Vitamin D: More Reason to Take at Sunrise

I blogged earlier about what I called a “stunning discovery”: Primal Girl found her sleep got much better when she started taking Vitamin D first thing in the morning (= soon after she got up) rather than mid-afternoon. This suggested that Vitamin D acts on your circadian system similar to a blast of sunlight. (More evidence and discussion here.) In his blog, Joseph Buchignani reports another experience that supports the idea that you should take Vitamin D first thing in the morning:

I picked up a bottle of Vit-D and Calcium. Dosage of Vit-D per pill was 1.6ud. Per the instructions, I took 1 at morning and 1 at night. I began this regimin on the night of the 24th of November. It’s now the night of the 25th of November, and my circadian rhythm is completely fucked. . . .  I’m fully awake now (12:30 AM), and I probably took the last dose of Vit-D around 7-8 PM. . . . I woke up with dark eye rings on the morning of the 25th. My energy level did not rise as it should have, but sort of meandered in the middle, before finally tailing off. Stress levels and depression were both elevated. I got little productive done.

Yesterday I started taking Vitamin D first thing in the morning. I took 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 at 8 am. In the afternoon I felt more energetic than usual. The next morning (this morning) I woke up feeling more rested than usual. This also supports Primal Girl’s experience.

Let me repeat: first thing in morning. If you wake up before sunrise, take at sunrise (say, 7 am). Sunlight has a considerably different effect on your circadian system at 7 am than 10 am. (Look up circadian phase-response curve and especially the work of Patricia DeCoursey if you want to understand why three hours makes a big difference.) I have two bottles of Vitamin D. Neither mentions time of day. Both say take with meals.

23 Replies to “Vitamin D: More Reason to Take at Sunrise”

  1. About the take with meals bit – I took 3 on an empty stomach, about 1.8k IU, and didn’t eat. About midday I had stomach trouble.

    I don’t know if it was the building up soybean oil from these pills (I’m fat intolerant), or this particular instance of failing to eat with a meal.

  2. If one takes vitamin d3, it stays in circulation for weeks. And what is mainly counting is the blood levels, which are a long term average.

    Vitamin d2, on the other has a short life (i vaguely rememb 12 hours, but this is a vageu memory. I am sure its something about a day or less).

    I would be hugely curious to hear if the girl mentioned used D2.

    Alternatively, the taking of the stuff can have signaling value irrespective of the blood levels and inherent functions

    1. If one takes vitamin d3, it stays in circulation for weeks. And what is mainly counting is the blood levels, which are a long term average.

      Something like that. Which is another reason it is so surprising that the time of day you take it matters.

  3. Let me repeat: first thing in morning. If you wake up before sunrise, take at sunrise (say, 7 am). Sunlight has a considerably different effect on your circadian system at 7 am than 10 am.

    So let me get this straight: if I typically wake up at 7am and the sun rises at 9am [1], you recommend to take the dose at 9am?

    [1] That’s when it rises in our place at this time of year. In the northern region of our country, the sun doesn’t rise at all for couple of months! 🙂

    1. So let me get this straight: if I typically wake up at 7am and the sun rises at 9am [1], you recommend to take the dose at 9am?

      No, I do not mean to be that precise. I am trying to say: 1. A few hours can make a big difference, because changing morning light exposure by a few hours can make a big difference. 2. Start with early morning (e.g., 7 am) rather than late morning (e.g., 11 am).

      And vary when you take by a few hours to assess the effect of a variety of times. It may have no effect at 8 am but a big effect at 6 am.

  4. After running through today’s irritation cycle, it’s pretty clear that this was a reaction to soybean oil on an empty stomach ideosyncratic to fat malabsorbers, not a fundamental problem with taking Vit-D on an empty stomach.

    Given that Seth is taking it without problem in the morning, it looks like taking it without a meal is fine.

  5. Dr. Roberts, I know you don’t eat soon after waking up to prevent early awakening, but why not breakfast in general?

    When time do you usually go to sleep and get up in general?

    Actually, I’m curious to hear the answers of others who skip breakfast.

  6. Actually, I’m curious to hear the answers of others who skip breakfast.

    I usually go to sleep at 10-12pm and wake up at 7-8am. I skip the breakfast completely and eat lunch at around 11am. (I do drink coffee at 9-10am.) I sometimes feel a little bit hungry at around 9am, but that doesn’t last for long. At lunch time, however, I’m usually very hungry.

    1. What do you think about halogen lamps?

      I know little about them. What matters is how much energy they have in the blue area of the spectrum. My guess is: more than incandescent but less than fluorescent.

  7. Hej Jarno,
    I was going to ask the same question because I live in Sweden, and in winter we have to go to work etc well before the sun rises, so it was not clear whether to take the Vit D on waking or at sunrise.

    But I guess a Finn asked the question first.

    🙂

  8. Oh yes, I’ve read the section on breakfast/early-awakening several times. I was just wondering if you (or others) had found other benefits from skipping breakfast.

  9. I’ve not found any other particular benefits from skipping breakfast. However, I do not get hungry before lunch time so I guess you could a benefit is that I don’t have to eat before that.

  10. @ Joseph B. who on 11/28 said in part re Vitamin D: “…I don’t know if it was building up soybean oil from these pills (I’m fat intolerant)…

    Joseph, you should not use a capsule of anything that contains soybean oil as the excipient because it is basically a trans fat slurry and, like all trans fats is pro-inflammatory. There are plenty of D3 capsule formulations available that use better fats such as sunflower or safflower oil. Or you can buy the dry tablet version of D3 and just take it with a tablespoon of light olive oil.

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