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Published on January 11, 2021

Why do vitamin D levels vary among different people taking the same supplemental dose?

There are several factors including the intake of certain nutrients that influence how an individual’s vitamin D level responds to their vitamin D supplementation amount (this is called the dose-response). It is because of these different factors between individuals that there is such a wide range of serum level responses that can be produced at any specific supplementation amount. For example, it is possible for a supplemental intake of 4000 IU/day to result in a vitamin D serum level of 25 ng/ml (62.5 nmol/L) in one individual, and 60 ng/ml (150 nmol/L) in another. Testing vitamin D levels, versus blind supplementation, is therefore essential to know for sure if what you are taking is the right amount for you.

Today we explore how some of these other nutrients contribute to the variability in the vitamin D dose-response.

What Are Co-Nutrients?

Previously, we have discussed how a lack of key vitamin D co-nutrients can keep vitamin D levels from rising. What are co-nutrients and how are they important for vitamin D levels?

Co-nutrients are nutrients that work together for some process. If one co-nutrient is limited, either missing or not plentiful enough, then the process might also be limited. For example, your body needs magnesium to process and use vitamin D; without sufficient magnesium, the amount of vitamin D that can be metabolized by your body is limited.

Some examples of nutrients that seem to have an influence on vitamin D levels can be seen below. In the first chart, using the data provided for the GrassrootsHealth study from almost 3,000 participants with supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2 information, we plotted every participant’s supplemental vitamin D intake (dose) and blood level (response) and determined the average trends for participants who reported taking no supplemental magnesium or vitamin K2, those who reported usually taking both supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2, and those who reported taking only one or the other.

Vitamin D Dose-Response by Magnesium and Vitamin K2 Intake

On average, those taking both supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2 have a higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those taking either supplemental magnesium or vitamin K2 or neither. Specifically, 244% more supplemental vitamin D was needed for 50% of the population to achieve 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) for those not taking supplemental magnesium or vitamin K2 compared to those who usually took both supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2.

Click to View Full-Size Chart

Vitamin D Dose-Response by Magnesium Intake

On average, those taking more supplemental magnesium have a higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those taking less supplemental magnesium. Specifically, 146% more supplemental vitamin D was needed for 50% of the population to achieve 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) for those not taking supplemental magnesium compared to those who took 400 mg/day or more.

Click to View Full-Size Chart

Vitamin D Dose-Response by Vitamin K2 Intake

On average, those taking supplemental vitamin K2 have a higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those not taking supplemental vitamin K2. Specifically, 115% more supplemental vitamin D was needed for 50% of the population to achieve 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) for those not taking supplemental vitamin K2 compared to those who took 200 mcg/day or more. The trend lines for both supplemental vitamin K2 intake amounts (1-199 and 200+ mcg/day) were similar.

Click to View Full-Size Chart

Vitamin D Dose-Response by Calcium Intake

On average, those taking supplemental calcium have a slightly higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those not taking supplemental calcium. The trend lines for both supplemental calcium intake amounts (1-499 and 500+ mg/day) were similar. Specifically, 14% more supplemental vitamin D was needed for 50% of the population to achieve 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) for those not taking supplemental calcium compared to those who took 500 mg/day or more.

Click to View Full-Size Chart

Vitamin D Dose-Response by Vitamin B6 Intake

On average, those taking supplemental vitamin B6 have a higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those not taking supplemental vitamin B6. Specifically, 63% more supplemental vitamin D was needed for 50% of the population to achieve 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) for those not taking supplemental vitamin B6 compared to those who took 20 mg/day or more. The trend lines for both supplemental vitamin B6 intake amounts (1-19 and 20+ mg/day) were similar.

Click to View Full-Size Chart

Vitamin D Dose-Response by Vitamin B12 Intake

On average, those taking supplemental vitamin B12 have a higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those not taking supplemental vitamin B12. Specifically, 61% more supplemental vitamin D was needed for 50% of the population to achieve 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) for those not taking supplemental vitamin B12 compared to those who took 500 mcg/day or more. The trend lines for both supplemental vitamin B12 intake amounts (1-499 and 500+ mcg/day) were similar.

Click to View Full-Size Chart

Vitamin D Dose-Response by Vitamin C Intake

On average, those taking supplemental vitamin C in the amount of 1,000 mg/day or more have a higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those taking less supplemental vitamin C. Specifically, 94% more supplemental vitamin D was needed for 50% of the population to achieve 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) for those not taking supplemental vitamin C compared to those who took 1,000 mg/day or more. The trend lines were similar for those taking no supplemental vitamin C and those taking 1-999 mg/day.

Click to View Full-Size Chart

Vitamin D Dose-Response with Probiotic Intake

This preliminary analysis shows that on average, those taking supplemental probiotics have a higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those not taking supplemental probiotics. Specifically, 72% more supplemental vitamin D was needed for 50% of the population to achieve 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) for those did not take probiotics compared to those who did.

Click to View Full-Size Chart

 

Other Vitamin D Co-Nutrients

A lack of other key vitamin D co-factors, such as boron and zinc, can reduce vitamin D absorption and production. On the other hand, a high intake of certain vitamins that compete with vitamin D, such as vitamin A in the form of retinol or retinyl palmitate (not beta-carotene), can cause a reduction in vitamin D levels. This form of vitamin A is found in food from animal sources (especially liver) and some supplements. Also, some drugs including statins, prednisone and weight-loss drugs can block vitamin D.

Don’t Forget Other Factors that Affect Vitamin D Levels!

Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, taking it with a meal that contains fat can increase absorption. With increased age comes a reduced ability to produce vitamin D in the skin in response to UVB exposure and a reduction in the kidney’s ability to convert vitamin D to its active form. Also, smokers and those with a high BMI tend to have lower levels. Certain medical and health conditions (including pregnancy) can increase your use of and requirement for vitamin D. Food, UVB exposure, and skin color also contribute to variability in vitamin D levels.

Lastly, it has been shown that vitamin D levels change naturally throughout the day, tending to be up to 20% higher mid-day than in the morning or evening, especially when taking a supplement. For those tracking their vitamin D levels over time, it is strongly recommended to collect your blood sample at the same time of day to have comparable results.

How is Your Body Responding to Vitamin D Supplementation?

If you have been consistently taking the same supplemental dose of vitamin D and experience a lower than expected vitamin D level, it’s possible that a change in diet, behavior, health, or the environment over the prior few months could have reduced your levels. Or, if you are having difficulty increasing your levels, try increasing your dose, taking it with your largest meal, and optimizing vitamin D co-factors to improve your levels. Testing and re-testing after making your adjustments is the only way to tell if what you are doing is helping you to achieve your target level of vitamin D. Test today.

By joining the GrassrootsHealth projects, you are not only contributing valuable information to our study, but you are also gaining knowledge about how you could improve your own health through measuring and tracking your nutrient status, and educating yourself on how to improve it. Do you know what your status of vitamin D, omega-3s, and other essential nutrients is? Could your levels be improved? Test now to find out!

We now have a NEW GIFTING SERVICE that allows you to quickly send ‘Gift Cards’ to friends, family and coworkers who you consider might need immediate access to testing, and to Claim the Joy of Your Health TODAY. Give the gift today!

What does the Research Say about Vitamin D & COVID-19?

It’s TIME to start saving lives! If you can help PREVENT the majority of the death, it’s time! What’s it costing you/us not to take action NOW?

There is much published research that supports a clear link between vitamin D and COVID-19 showing that higher vitamin D levels are related to:

a decreased risk of testing positive for COVID-19

increased viral SARS-CoV-2 RNA clearance

better clinical outcomes among patients with COVID-19

less severe COVID-19 disease

decreased risk of death due to COVID-19

Be sure to educate yourself on the benefits and importance of vitamin D for immune health, and take steps to ensure you and your loved ones are getting enough.

You can review all of the COVID-19 and immune health information we have shared on this page.

Important Message

Help everyone Move Research into Practice with vitamin D and other nutrients! As a special birthday gift to everyone, in honor of the science, we have created a special scholarship fund for anyone to donate to that will go towards helping others participate. Your donation will allow anyone to get help with funding their participation when they need it.

Text-to-give: Text Daction to 44321 to add to our Scholarship Fund.

Donations made through GiveLively are received in full by GrassrootsHealth.

What Does it Take YOU to Get Your D to 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L)?

Did you know your health could be greatly affected by making sure you have a vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L)? Help us help you.

STEP 1 - Do you know what your vitamin D level is? If not, be sure to test today to find out.

STEP 2 – Determine your target level. Are you at your target level? Experts recommend a level of at least 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L).

STEP 3 – Need to boost your level? Use the D*calculator to see how much vitamin D it may take to reach your target. Opt for the Loading Dose for a quicker boost.

STEP 4 – Optimize how your body absorbs and utilizes vitamin D with co-nutrients and these simple steps.

STEP 5 – Re-Test! This is an important step to make sure you have reached your target level, and to ensure you are not taking too much! Re-testing after 3-4 months is recommended.

STEP 6 – Adjust, Repeat…

Give your immune system the nutrients it needs to support a healthy you and protect yourself from unnecessary diseases, especially COVID-19.

NEWS ALERT

The first Randomized Controlled Trial on vitamin D and COVID-19 has shown a 96% lower risk of ICU admission for those receiving vitamin D (as 25(OH)D to quickly boost vitamin D blood levels) along with the standard treatment, compared to those receiving standard treatment alone.

These results support many previous observational studies showing a relationship between vitamin D levels and intake and COVID-19 severity.

Review the Latest Nutrient Research for COVID-19

GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute has launched the new Immune Boost project with the use of our myData-myAnswers nutrient health system that nearly 15,000 people are already using for their health. Specific markers that influence immune health are suggested for testing as part of this project including:

  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 Index
  • Essential elements magnesium, selenium, and zinc
  • hsCRP

Our goal is to demonstrate how one can use the Nutrient Research Model established by Dr. Robert Heaney to show the effect of vitamin D serum levels of at least 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) on risk reduction for all ethnicities in the population. Status and intake of other nutrients will also be analyzed for any type of relationship to immune status and symptom severity. Join the project today!

Please let us know if you're interested in helping sponsor this project.

CLICK HERE for updates and new information about the project.

Through GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute, you can also test your essential elements magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium, toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium, as well as your omega-3 levels, inflammation levels and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level. Find out your levels today! Log on to the test selection page (click the link below) to get your tests and see for yourself if your levels can be improved.

Make sure you track your results before and after, about every 6 months!

Click Here to Access the Test Page

How can I track my nutrient intake and levels over time?

To help you track your supplement use and nutrient levels, GrassrootsHealth has created the Personal Health Nutrient Decision System called

For each specific supplement, you can track what days you take it, how much, and many other details.  This will help you know your true supplemental intake and what patterns of use work for you to reach and maintain optimum nutrient levels. Check it out today!