In 2012, I had my Vitamin D levels checked by my doctor after suffering from chronic fatigue. At the time I was living in the Middle East and my body had undergone a lot of changes from being in a new environment. I had a physical examination with bloodwork done and everything checked out fine. I couldn’t understand why I was experiencing chronic fatigue and exhaustion. Finally the doctor said, “let’s check your Vitamin D levels”.
According to the WebMD website, a normal Vitamin D level for healthy people is between 20-50 nanograms/millileter (ng/mL). A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates a deficiency. My test results revealed that my Vitamin D levels were grossly low. I was put on a high dosage of Vitamin D in the form of pills. My doctor also told me to get some sunlight.
Vitamin D naturally occurs in our bodies when we are exposed to the sun. I love being outside and I love soaking up the sun’s rays; however, my naturally dark skin acted as an SPF 1000% (a blessing and a barrier –literally). People with darker skin (regardless of nationality and cultural background) tend to be deficient because of the extra, deep melanin in their skin. Another contributing factor for me was geography. The Middle East is hot. Very hot! Because it’s so hot, I avoided being outdoors because the intensity of the heat was unbearable. (On the contrary, people living in cold places like Alaska also tend to be deficient as the sun is not even present year round!) The third factor for my deficiency was the fact that I had to cover any exposed skin Monday-Friday at work due to religious laws.
A December 2015 article in Prevention magazine stated that Vitamin D is associated with bone health, regulating the immune system, lower blood pressure, protecting against depression, reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, and several kinds of cancer. The article also states that people with low vitamin D levels were twice as likely to die prematurely.
Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine increased the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D to 600 international units (IU) for everyone ages 1-70, and raised it to 800 IU for adults older than age 70 to optimize bone health. The safe upper limit was also raised to 4,000 IUs.
However speak with your doctor about getting your levels checked. The recommended dosage may still be inadequate for your particular needs.