To ramp up your vitamin D status, you might turn to a targeted supplement.* (A stellar plan of action, we’d say.) But here’s the thing: The amount of vitamin D found in many multivitamins—and even stand-alone vitamin D supplements—isn’t enough to make a notable difference.
See, that 30 ng/mL 25(OH)D bloodwork value we mentioned is the cutoff for vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency. As mbg’s Ferira shares on the mindbodygreen podcast: “This is not a goal to aim for, but rather a minimum to avoid.” This means that taking 3,000 IU of vitamin D per day is wholly inadequate for most adults.
Translation? Sure, you can hover in around 30 ng/mL to avoid true vitamin D deficiency, but to reach clinically sufficient levels (consistently for life), you actually need more than 30 ng/mL. That’s why Ferira (along with other trusted nutrition and medical experts) believe that greater than or equal to 50 ng/ml is the true goal for vitamin D sufficiency.
Unfortunately, though, most vitamin D-containing supplements simply can’t help you meet that benchmark.
Of course, “smaller doses do provide a little more flexibility for people who may need less [vitamin D] at different times, or for those who take a few different supplements that contain vitamin D,” notes registered dietitian Jess Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN.
Ferira expounds further: “For example, a multi-ingredient immune or bone health complex or a multivitamin may contain 1,000 IU or 2,000 IU of vitamin D3, and that’s great. You might also find a cute dose of vitamin D3 in children’s supplements and most calcium supplements to enhance that mineral’s absorption too, which is also fine.”
But she goes on to say that, “when it comes to a standalone vitamin D3 supplement, anything less than 3,000 IU is simply not helpful to the consumer.”* Some supplement companies offer less-than-efficacious doses for vitamin D supplements (e.g., 400 IU, 600 IU, 1,000 IU, 2,000 IU) and assume the consumer will simply take more based on their needs. Ferira says, “I think it’s time for companies to stop assuming and do the right thing here.”