Published on December 21, 2022
The GrassrootsHealth panel of scientists recommends a vitamin D level between 40-60 ng/ml; what happens when higher levels are maintained?
Bob is a long-time participant in the GrassrootsHealth D*action project who recently emailed to ask if we could share some data on those in our cohort with higher vitamin D levels (above 100 ng/ml or 250 nmol/L). In response, we took a quick look and found that 189 participants in the GrassrootsHealth cohort have maintained a vitamin D level of 100 ng/ml or higher; these participants had at least 2 tests in the 100+ ng/ml range, with a median time of approximately two years between the first and most recent test result of 100 ng/ml or higher.
Earlier this month, we shared a video with Dr. Bruce Hollis on the topic of targeting higher vitamin D levels for individuals who are living with certain conditions. These higher vitamin D levels may need to be maintained for those who experience certain pathologies such as cancer, autoimmune disease, and other chronic diseases.
Out of curiosity, we reached back out to Bob and asked him if he would be willing to share why he chooses to keep his vitamin D levels above 100 ng/ml. Here is what he said….
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Bob: I’m a 78 year young male living in Portsmouth, RI who grew up in NYC but spent my formative summers on an uncle’s dairy farm in Maine. Life experiences guided me to a career in Engineering focused on solving problems in the agricultural industry. Interest in all things mechanical led me into Fluid Mechanics and its application, thus supporting my MS research into the fluid transport phenomena of agricultural products. This research was responsible for my acceptance as a researcher for the Department of the Navy studying all aspects of naval submarines and their underwater weaponry. Some 32 years later I transitioned to the private sector and functioned as the Chief Engineer for several naval weapon systems until retirement in 2010.
How did you first become interested in vitamin D?
Bob: With my science and engineering background, I’d always been interested in how my body functioned and what I could do to keep it in good working order as well as improving performance and especially life longevity. At some point around 2012 either someone sent me a link or I stumbled on a lecture by Dr. Michael Holick on the benefits of vitamin D for overall body health (a lecture similar to this one). Since I was diagnosed in 2004 for prostate cancer and had a subsequent laparoscopic prostatectomy that April, the benefits of vitamin D struck a nerve and I was hooked, so to speak. By then my PSA was still holding steady as being undetectable at the lower limit of assay detection <.014, but by 2015 the PSA had risen to 1.8 indicating growth of cells that no doubt escaped from the prostatectomy years earlier. By then I’d run across GrassrootsHealth and the vitamin D*action project and had begun the vitamin D measurement and tracking process in 2013. My initial level recorded @ 99 ng/ml. This was most likely the result of being an outdoors person playing golf, fishing and vacationing in the sun as well as starting supplements of around 5,000 IU’s per day shortly after viewing the Holick lecture video. My oncology specialist had prescribed Lupron/Radiation therapy and was encouraging regarding my taking the level of vitamin D supplementation; needless to say, that was another reason why I “stuck the course” I was on for vitamin D, and felt my high levels were serving my body well. Anecdotal yes, but it obviously didn’t hamper the recovery, and I believe it helped.
Footnote: the PET scan “illuminated” only the prostate cancer cells, providing they were emitting at least levels >0.60 PSA. So it’s almost 4 years now with undetectable PSA. When I was originally diagnosed back in 2004, I caught the cancer at Stage 0, with a Gleason 6. I was always interested in checking key body indexes and started routine PSA testing in 1996. It was routinely 1.5 and suddenly rose to 4.5 in 6 months in 2003, so I knew something wasn’t quite right, based on the standards of the day, and pushed for the biopsy in January 2004.
What was your latest vitamin D test result?
Bob: Most recently, this November 2022, my vitamin D level was at 134 ng/ml, while taking 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day from a D3-K2 supplement.
How long/often have you had a vitamin D level of over 100 ng/ml?
Bob: My vitamin D level has floated around or above 100ng/ml since July 2013. I should emphasize, as previously stated, that I started BioTech Pharmaceuticals supplements before I started testing, shortly after viewing the Holick video. There was one 12 month period of testing in 2017 wherein my level floated between 49 & 60 ng/ml. My reflection upon this period was that I was experimenting with my intake level of supplements in seeing how my body reacted. For example, in October 2017 I was taking 5000 IU per day of vitamin D, but by April 2018 I increased it to 15,000 IU per day.
What target level do you aim for?
Bob: I’ve been trying to maintain the 100 ng/ml level.
Why do you choose to keep your level this high? Are you concerned about toxicity? Why or why not?
Bob: Well, I believe it hasn’t done any harm based on the toxicity data of Dr. Holick and others, so why not? Given these studies where high amounts of vitamin D supplementation were given, I think toxicity is virtually impossible at these levels, besides, I’m thinking that this level has kept my immune system better equipped to fight against not only the prostate cancer cells but also the viruses that have been the scourge of the country and world. I’ve hadn’t had any adverse affects nor have I had many colds since my levels were consistently above this level. I had one cold in late December 2021 coming out of a Christmas COVID “bubble” in the UK. In October this year I contracted COVID which was extremely mild, exhibiting only cough and mucus that exited after 5 days. Full disclosure, I’ve had 5 Pfizer vaccinations but hadn’t yet received the Bivalent version, yet my instincts lead me to believe that without the high vitamin D levels my recovery from and severity of either cold or COVID wouldn’t have been so quick or so easy. I realize it’s purely anecdotal, however that’s how I feel.
What other supplements do you take with your vitamin D, and why have you chosen those supplements?
Bob: I have been taking 5,000 mg of supplemental omega-3s daily. I initially started this supplement years ago in order to lower my Triglyceride levels (> 160) after a mild heart attack in 1996. Being allergic to fish with high omega-3 levels my only recourse was supplementation. It wasn’t until GrassrootsHealth started looking into Omega-3 in 2017 did I monitor the actual Omega-3 Index. Despite supplemental Omega-3 (I have no idea the level of supplementation) my initial levels recorded in 2017 and 2018 ranged from 4.4% (2017) to 7.4% (2018), after which I increased the supplementation to 3,000 and finally 5,000 mg per day. Since then (early 2019) my Omega-3 Index has hovered @ 11%. And my Triglyceride level has been routinely 70 or lower and the resulting Total Cholesterol @ 130. Again, there have been no adverse effects noticed. I also do a stress test every other year and continue to get “high marks” with no further deterioration.
Now, having said all that, there’s somewhat of a conundrum…… my Cardiologist recently (last week) was reviewing my latest EKG and also noticed the high level of supplementation of omega-3s I was taking. He commented that recent studies reported no significant positive effect in taking such supplements. He didn’t cite these studies, but basically said I was wasting my money for no positive gain other than the triglyceride level, which he’s obviously interested in keeping low.
While I value his opinion and treatment after my heart attack in ’96, I’m indifferent to his comments and will continue omega-3 supplementation unless such studies indicate a deleterious effect(s).
I also take 150 mg of Magnesium Citrate per day based on GrassrootsHealth studies/commentary. My vitamin D supplement is now specifically a D3-K2 combination, again based on the information GrassrootsHealth has provided regarding their interdependency. All supplementation has been from BioTech Pharmacal.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Bob!
What Are Your Levels of Vitamin D, Omega-3s and Other Important Nutrients?
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Choose which markers to measure, such as your vitamin D, omega-3s, and essential minerals including magnesium and zinc, by creating your custom home test kit today. Take steps to improve the status of each of these measurements to benefit your overall health. You can also track your own intakes, symptoms and results to see what works best for YOU.
Enroll and test your levels today, learn what steps to take to improve your status of vitamin D (see below) and other nutrients and blood markers, and take action! By enrolling in the GrassrootsHealth projects, you are not only contributing valuable information to everyone, 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.
How Can You Use this Information for YOUR Health?
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Measuring is the only way to make sure you are getting enough!
STEP 1 Order your at-home blood spot test kit to measure vitamin D and other nutrients of concern to you, such as omega-3s, magnesium, essential and toxic elements (zinc, copper, selenium, lead, cadmium, mercury); include hsCRP as a marker of inflammation or HbA1c for blood sugar health
STEP 2 Answer the online questionnaire as part of the GrassrootsHealth study
STEP 3 Using our educational materials and tools (such as our dose calculators), assess your results to determine if you are in your desired target range or if actions should be taken to get there
STEP 4 After 3-6 months of implementing your changes, re-test to see if you have achieved your target level(s)