It's winter in Melbourne, and we are getting very little sunshine. No Sun, no vitamin D. No problem, I'll get my levels checked out from my local GP, or I will just get a supplement from my local health store. You start taking the recommended dose, and all is good, right? A month later you start feeling gloomy, you're getting every cold and flu that comes your way, and you have a skin condition that's getting increasingly worse the colder it gets. "This Vitamin D is Rubbish," you say. "It hasn't done a damn thing".

I hear this time and time again, and the first question I ask is "How much Vitamin D are you having?". The answer is nearly always one capsule a day. Such a dose is commonly prescribed by Doctors and is often the recommended dose for most vitamin D supplements. The problem is one capsule is 1000iu, which is inadequate and you are highly unlikely to get any symptom relief.

To put things into perspective, a half hour exposure in the direct summer sun can potentially give you 30,000iu of vitamin D. There are suggestions that limitations may apply due to the necessary conversion in the liver. However, ranges of 5000iu to 50,000iu have been reported in the scientific literature. Based on this evidence alone it is advised to take at least the equivalent of 5000iu daily. I generally advise 15000iu to 25000iu twice weekly as a starting point to increase low levels. If you have an autoimmune disease, you may require a lot more. Infrequent daily dosing (1 – 3 times a week) has been shown to be more effective than dosing every day.

Everyone is different, and it is always best to have a conversation with a health practitioner that is well educated in Nutrition. Long-term supplementation with vitamin D should not be necessary, and your health practitioner should always advise you on the maximum period you need to be supplementing based on good clinical case taking and blood tests. If you follow a treatment plan by a health practitioner your vitamin D levels will improve, and your immune system will be back on track in no time. 

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