“The Miracle of Vitamin D” (and the common cold)

The title refers to an article in The New York Times by our favorite chubby-faced purveyor of conventional “wisdom” (Modern Ignorance): Tara Parker-Pope. I’ll get to that later.

…In the meantime, a bit of a personal anecdote. I don’t recall exactly when I began taking vitamin D supplements, but it was likely around mid-2008. I have not had any illness since, except two colds and two events that initially presented as cold-like but went away in under a day.

The first was in late December, 2008, a little over a year ago. While driving down to SoCal for Christmas I had that unmistakable feeling in the back of the throat that a cold was coming on. In addition to the normal 6,000 IU of D I take, I took an additional 12,000 IU upon arrival. When I woke up the next morning, I had mild but certain cold symptoms, so I took another 12,000 IU. Symptoms improved, then got a little worse later in the day so I took another 12,000 IU in the evening. I repeated this regime the next day and by the the start of the day after, all symptoms had either vanished or gone to that sort of wrap up stage. Colds have always taken me a week to two to pass, and I often have a lingering sore throat for days after that due to the irritation from continual post-nasal drip.

Sometime in late February I got tested by GrassrootsHealth, and then Kaiser a few weeks later. The first test was right after a week of hours spent per day in the Puerto Vallarta sunshine in shorts, shirtless. I tested at 120 ng/ml. The next test came back at 85. Then this fall, six months after the first, I got another test from GRH that came in at 104.

In late November during the Thanksgiving holiday — again, in the company of many people — I began to get some almost imperceptible cold symptoms that went away in under a day. Same at Christmas. It was a slight scratchy throat, mild cough, and then was gone. My wife, who also supplements with D, unfortunately had it for weeks. However; from my perspective, her symptoms — mainly a cough — were far milder than a normal full-blown cold.

Now, fast forward to last Friday and Saturday night. Both evenings I was in the company of people and drinking quite a lot (whiskey), because they were both birthday celebrations for me. Sunday morning we went to breakfast with some friends and upon returning, Robert hears me cough and lets out an uh-oh. I brushed it aside as just a little throat clearing. But he was right. By the evening it had come on like a freight train. Huge coughing and unbelievable quantities of choking mucous. I probably took an additional 20,000 IU of D. Then Monday morning I felt like crap, so I took another 12,000 IU. Took another 12,000 that night and I didn’t sleep well. Yesterday morning I got up with an awful sinus headache that made even my jaw & gums hurt. I took another 12,000 IU and figured that by this time the symptoms were so bad that I was probably in for the long haul.

And then 2:00 PM hit, I let out a big sneeze, realized my headache was clearing immediately and suddenly I had nothing but a mild scratchy throat, and I felt fabulous. I mean, I felt off-the-charts great — as though I’d just come in from a day at the beach. There was a euphoria to it that persists even now. I slept like a baby last night, a good 8 hours and I just got back from a great, intense workout at the gym.

Can any of you report similar experiences?

So, back to the ditzy blonde. Here’s what she has to say.

But don’t start gobbling down vitamin D supplements just yet. The excitement about their health potential is still far ahead of the science…

Although consumers may be tempted to rush out and start taking 2,000 I.U.’s of vitamin D a day, doctors warn against it….

…In general, people are considered to be deficient if they have blood levels below 15 or 20 nanograms per milliliter. But many doctors now believe vitamin D levels should be above 30. The ideal level isn’t known, nor is it known at what point a person is getting too much vitamin D, which can lead to kidney stones, calcification in blood vessels and other problems.

Dumb, dumber, dumbest. Ignorant to the level of embarrassment. Did she even bother to check Vitamin D Council? How about with the world’s top vitamin D researchers, like Bruce Hollis or Robert Heaney? No. The ditz talked to some cat who studied E and selenium, and some chick in the Bronx.

Or, does she tap the already documented research of both Vitamin D Council (link) or GrassrootsHealth (link)? No, she taps some doc who appears to not yet know much about vitamin D, and, OMG, is gonna do a study, by golly! While I applaud that, as well as the professional skepticism of anyone doing research, I really loath these sorts of MSM watered-down garbage that amount to: “Not so fast! Wait; caution; heed the experts!” “Doctors warn against it.” And how many of them are just ignorantly talking out their ass in order to get their names in the NYT?

Yea, well, Tara, your face is pale and fat. Nobody ought listen to you about either vitamin D or diets.

Oh, and to a commenter (Amy Alkon #302) who reports a level of 64 ng/ml, Parker-Pope ignorantly extolls:

That’s off the charts high.

Wow. What ignorance. From Vitamin D Council:

Levels should be above 50 ng/ml year-round, in both children and adults. Thanks to Bruce Hollis, Robert Heaney, Neil Binkley, and others, we now know the minimal acceptable level. It is 50 ng/ml. In a recent study, Heaney, et al expanded on Bruce Hollis’s seminal work by analyzing five studies in which both the parent compound (cholecalciferol) and 25(OH)D levels were measured. They found that the body does not reliably begin storing cholecalciferol in fat and muscle tissue until 25(OH)D levels get above 50 ng/ml. The average person starts to store cholecalciferol at 40 ng/ml, but at 50 ng/ml virtually everyone begins to store it for future use. That is, at levels below 50 ng/ml, the body uses up vitamin D as fast as you can make it, or take it, indicating chronic substrate starvation—not a good thing. 25(OH)D levels should be between 50–80 ng/ml, year-round.

And here. Note how it clusters from 60-80 ng/ml at 6,000 IU/day. This covers 1014 subjects:


Here’s the comment I dropped:

Vitamin D Deficiency and All Cancer, with graphs.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Type 1 Diabetes, with graphs.

Vitamin D and Melanoma, with graphs.

In all cases (and there’s more) it’s pretty much the same. Everything tracks both by latitude and by time of year (more incidence in winter).

Levels above 60 ng/ml (yes, milliliter) appear to be most protective.

I personally keep mine in the 80-100 ng/ml range. Haven’t been sick since I began this a few years ago, except two head colds, both with mild symptoms and both going completely away in 2 days.

So there you have it for today’s Modern Ignorance Update.

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  1. Organic Gabe on February 3, 2010 at 14:15

    I regularly take 5,000 IU vitamin D daily and haven’t had any cold nor any symptoms for more than a year.

  2. Aaron Curl on February 3, 2010 at 13:35

    Interesting! This is the second thing this week I have read about vitamin D. Although I haven’t been sick since I started eating paleo, I think I will start taking vitamin D. Thanks.

  3. Lute Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 13:36

    I started out with a cold during the night, had to remove my CPAP because of a runny nose and sneezing. Today almost gone. Had no other symptoms, except for runny nose, sneezing and plugged up nose. I didn’t take any additional Vita. D. I think I got the bug from you on Sat. night Richard. Thanks!

  4. Christina on February 3, 2010 at 13:42

    I too thought Ms. Parker-Pope’s blog entry was ill-informed. I have had Vitamin D deficiency for I guess decades, and two years ago cottoned on when my Vitamin D levels were tested as 28 ng/ml and decided to supplement at 2000 IU. This year I’m taking 4800 IU (2 x 2000 IU + 400 IU from multivitamin + 400 IU from two tbsps cod liver oil) after my December Vitamin D test @ 48 ng/ml. It’s made a big difference in my mood levels and immunity. I take my Vitamin D3 with calcium/magnesium and a little bit of fat to help the absorption.

  5. KakesW on February 3, 2010 at 14:29

    I’ve been downing D3 like it’s going out of style since Fall of 2009. 8,000 iu /day most days. Between that and my neti pot, I have had similar experiences- no illness but for one two day bout with a stuffy nose. That is a miracle especially since I’m pregnant with my 4th child! I’ve never had a pregnancy through winter without constant illness. My entire family has been on D supplements and has been so healthy! I’ve also had a complete lack of SAD symptoms and pregnancy depression like I’ve had in past years and pregnancies. I’m a believer!

  6. Alex Thorn on February 3, 2010 at 14:31

    I know this is pretty much a universal belief now among the low carb/paleo fraternity, but I just don’t buy all this hype about vitamin D! The more I read the more I get that ‘antsy’ feeling I get when I read about AGW. When I see the vitamin D council pontificating on the subject I just can’t shake the image of the East Anglia University’s Climate Research Unit, with it’s relative small cabal of researchers peer reviewing and citing each other’s highly dubious work to give the impression that there is a massive scientific consensus on the subject.

    It seems a lack of vitamin D is now being blamed for everything from the common cold to autism to cancer to hang-nails (and supplementing with loads of the stuff is both the prevention and cure) just as man-made CO2 emissions are meant to be causing catastrophic climate change, sea level rises, melting glaciers, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and just about any other natural disaster you, or a Hollywood blockbuster, can dream up!

    • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 14:44

      Hey Alex, if you want to see how close this is to East Anglia, how about ask them for their raw data and computer code…

    • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 14:45

      And BTW, you know why I buy it that far outweighs any study by a factor of about a million? N=1.

      • Alex Thorn on February 4, 2010 at 06:58

        Unfortunately my N=1 experience has been that I started supplementing with high doses of vitamin D in order to get my 25(OH)D levels up to the arbitrary 40+ng/ml highlighted by the D*Action study (to which I am signed up) but my measured levels of 25(OH)D didn’t budge! I didn’t feel any better either nor was I ever ill or suffered any other health problems (that I am aware of) before supplementation. I just wonder whether getting everyone up to the same levels has any benefit? Are we just getting into a ‘numbers game’ the same as total cholesterol and other such markers?

      • Dave, RN on February 4, 2010 at 10:34

        Alex, you’re level may not have gone up because of the type of D you are taking. Be sure to take D3, and make sure that they are NOT they type that look like an aspirin. Those don’t absorb well. Get the kind that look like a little oil filled pearl. The fat in the oil helps it absorb.
        Also, are you on any OTC or prescription meds? There are meds that inhibit the absorption of D3.

      • Dave, RN on February 4, 2010 at 10:36

        I almost forgot to mention that it takes 10,000U a day just to get my level up to 75… and I’ve been doing that for a year.

      • Alex Thorn on February 4, 2010 at 13:15

        I always took vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol). I am not on any meds. I took the vitamin D3 as drops (MCT oil suspension) the last time at a dosage of at least 5,000 IU per day. I’m afraid as cheap and generic as vitamin D may be, I could not afford to take a decent vitamin D3 supplement at that high a dosage (10,000 IU) per day for that long!

        The fact that I seemed so resistant to increasing my serum 25(OH)D by even a small amount with supplementation leads me to wonder whether there is a natural mechanism to prevent unnecessary increases in vitamin D status.

      • Richard Nikoley on February 4, 2010 at 11:44

        Well Alex, I’d say that the difference is that it makes good evolutionary sense to have relatively high levels of D, at least more than 50 ng/ml, which is what anyone evolving in Africa and outdoors a lot would have.

        I also think the epidemiology is sound, as there are three conditions being met:

        1. associated with latitude.
        2. associated with time of year.
        3. associated with BOTH 25-ohD and 1,25 levels.

        Cholesterol doesn’t seem to associate well with anything, and plus makes zero sense from an evolutionary perspective.

      • Alex Thorn on February 4, 2010 at 13:23

        Actually there is a great deal of variation in serum vitamin D levels even amongst people exposed to sunlight at more equatorial latitudes for prolonged periods. One study on Hawaiians noted that levels ranged from the low 20s to the low 60s (in ng/ml) in people with equivalent amounts of sun exposure and matched for other variables. I don’t think it is possible to know (unlike diet) what palaeolithic man’s vitamin D levels were. Certainly, outside of Africa, the ice ages that marked most of man’s evolution would have precluded being naked out of doors (cave!) for most of the time.

    • Ed on February 3, 2010 at 15:50

      One reason I don’t buy your analogy is that vitamin D is generic and dirt cheap, so there’s not much money in either researching or selling it. Anyone studying vitamin D is probably doing it because they believe that vitamin D may be worthwhile in their particular area. However, the AGW crowd has raked in enormous wads of cash in grants. A study by Jo Nova estimates that AGW alarmists have received $79 BILLION in the last 20 years from the US government alone.

      • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 17:03

        Excellent follow-the-money point, Ed.

      • Alex Thorn on February 4, 2010 at 10:18

        However certain members of the vitamin D council do have financial interests in vitamin D testing services!

      • Future Primitive on February 4, 2010 at 10:37

        I’d look more into the research and development of 1,25(OH)2D analogues if you want to find the money trail.

  7. Daniel on February 4, 2010 at 05:46

    She also lied! She claimed that Lappe’s placebo trial of 11oo IU of vit D3 yielded 7 cancers in the placebo group and 4 in the vit D group. In fact, it was 18 cancers in the placebo group and 8 in the vit D group. See table 1:

  8. Future Primitive on February 3, 2010 at 15:22

    My family takes D3 daily. In the past 2 years, we’ve each caught a minor head cold that quickly resolved. I don’t know if I’m just particularly fortunate or somehow asymptomatic, but I really don’t think I’ve caught the actual flu in 20+ years, anyway… While I believe in the value of vaccination in general, my father’s odd tendency towards vaccination induced anaphylaxis kinda puts me off of anything prepared with eggs, mouse brains, etc…(anaphylaxis actually got him out consideration for the draft: convulsions, eyes roll back into his head… bad news). So, I keep a supply of 50,000 IU D3 bombs around just in case to upregulate cathelicidin production and temper the th1 mediated inflammatory immune response (in order to avert a potential cytokine storm – that’s the theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it ’till somebody sets me straight because immunology – whew, there’s a crazy deep subject… love it.).

    • Future Primitive on February 3, 2010 at 15:43

      BTW, on related tangent peppered with a little wild speculation, I came across a few epidemiological surveys that found an inverse relationship between febrile infection during a person’s earlier years and the rate of cancer occurring in later years. Is the flu nature’s immunotherapy?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 16:47


      Since you appear to have drilled down, how might you explain my WAY OVER THE TOP EUPHORIA? I mean, even this afternoon, I’m ginning up for a fancy meal (SVS ribeyes). I wanted to invite the whole neighborhood (just a couple of friends, actually), but the meeses nixed the plan…

      • Future Primitive on February 3, 2010 at 20:16

        Hey Richard,

        I’m mindful of the plausible connection between D3 sufficiency and mood (and perhaps support of mental accumen?); however, I’ve little remaining doubt my misadventures with the firewater leave me bummed out for *days* after all the fun, mere aches and pains aside.

        Anyway, I’m glad to hear this isn’t the case for you.

        On a related note, I’m trying to get my grandmother to take D3 and fish oil – she’s recently been experiencing what I’d call “false memories”, without the benefit of a diagnosis by somebody that knows better… worrisome… The only certain thing in life is death, but I’d like to not see her personality die before her physical body.

        The sous-vide sounds great! Man, I really want an SVS, but I have to barter for counter space around here as it is. I’ve only done poor-man’s sous-vide with a giant pot of water, a tiny burner, a spatula to help convection along, and lots of patience… Man, it was so good, though.

        When you’re ready to get the first annual Bay Area Outdoor Paleo-Fest together, just let me know if you need a wingman. While I didn’t refine my cooking skills en France like you, I’m down with Julia and Marie-Antoine Carême – a grill is no problem!


      • Richard Nikoley on February 4, 2010 at 11:37

        It’s a good idea, Jay. Perhaps sometime this spring we can take a survey of Bay Area folks who’d like to get together somewhere for a paleo / primal potluck & grillout.

  9. Ned Kock on February 3, 2010 at 16:13

    Thanks Richard for all this recent discussion about D.

    Let me plug in this post that you’ve seen already, and that brings up a red flag regarding excessive supplementation:


    The article reviewed in the post is the only study I could find that had any warning regarding excessive amounts of D, arguing that the level of D-related hormones and disease follow a U-curve pattern. Here is what the article says:

    “Low serum calcidiol concentrations are associated with an increased risk of several chronic diseases including osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, hypertension, atherosclerosis and muscle weakness all of which can be considered aging-related diseases. The relationship of many of these diseases and aging-related changes in physiology show a U-shaped response curve to serum calcidiol concentrations.”


    “Both hypervitaminosis D3 andchypovitaminosis D3 cause premature aging …”

    The full text of the article, by Tuohimaa and colleagues, is linked to the post. You can find it with the full reference at the end of the post.

    Of course the article has its weaknesses, like almost any research does; one of which is that is the authors rely heavily on a study of mutant mice to support they assertions.

    Having said that, I think there is no doubt that any form of D supplementation is unnatural, given that: (a) our body seems designed to produce vast amounts of D based on sunlight and cholesterol; and (b) good dietary sources of D are rare.

    It is possible that we need D supplementation, particularly as we age, since we modern humans are exposed to much less sunlight than our ancestors.

    I have my doubts as to the appropriate level of supplementation, and whether it is not better to try to up our UV exposure. Skin cancer is associated with excessive exposure and sunburns.

    I was reading about tanning beds and booths the other day, but since I never used them, I don’t know much about the risks involved.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 17:07

      Yea, ED, I’ve seen enough to be convinced that levels below 200 ng/ml are pretty safe. While I don’t want to dance on that line, my seasonal levels from 80-120 are fine, and I feel fine.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 17:09

      BTW, yea, I think older folks especially see the benefits of supps. It has worked miracles for my parents.

    • Tracie on February 4, 2010 at 12:56

      Hi..I have a little knowledge on indoor tanning to pass along. UV light from indoor tanning produces an average of about 1000 iu per minute. And, like sunlight, you can’t overdose on Vitamin D from UV light, as the UVA regulates absorption and your body only gets what it needs. And, you don’t need to actually get a tan to produce Vitamin D. If you visit your local tanning salon, about half of their recommended time will do it if you want the vitamin D production and no tan. Or..go for the tan and get the beauty benefit too.

      • Michael on February 4, 2010 at 14:00

        Interesting. Any references for this?

  10. KRG on February 3, 2010 at 16:30

    Do you guys take your vitamin D all at once or do you spread it out during the day?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 17:11

      Doesn’t matter. It’s fat soluble with a long half-like, so even all at once per week is fine. For the cold I have noted diminishing symptoms within an hour of taking it, so I prefer to do it hour by hour. As sooon as symptoms worsen, another 2k, wait an hour, etc.

  11. Anna on February 3, 2010 at 16:42

    Yeah, I left a comment at the NYT article too. It’s great to see more about Vitamin D in the news (my friends and family think I’m a prophet because I’ve been talking about Vitamin D for several years) but I hate it when it’s so non-committal and barely an improvement on the old notions about Vit D.

    My experience on Vit D3 is great. I’ve experienced improved resistance to illness, illnesses that do occur are milder, and my motor balance, strength, and mood are improved when I consistently take enough D3. My whole family takes whatever dose keeps a 25 (OH)D result above 50 ng/mL – though we aim for around 70-80 ng/mL (that averages to 1000iU for EACH 25 pounds of body weight).

    I can’t take high dose D3 late in the day, though, or I don’t sleep well. I try to take my 5000iU dose mid morning or with lunch (with something fatty for best absorption).

  12. Alan on February 3, 2010 at 17:43

    Given all the apparent positives for Vit D, both natural sun light and supplements, do you see a downside? Is there a danger of over-supplementing? Can you get too much of a good thing? Here in Australia, now in summer, we are constantly bombarded with ads telling us to Slip, Slop, Slap. Slip on a shirt slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.

  13. AndrewS on February 3, 2010 at 21:27

    The artic explorers (Dutchman Willem Barents et al) that gorged on polar-bear liver and “died” (they didn’t), frequently mentioned wrt Vit A & D toxicity, might have been suffering from accumulated alkaloids from lichen in polar bear diet (according to Inuit lore), or cadmium and other heavy metals that collected in the livers (R.J. Norstrom et al, 1988).

    I’m not aware of good sources on the upper limit to Vit D, but I do recall Stephan made some posts about the importance of taking A & D together.

    • Michael on February 3, 2010 at 22:27

      IIRC, it is the A you have to worry most about. Vitamin A toxicity is usually a Vitamin D deficiency, but its late and I will have to look up the references later.

      • AllanF on February 3, 2010 at 23:22


  14. Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later on February 4, 2010 at 01:04

    I don’t take mega-doses in response to potential cold onset, but I can offer the following anecdotes:

    1. Twelve months ago I had a minor cold. Around the same time, I started taking Vit D. I also embarked on 12 months of more partying than usual: lots of boozy weekends and bad food binges. Yet: I have not been ill. Previous years have seen me look after myself more, yet get ill more easily.

    2. My parents started taking vit D last year. So far this winter they have not had a cold. This is unprecedented.

  15. toby on February 4, 2010 at 03:39

    http://www.vitaminD3world.com is a good source of information on vitamin D. The site also has links to a news micro tablet version of Vitamin D. It is so tiny you can just crunch it up in your mouth, no need to swallow

  16. Nigel on February 4, 2010 at 03:49

    I’ve had no infections since December 2008 and that was nothing compared to everyonr around me who was “dying”.
    “too much vitamin D, which can lead to kidney stones, calcification in blood vessels blah, blah, blah…”
    If it’s calcified, think Vitamin K2. Also…
    If it’s broken, think Vitamin D3/Omega-3.
    If it spasms, think Magnesium.
    And so on…..

  17. Marc on February 4, 2010 at 05:04


    For the past two years I’ve been taking vit d 3 drops. 6000-8000 a day(in the morning). Last cold was 2 years ago. 4 kids that are in school, sickly co-workers, fairly steady airline travel for business.
    Probably just coincidence that I haven’t gotten a cold ;-)


  18. John Campbell on February 4, 2010 at 06:35

    Hmm… Celebrating my Dad’s 90th birthday this past weekend, I indulged in more carbs (crap kind) – wheat products and sugar than I had in 2 years. I am now nursing the beginning of a serious cold, which is very rare for me. Took 16,000 units vitamin D last night, 16,000 this morning – definitely still have cold but feeling noticeably better.

    This was timely advice for me Richard – thank you – and Happy Birthday to you my friend – may you surpass 90 with many years of vitality and fun to spare – to 100 and beyond!

    In the meantime, the experiment continues. Curiouser and curiouser.

  19. Alex Thorn on February 4, 2010 at 07:09

    Just to add: Being asymptomatic does not preclude there is a build up of pathogens in the system. Most people are only aware that they have an infection when they develop symptoms and symptoms develop as a result of the immune system attacking the invading pathogen. As vitamin D can have immunouppressive effects, could it be that people equate a lack of symptoms to being infection free, having an increased immune response and/or recovering from existing infections? this is my worry with mega-dosing with vitamin D in order to get serum levels of 25(OH)D up to some generalised level. I guess my philosophy is: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Of course, I could be apparently healthy because my immune response is suppressed and I am full of pathogens but asymptomatic – but this is what gives me pause: the only way to know for sure is to have myself tested, somehow, for the presence of pathogens!

    • Future Primitive on February 4, 2010 at 11:08

      “As vitamin D can have immunouppressive effects, could it be that people equate a lack of symptoms to being infection free…”

      Interesting line of inquiry, but I think the characterization of D being “immunosuppresive”, while ostensibly true when it comes to throttling the inflammatory immune response, is too narrow, and probably missing the forest for the trees.

      From the 50,000 ft view, I’d say it’s more accurate to describe D as being immunomodulatory.

      • Alex Thorn on February 4, 2010 at 11:49

        True – which does not rule out it being immunosuppressive since ‘modulation’ implies a two-way effect. I’d like to see a little more in-depth study on exactly how, when and at what concentrations it exerts either of these contradictory effects before I nail my colours to the vitamin D mega-dosing mast! After all, we have been down this road before with other antioxidant vitamins, which didn’t always live up to early hype when it came to long-term outcomes.

      • Nigel on February 5, 2010 at 02:22

        There are two immune responses, th1 & th2. I don’t know much about this subject but I was arguing with someone on muscletalk who does.

        Vitamin D3 up-regulates cathelicidin & anti-microbial peptides (immunity to bacteria & viruses) but down-regulates auto-immunity which helps auto-immune conditions.

      • Alex Thorn on February 5, 2010 at 03:23

        As far as I am aware, it is only the bio-active form 1,25(OH)D that up-regulates the antimicrobial peptides. Knowing what your 25(OH)D levels (or trying to increase them) doesn’t tell you much about how much 1,25(OH)D you are synthesising – in fact people with very low serum 25(OH)D levels have been found to have extremely high 1,25(OH)D levels and vice versa. Like I say, it is not as straightforward as is often made out.

      • Alex Thorn on February 5, 2010 at 03:35

        On the autoimmunity side of the equation – if you follow Loren Cordain’s research on the subject – it is possible that an immune response to pathogens (or other foreign protein or peptide of dietary origin in people with ‘leaky gut’ syndrome), which have a similar structure to native proteins, causes the autoimmune response to those molecularly similar endogenous proteins. That would seem to indicate that down-regulating that response must also impact on the immune response to the original pathogen or foreign protein.

        Th1 and Th2 refer to different kinds of cytokines. Th1 are pro-inflammatory cytokines and Th2 are anti-inflammatory cytokines. When in excess, the Th2 cytokines will counteract the Th1 cytokines. So now we need to know how the various vitamin D metabolites (and their effects on the vitamin D receptors) influence these various factors!

      • Nigel on February 5, 2010 at 11:23

        I don’t know the significance of serum 1,25(OH)D level. I was under the impression that hydroxylation of 25(OH)D to 1,25(OH)D occurred inside cells.

      • Alex Thorn on February 5, 2010 at 15:12

        It does. But unless you measure 1,25(OH)D directly – which hardly any study or doctor does – knowing your 25(OH)D levels – which is what a serum vitamin D test actually measures – only tells you how much pro-hormone you have available for synthesis not how much 1,25(OH)D you are actually synthesising.

        As I said previously, it has been found, in those few studies where both the pro-hormone and the bioactive hormone are measured, that people with low 25(OH)D can have extremely high levels of 1,25(OH)D. In other words the serum 25(OH)D levels may only appear low because the body is synthesising large amounts of the bioactive 1,25(OH)D hormone.

      • Nigel on February 5, 2010 at 17:26

        Has anyone measured intracellular 1,25(OH)D level and correlated it with serum 1,25(OH)D level?

      • Alex Thorn on February 6, 2010 at 01:08

        I don’t know the answer to that – but as Lute remarks further down in the comments, the test is more difficult to measure and thus expensive. Authorities at the moment believe it is not a viable measure of vitamin D status – whether that is strictly true or not I don’t know either. We are left to take these people at their word – something I am no longer inclined to do since the misinformation we have been given over the years about such subjects as saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease!

        Here is a graphic that shows the serum 25(OH)D status of a cohort of 93 fit and healthy Hawaiian surfers (who get prolonged sun exposure):
        Notice there is a large degree of variability and more than half of them fall below 30 ng/ml. the highest percentile (~!%) reached a level of 65 ng/ml.

      • Nigel on February 6, 2010 at 02:16

        Surfers are mostly young, active, fit people who have low risk factors for degenerative diseases, so how do we know that they are all healthy on the inside?

      • Alex Thorn on February 6, 2010 at 05:31

        I don’t see where you are coming from on that point. Most people here seem to be equating the efficacy of their vitamin D supplementing protocols solely on ‘feeling’ fit and healthy and being asymptomatic for infectious diseases. My point in posting the above is that trying to get a particular lab value to achieve that does not appear to be really supported by the epidemiological evidence. I personally have not suffered any infections (not even a head cold) for at least six years yet my last two serum vitamin D lab tests showed levels that weren’t much higher than 20ng/ml.

      • Nigel on February 6, 2010 at 08:41

        Is there data to show that the Hawaiian surfers had been free from disease for some considerable time? I was querying the use of the adjective “healthy”.

        As everyone is different, it looks as though you don’t need as high a serum 25(OH)D level as I do. For me, 75nmol/L (30ng/mL) isn’t high enough. 160nmol/L (64ng/mL) is.

      • Alex Thorn on February 6, 2010 at 13:04

        Which is why I question the blanket recommendation for everyone to maintain their vitamin D levels between 40-60ng/ml all year round! Here is the link to the full study:

      • Nigel on February 7, 2010 at 12:01

        Thanks for that. I see that the study was done in the Hawaiian equivalent of winter during which time there is reduced capability for cutaneous vitamin D production.

        I wonder whether the histogram would have looked much different if the study had been done in the Hawaiian equivalent of summer?

      • Alex Thorn on February 7, 2010 at 12:27

        I assume the variation would have been the same even if the minimum and maximum values had been higher. As the study authors concluded, their findings agreed with many other similar observations of serum vitamin D level and sun exposure among various populations with regard to the high degree of variability.

  20. Mallory on February 4, 2010 at 09:07

    i take vitamin D everyday, with krill oil…i think the combo does wonders for my well-being…this is off topic but i have a question. I found some full fat cultured yogurt at the marers market and it is plain… i dont do sweet concoctions so what all can i use it for? is it usable in sauces or does it destory something with heat? i was thinking maybe sauces…?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 4, 2010 at 10:23


      The advantage to yogurt is the live probiotics for gut health. Thus, while it can be used to thicken sauces (and I do, sometimes), it’s going to kill the bacteria — so what, still a great source of fat.

      I like to eat it just plain. Alternatively, I’ll mix in some nuts, frozen berries (wait 20 minutes to thaw), or both. I also often use a tbsp or two in a smoothie.

  21. Kelly Valenzuela on February 4, 2010 at 12:06

    Neither me nor my husband has been sick in over 17 months, since we started taking 6000 IUs of Vitamin D per day. My boss had swine flu a few months back and the other gentleman in my office came in sick with some sort of virus for a whole week. I got nothing. :-D

  22. Notverynice on February 4, 2010 at 12:21

    Geez, I never realized how curvy Tara is…she has to be classified by overweight by BMI. Reminds me of the time I went to a health food trade show and I was shocked by the number of obese and overweight people peddling kefir, supplements, dried fruit, and soy junk. They could at least hire someone good looking…Hooters does!

  23. rob on February 4, 2010 at 14:25

    My n=1 examples:

    Vit d level 60

    Monday 2 hour airplane ride packed house, person beside coughing every 30 seconds admitted running a fever but had to make the big meeting(wanted to kick their a## for being so self important)
    Tuesday all day meeting 3 people coughing/sneezing confined in 12×12 room.
    Wed 1 hour car ride with the band of sickies
    Thursday plane ride home seemed like half the plane was coughing sneezing. Also learned that 1 of the meeting attendees had a 102.5 fever and was laid up in bed

    Wake up friday a little sneexe, discomfort in the chest pop extra 10,000 iu d drag a little thru the day. Early to bed, up Sat. no problems, no cough no sneeze went to the gym to lift heavy things.

    d works for me.

  24. Lute Nikoley on February 5, 2010 at 17:31

    A few days ago I got a cold (very rare) and it was almost gone the next
    day. Lo and behold, it came back with a vengeance, sore throat, runny
    nose, etc. etc. etc. I’ve taken about 20K IU of D. No help with the sore
    throat, so I had a beer, guess what? No
    more sore throat

    I suspect that our very caring physicians don’t do the 1,25(OH)D, is
    for the same reason they don’t do LDL, cost. Especially when you’re
    on Medicare and an HMO. It’s all about money, not good health.

  25. Ken on February 6, 2010 at 02:02

    “Yea, ED, I’ve seen enough to be convinced that levels below 200 ng/ml”

    No, I can tell you that 200ng/ml (ie 500 nmol/L) will put your life into fast forward
    “Vieth’s data on dose response is significant.
    “Two studies showed that in response to a given set of ultraviolet light treatment sessions, the absolute rise in serum 25(OH)D concentration was inversely related to the basal 25(OH)D concentration. In the study by Mawer et al (34), the increase in 25(OH)D in subjects with initial 25(OH)D concentrations 50 nmol/L. Snell et al (27) showed that in subjects with initial 25(OH)D concentrations <10 nmol/L, ultraviolet treatments increased 25(OH)D by 30 nmol/L, but in those with initial 25(OH)D concentrations approaching 50 nmol/L, the increase was negligible."(Vieth 99)"
    You're saying that 10 times more than the naturally selected 'sweet spot' for vitamin D is harmless.
    The deleterious effects are said to mimic aging making them too subtle to be noticed, over time you're going to end up like the high 'D' mouse .

  26. susan on February 6, 2010 at 15:39

    Great information here. I have found http://www.vitaminD3world.com very useful with extensive reviews of the data. The site also has links to a tiny micro tablet version of vitamin D which I use. It is great and so small that I just chew it up and dont have to swallow a whole pill. It is also great value with 400 tiny tablets per bottle

  27. Steven Low on February 7, 2010 at 19:35

    Vitamin D does a lot more than what you listed.. here’s a bit more:

    I know Kurt Harris and other sources have a lot of stuff on it as well.

    I’ve definitely increased about 3-5 lbs of lean mass since taking, I recover from fevers that knock people out for 5-7 days in 1-2 days, I rarely get sick, I sleep better, etc.

    I take 10,000 IU per day for about 3-4 months now. It’s great. :)

  28. kayumochi on February 24, 2010 at 13:06

    When I tested I was 31ng. I now take 10,000 iu a day. At the first sign that a cold might be coming on I take 50,000 iu for 3 days. The last time I did this I didn’t even have to take any Vitamin D the third day as I felt like a million bucks. This is, I believe, called The Stoss Protocol.

  29. Lou on March 1, 2010 at 14:54


    Surfers do not tend to have high vitamin D level mainly because vitamin D is washed out of skin while surfing. Also, don’t they have bodycover on anyway? Very poor example…

  30. john p on September 18, 2010 at 09:00

    i just started on d3, just found out i have copd. the copd website recomends d3, you see a cold or flu can mean death for us, at least a hospital stay. i hope it stops my colds, because of billions made by big pharma on this disease, people in the usa don’t realize 14 million diagnosed and half again undiagnosed, over 400,000 or one every minute and half of us die and because of big money who cares? think again when you sneeze.

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