Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
October 10, 2016
A couple of months ago, Craig made an appointment with me. He was concerned about his advanced gum disease. As I was reviewing his medical history, he explained that he was taking 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3 a day. When I asked him why, he said that he was told that there were no problems with high doses of Vitamin D and that it was supposed to be good for gum disease.
He was taking too much Vitamin D!
The facts are:
- Vitamin D is critical for overall health including the health of the gum tissues.
- Vitamin D needs other vitamins and nutrients to function properly.
- Long-term use of high doses of Vitamin D as a supplement can be life threatening.
When it comes to Vitamin D as a supplement, there is a “U-shaped” curve for the dose that is healthy. Too little Vitamin D causes various diseases; too much may cause various diseases; and somewhere in the middle is critical for health. I wrote about the benefits of Vitamin D in the past (HERE). However, taking excessive Vitamin D supplementation can create blood levels that have been linked to decreased bone density and increased heart attacks, strokes, and particularly kidney stones (HERE. HERE).
The only way a person can determine if she or he has a healthy blood level of Vitamin D is to have a special blood test. Craig never had this test to determine his level of Vitamin D. A blood test called “25 Hydroxy Vitamin D” is a test that shows how much of this active form of Vitamin D is in circulation. When he had his blood tested for 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D, it was 110 ng/mL. The normal functional range is between 35-60 ng/mL. I told him to stop taking his daily 10,000 IU dose of Vitamin D3.
Sources Of Vitamin D
The best source of Vitamin D is the sun – not to the point that you get sunburn but just to the point that you develop adequate Vitamin D in the skin surface. How much sun will do this? That depends on skin color, physical location from the equator, time of year, time of day, how much clothing is worn, age, weight, and other factors. For example, one person might need 15 minutes of midday sun to get an adequate amount of Vitamin D creation while another person in the same location might require 60 minutes to get the same level of Vitamin D.
The second best source is food. Since I generally am not a fan of individual supplements, I want to get my necessary nutrients from nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods. Some foods that have significant levels of Vitamin D are cod liver oil, wild caught salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and pastured eggs. In addition, these foods and various nutrient-dense foods provide the essential nutrients to make Vitamin D do what it is supposed to do in the body.
The third best source is Vitamin D supplements. There are two options – Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 appears to be better absorbed and to create more Vitamin D in circulation than Vitamin D2. However, it’s important to take Vitamin D supplements along with fats since Vitamin D is fat-soluble. Also, it is essential to include adequate sources of Vitamin A and Vitamin K2, which have been shown to be essential for Vitamin D to work correctly and to prevent Vitamin D toxicity (HERE). Other nutrients like potassium and magnesium are also important for vitamin D to do what it is supposed to do.
Vitamin D is critical for health. Vitamin D requires necessary nutrients to function properly. It is so easy to take supplements without knowing how much Vitamin D is in your system. The only way to determine your blood level is to have proper blood tests done. Excessive blood levels may not be obvious until you have a blood test. Overdosing on Vitamin D supplements could be life threatening.