Sometimes the bias is transparent like in the hallowed IOM’s conclusions and recommendations on vitamin D intake. The committee suggested that a serum level of a miserable 20 ng/ml (50 nmoles/L) covered the needs of nearly everyone (97.5%) right down to the half percent. Yet they only addressed adequate for everyone for bone health. Funny, we already knew that and nobody gives a crap. It appears that the esteemed IOM skirted the whole issue by sticking to bone health only and referred to the plethora of positive benefits for humans in virtually every organ system simply as “overall health,” while simultaneously downplaying all of the supporting literature which emphasizes much higher serum levels for “overall health.” Furthermore, I have not seen any compelling data that supports their conclusion regarding adverse effects/toxicity at serum levels as low as 60 ng/ml. In fact I see nothing in the literature mentioning toxicity until serum levels reach an astounding 150 ng/ml-200 ng/ml; that’s three times higher than their cutoff. Critics must ask what studies the IOM is referring to when the consensus shows a ultra-conservative stance. Incidentally, what does toxicity mean? Usually an elevated calcium level, that’s about it.
Since you cannot get sufficient vitamin D from your diet-at best it can provide a scant 5% of your total requirement per day-you must supplement or suffer the consequences: the Scottish Effect (SE). SE is the observation that when a Scotsman is compared to an equivalent Englishman the Scotsman is seen to be less healthy and dies younger suffering from diseases which have been proven to be associated with low levels of vitamin D like heart and blood vessel disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, colon and breast cancer. Scotland has much cloudier weather than England making it possibly the most extreme environment in Europe so far as sunshine is concerned.
The Scottish also for example have the highest rate of MS on the planet due to this extreme environment, costing the UK around 4 billion pounds per year in medical costs. The virtual extinction of the country’s herring population, which traditionally provided massive amounts of vitamin D to the Scottish population, has now resulted in the extinction of their serum vitamin D3 levels and with it an abundance and proliferation of one disease after another. Although it’s not much compensation, a tin of sardines contains about 250 IU of vitamin D3 which is one of the richest sources of dietary vitamin D3 I know of.
We now know with virtual certainty that multiple sclerosis, a devastating disease, is caused by a lack of sunlight and (probably) a brief viral infection. Studies stunningly reveal that if a child moves from a cloudy region like the UK to a sunny equatorial locale before the late teen years, the risk of getting MS is drastically reduced. Those in equatorial regions are virtually MS free, same with arthritis and many other terrible diseases. This demonstrates the crucial importance of allowing children to play in the sun to reduce the chance that they would get MS; without the ridiculous recommendations of dermatologists who insist that you wrap your child up mummy-like with a colonial straw hat, big wide sunglasses–the type aging Hollywood producers wear–hiding in the shade from 10AM to 3PM, while smothering him or her in toxic creams so as to avoid malignant melanoma (MM). That’s a lot of work. Remember when you just went out into the sun and played?
Is there even one dermatologist that studied anthropology and remembers our ancestral roots? You know, the original people from Africa who roasted in blazing, ignescent, equatorial heat and sunlight year round, frying their skin all day long? MM may have a relationship to burning but NOT tanning. Consider the disturbing fact that some investigators demonstrate a positive, linear association with sunscreen use and the risk for MM: the more you use the greater your chance of getting MM.
What people wanted from the IOM was to hear what serum levels were needed for autoimmune disease prevention like MS, heart protection, and anticancer effects. Did we get expert opinion or small injections of hot air? Dr John Cannell, founder of The Vitamin D Council, informs us that there wasn’t one vitamin D expert on the IOM’s panel for heaven’s sake. Now why wouldn’t responsible scientists in the IOM comittee insure that they had at least one true expert on vitamin D3? That takes a lot of hubris to make recommendations without a single knowledgeable person on the committee.
Yet, lacking experts who most assuredly would have disagreed, the IOM’s sacred recommendations are that you should not exceed 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D intake. After that, they claim toxicity develops when exceeding 60 ng/ml blood level. These recommendations were expressed even though Dr Garland has conclusively shown that no signs of toxicity have occurred at doses as high as 40,000 IU per day. In fact, toxicity does not manifest until you reach a dazzling 200 ng/ml serum level. I don’t think you’d have room in your stomach to take enough vitamin D pills to reach that level. In other words this stuff is incredibly safe.
Yet the IOM cheats us and insists that we all take insufficient quantities of this totally safe hormone to produce blood levels that define a state of low vitamin D called hypovitaminosis D (less than 30 ng/ml). The public, in fear of taking adequate amounts of vitamin D3, cannot reach proper serum levels to thwart any of the above listed diseases. So the trusting public suffer as a consequence of the IOM’s arrogance.
In fact, there is mounting evidence of an astonishing correlation: that the seasonal flu epidemics, and perhaps other wintertime infections, are brought on by seasonal deficiencies in antimicrobial peptides secondary to seasonal deficiencies in vitamin D. Much in the same way that the unique pneumonia P. Carinii is seen only in immune deficient AIDS patients, the seasonal flu epidemics may be simply a natural response from vitamin D deficiency. A recent analysis of randomized controlled trials support this theory by finding that as little as 2000 IU of vitamin D/day almost completely eliminated self-reported cases of colds and Influenza. Even idiopathic chronic pain syndromes such as chronic low back pain has been found to be associated with very low levels of vitamin D and when corrected many patients finally get relief from pain. We now have so much epidemiological evidence associating chronic disease with low vitamin D levels that it approaches what existed for cigarette smoking when governments and medical personnel first responded.
As of 2008 vitamin D deficiency has reached endemic proportions. High numbers of otherwise healthy children are deficient in vitamin D. Rickets the scourge of Victorian England and a vast subject for Charles Dickens is now making a comeback both here and in England. There is now compelling evidence showing a link with gestational vitamin D deficiency and permanent brain damage in neonates. This is particularly distressing when we notice that the epidemics of autism and type 1 diabetes correlate exactly with the beginning of the terribly misguided sun avoidance policy in the US.
Principal investigator Cedric Garland, DrPH, FACE, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego had mentioned in one of his studies that 9,600 IU per day for your average patient demonstrated no problems whatsoever. In another study they found that a serum level of 50 ng/ml slashed the risk of developing breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes, by 50%. To accomplish that most study subjects needed to take between 4,000 IU and 8,000 IU of vitamin D. Most unbiased authorities recommend at least a serum level of 50-60 ng/ml before you can reap all of the benefits of vit. D3.
“Most scientists who are actively working with vitamin D now believe that 40 to 60 ng/ml is the appropriate target concentration of 25-vitamin D in the blood for preventing the major vitamin D-deficiency related diseases, and have joined in a letter on this topic,” said Garland. “Unfortunately, according a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, only 10 percent of the US population has levels in this range, mainly people who work outdoors.”
To achieve therapeutic levels most will need to take more than the IOM’s upper limit of 4,000 IU per day. Actually you’ll need to take over twice that amount (as in Garland’s study 9,600 IU) just to get to a level of 40 ug/ml.
About 14 years ago I used to catch every stinking cold there was. During my residency it was even worse; at that time I was not only overworked but I insisted on working out both morning and night after work. Why would I go to the gym twice a day?-ahh because I was nuts that’s why. As you well know overtraining can impair immunity and get you very sick: every time I hit peak condition I came down with some awful flu or cold.
It was around 2000 that I discovered the benefits of vitamin D and started to supplement with it. From that time on I can count the colds that I have had on my right hand -that’s how few. At the risk of jinxing myself I have never had the flu since I have been on vitamin D. We must ask ourselves how this is possible without a seasonal flu shot?
A Japanese study showed that a vitamin D supplement reduces the risk of catching the flu. Vitamin D modulates the immune system, which not only helps prevent the seasonal flu but fights off colds and other infectious diseases such as TB, through the production of innate antibiotic substances such as cathelicidin. This helps explain why the TB sanitariums located in the American southwest helped patients overcome TB and perhaps why researchers initially felt that one of the earliest antituberculin drugs was also an antidepressant. Patients exposed to strong sunlight feel better and studies confirm the antidepressant effects of vitamin D3.
Next week we’ll discuss in a little more detail the fascinating findings from Dr Garland’s lab and his recommendations. It’s actually quite simple in the end. Plus…music please…the top ten facts that you should know about vitamin D and cancer. By the way, I just got out of the toxic, deadly sun to publish this. And guess what? I am going right back out there. See you next week. Oh, BTW, my book is nearly complete and it’s weighing in at about 1,000 pages. Not sure what the final form will take but I’ll keep you informed. Thanks for reading as always.
 Sunlight Robbery: Vitamin D and public health-is current UK public health policy on vitamin D fit for purpose? p.4
 IBID p. 10
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 J.J. Cannell. Expert Opinion. Pharmacother. (2008) 9(1) Diagnosis and Treatment of Vitamin D Deficiency. p. 2
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 Sunlight Robbery: Vitamin D and public health-is current UK public health policy on vitamin D fit for purpose? p.. 12
Category: SUN EXPOSURE