What does a vitamin D level of 23 mean? Are there any symptoms associated with this vitamin D level?
A vitamin D level of 23 ng/mL is considered low. Low levels of vitamin D can occur from prolonged, inadequate intake through diet, limited exposure to midday sunlight, poor kidney function resulting in impaired conversion of 25(OH)D, or inadequate vitamin D absorption.
Low vitamin D can negatively impact your health and put you at increased risk for, and severity of COVID-19, diabetes, and cancer. Having low levels of vitamin D may also increase your risk for certain autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.
Factors that could contribute to a vitamin D level of 23
Diet low in vitamin D
Older age (partly due to a decline in the skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D with age)
Living in cold or northern climates (those who live above 37°N latitude cannot synthesize vitamin D year-round)
Limited sun exposure (such as those who spend the majority of their time indoors or are covered when outside)
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Cystic fibrosis, Crohn's, celiac, kidney, and liver disease, or other conditions that interfere with vitamin D absorption or synthesis
Obesity (greater amounts of subcutaneous fat sequester more of the vitamin)
Gastric bypass surgery (from reduced absorption)
What to do if your vitamin D level is 23?
To improve vitamin D levels:
Increase consumption of vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, herring, canned tuna, eggs (with the yolk), and fortified foods like milk, yogurt, and breakfast cereals
Get 10–30 minutes of unprotected midday sunlight most days of the week
Take a vitamin D supplement. How much you should take depends on your level of deficiency. For a level of 23, you will likely need to take 5,000 IU daily for several months to significantly improve your vitamin D status.
If levels do not improve after 3 months, review your supplements with an expert or talk to your doctor.
Supplements used to improve vitamin D test results
If you are vitamin D deficient, a daily supplement is typically needed to get levels into the optimal range (40-80 ng/mL) over time.
For levels of 23 ng/mL, talk to your healthcare provider. Daily supplementation of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) should be considered to achieve adequate body stores of vitamin D.