8

votes

What's the Highest Vitamin D Level that Occurs from Sun Exposure?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 28, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Because the body recycles vitamin D from UVB when it reaches a particular threshold, can we assume that any serum level achieved by people with a lot of sun exposure is probably not dangerous and is perhaps optimal?

The highest level I have seen mentioned so far was in this study: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/135/2/317.full.pdf+html and appears to convert to 90ng/ml.

If that level occurs in a person who's a laborer or something and is thus in the sun to the same extent as a hunter-gatherer (and hopefully has a functioning ability to recycle D3 when it gets too high) can we say that supplementing to 90ng/ml is safe? This is assuming that the individual is not deficient in the rest of the fat solubles.

I can't find any data at all for actual hunter-gatherers, but this seems like it would be close enough.

Edit: This paper: http://www.ajcn.org/content/69/5/842.full.pdf+html references a farmer in Puerto Rico with a measured 25(OH)D value of 90ng/ml as well (both papers may refer to the same guy, actually). It also mentions that the highest measured with UVB from an artificial source was about 110ng/ml.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 29, 2011
at 03:47 AM

Because he tested in late October. His peak sun exposure was in July/Aug. http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2009/10/28/vitamin-d-via-insolation-the-natural-route-in-the-north.html

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 29, 2011
at 03:43 AM

Jay~ Thanks for the links. I dropped my supplemental level down to 6000 IUs and my symptoms returned. Increased D back up to 8,000 IUs (the level at which I had been supplementing for 18 months prior to my 91.4 ng/ml test) and my symptoms go away.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:31 AM

I think the weak link in the hypothesis is that these results relate to calcitriol, not 25(OH)D. That said, 25(OH)D is converted to calcitriol in tissue, so perhaps it too can have a steroid-like effect at supra-physiological levels. In any case, dragonfly, I do think it is exciting that such high levels may have hld your asthma at bay. That said, I would fully explore whether you really need such super-physiological levels for symptom relief or whether a more normal level would suffice.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:23 AM

Oh and... Corticosteroids work in asthma by binding the glucocorticoid receptor: http://the-aps.org/publications/journals/pim/barnes.pdf

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:20 AM

Ok, but... dexamethasone IS a corticosteroid. From the study: Calcitriol in combination with the glucocorticoid dexamethasone (Dex) increased vitamin D receptor (VDR) protein levels and ligand binding in squamous cell carcinoma VII (SCC). In this study we found that both calcitriol and Dex induce VDR- and glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated transcription respectively

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:19 AM

Ok, but... dexamethasone IS a corticosteroid. Form the study: Calcitriol in combination with the glucocorticoid dexamethasone (Dex) increased vitamin D receptor (VDR) protein levels and ligand binding in squamous cell carcinoma VII (SCC). In this study we found that both calcitriol and Dex induce VDR- and glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated transcription respectively.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:17 AM

Why would he estimate his peek was 35ng/ml higher than his tested level?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:12 AM

Travis, I appreciate the challenge and admit that I am not a world expect in vitamin D/corticosteroid mimicry, but nobody should go by the upvotes here. I think my point is valid speculation based on what is known right now.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:10 AM

http://the-aps.org/publications/journals/pim/barnes.pdf

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:09 AM

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 29, 2011
at 01:08 AM

And he tested at 65 ng/ml.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 29, 2011
at 01:08 AM

Kurt Harris estimates that he hit 90 ng/ml at his peak exposure in Wisconsin.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:50 AM

That paper is talking about *gluco*corticoid (like cortisol) regulation of the VDR, which is quite different from D3 mimicking a corticosteroid at high doses.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:45 AM

According to that paper, outdoor occupation people in non-Western countries can hit 90ng/ml. Their melanin would presumably match their latitude. What a guy can get wearing a shirt vs not wearing a shirt is a huge difference.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:24 AM

Agree there too, but that's not my point. Let's assume for the moment that white people can get to 65ng/ml in the Tropics but only 55ng/ml in Europe. Assume further that black people can only get to 55ng/ml in the Tropics and oly 45ng/ml in Europe. I have no idea whether these are valid assumptions. But if they are, they suggest to me that 55ng/ml is the right number.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:19 AM

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960076010001809

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:15 AM

I think melanin is an adaptation to UV damage, not too much vitamin D.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:59 PM

I agree and think that in fact early european settlers did have suboptimal vit D production. But, the evolved trait of white skin may mean that Europeans now would ave super-optimal vit D production in the Tropics --- otherwise, why wasn't skin lighter to begin with?

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:57 PM

Jay~ D is really a pre-hormone--a building block for hormones. I would like to see your references to it acting like a steroid on its own. I certainly have not experienced any side-effects from taking D that mimic those of taking cortico-steroids(which I have done in the past.) The side effects for the asthma pharmaceuticals is known and personally, I prefer to avoid them & take whatever "risk" I may be taking by keeping my D level high.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:50 PM

Dean~ For sure. Fortunately we can supplement as needed.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:46 PM

It could be argued that we survived in Europe *in spite of* sub-optimal D production. I'd like to know what the highest level is that occurs from outdoor laborer types, and then back off that value by 15-20ng/ml as a buffer.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:41 PM

First, treating illeness is different that preventing illness. Any medicine has risks and using vit D with an intention to treat may have a better risk profile than pharmaceuticals. That nobody knows yet, unfortunately. Also, please note vit D acts like a steroid hormone, hitting some of the same receptors as corticosteroids. Vit D is natural and hopefully is safer than corticosteroids, but for now there is actually more data on the pharmaceuticals at pharmacological doses (e.g., effective range for the drugs and 91.4ng/ml for vit D)...

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:41 PM

Long version: Paleo man had higher energy expenditure than most of us. His D3 was higher than ours living in the same region. He ate more nutrient rich food and had "optimal" levels of Vitamin D3's cofactors. We don't necessarily do, especially when artificially pushing D3 without increasing intake of cofactors accordingly, making sure to get enough K2 from grass fed animal fat for example. Naturally high D3 coincides with higher outdoor activity coincides with more high quality food intake coincides with adequate micronutrient balance.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:40 PM

First, treating illeness is different that preventing illness. Any medicine has risks and using vit D with an intention to treat may have a better risk profile than pharmaceuticals. That nobody knows yet, unfortunately. Also, please note vit D acts like a steroid hormone, hitting some of the same receptors as corticosteroids. Vit D is natural and hopefully is safer than corticosteroids, but for now there is actually more data on the pharmaceuticals at pharmacological doses...

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:29 PM

Jay~ MY evidence is that my lifelong asthma symptoms disappeared and stay away when I stay at that level. That may not be enough evidence for *you*, but I don't need to prove this to anyone but myself.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:27 PM

Dean~ ??? I didn't understand your point.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:26 PM

It's not about belief... It should be about evidence. And, being alive and well does not mean it is healthy. I know many smokers that are alive and well. Do you believe that smoking is healthy?

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:25 PM

And when your energy expenditure is less than paleo-you would have had achieving those levels, you'll eat less and get less micronutrients than might be needed for the high D3 level.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:24 PM

I assume he means 220 nmol/L if this chap was not taking supplements, so that's 88ng/ml in the units we are using in this thread.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:19 PM

no supplementation at all Travis. The dude had the best tan I have ever seen and spent 11 months of the years in the equatorial sun for 25 yrs. He is the closest thing I have to a Hunter Gather in the modern world. HE ate a mediterrean diet...Amazing labs too.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:07 PM

I say 90 to 100, since I tested at 91.4 & am obviously still alive & well!

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:02 PM

Haha, I just posted this paper in the other thread in response to your comment!

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 28, 2011
at 10:06 PM

220 ng/ml or nmol/L?

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5 Answers

2
4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:19 PM

That is consistent with my understanding, but I have a very different interpretation. If 90ng/ml is the highest recorded level achieved through natural sun exposure, I would not assume that 90ng/ml is safe. It is the HIGHEST level recorded! Not safe! Some people have weird quirks, so I wouldn't base a supplement regime off the HIGHEST recorded case.

Most people top off at much lower levels, like 50-60ng/ml. Also, I'm not sure white people are meant for tropical sun so I wouldn't go off the levels white people can achieve in the tropics either. Rather, I would go off what (i) white people can achieve in Europe or (ii) what darker skinned people achieve in the tropics. [I don't know if white people are capable of less vit D production in Europe but am speculating a bit. I'm actually addressing (and trying to case some doubt on) the so-called lifeguard study where white Israelis got into the 60s (if I remember correctly). That seemed high and I'm suggesting that they were in unnatural conditions that shouldn't be the basis for public recommendations.]

In addition, from what I understand, most people store vitamin D at levels at or below 50ng/ml.

Lastly, epidemiolgical evidence (see Melamed) suggests that mortality rates inch higher for people with levels over 50/55ng/ml. That's probably crap for all the reasons epidemiological evidence is often crap but...

Take together, I don't see why anyone healthy would supplement so much that their levels rise above 50ng/ml.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:15 AM

I think melanin is an adaptation to UV damage, not too much vitamin D.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 29, 2011
at 01:08 AM

Kurt Harris estimates that he hit 90 ng/ml at his peak exposure in Wisconsin.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:46 PM

It could be argued that we survived in Europe *in spite of* sub-optimal D production. I'd like to know what the highest level is that occurs from outdoor laborer types, and then back off that value by 15-20ng/ml as a buffer.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 29, 2011
at 03:47 AM

Because he tested in late October. His peak sun exposure was in July/Aug. http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2009/10/28/vitamin-d-via-insolation-the-natural-route-in-the-north.html

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:45 AM

According to that paper, outdoor occupation people in non-Western countries can hit 90ng/ml. Their melanin would presumably match their latitude. What a guy can get wearing a shirt vs not wearing a shirt is a huge difference.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 29, 2011
at 01:08 AM

And he tested at 65 ng/ml.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:59 PM

I agree and think that in fact early european settlers did have suboptimal vit D production. But, the evolved trait of white skin may mean that Europeans now would ave super-optimal vit D production in the Tropics --- otherwise, why wasn't skin lighter to begin with?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:17 AM

Why would he estimate his peek was 35ng/ml higher than his tested level?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:24 AM

Agree there too, but that's not my point. Let's assume for the moment that white people can get to 65ng/ml in the Tropics but only 55ng/ml in Europe. Assume further that black people can only get to 55ng/ml in the Tropics and oly 45ng/ml in Europe. I have no idea whether these are valid assumptions. But if they are, they suggest to me that 55ng/ml is the right number.

2
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on October 28, 2011
at 09:38 PM

In those with excellent Vitamin D binding protein I have seen levels around 220 with no issues. Those examples are few though. He was a sailor on ship for 25 years in New Orleans. Context. Most people have no idea what their D binding protein is.......but it is how we bank Vitamin D for winter.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 28, 2011
at 10:06 PM

220 ng/ml or nmol/L?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:24 PM

I assume he means 220 nmol/L if this chap was not taking supplements, so that's 88ng/ml in the units we are using in this thread.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:19 PM

no supplementation at all Travis. The dude had the best tan I have ever seen and spent 11 months of the years in the equatorial sun for 25 yrs. He is the closest thing I have to a Hunter Gather in the modern world. HE ate a mediterrean diet...Amazing labs too.

2
Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on October 28, 2011
at 09:31 PM

According to the Vitamin D Council:

"Because the body has a built in mechanism for preventing toxicity with vitamin D produced in the skin, there is no risk of vitamin D toxicity due to ultraviolet-B (UVB) exposure - whether from the Sun or a tanning bed.

Supplemental vitamin D bypasses this built-in protection and, if excessive amounts are consumed over a period of time, 25(OH)D blood levels can reach a point where toxicity is possible."

http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/what-is-vitamin-d/vitamin-d-toxicity/

0
2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:40 PM

Long version: Paleo man had higher energy expenditure than most of us. His D3 was higher than ours living in the same region. He ate more nutrient rich food and had "optimal" levels of Vitamin D3's cofactors. We don't necessarily do, especially when artificially pushing D3 without increasing intake of cofactors accordingly, making sure to get enough K2 from grass fed animal fat for example. Naturally high D3 coincides with higher outdoor activity coincides with more high quality food intake coincides with adequate micronutrient balance.

-1
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:06 PM

Yes, I believe that supplementing to 90-100 ng/ml is safe, with the caveat that you must be not only replete in fat-soluble vitamins, but also Magnesium, Zinc & Boron.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:27 PM

Dean~ ??? I didn't understand your point.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:07 PM

I say 90 to 100, since I tested at 91.4 & am obviously still alive & well!

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:23 AM

Oh and... Corticosteroids work in asthma by binding the glucocorticoid receptor: http://the-aps.org/publications/journals/pim/barnes.pdf

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:26 PM

It's not about belief... It should be about evidence. And, being alive and well does not mean it is healthy. I know many smokers that are alive and well. Do you believe that smoking is healthy?

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 29, 2011
at 03:43 AM

Jay~ Thanks for the links. I dropped my supplemental level down to 6000 IUs and my symptoms returned. Increased D back up to 8,000 IUs (the level at which I had been supplementing for 18 months prior to my 91.4 ng/ml test) and my symptoms go away.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:09 AM

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:12 AM

Travis, I appreciate the challenge and admit that I am not a world expect in vitamin D/corticosteroid mimicry, but nobody should go by the upvotes here. I think my point is valid speculation based on what is known right now.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:19 AM

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960076010001809

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:40 PM

First, treating illeness is different that preventing illness. Any medicine has risks and using vit D with an intention to treat may have a better risk profile than pharmaceuticals. That nobody knows yet, unfortunately. Also, please note vit D acts like a steroid hormone, hitting some of the same receptors as corticosteroids. Vit D is natural and hopefully is safer than corticosteroids, but for now there is actually more data on the pharmaceuticals at pharmacological doses...

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:31 AM

I think the weak link in the hypothesis is that these results relate to calcitriol, not 25(OH)D. That said, 25(OH)D is converted to calcitriol in tissue, so perhaps it too can have a steroid-like effect at supra-physiological levels. In any case, dragonfly, I do think it is exciting that such high levels may have hld your asthma at bay. That said, I would fully explore whether you really need such super-physiological levels for symptom relief or whether a more normal level would suffice.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:50 PM

Dean~ For sure. Fortunately we can supplement as needed.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:25 PM

And when your energy expenditure is less than paleo-you would have had achieving those levels, you'll eat less and get less micronutrients than might be needed for the high D3 level.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:41 PM

Long version: Paleo man had higher energy expenditure than most of us. His D3 was higher than ours living in the same region. He ate more nutrient rich food and had "optimal" levels of Vitamin D3's cofactors. We don't necessarily do, especially when artificially pushing D3 without increasing intake of cofactors accordingly, making sure to get enough K2 from grass fed animal fat for example. Naturally high D3 coincides with higher outdoor activity coincides with more high quality food intake coincides with adequate micronutrient balance.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:57 PM

Jay~ D is really a pre-hormone--a building block for hormones. I would like to see your references to it acting like a steroid on its own. I certainly have not experienced any side-effects from taking D that mimic those of taking cortico-steroids(which I have done in the past.) The side effects for the asthma pharmaceuticals is known and personally, I prefer to avoid them & take whatever "risk" I may be taking by keeping my D level high.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:10 AM

http://the-aps.org/publications/journals/pim/barnes.pdf

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:50 AM

That paper is talking about *gluco*corticoid (like cortisol) regulation of the VDR, which is quite different from D3 mimicking a corticosteroid at high doses.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:19 AM

Ok, but... dexamethasone IS a corticosteroid. Form the study: Calcitriol in combination with the glucocorticoid dexamethasone (Dex) increased vitamin D receptor (VDR) protein levels and ligand binding in squamous cell carcinoma VII (SCC). In this study we found that both calcitriol and Dex induce VDR- and glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated transcription respectively.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:29 PM

Jay~ MY evidence is that my lifelong asthma symptoms disappeared and stay away when I stay at that level. That may not be enough evidence for *you*, but I don't need to prove this to anyone but myself.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:41 PM

First, treating illeness is different that preventing illness. Any medicine has risks and using vit D with an intention to treat may have a better risk profile than pharmaceuticals. That nobody knows yet, unfortunately. Also, please note vit D acts like a steroid hormone, hitting some of the same receptors as corticosteroids. Vit D is natural and hopefully is safer than corticosteroids, but for now there is actually more data on the pharmaceuticals at pharmacological doses (e.g., effective range for the drugs and 91.4ng/ml for vit D)...

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 29, 2011
at 02:20 AM

Ok, but... dexamethasone IS a corticosteroid. From the study: Calcitriol in combination with the glucocorticoid dexamethasone (Dex) increased vitamin D receptor (VDR) protein levels and ligand binding in squamous cell carcinoma VII (SCC). In this study we found that both calcitriol and Dex induce VDR- and glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated transcription respectively

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