• Which is it: more or less vitamin D?

    Posted November 12, 2016: by Bill Sardi

    When an iconic source of information in modern medicine, The New England Journal of Medicine, publishes a report saying Americans don’t need more vitamin D, contrary to many other published reports, how is the public to sort out this scientific debate?

    According to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) report only 6% of Americans are vitamin D deficient.  The NEJM claims too much vitamin D can lead to a slew of health problem that includes constipation, abnormal heart rhythm and kidney stones.  [New England Journal Medicine Nov 10, 2016]

    First, we must begin to suspect the hidden motives behind this report.  Modern medicine adopted cholesterol control and high carbohydrate and sugar diets, both a misdirection.  This author has criticized modern medicine for adopting health practices to ensure doctors are never short of enough patients to treat.  Cholesterol controlling statin drugs fail to reduce coronary artery disease mortality rates and the widely promoted Food Pyramid has recently been turned upside down.  With such a record, we have to suspect modern medicine is self-dealing once again when it comes to vitamin D.

    Modern medicine has never explained why heart attacks, cancer and infectious disease rates rise in winter and fall in summer.  It has left North American populations in a chronic state of vitamin D deficiency for its own gain.

    While conceding ~6% of Americans are deficient and another 13% are marginally short of vitamin D, a coalition of doctors say there is no need for 8.7 million vitamin D tests annually, up from 100,000 in the year 2000.  About 19% of Americans take vitamin D supplements, up from 5% over a decade ago.

    Does too much vitamin D lead to constipation, kidney stones and abnormal heart rhythms?  If it did, we should ban sunlight!

    An hour of full body midday sun exposure can produce as much as 10,000 units of natural vitamin D.   So far, there is no evidence that sun exposure results in any of the alleged side effects the coalition of doctors warns about.

    The coalition of doctors say Americans only need 400 units of vitamin D (which is a miniscule 10 micrograms by weight) and to be on the safe side, maybe no more than 800 units a day.  That wouldn’t be enough to even raise blood levels.

    A study among 26,000 adults is underway to show the health effects of taking 2000 units of vitamin D daily, but that study won’t be completed till 2018.

    The Vitamin D Council, led by John Cannell MD, recommends 5000 units of vitamin D per day to maintain blood levels between 40-80 nanograms/deciliter of blood.

    A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (June 2008) came to the conclusion that far more lives are lost to diseases caused by a lack of sunlight than those caused by too much.  But the coalition of doctors speaking out in the NEJM is erring on the other side and exaggerating imagined side effects that only occur when taking mega-doses (more than 10,000 units/day).   For most people, 10,000 units/day is perfectly safe.

    The public is certainly getting a mixed message here.  Another published report issued in the same week as the NEJM report suggests women with high levels of vitamin D are a third more likely to survive breast cancer.  [JAMA Oncology Nov 10, 2016]

    It is literally impossible to maintain adequate vitamin D levels from foods alone, even vitamin D-fortified foods like milk.

    Just examine some of the recently published reports about vitamin D.

    • Incident rates of leukemia (cancer of the blood) are associated with cloud cover in a climatology study of 172 countries. [PLoS One Dec 4, 2015]
    • Among postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (bone loss) in 18 countries, 64% were vitamin D deficient.  [International Journal Clinical Practice Aug 2006]
    • Blood serum levels in the range of 30-50 nanograms/deciliter of blood should significantly reduce the formation of dental caries (cavities).  [Dermatoendocrinologist July 2011]  Vitamin D supplementation 1000 units/day would be required to achieve this blood level. [Biological Research Nursing April 2011]
    • It is estimated the cost of vitamin D insufficiency results in 37,000 premature deaths in Canada. [Molecular Nutrition Food Research Aug 2010]
    • A 1000 unit vitamin D supplementation regimen would reduce colon cancer risk by an estimated 50%. [Progressive Biophysics Molecular Biology Sept 2006]
    • While there are null studies showing supplemental vitamin D has little or no effect, studies should be solely conducted among individuals with known vitamin D deficiency and sufficient amounts of vitamin D (1000-4000 units) should be consumed and blood levels determined to confirm adequacy.  When these requirements are met, a 4000 unit vitamin D supplementation regimen is estimated to achieve an adequate blood level to achieve a 35% reduction in breast cancer incidence. [Journal General Internal Medicine Nov 2016]
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