In a study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the role of vitamin D in women with painful periods, or dysmenorrhea, was examined. The study included forty women with low levels of vitamin D3 (below 18ng/ml) who had at least four painful periods over a span of six months.
Half the group was given a whopping 300,000IU of vitamin D3 five days before the onset of a period, while the other half was given a placebo.
Women who received the Vitamin D3 reported a significant reduction in pain over a 2 month period compared to the placebo group. In fact, 40% of women in the placebo group had to resort to pain medications for dysmenorrhea, while none of the vitamin D3 group needed pain meds.
While this dose seems incredibly high, it averages to 5000IU a day, if they were to build up to this level gradually over time, rather than in one high dose. The highest tolerable level of vitamin D3, set by the Institute of Medicine, is 4000IU a day. Most experts agree that most adults need about 3-5000IU a day in the winter and 1-3000IU in the summer, depending on where you live and the amount of sun exposure you get. These dosages fall well within the Institute’s safe parameters when you calculate it annually.
In the study above, the participants’ vitamin D3 levels were very low to begin with (18ng/ml), which could explain why the dose they needed was so high. When levels are low, I often prescribe a short-term high dose of vitamin D3 initially to boost the levels into the optimal range.
It is clear that we all have unique and different requirements for vitamin D3. The optimal range for vitamin D3 in the blood is between 50-80ng/ml. To be sure you are supplementing with the correct amount to maintain these levels, don’t guess! Get your levels tested.