vit d

My Aching Bones Stopped Hurting

cropped, By Louise (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (

Our words and actions significantly affect the lives of others. On rare occasion, we learn just how much.

I gave two presentations on vitamin D last fall in a city where a good friend lives. He wasn’t able to attend either talk, but I made sure to get him a copy of my book before leaving town. On returning there last month, I called him to see if we could get together. We set a time to meet, and he asked that I first call a friend who had questions on vitamin D.

When I called the guy, I learned that during the previous six months the copy I left of the book had circulated around the community and eventually landed in his home. After reading the book, he and his wife went to their doctor and had their vitamin D levels tested. They had no apparent medical problems, but his wife had suffered severe pain deep in her left upper arm for many years. Nothing Continue reading

The Sun Hath Two Faces

After 6 weeks of working and recreating in a sunny locale, I returned to Seattle gloom. Locals quickly informed me there had not been a single day of sun in all of March and that April was likely to be the coldest on record. My illusions of returning to spring in Seattle evaporated into the drizzle. What’s happening here?

I turned to Cliff Mass Weather Blog to get some answers – they weren’t very pretty. The pre-spring warming Seattleites look forward to between February 1 and April 15 didn’t happen this year. It was colder and wetter than ever. A mere two decades ago, 60% of those days were above 55 degrees. Last year only 35% were that warm. This year, we only had 2 days above 55!

Am I glad I spent most of that time making appearances in places where the sun shines.

I have to admit it; I love sun and warm weather. And I’m not alone. So do most of the people I speak to. They frequently preface their questions with a remark about how much they love being in the sun and how much better they feel on sunny days. Every so often, such remarks lead to the “ultimate confession.” Continue reading

I’m in the sun a lot – can my vitamin D be low?

Yes. Amazingly enough, it happened to me, and it can happen to you.

For many thousands of years, sunlight provided all the vitamin D we needed. Read about the importance of sunlight in human history in chapter 13 of Know Your D.

Modern life styles have changed that picture. Indoor living, getting around by car, and sunscreen use all contribute to the fact that 77% of us have low levels of vitamin D. Check the details of studies by Michal Melamed and Adit Ginde that demonstrate this fact in chapter 2 of Know Your D and in a previous post. You can find out what level of vitamin D is too low in a previous post.

I meet many people who say they get plenty of sun. They are amazed when their vitamin D test comes back low. “How can you explain it?” they ask. I tell them the following.

Facts about sun exposure and vitamin D production Continue reading

Vitamin D toxicity is easy to avoid – part 3 of 3

Can I develop vitamin D toxicity just from sun exposure?

No. The body has an amazing mechanism to prevent this. When enough vitamin D is produced in the skin from ultraviolet exposure, any additional D produced is broken down into harmless byproducts.

This was beautifully demonstrated years ago. A group of outdoor lifeguards getting an average of 6 ½ hours of summer sun exposure had their vitamin D levels tested after a few months. Their average vitamin D levels 64 ng/mL. The very highest level was 79 ng/mL, well within the safe range.

What if I am already taking a good dose of vitamin D, say 4,000 units a day? Continue reading

Vitamin D toxicity is easy to avoid – part 2 of 3

The vitamin D blood test [25-hydroxy-vitamin D] is the most potent tool available for preventing vitamin D overdose.

Back in the 1950’s, when the infamous cases of vitamin D toxicity were reported, there was no way to test vitamin D blood levels.

Many people attending my presentations are afraid to start taking vitamin D for fear of toxic overdose.

Today, with the vitamin D test readily available, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to develop vitamin D toxicity.

We now have 40 years of experience in testing vitamin D levels. There is a wealth of information to guide patients and health care practitioners as they work to achieve healthy blood levels of vitamin D without the risk of toxicity.

Here’s what that experience shows.

What’s a healthy range for vitamin D blood levels? Continue reading

Vitamin D toxicity is easy to avoid – part 1 of 3

The most common question I hear from audiences is,

Can I take too much vitamin D?”

Yes, it is possible. But . . .

You are much more likely to have very low vitamin D levels (nearly half of Americans do) than toxic levels.  Has anyone seen a report of a recent case of vitamin D toxicity? I haven’t.

So why is there so much concern about vitamin D overdose?

Back in the 1940’s and 50’s, doctors gave very high daily doses of vitamin D – often over 100,000 units a day – for a variety of diseases affecting bones.

In the mid-1950’s, several scientific articles reported deaths in patients receiving such high doses. Following these reports, most doctors abandoned the use of high dose vitamin D and 200 units a day became the standard daily recommendation.

The concern about vitamin D toxicity persists despite a revolution in the scientific understanding of vitamin D and how toxicity occurs.

What do we know now that we didn’t know back then? Continue reading

77% Have Low Vitamin D or 80% Have Enough – Which Is It?

I’ve ranted against the errors in the November 2010 Institute of Medicine’s Report Brief on Calcium and Vitamin D in previous posts. See IOM Erroneous Conclusion #1 and IOM Erroneous Conclusion #2.

Today we look at IOM Erroneous Conclusion #3 - “a majority of the population is meeting its needs for vitamin D.” Because the IOM distributed its conclusions to federal health agencies long before releasing them publicly, federal health agencies have already incorporated this IOM erroneous conclusion into their own official publications.

A case in point is the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines, which state on (page 41 of the pdf) that “recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicate that more than 80 percent of Americans have adequate vitamin D blood levels.”

Yet a peer-reviewed scientific publication of the highest standard analyzing this very same NHANES data found that 77% of Americans have low vitamin D levels.

Which statement is correct? Continue reading

Sex, exercise, & heart attacks – don’t forget vitamin D!

Sex causing more heart attacks is sure to catch your eye. Not surprisingly, the Journal of the American Medical Association article on sex and exercise triggering heart attacks has sparked a flood of interest in the press.

We tend to focus excessively on single events and to overlook the importance of longer-term behavior patterns. The bottom line of the researchers was that gradually increasing the frequency of exercise lowers heart attack risk.

Three other longer-term preventive measures should be kept in mind to prevent heart attacks. Continue reading

High cholesterol or low vitamin D?

Nate Dogg’s death at 41 from a stroke has generated considerable concern about the risk for stroke in people under 60.

One area receiving little attention is the role of vitamin D in the development of atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack.

Atherosclerosis - from Wikimedia Commons by Grahams Child

Isn’t cholesterol the cause of “hardening of the arteries” and the related problems of stroke and heart attacks?

Yes, it’s one cause. But the story goes much deeper. How does that cholesterol in the blood get stuck inside artery walls? First, the artery wall has to get inflamed. Just like a cut in your skin can get red, swollen, and inflamed from an infection, artery walls can experience the same process. When that happens, white blood cells get drawn into the artery wall. From there, they reach out and gobble up cholesterol from the bloodstream, bringing it into the artery wall. Thus, the process begins.

It turns out that vitamin D is a potent inhibitor of this type of inflammation in artery walls. Vitamin D activates dozens of different genes that keep inflammation under control and prevent this process from getting started in the first place. People with bad atherosclerosis have extremely low levels of vitamin D – a fraction of the levels that are needed for maintaining good health.

High cholesterol affects about 37% of Americans. Low vitamin D levels affect a surprising 77% of us. Among African-Americans and others with darker skin, low levels are found in over 90%. Both high cholesterol and low vitamin D predispose to stroke, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis.

So when someone has a stroke at 41, I wonder what the vitamin D level is.

Do you know what yours is?

Continue reading

Safe Pregnant-Healthy Baby? What’s your vitamin D level?

coming soon!How can you promote a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery?

Have your vitamin D level checked and maintain good levels throughout your pregnancy.

Your doctor may not tell you this, but achieving good levels of vitamin D could be the most important thing you can do to promote a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby.

More than 80% of women begin pregnancy with low levels of vitamin D.

The amount of vitamin D in most prenatal vitamins – 400 units – is not enough to support a safe pregnancy or a healthy baby. True vitamin D supplementation is required to achieve healthy levels in pregnancy. But how can you avoid vitamin D overdose during pregnancy?

A landmark study by researchers Carol L Wagner, MD, Bruce W. Hollis, PhD, and their colleagues provides surprising answers.

  • Pregnancy outcomes were compared in women given 4,000 units daily of vitamin D versus those given 400 units a day – the amount in most prenatal vitamins. Continue reading