Vitamin D: It Takes MUCH MUCH MORE!

February 28, 2011

Vitamin D:  It Takes MUCH MUCH MORE! 

 Reference:  Cedric Garland,  AntiCancer Research (approved for publication) Feb 2011 

Cedrid Garland and the Creighton University Vitamin D team found several thousand volunteers in the community who agreed to take their own determined dose of Vitamin D, and to get their blood levels checked at their own expense.  This made for a very nice study in that all the participants were motivated, were more likely to be compliant with continuing to take their Vitamin D, and were willing to pay their own way to get their levels checked (all at one lab, ZRT, that will do a Vit D test for $ 25 through the mail with verified reliability).  

They found some very interesting findings that may well change the way we take vitamin D in the future. First of all, they found that only 10% of people in America have enough D in their blood to prevent many major diseases by as much as 50%.  Those folks almost all worked a substantial portion of their time out of doors, and got D from sunshine. 

 Secondly, they were able to show that most folks need to take D at a level of about 4000 to 8000 IU a day to cut the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer,  Type I diabetes, and multiple sclerosis by HALF.  Did you get that?  Half!  Can you imagine a world in which those diseases are cut in half? The recent IOM report on D cited 600 IU a day as what most adults should take for bone health, and pointedly did not comment on any other diseases.  They did, however, pointedly state that up to 4000 IU a day was safe.  And their own internal toxicity report found no real toxicity below 14,000 IU a day.  

But lots of studies continue to flood the literature that Dr. Garland doesn’t even allude to.  The survival of heart attacks doubling when Vit D is above a threshold is one example.  The reduction of C-sections by over 50% if adequate levels are achieved is another.  The reduction of preterm delivery with 6000 IU a day by 50% isn’t mentioned.  The strong associations of low D and Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s isn’t on Garlands list.   The Japanese study where influenza rates are cut in half, doubling the effectiveness of flu shots wasn’t mentioned.  Nor was the reduction in blood pressure.  

Can you imagine a world where those things are true?  And we haven’t even gotten to depression and seasonal affective disorder… How much D is 4000-8000 IU a day?  A young 20-year-old Caucasian American will make that much D in 4 to 8 minutes of good sunshine.  Young adults with white skin make 1000 IU a min.  We just don’t get it in Wisconsin with our 6 months of winter.  

It’s the understanding of long-latency diseases that confounds us.  Our standard of proof, the randomized placebo-controlled trial, takes many, many years to prove when you have an illness that takes 40 years to play out.   African Americans need 5 to 6 times that much sun to make the same amount, but will with 40 minutes of sun. What Garland did find is that no one showed any toxicity up to 10,000 IU a day.  None.  The weight of evidence of benefit versus risk isn’t all positive.  There are some kidney stones.  And some literature about a slight uptick of some rare cancers, maybe, (one or two studies) versus hundreds of positive studies. 

 WWW.  What will work for me?  What am I doing?  I’m taking my 5000 IU every day.  My blood level is 82.  I’ve had a kidney stone.  I’ll settle for that risk.  That’s my target (50-80).  It’s what I would have if I worked outdoors.  I work indoors and when I started, my D was 7 ng. ( I had a kidney stone then too)  My risks are much, much lower for all the other illnesses when I have a level of 82.  It’s what I want for my loved ones and family.  Want to play it safe?  The IOM says 4000 IU a day is safe.  That will give most people a level of about 50 ng.  You are covered by any “risk” concerns as we have a national body (the IOM) stating that that is safe.  In my opinion, and for my friends, I want that as your minimum.

The Column was written by Dr. John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI.