Just Go Ahead And Wait For “Public Policy”

I had to laugh.

The National Institutes of Health awarded Creighton University $4 million to continue its landmark study linking vitamin D to a reduction in cancer risk. The study’s findings, reported in June 2007, showed for the first time in a clinical trial that postmenopausal women consuming optimal amounts of calcium supplements, as well as vitamin D3 supplements at nearly three times U.S. government recommended levels, could reduce their risk of cancer by 60 to 77 percent.

“The vitamin D3 finding was a secondary goal in the original study,” said Creighton researcher Joan Lappe, Ph.D. “We must now confirm these findings with a clinical trial specifically designed to look at calcium, vitamin D and cancer. Confirmation is necessary in order to have evidence solid enough to change public policy regarding intake levels for vitamin D.” […]

A total of 2,300 women will be recruited and followed for four years with half of the participants randomly assigned to take daily supplements containing 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 and 1,200 mg of calcium; the second group will receive placebos. (emphasis added)

There you go. Something that's intuitively pretty obvious (that most plants and animals need sunlight for various metabolic and biochemical processes) needs to wait four years so that greater exposure to natural, life giving sun (and/or vitamin D supplementation at sufficient levels) can receive the blessings of the "authorities" — you know, like the people that have been advocating low fat, high carbohydrate diets for the last two decades as obesity and diabetes skyrocket; those kinda guys.

Moreover, I'm not hopeful by any means that even when they do get around to revising recommended daily intake upwards that it will be anywhere near what would be needed to get someone's 25(OH)D levels into the 60-80 ng/ml range. Why 60-80? See here.

Then this, from a recent email newsletter from Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has quietly announced composition of the next vitamin D Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), a committee that will set recommendations for both adequate intake and upper limits well into the next decade. […]

Unfortunately, the scientists who have led the vitamin D revolution for the last ten years are all excluded. The debarred include, but are not limited to, Drs. Vieth, Giovannucci, Garland, Hollis, Heaney, Wagner, Norman, Hankinson, Whitting, Hanley, etc.. For example, Dr Hollis actually wrote and received an FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) for vitamin D in 2003 that has allowed both him and many other investigators to perform vitamin D studies with doses well above the current upper limits. Why is he not on the committee? Dr. Vieth has performed many of the recent upper limit pharmacological dosing studies in humans. Why did the IOM exclude Dr. Vieth?

Then, of course, there's the utter embarrassment they call the American Academy of Dermatology and their recent ridiculous Position Statement on Vitamin D, which, to my gimlet eye, looks to be more of a position on full and continued employment for researchers and dermatologists.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that an adequate amount of vitamin D should be obtained from a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, foods/beverages fortified with vitamin D, and/or vitamin D supplements; it should not be obtained from unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

What astounding modern arrogance driven by ignorance.

How about this: in lieu of publicly pelting the BoD of the Academy with rotten tomatoes, how about they explain why melanomas are rare in poor, equatorial countries where people don't use sunscreen and work out in the sun a lot, verses higher rates the farther north you go in the northern hemisphere, or south you go in the southern hemisphere, where there's inadequate sunlight, countries are richer, people work indoors, and everyone can afford to be duped into buying and slathering sunscreen?

In the meantime, I'll keep taking my daily dose of 6,000 units of vitamin D, 15 times the levels recommended by "the authorities."

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. David at Animal-Kingdom-Workouts on January 28, 2009 at 12:26

    Amen brother. You just have to think about this logically. We evolved close the equator and were exposed to tons of sunlight. Not only is our body used to it, it needs it. I remember reading somewhere then when exposed to direct sunlight, the body will on its own make something like 2000 units of vitamin D in 20 minutes (my figures may be a bit off here, but there's an explosion of vitamin D regardless). If our bodies do this, doesn't this indicate we need way more vitamin D than what the shmexperts think?

    – Dave

    PS – Your point on melanoma in poor countries was excellent as well. I've never heard that one before.

  2. John on January 28, 2009 at 13:05

    Really enjoy your blog trying to push my life in that direction.
    My question is how do you work fasting around your workout sched, I'm presently doing a crossfit style, 5-6 days a week.
    I'm convinced of the value of fasting but I'm a little worried about trying it with such a demanding workout sched. Any advice on how to work it in regularily would be great.

  3. Rachel on January 28, 2009 at 14:14

    Interesting ancedote for you: my mother is a physician. Recently, she was researching the subject of acid reflux, specifically the recommendations of what to eat or not to eat. With some digging she found that the guidelines for what to avoid (onions, spicy food, coffee) came from one small study back in the 50s or 60s that has been perpetuated but is essentially unproven. I'll bet you $50 if you were to go to a doctor today and complain of acid reflux, they would parrot back the same recommendations, without thinking. Information cascade and institutional inertia, especially when these things lead to exclusion of good scientific data, are extremely frustrating to me. I'm with you-I supplement with D and will continue to do so. I go with the evidence, not the herd.

  4. Richard Nikoley on January 28, 2009 at 13:55


    Since I only workout twice per week, 30-minutes each, it's pretty easy. I'm now doing one weight session per week, and one crossfit / plyo sort of thing with lots of variety. I like to workout fasted, so virtually all my fasts are at the point where I'm fasted from 18 hours, all the way to 30 hours. I don't eat after workouts until at least two hours, but can sometimes go as long as six hours.

    From an evolutionary standpoint, I can't really understand a workout sched as rigorous as yours. Animals that hunt for food hunt when hungry (hence why I fast), and they don't always consume their prey immediately (hence why I wait to eat after). So, for me, this is about gene expression and I think I have accomplished this. By maximizing natural HG release (fasting, intensity and speed in workouts, sleep) I think my changed body composition has truly been enhanced by this. I'm far stronger than before, though smaller and leaner.

    So, if you're inclined to try working out fasted, then you should have no problem working it in. Like many things, however, expect it to take some getting used to. For me, I'm usually not to hungry at the outset of a workout, then the activity brings hunger on for about five minutes, then it goes away as my body adjust to the higher energy demand and licks up the fat burn. But then, when I begin doing the 350 pound+ leg presses 20 minutes or so in, hunger comes back — this time in a rage. Then, 3 minutes later, it's gone again as my body kicks it up another notch.

    It's quite cool. You can learn, over time, to keep yourself right on the edge of hunger, ebb & flow, by varying intensity.

  5. Richard Nikoley on January 28, 2009 at 14:52

    Absolutely. In may ways the medical profession (your mom excluded, of course) is comprised of physicians whose chief attribute is that they are very intelligent with excellent memories and able to be trained as super-technicians, able to read, interpret, and understand an unbelievably complex "owner's manual" and competently follow the maintenance routines promulgated therein.

    But it's not true independent probing thought.

  6. g on January 29, 2009 at 09:10


    Do you think it has to do with ego… greed? Saying…hey, we screwed up? I tell my kids all the time — I'm so so sorry we fed you wheat for so long — we just didn't know (…we were making you brain-damaged, gut-damaged and increasing risks for cancer, autoimmunity, etc).

    Like, vitamin D, same thing occurred with tobacco and observational studies on cancer. Everyone in public policy denied it as long as they could though the evidence was clear as day and night. For me, knowing now the far-ranging benefits and protection provided by vitamin D, I think it would be completely unethical to have a 'D-deficient' placebo group. …equivalently as unethical as a trial sponsoring a tobacco-smoking arm (though now I'm Paleo and on vit D — maybe I'd volunteer? *ahh ha* J/K!…I quit)


  7. Marc Feel Good Eating on January 29, 2009 at 09:52

    Personal info.
    I used to wear 25-30spf sunscreen (I live in a sunny climate) and would still get sunburned on my forehead . Since eating paleo,(almost 3 years now) and dropping the sunscreen I don't get sun burned any more.
    Did my body get used to the sun? Perhaps…..maybe something else going on too? Very likely.

    Good post Richard!

  8. Richard Nikoley on January 30, 2009 at 09:57


    I just think they're invested in the status quo. There's usually not a lot of money, livelihood, or prestige in bucking established guidelines.

  9. Richard Nikoley on January 30, 2009 at 10:00

    I have noted three things with respect to my new life way:

    1. Less skin sensitivity (burning) in the sun.

    2. Less optical sensitivity. I used to squint all the time, and were sunglasses. Still wear thm most of the time, but I can easily remove them and I don't have the sensitivity I used to have.

    3. Far less sensitivity to cold. I used to be all bundled, but even with morning temps in the 30s, I'm still out in shorts with only a light sweatshirt. No problem.

  10. Dana on February 3, 2009 at 14:48

    I suppose the "experts" would argue that it's us being light-skinned that causes us to get melanoma in the sunlight, whereas people who are from equatorial nations are darker-skinned. On the other hand, perhaps we're lighter *because* our ancestors moved away from the equatorial regions and our bodies were going, "Oh my GOD get me some VITAMIN D already!", so we lightened up.

    Besides, I've heard that when someone does get melanoma, it's usually on the under-exposed areas of the body, NOT the parts that get more sunlight. We do get some other kinds of skin cancers from sun exposure, but they don't usually kill us. And I'd be willing to lay money that the Standard American Diet which encourages high insulin levels is probably another culprit in this, anyway. Insulin encourages cellular growth, and the levels of blood sugar you need to sustain to keep your insulin high enough for damage will also feed a cancer.

    But oh, that's too complex to turn into sound bites with which to "educate" the public. *shrug*

  11. Dana on February 3, 2009 at 14:49

    Oh, and yes, I know there are darker-skinned people living in the far northern and southern latitudes, but you see a lot more hysteria about white people getting melanoma. I wonder about the numbers for people of color, whether the ones farther away from the equator also get more melanoma than the ones along the equator. I'm betting probably so. Once in a while in the melanoma literature for public consumption, someone points out that black people get skin cancer too.

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