My doctor said that my vitamin D level is low. Is that really bad?

It’s well established that Vitamin D is important in the regulation of the body’s calcium levels and bone development.  If people don’t get enough, they are at risk of diseases like rickets and osteoporosis.  But researchers have more recently discovered that vitamin D receptors are found on almost all tissues of the body.  This has caused a “boom” in vitamin D research; scientists are investigating its role in everything from heart disease and diabetes to depression, cancer and the common cold. 

You get Vitamin D in two ways: by consuming it in foods or supplements, and by making it in your skin when sunlight hits it.  Vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in a lot of foods – unless you’re a really big fan of cod liver oil or mackerel, you wouldn’t get nearly enough – so many foods are fortified with it.  Almost all of the milk sold in the U.S. is fortified with Vitamin D, as are many cereals, juices and yogurts. 

This time of year in Columbus ain’t exactly the most Vitamin D friendly environment – the sun seems to head south for the winter – so it’s not unusual for people around here to have a low Vitamin D level.  But what does that really mean?  How low is too low?  And does having a low Vitamin D level increase your risk for depression, high blood pressure, the flu?  We don’t know for sure.  There’s even a lot of debate going on right now about whether or not the current cut off for a “normal” Vitamin D level is too high and that a lot of people are being told they have a deficiency when they really don’t. 

That being said, people build up the majority of their bone density during their twenties so it wouldn’t hurt to take a daily adult multi-vitamin containing around 600 IU of Vitamin D to help prevent osteoporosis later in life.  It’s also a good idea to get some regular sunlight exposure whenever you can; even if it’s cold, it’ll turn on your skin’s Vitamin D factory.  But don’t overdo it – taking too much (over 4000 IU) can cause damage to the heart, blood vessels and kidneys.  And excessive uv radiation exposure can damage your skin and put you at risk for really bad things.   

The National Institutes of Health has a great site about Vitamin D supplements, and the Mayo Clinic also provides a lot of good information.  And of course, you can always make an appointment to see us if you’re worried about your Vitamin D level.   

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

31 thoughts on “My doctor said that my vitamin D level is low. Is that really bad?

  1. My vitamin d is 11. My doctor wrote me a prescription for 50,000 iu 1 tablet 1x a week for 12 weeks. Do you think this is to much.

    • If your doctor determined that you have a vitamin D deficiency, he/she may opt to write a prescription for a really high dose of vitamin D – such as the prescription you were given by your doctor – to try and correct the deficiency.

  2. My levels are at 9 . I’ve been feeling like really bad for a few weeks and today I found out why. My doctor wrote me the same 50,000 iu script for 12 weeks … she told me that about week 3 I should start feeling a little better I sure hope so …

  3. I’m at 10 and doctor put me on 50,000 a week for 8 weeks, then I get another blood test to see if it’s helping or not.

  4. My level is a 4.2. I had lower back & hip pain for years. August 2014 treated for carpal tunnel & they’d stated my hip pain was due to tight tendons/ligaments. Recently had experienced difficulty with stairs– I’d describe it as if my feet were weighted & they just couldn’t leave the ground. Extreme lethargy. I’d read an article on vit D & asked my dermatologist for a test. GP put me on 50,000 x week. Within 2 days, my carpal tunnel disappeared, as has generalized joint pain. Hips/back still problematic, but I’m only on week two! DEXA scan scheduled for next week. I can’t wait to see what else improves…..

  5. My vitamin d level is 12 my dr put me on 50 , 000 in D2 caps 1 cap twice a week for four wk then once weekly until finish script then make appt.

  6. I was diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency last Wednesday. By Friday, I had a cold. Over the weekend, this progressed and I became very very depressed so I ate some fish (I’m a vegan – this was hard for me) On Sunday, I fainted and went to A&E, and was told I had diabetes, type 2. Even though I am not fat. This morning (Monday) I was diagnosed with angina.
    This is a warning. Eat fish, eggs, and cereal RIGHT NOW because VitD deficiency is serious. I might set up a charity – if you sufferers want to join in please do. I may not have long left.
    PS- I am only 17. Beware. GO SIT OUTSIDE IN THE SUN

  7. I just got a call from the doctor telling me my vitamin D was a 5 i be tired and lazy sometimes so im going to try these pills see how things go. Then i go back to the doctor to make sure my blood not low

  8. I was just told my vitamin D level is 25 and the normal is 30-100. I have osteoporosis and re last infusion 15 months ago but had no side effects. My doc prescribed 50,000 units of a med for once for 12 weeks. Is that overkill??????

  9. My level is 9. So I started taking vit d2 1.25 mg 50,000 unit for the next 12 weeks. I wonder if this is causing my migraines. I ended up in the ER today for a very painful migraine.

    • reports the following as good sources for vitamin D:

      Sunlight, about 20-25 minutes without sunscreen.
      Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel.
      Canned tuna.
      Vitamin-D rich mushrooms. These are mushrooms grown in ultraviolet light to spur vitamin D production.
      Fortified milk.
      Fortified orange juice.
      Egg yolks.
      Fortified cereal.
      Beef liver.
      Cod liver oil.

  10. I was just diagnosed with vitd defiency. I have level 10 and my doctor only prescribed me 5,000 D3 a day which seems low compared to your guys dosage. Is it bc i am 17 and not older? I really want to get better as fast as I can bc this has been so awful. I started out sleeping all day, I couldn’t think and I had this awful confusion. It got so bad that whenever I would try and do anything that required thinking (like homework) it became impossible. I still have bad confusion right now and I really want it to be gone ;-;. I’ve been anemic for a while too and this is 90 times worse to me. I even think the vitd defiiency gave me high blood pressure ;-; If anyone reads this can you please let me know what your symptoms were and if anyone else had more mental symptoms than physical? I hope you all feel better!

  11. I dont now what mine was but doctor said I have to take 5 vitamin d tablets a day what dose that mean someone help

  12. Just found out my vit d level was 29. Doc said was just a bit low and should take 400 iu. I am not having any of the signs or symptoms I read on here. Except I am a lil depressed sometimes. I’m in my mid 50’s. I have already been taking cod liver oil and a multi-vitamin, so I thought I should be ok.

  13. My Vut D level. is 10. The have the same script of 50,000IU 1 time a week for 12 weeks. I am always in pain, depressed have a large growth on my thyroid and am always completely exhausted. I have no appetite.

  14. my Dr. Just told me my vitamin D leval was at 18 and I need to take 5000 units a day for 3 months then drop it to 1000 units a day for the rest of my life. What a good vitamin D that isn’t like a horse pill. Also I have to be gluten free

    • I’ve just started taking ‘Basic’ brand vit D-3 400 iu. They are about the size of a regular multivitamin pill (those little red or yellow pills). Found them at Kroger.

    • I now take 4,000/day, from an over the counter pill. I prefer those which are in gel form (Sundown). I’ve gone from 4.2 to a 30 on my test, after 12 weeks of prescription 50,000/week (plus regular sun time). Made a HUGE difference in how I feel (10-15 yrs younger!). Remember, you can take too much, so keep up testing with your doctor.

  15. Thanks to everyone that commented i just found out mine vita d was 4 and was also put on the 50,000 iu a week and 200,000 daily pill. I got a bit worried because i am only 34; however now i see that all age groups can be affected. Calmed me down a lot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>