Take Vitamin D Supplements with Meals

Take Vitamin D Supplements with Meals
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Taking vitamin D supplements with food may be a cost-effective strategy to achieve optimum levels.

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What do you do if you’re one of the 42% of Americans with vitamin D deficiency, are put on a vitamin D supplement regimen, and your levels still don’t budge?

That kept happening to this group of docs at the Cleveland Clinic. “In our practice,” they wrote, “it is common to see patients treated with vitamin D supplements who do not achieve an appreciable rise in their [vitamin D] level after therapy despite large prescribed doses.”

So, they did a few experiments, and concluded that “[t]aking vitamin D with the largest meal improves absorption and results in higher [blood] levels of [vitamin D].” Just that one simple change in timing “results in about a 50% increase in [blood] levels of [vitamin D] achieved.” They conclude: “It therefore seems reasonable to ask patients to take vitamin D supplements with their largest meal because it may be a cost-effective strategy that could very well help patients to achieve optimal serum levels of [vitamin D].”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to plant nutrition via Flickr

What do you do if you’re one of the 42% of Americans with vitamin D deficiency, are put on a vitamin D supplement regimen, and your levels still don’t budge?

That kept happening to this group of docs at the Cleveland Clinic. “In our practice,” they wrote, “it is common to see patients treated with vitamin D supplements who do not achieve an appreciable rise in their [vitamin D] level after therapy despite large prescribed doses.”

So, they did a few experiments, and concluded that “[t]aking vitamin D with the largest meal improves absorption and results in higher [blood] levels of [vitamin D].” Just that one simple change in timing “results in about a 50% increase in [blood] levels of [vitamin D] achieved.” They conclude: “It therefore seems reasonable to ask patients to take vitamin D supplements with their largest meal because it may be a cost-effective strategy that could very well help patients to achieve optimal serum levels of [vitamin D].”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to plant nutrition via Flickr

Doctor's Note

This is the final video in a nine-part series on vitamin D. Be sure to check out my previous video: Resolving the Vitamin D-bate, and today’s blog: Vitamin D: Shedding some light on the new recommendations

For more context, also check out my associated blog posts: How to Enhance Mineral AbsorptionVitamin D from Mushrooms, Sun, or Supplements? and How Should I Take Probiotics?.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

39 responses to “Take Vitamin D Supplements with Meals

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  1. Dr. Greger,
    Can you do some research on Spirulina and Chlorella? I have been hearing some things about these green algaes and want to know more about before i start taking them.
    thanks again.




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  2. Dr. Greger, thanks for all the info on vitamin D.

    I posted a question on your vinegar video, but I’m reposting here, since you may not have seen it. Are you familiar with research linking high glycemic foods with incidence of macular degeneration? (NY Times reported on a 7/07 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.)

    Is there any reason to believe that restricting high glycemic foods, adding in vinegar, or boosting antioxidants by eating lots of leafy greens would help prevent further development of severe macular degeneration?

    Thanks for any insight you can provide!




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    1. Taken daily at the kind of daily doses I recommend, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) appear bioequivalent (meaning they both work just as well in your body). However if your physician suggests you take large intermittent doses (such as 50,000IU weekly, then D3 is probably superior).




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  3. How does this work? How does the body know which is your largest meal of the day, in order to absorb more Vitamin D? Say you take Vitamin D at lunch. How does the body know whether you’re going to eat a larger meal at dinner?

    Also, I’ve heard that oatmeal interferes with Vitamin D absorption. True?




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      1. You know, Toxins, I have learned long ago to *always* include some kind of fat with a salad…could be a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, or 1/4 of an avocado…even tahini to make the dressing…really critical for the uptake of all those awesome nutrients IN the salad itself! thanks!




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    1. i take my 2 squirts of D3 (from lichen) in the morning when i eat oatmeal. my D3 went from 19-26 in 4 months. I plan to use 3 squirts now and will see what that does when i get my next blood test. that will be in a year as long as all stays well.




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  4. Yep – Vitamin D deficient and now on 2000IU per day – taking it with the biggest meal!

    I do have an ask the doctor question on an unrelated topic – I have been vegan for 8 years and saw a remarkable shift in my lipid profile that has persisted over the years and shows up in my most recent lipid profile which was 167 total cholesterol with HDL of 101 and LDL of 52, VLDL of 14. I read somewhere that high HDL is not necessarily good news. What’s the complete story on all these DLs?




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  5. Hi chpado, Congratulations on the improvement in your values. The science is changing all the time and the story is getting more complete but you need to stay tuned as the science changes. As far as LDL goes the lower is better but Dr. Esselstyn and others say that an LDL below 90 is a good target. Some would go below 70 which is where you are with an LDL of 52. HDL is considered a good cholesterol and you have a higher level than most. The target for total cholesterol is often mentioned to be below 150. Total cholesterol is the sum of LDL + HDL + 1/5(triglycerides). Given your high HDL which is good it would be hard for you to get below 150. I would feel great about your current numbers and wouldn’t use them as an “excuse” to consume foods that would raise the level. See http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/new-target-cholesterol/ for more information.




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  6. Dr. Greger,

    You seem to be in favor of a ‘maintenance’ dose of vit D for most people. My OB/GYN discourages it because she insists that in a few more years we’ll be hearing about damage it does to the liver. Why aren’t you concerned about the long term effects on the liver?

    I ask because I am on the fence myself. Unsupplemented, my vit D levels gradually sink down to the single digits (frank osteomalacia), but I’m concerned about taking a high maintenance dose as daily insurance. I’m not sure if it’s better to get my levels up and not take anything for awhile until they drop again, or take 5,000 – 50,000 IU on a daily basis.

    Thanks,
    Kat




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  7. Hi Dr. Greger,

    I was recently diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency with levels in the single digits. This is no surprise considering I was only on 400 IU for most of the winter. Now I’ve switched to 2000 but my doctor wants me to take the weekly megadose for 12 weeks. The supplement she wants to give me contains soy oil which I am sensitive too and also gelatin which I don’t want to eat as I abstain from animal products.

    Do you know of any other product I could use instead? Is there one you recommend for deficiency?

    Thank you for a VERY informative site,
    Sara




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    1. Yes, D3 is preferred…my Vit D was 44 two years ago…Doc advised 5000 IUD of D3 daily *with* calcium and/or big meal…! Seems to have helped!




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  8. Dr. Greger. Thank you for making it so easy to find your videos and blogs. I love surfing your info. Good to find out about taking vit.D with a meal. Thanks.




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  9. Dr. Greger,

    My mother has asthma for the last 25 years and now when she got her cavities removed and filling done she has severe pain in that whole side of the mouth where filling was done. The dentist says because her eosinophilis level is high i.e. as per latest report it is 18 nad esr is 22 she is having that pain, i will be really thankful if you please answer me this, whether there is any connection between these two problems or the dentist is making us fool and how can the eosinophilis level be reduced to normal.

    Thanks in advance
    Gurpreet




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  10. Dear doctor what about anti candida diet???i am confused,i have candida and leaky gut……there are alot of diets….are fruits ok?????is meat ok???please inform me….regards from GREECE!




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  11. Dr Greger, may I ask, what amount do you recommend for children? My husband and I take 5000 every morning (now will take it with dinner!) my 14 year old 2000 and my 11 year old does not take any. I haven’t mostly because her pediatrician (who is not very excited about a plant based diet) did not recommend it. Thanks for any recommendations or links to information you can provide. PS my oldest still talks about meeting you at our local veganfest in Madison, WI :-)




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    1. ladybug: I think that the group Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is a well researched, grounded source of information. They have a “kids index” page with some links on it that I was thinking would be helpful to you. You might want to check out the “Teens FAQ” and the “Feeding Vegan Kids” links. And maybe others would be good too.

      Note: I haven’t checked these articles out recently. I just know that in the past, they were very good. The Feeding Vegan Kids article was particularly good. And don’t get discouraged that it starts out with preganancy and infants. It talks about older kids further on.

      Hope something in there somewhere is helpful to you.




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  12. Firstly, thank you so much Dr Greger for all your videos and your latest book which I have thoroughly enjoyed. My big query is vitamin D. My daughter and I have tried different brands (and doses) and every one has made us ill. I see that Dr McDougall is now saying all are dangerous. I know you don’t advocate sunbeds. What should we do?! (both my daughter and I are deficient in D). We both eat a very healthy whole-food, plant based diet, by the way.




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      1. Thank you very much, Thea. We did buy a UVB lamp a few months ago but was a little wary of using it after reading Dr Greger’s comment about sunbeds (a little different, I know, but I couldn’t see any mention by him of the UVB lamps specifically for D). I’m still confused by the difference of opinion about the safety of supplements, including D. Also confused to read that we can wash D off the skin after UVB exposure, but Dr Holick says that is nonsense! I will see how we get on with the UVB as clearly we need to do something. I will also look into your suggestion of mushrooms and watch the video you’ve left the link for. Thank you again, I’m very grateful.




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        1. Tricia: I can certainly understand why you are confused. It’s really frustrating when there is so much conflicting information out there. I hope you find something that both works for you and is safe.




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  13. hi! what about vitamin K2? I read it is a very important vitamin only found in meat (except Natto) that is essential for bone health…I didn’t find any of your videos covering that subject!!!




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    1. Hey there,

      your body could have problem with the additives (but it’s rare): Microcrystalline cellulose, vegetarian capsule (carbohydrate gum [cellulose], purified water), vegetable lubricant (palm). Those are “mild” additives but they can still cause problems in some people.

      You should try a different brand. Let us know how if it worked :)

      Moderator Adam P.




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