Cheer up sunshine
March 9, 2014 5:06 AM   Subscribe

I've just started taking vitamin D3 on doctor's orders. So far, its seems too good to be true. If you take it, can you tell me how far to reel in my expectations?

On a recent trip to the doctors to be told off for high weight and high blood sugar, the doctor decided to test my vitamin d levels. Apparently 25-50 ( unknown units ) is 'insufficient' and I had a level below 10. She put me on 1000UI vitamin D3.

Since then, I feel like a different person - I'm less tired, my mood is lighter, I'm eating massively less ( lost 15 lbs this month without trying ) and my Gerd / gord is much reduced ( presumably because I'm eating less ).

How much of this is the vitamin d? Will it continue? Am I about to crash and lose all this good?

Also - how critical is taking calcium at the same time? Calcium carbonate ( the normal way it seems to come ) upsets my Gerd pills. Can I skip it and use the calcium free pills I've found online?
posted by sodium lights the horizon to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I tested too low on some measure for vitamin D at the beginning of last year while also experiencing many of the same symptoms you mention. I was initially prescribed 2000 IU/UI daily for two weeks and 1000 IU daily thereafter but I didn't have the experience you're describing. Some of my symptoms have improved since then but those changes don't correlate particularly closely to the point I started taking the vitamin D. I keep taking it because I get very little sunlight, so it's quite feasible that I would need a supplement.

(So while it seems to be providing some great additional benefits for you, this may not be the universal experience when a vitamin D deficiency is remedied.)
posted by XMLicious at 5:53 AM on March 9, 2014

You're gong to get just as many responses are there are people on this one, but I also test low and benefit from supplementation. It just makes me feel more alert in the morning and kicks off the natural "gear down into sleep" at night--regulating the sleep-wake cycle against what's going on with the winter light situation (i.e. still dark at 7am, dark again already at 4pm). If you're getting better sleep, that might be helping your mood, fatigue, and overeating.
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:12 AM on March 9, 2014

A level of 10 is an extreme deficit, so yes, fixing it should result in miraculous changes. A lot of people are told the have a vitamin d deficit at what was until recently considered a high enough level, but your level of 10 is dangerously low on any scale.

Mine was 8 at some point so I know even though ianad. Some of the changes I saw after fixing it included tons more energy, an increase in healing time/ decrease in scarring with any skin issues, and a reversal of hair loss and seeing new hair growth.

Low vita-d levels are sometimes symptomatic of parathyroid disease, and treating the vita d deficiency in this case can be dangerous until you have the disease fixed. Did you also have your calcium levels checked and were they normal?

Enjoy the new you!
posted by cacao at 6:13 AM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, it's normal to experience increase in energy. Your levels were super low to begin with (below 10 ng/mL) and it will take months to get them steadily back to normal. Levels of 12 ng/mL and lower are considered a deficiency.

The weight loss seems to be not an universal experience. Sometimes the amount of food people eat is related to their mood. Also weight and vitamin D are connected, as body fat tends to bind vitamin D. This means that a high body fat percentage prevents vitamin D from getting into the bloodstream.

The difference between "on vitamin D" and how you felt so far will become less profound over time, but your overall energy level will be higher and you'll likely feel generally healthier. This varies from individual to individual. You are starting from very low levels, so it makes sense that it feels like a drastic difference.

Did your doc check all other vitamins and minerals? Vit D helps absorb other nutrients, like calcium. Since you had very low levels of D, your calcium levels might be low as well. Calcium is necessary for teeth, bones and many other functions of the body, so you'll want to make sure you get enough of it. It is possible to get the recommended daily amount of calcium from food, so if your levels are not low you might as well skip the pills.

Follow your docs recommended dosage, too much D is toxic. Up to 4000IU are now considered safe for adults. Not sure if you're taking more than one of your 1000IU pills/day.

As an aside: Concentration, like for vitamin levels, can be described in two ways. As nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) or as nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). 1 nmol/L = 0.4 ng/mL. The range of 25-50 you quoted, suggests we're talking ng/mL.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:20 AM on March 9, 2014

Been there, done that. Had a level of about 8. Doc about crapped himself when he saw the results. I've not noticed an uptick in mood or energy or anything like that. What did go away was the horrible bone pain I was having. Still have the other pain from fibro, but not the "please rip out my collar bones because they hurt so damn bad" pain.

You might want to ask the doc about injections. That's the way I initially got my D fix. I got one the day I got my blood results back, another one about 3 months later and then I was supposed to get 1 more 3 months later but I moved back to the US from Korea. I haven't had the money to get retested. I'm taking an OTC supplement that's 2000IU and I haven't had the bone pain come back, so I'm assuming I'm not down at the 8 I was before.
posted by kathrynm at 7:22 AM on March 9, 2014

My husband had a dramatic increase in energy in the mornings when he started supplementing with vitamin d, interestingly adding a magnesium supplement had way more of an uplifting effect on his mood. He tends to suffer from SAD and this winter had been hell on him until then. He had no weight loss though and the good mood and energy have held for the past three months.
posted by wwax at 8:20 AM on March 9, 2014

I take 5000 UI daily. Combined with other prescribed vitamins and meds (the latterI took for a while before vitamins, so I had ample time to compare), there has been a sea change in my energy and emotional level/stability. Combined with a SAD light in winter, my very intense SAD is effectively gone as a bonus. Vitamin D is fucking amazing.
posted by griphus at 8:29 AM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

My D level was 9, and the megadose pills felt like ... crack. Just amazing. It leveled off, but my energy has stayed much better since. I take a 5000 IU pill daily now, and that keeps my levels in normal range. I think as long as you keep your D levels in normal range, you shouldn't 'crash'.
posted by Dashy at 8:42 AM on March 9, 2014

When my D was low, my doctor put me on 4000 IU of D3 daily, but no extra calcium. (Are you really just taking 1000 IU a day? With levels that low I would think the doctor would have upped it.) I'm just using a pharmacy brand of D3 that does not include calcium. You could ask a local pharmacy about options. I've just tried to eat foods that naturally have calcium, which seems to work for me. I feel and seem to be healthier on D3, but not on a level that you and some others reported. I wish it had that effect on me, but healthy is good too.

Here is a list of good foods for calcium.
posted by gudrun at 9:02 AM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

She gave me a prescription (which I get free) for 1000UI, but then told me I should buy any more pills online because they'd be stronger & cheaper.

I was a bit worried my post would come across as a sales pitch, so I didn't mention that I've just bought 2000UI pills from costco where 600 pills were about £5. I'm trying to decide if I should take one or two a day at the moment.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:30 AM on March 9, 2014

My doctor would vote (i.e. this is his method for people with very low levels) that you take the 4000 (2 pills) for a while and then get your levels retested (he retested me after 3 months.) You can then decide with the doctor's input whether to continue to take 4000 for a while longer, or drop down a bit. After 3 months, my levels were better but not optimal, so he decided I should keep taking 4000 and then he retested me a while later. Rinse and repeat.
posted by gudrun at 9:53 AM on March 9, 2014

It was a miracle when I had my vitamin D replenished 5 years ago. Now daily supplementation at 2000 iu is just background noise to daily life. I get happy, I get sad, I gain weight, I lose weight, time marches on. I think it was after a few months when the initial euphoria turned to new baseline.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:44 AM on March 9, 2014

If you have absorption issues, you can also buy liquid vitamin D (in gel caps or with dropper dispenser).
posted by blue suede stockings at 10:57 AM on March 9, 2014

My prescription replenishment megadose pills were 100,000 IU weekly (and like I said, they were happy pills, I felt so much better so quickly!).
posted by Dashy at 2:38 PM on March 9, 2014

Unless if you have kidney problems, it near impossible to get Vitamin D toxicity.

(See: 'more than 50,000 international units (IU) a day of vitamin D for several months has been shown to cause toxicity'

Although that still might have been for someone with kidney problems? Sorry, haven't checked all footnotes, but in the toxicity cases for people taking the supplement called Soladek which contained 864,000iu in each dose, those who came down with hypercalcemia, also had an additional underlying condition.
So, my point being, don't take 864,000iu of Vitamin D, or even 50,000iu. But even if you did, if you are otherwise healthy, you'll still probably be fine).

For reference, 30 minutes of full body sun exposure on fair/caucasian skin, gives about 10,000iu, with diminishing returns.
You can't overdose via sun exposure. Don't get burnt, because skin cancer is bad , but 10 minutes, or your local 'burn time', whichever is less, full body sun exposure is generally a good thing. Key word is full body. A little sun on arms and face is insufficient.
Oh, and ironically, Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased cancer risk, possibly more so than most peoples increased risk from having been sun burned, but you might want to research that yourself.
posted by Elysum at 7:25 PM on March 9, 2014

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