with milk at that time. Works fine for me this way. Adcal also gives a lower dose of D3 -800iu per tablet and for me that is woefully inadequate in keeping my Vit D3 in range as I do not tolerate any sunshine. I take 5000iu per day.

    There is not very much D3 in food so it is unlikely that you would replenish your store of D3 that way -you would have to eat an awful lot of eggs etc to move it up at all....!! So it is a myth that food can restore your levels.

    The only way is though appropriate sunshine on the skin (minus sunscreen) or taking a supplement. I also used to take Adcal ( when I was taking it) with my food twice per day as guided by a NHS consultant specialising in the field -big mistake because after a few months i felt dreadful -turns out the calcium was impeding my uptake of iron (shame the NHS specialist seemed to be ignorant of this!) hmmmmm. :( i do not have a calcium absorption and eat plenty of dairy products so therefore there seems no need to take additional unless needed I don't want kidney stones.

    I can only suggest Hollyann that you ask your GP to refer you through to a specialist to find out why you are not absorbing your vit D3 supplement. As maybe it needs investigating? x

  • Gosh, that is crazy about the AdCal/iron thing. The first GP I saw said of my results (10) 'Just go to Holland and Barrett and get a supplement. That's what I do.' Unless your levels are good, 800iu is such a drop in the ocean. Even 15,000iu per day for three months didn't really get me very far.

    I've had clear capsules and also the oil in the dropper, and now I'm taking capsules that look like they're full of powder - ? I didn't realise they were different until I started taking them but in any case it was all I could buy in the shop. I'll see if I can buy your 5000iu capsules online as they didn't stock a high dosage cap in the shops.

    I tend to agree - I think it was the sunshine that helped. There is no chance he will refer me on the basis of my theory that I'm not absorbing D3, especially now that the problem is 'sorted' ie my results are fine and I have quite a sturdy build, so the malabsorption argument will not wash. I have lots of odd sporadic symptoms inside and out (Crohn's? Sjogren's?) and I'm already fighting his preconceptions that I'm a hypochondriac/depressive. He has been quite good letting me have tests I ask for, but I feel that we're coming to the end of that road.

    I'm thinking of writing a letter to my GP and endo to point out the fact that the first time my levels have been good is after five weeks in the (relative) sunshine, as well as enclosing results of a recent inconclusive gyno biopsy and of my upcoming appt at the oral meds unit at UCL (referral made by my dentist for possible Sjogren's). Once all these threads are tied together maybe someone will take notice.

    Thanks for your reply. x

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