In preparing for a physical, I took a blood test this past week. I was also curious about my levels after spending 5 months backpacking.
I received a call from my doctor that indicated positive results in all bio markers with the exception of Vitamin D. The blood test for D was the 25(OH)D blood test.
The Vitamin D Council suggests that a level of 50 ng/ml is the ideal level to aim for. Mine is 23 !
The doctor’s office recommended that I immediately supplement 2,000 IU/ day. Cursory internet research suggests I need more. The Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000 IU/day of vitamin D supplementation in order to reach and stay at this level.
The two main ways to get vitamin D are by exposing your bare skin to sunlight and by taking vitamin D supplements. Apparently you can’t get the right amount of vitamin D your body needs from food.
I should have been able to metabolize adequate D from my daily exposure to intense sunlight for 5 months (ultraviolet B rays). This should have happened very quickly, particularly in the summer.
The Vitamin D council suggests that you don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn.
I hiked through the summer when the light was lengthy, and it was my habit to hike in short sleeve shirt and shorts.
It appears that I will need to get vitamin D by taking supplements. Vitamin D3 is the best kind of supplement to take. It comes in a number of different forms, such as tablets and capsules, but it doesn’t matter what form you take, or what time of the day you take it.
This same problem surfaced after my 2010 Pacific Crest Trail hike, another 5 months stint where I bathed in sunlight 95 % of those 150 days. My doctor even had me take 50,000 unit doses once a week for a month. Only a meager increase was gained, I didn’t ever reach 30.
I do have some of the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency ( tiredness and general aches and pains), but those are also consistent with the extreme demands of averaging 20 miles a day over 5 months. People who are deficient also have infections. I experienced a infected tooth on the Trail.
Cause for concern? Anyone out there with some wisdom in this area to impart ?