In the sunny month of July, where levels of vitamin D in southern Californians should be at optimal levels, almost all my patients at Seaside Medical Practice were deficient in vitamin D. With all the hype on vitamin D being the panacea for all sorts of bodily symptoms and diseases, its accessibility and relatively inexpensive cost, I was surprised to find health conscious Santa Monica residents are not immune to vitamin D deficiency as are the rest of US population. And now with the recent bad press on vitamin D, which clearly was bad press, we have more to question about this fortuitous substance and I felt compelled to educate my patients on this hot topic.

We have always known that vitamin D and all other vitamins are good for us, but did we know that D is actually a hormone and not a vitamin? In its scientific form, it enters the cells and affects our DNA in the same fashion a hormone does. Hormones are the signals within the human body regulating homeostasis; we need them and we need them all. A growing body of evidence has accumulated over the last five years, strongly supporting the beneficial effects of vitamin D in major disease processes, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, mood and obesity. Seasonal affective disorder is linked to reduced amount of daily sunshine and vitamin D levels. Insulin resistance, which leads to hyperglycemia and diabetes improves with optimization of D levels. High blood pressure improves in woman on high doses of vitamin D. The studies are countless and one disputable study shouldn’t counteract numerous sound ones. More research is called for, especially those testing the safety of high doses as we have become accustomed to prescribing in the last few years.

Coming from a nephrologist who regularly prescribes dosages ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 per day of vitamin D3 to patients with chronic kidney disease, I can safely assure my non-CKD patients that it is completely safe and well tolerated. I recommend testing your level before initiating high doses, and monitoring closely with periodic assessments. The minimum range is about 30 ng/dL, optimal is 50-80, and anything beyond that is controversial. The risks are minimal and include kidney stones, high calcium level and constipation. Overdose is exceedingly rare and will never occur under Dr. Yazdani’s observation. Make an appointment today to have your vitamin D level tested and begin appropriate therapy as early as possible. More likely than not, you are deficient!