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8 Reasons Why Low Vitamin D Isn't Vitamin D Deficiency


Is Everyone Vitamin D deficient?

Measuring vitamin D has become quite popular in recent years for a couple of reasons.  

Number one, the whole process is simple. Run serum vitamin D levels, compare the result to a reference range, if levels are low . . . supplement. Done. Easy.  

Secondly, vitamin D has been dubbed as some sort of panacea. Who needs it? Everyone. Need immune support? Vitamin D. Want to improve your bone health? Vitamin D. Have aches and pains? Vitamin D. Feeling blue? Vitamin D. Have a chronic disease? Vitamin D. 

This enchanting combination of a turn-key system for an all-healing wonder supplement has elevated vitamin D to super-hero status. It's paved the way for talk shows, blogs, podcasts, and everyone from health enthusiasts to well-trained professionals recommending the vitamin D “Test – Supplement – Done!” approach. 

We have made vitamin D too simple.

It’s time for an update. 

Vitamin D Is Being Over-Simplified 

This month we dove deep into this topic. And wow, did we find glaring issues in vitamin D testing, interpretation, and supplementation. 

Every practitioner has a moral responsibility to look closer at this topic.

Now, you could put in the hundreds of hours of research we did, reading through over 85 scientific papers, and summarizing them in a clinically applicable way, or you could fully update yourself and be ready to help your patients better in about an hour with our findings.

For now, let’s kick off the conversation with this - When you see low vitamin D on a lab, it does not always mean the person is deficient or needs to supplement with vitamin D.

Eight Reasons Why Low Vitamin D Isn’t Low Vitamin D 

  1. Insufficient Calcium Intake - One study indicated that individuals with adequate calcium and vitamin D dietary intake had lower levels of serum vitamin D than those with lower calcium intakes. This is a problem because those with lower serum vitamin D would likely be the ones that get recommended vitamin D supplementation, but they don’t need it!
  2. Sub-optimal Magnesium Status - Magnesium is required for vitamin D synthesis and metabolism, as well as for vitamin D binding protein function. Numerous studies have indicated that low magnesium status is correlated with low serum 25[OH]D levels and that magnesium supplementation alone can significantly increase serum 25[OH]D levels in magnesium-deficient individuals. In other words, if someone is low in magnesium and vitamin D, simply correcting their magnesium might correct their vitamin D levels. The question is, were they low in vitamin D, or low in magnesium?
  3. Low Serum Glutathione Levels - One study demonstrated that when serum glutathione levels were low, so too were serum vitamin D levels. However, when either glutathione or l-cysteine was supplemented, serum vitamin D levels increased as well. Again, were they low in vitamin D, or low in something else, causing vitamin D to appear low?
  4. Exposure to Air Pollution - A significant number of papers suggest that air pollution contributes to, or even causes, low serum vitamin D levels. Cross-sectional studies exist, looking at two populations with different amounts of air pollution exposure, supporting the air pollution vitamin D level hypothesis. 
  5. Exposure to Environmental Pollutants (e.g. phthalates, BPA) – Multiple studies suggest there is a negative correlation between exposure to certain environmental pollutants and serum vitamin D levels. For example, two such environmental pollutants - phthalates and BPA – tend to decrease serum vitamin D. 
  6. Favorable Gut Bacteria - In a recent study, it was found that older men with higher levels of butyrate-producing bacteria, and therefore arguably better gut health, had lower levels of serum 25[OH]D than did men with less butyrate-producing bacteria. They also had higher levels of the active form of vitamin D - 1,25[OH]D – making vitamin D supplementation unnecessary, if not potentially harmful.
  7. Presence of Inflammation - According to numerous studies, serum 25[OH]D might act as a negative acute phase reactant, meaning it decreases during inflammation. Therefore, if a patient has any degree of acute or chronic inflammation, serum vitamin D levels might appear low. Are they deficient in vitamin D, or do they have inflammation that needs addressing? Just because something is low in the body, doesn’t mean we need to supplement with itThere might be a reason for it. 
  8. Imbalanced Mineral Status - A little-known fact about vitamin D intake is that it not only increases absorption of nutritional minerals but of toxic metals as well. Numerous minerals and metals might influence vitamin D levels. For example, there is a negative correlation between blood lead levels and serum vitamin D, and supplemental boron can increase serum vitamin D levels.  

So, When You Measure Vitamin D, What Are You Actually Measuring? 

Inflammation, calcium intake, magnesium or glutathione status, environmental pollution, healthy microbiome, metal toxicity, or something else?  

If all we’re doing is looking at a low serum vitamin D level and supplementing Vitamin D without considering why we may be giving vitamin D supplementation to people that don’t need it.  

Update Your Knowledge on Vitamin D Including: 

  1. How to Determine Who Needs Vitamin D Testing and Who Doesn’t

  2. Which Vitamin D Reference Range You Should Be Using?

  3. How to Evaluate Vitamin D Status Better, With an Evidence-Based, Comprehensive Method

  4. Who Needs to Supplement with Vitamin D and Who Doesn’t?

Grab it all (+ much more) in the latest workshop, "Vitamin D: Could An Entire Industry Be Wrong"

We summarize all of our findings to provide you with an updated, evidence-based approach to testing, evaluation, and supplementation of Vitamin D. 

Practitioners love our workshops because they quickly simplify complicated topics and provide solid resources that are easy to reference and implement with every patient. 

If cutting-edge information you won’t find elsewhere, summarized into fully researched, easy-to-implement methods for better clinical outcomes are something you could use in your practice, this is for you.

Not sure if it is worth it?

Here Are Some Recent Reviews

This type of content is gold, and truly helps me to help my clients in a more significant and impactful way. From the presentation itself to the PDF handouts, this is worth WAY more than the fee. Thank you for your hard work and generosity with this content.” – Sara Wolozyn. 

"This is excellent information! I'm so excited to begin using this with my patients." – Jordan Smith

"I really appreciate this. I think there is wisdom you can share only from treating patients alongside research." Thanks Bryan and Julie! – Gavin Guard



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