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Vitamins Can Hurt You!

Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. You would never dream of taking a neighbor’s thyroid pills or insulin or prednisone on a whim. You should think of vitamin D in the same way. Just because vitamin D is available without a prescription does not mean that the powers that be really know what they’re doing or that it could never hurt you. Vitamin D can potentially kill you! Take it seriously!

Vitamins are not benign pills that you can impulsively start, all of a sudden, when you get inspired: “I’m going to get healthy this week”. Supplemental vitamins are useful if you’re deficient, but they can be dangerous if you don’t need them. They are helpful to get your body to the right place but once you’re there if you continue supplementing, (for instance, still taking D while you’re lying on the beach in the summer), you will get worse! When your D gets too high you will have sleep problems again. If I can convince you that a low D level steals away your deep sleep and can make you sick then it makes sense that stealing your sleep away with a high D level will also make you sick. (And, it will feel just the same on the high end as the low end.) That means if you happen to go too fast, from a D level of 20 ng/ml to a D level of 95 ng/ml in a month or two, you will not feel any different. This is not a concept that you’ve seen before but it is exactly what happened to many of my patients before we learned how to use vitamin D to get the best results.

For my patients the Vitamin D blood level that brought “great sleep” was 60-80 ng/ml. The majority of my patients could eventually tell when their D level “wasn’t right”. But, it was still hard to know whether “not right” meant below 60 or above 80. It is keeping the vitamin D blood level in the “level to thrive” (60-80 ng/ml) AND using every other tool available to keep the sleep as perfect as possible that reverses disease. In other words it took you a long time to get here and depending on what’s wrong with you it may take a long time to fix everything.

The “correct” dose of vitamin D is unique for each person. YOU must determine your vitamin D dose based on YOUR blood levels! Also, the amount of extra D that a person needs slowly goes down, over years. It seems that the amount we need daily is related to the amount that we use. In my opinion, after doing thousands of blood levels in thousands of patients, it appears that we use more D when we make more repairs.


Steven is a 17 year old who presents in May for daily headache. He has never had sleep issues before but started to have trouble falling asleep last December. He has awakened with a headache every morning for the last two months. For two summers he was a lifeguard at a local swimming pool but last summer he got a “real job” packing boxes at a warehouse. Last summer’s job paid better but because we make D on our skin in the summer and use it up in the winter he ran out early. His level went low in December and he stopped sleeping and after three months of reduced REM sleep he started to have headaches. His stores of vitamin D were not enough to let him sleep normally all the way through to the following summer. Steven’s D level in May is 20 ng/ml.

Evelyn is a 49 year old with lupus and ulcerative colitis who has not slept normally since childhood. Evelyn’s D level in May is 20 ng/ml, even though she has been taking 2,000 IU of D for the last three years at her doctor’s insistence.

Both Steven and Evelyn have D levels of 20 ng/ml but they will need different doses of D for different spans of time before they get better. Evelyn has 49 years of incomplete repairs, she will need to be very attentive to her sleep for many years before her immune system behaves normally again. Steven will get his D level back up to 60ng/ml, he’ll start sleeping normally again and if he pays attention to getting as much sun exposure as possible this summer (without sunburn) he will probably not need to supplement further.


  1. Harveen Sandhu

    Hello Dr. Gomniak!

    I have been dealing with a severe insomnia that has me in a hypnogogic sleeping state with no real deep sleep and it has driven me to despair. I was reading online about Vitamin D toxicity and I realized it is the only consistent supplement I’ve been taking for a few months now (upwards of 5000IU a day). Could this be it? I have crazy heart palpitations and dry mouth and dizziness too. And the dry mouth has been creeping up for a while now, even when I was sleeping. I’d wake up often to down a whole glass of water. The majority of doctors don’t understand what you have laid out: that Vit D is so personal and can have adverse affects I’m the smallest doses for some people. How do I facilitate the process of Vit D de-toxification? I’ve read: stop the supplement completely, up your magnesium and avoid calcium.

    • Dr. Stasha Gominak

      Dear Harveen:
      Unfortunately using D by itself is really not the answer. If you use D without acknowledging the need for the other B vitamin building blocks your sleep is really not guaranteed to improve. I wouldn’t give up though, I’d suggest you read more on my site, download a workbook, make a coaching appointment and get serious about fixing your sleep.

  2. Christy

    Do we need to stop taking D or B12 for a period of time in order to have blood work that gives us an accurate indication? Or can we take 10,000 iu of D and 1000 mg of B the day of the blood draw and still have an accurate picture? Please comment on them individually if they are different in this aspect! Thank you!

    • Dr. Stasha Gominak

      Dear Christy:

      You don’t need to stop D before getting a level. D goes up and down slowly it’s better if you take it daily and don’t stop before the blood draw.

      The B12 : We only know if you’re B12 deficient by doing the blood level BEFORE you start B12. Once you are taking 1000 mcg of B12 your level will be high so if you’re already taking it there’s no reason to repeat a B12 level, just stay on 1000 mcg /day. If you want to document whether you’re low you’ll need to stay off B12 for one month before taking the blood test.

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