Nutrients Optimize Vitamin D
By: Laura Vasquez, MSN, APRN, NP-C
You have probably realized the importance of vitamin D for achieving your best health. So, let’s discuss the relationship between vitamin D and other nutrients, how you can enhance and monitor your vitamin D levels, and the various forms of vitamin D available to you.
What Nutrients Work with Vitamin D?1
Nearly all micronutrients are interconnected, working synergistically to maintain the delicate balance between health and disease. In addition, these nutrients depend on each other for absorption and the chemical reactions necessary to change food into energy. Therefore, ensuring adequate levels of all components will enhance the beneficial effects of vitamin D.
Calcium. Vitamin D helps improve calcium absorption in the GI tract and regulates calcium levels in the blood. Both nutrients play a significant role in maintaining bone density.
Vitamin K2. This micronutrient may not always get the spotlight, but it plays a vital role in calcium and vitamin D for bone health. Vitamin K2 turns on enzymes that activate vitamin D proteins, to bind to calcium and transport that calcium to bones versus the soft tissues.
Magnesium and vitamin D also work cohesively to enhance one another. Vitamin D assists with magnesium absorption in the gut, and magnesium increases vitamin D receptors in the cells allowing more vitamin D to be activated.
Zinc and vitamin D are powerful protectors of our immune system as vitamin D aids in zinc absorption, and zinc activates vitamin D receptors in cells.
Boron is a mineral that turns on enzymes that make vitamin D, improve magnesium absorption, and decrease calcium loss from the bones.
Selenium increases vitamin D levels in the cells, while vitamin D activates selenium’s effects on endothelial tissue, decreasing inflammation in the arterial walls. They also work together to reduce overall inflammation in the body.
What is the Right Blood Level for Optimal Vitamin D Function?
Knowing your vitamin D level and basing your optimal dose on your personal health history is imperative. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) list a general reference for vitamin D levels stating <12 ng/mL is a deficiency, 12 to <20 ng/mL is considered inadequate for overall health and bone health in healthy individuals, >20-50 is generally considered adequate for bone and overall health.2 Multiple research studies show the importance of keeping vitamin D levels higher than adequate. Maintaining vitamin D levels above 30 ng/mL improves muscle strength, immune health, and has many anti-inflammatory components. If you can double your vitamin D level to 60 ng/mL, you may prevent cancer by up to 80%.3 Patients with prior or active cancer and autoimmune conditions may benefit from even supratherapeutic levels ranging from 80-100 ng/mL, which stimulates the immune system and decreases inflammation.
What is the Right Form of Vitamin D?
Most people believe they will achieve adequate vitamin D levels by synthesizing it naturally from the sun’s UVB rays. However, many factors determine how much vitamin D your body will make from the sun, including length of the day, time of year, clouds, individual melanin content, and wearing sunscreen.2 Older and darker-skinned individuals may not absorb as much vitamin D from the sunlight.2 People living in northern climates usually show an average vitamin D level in the low 30s. Therefore, they cannot absorb enough from only UVB light and will need to increase dietary sources and supplementation to boost and maintain optimal levels.
Dietary sources high in vitamin D include fish (cod, trout, tuna, sardines, salmon), fortified dairy and non-dairy milk, eggs, and mushrooms.2 Supplement forms include intramuscular injection for higher doses to quickly increase your vitamin D levels. The oral forms include liquid and capsules, most commonly used as a daily dose of vitamin D. Liquid forms may be better absorbed than capsules. It is also recommended to take your vitamin D supplement with a meal since it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Dosages will vary depending on your current blood level but may range from 1,000 IU to 10,000 IU daily.2
As we have reviewed, it is not as simple as sitting in the sun or taking a dose of vitamin D to achieve your goal vitamin D level. Many factors contribute to achieving, activating, and ensuring optimal levels. The best practice is to regularly check your nutrient and mineral levels through lab testing, learn your personalized range for dosing, and establish adequate vitamin D intake daily.
- Eight synergistic nutrients that work with Vitamin D. Poliquin Group. (2021, June 28). Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://www.poliquinstore.com/articles/eight-synergistic-nutrients-that-work-with-vitamin-d/
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, August 17). Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
- Susan Wadia-Ells, PhD. (2020). Keep Your Vitamin D3 Level Above 60. (1st Ed). Busting Breast Cancer (pp. 93-130).