First let’s review, because I haven’t posted on this in sometime. Newer readers are certainly welcome to check out my past many posts on VitD. Or, there’s three specific ones I did back on December 30, 2008 as part of a dozen posts in a day blitz. Here’s the announcement from the 29th, and here’s the first post of twelve (yea, I know: broken video links and such), and you can use the navigation links at the top if you want to see what all was produced that day, 12 posts in all; most substantive. And here’s the three examples:
- Vitamin D Deficiency and Type 1 Diabetes
- Melanoma, Sun, and Its Synthetic Defeat (Sunscreen)
- Vitamin D Deficiency and All Cancer
And so…Because I did so many posts on Vitamin D in the early days of the blog and it was such a hot topic and so many others blogged about it, my posts on it have been few & far between lately. Essentially, lots of people have been taking their 5-10K IU per day, happy for it, reporting absence of colds, flu and other maladies and just going on about life.
It becomes mundane. I take 4K IU in the summer and 6K IU in the winter and maintain a level of 25(OH)D at about ~75 ng/mL. I’ve been doing it for a long while. It’s not news anymore, nor noteworthy. And I’d venture to say that thousands of readers are doing likewise, equally mundane.
Now while some may call this “progress,” I call it covering your ass. While they’re willing to say that they were off by 200%, they just can’t bring themselves to admit that they fucked up to the tune of thousands of percent. Instead, they hedge on the recommendations by including a “safe upper limit” of 4,000 IU.
In this report, the IOM proposes new reference values that are based on much more information and higher-quality studies than were available when the values for these nutrients were first set in 1997. The IOM finds that the evidence supports a role for vitamin D and calcium in bone health but not in other health conditions. Further, emerging evidence indicates that too much of these nutrients may be harmful, challenging the concept that “more is better.”
Blather. There’s no “emerging evidence” that I’ve seen about negative repercussions for vitamin D intake many magnitudes higher than their recommendations.
As one would expect, media outlets such as WSJ fell right in line. That’s the negative spin on it. But just to cover all their bases they had to have an article with a positive spin, at least from the perspective of headline comparisons.
I like Dr. Cannell of The Vitamin D Council, as he’s a pretty frank talker. His take on this news is no exception.
After 13 year of silence, the quasi governmental agency, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), today recommended that a three-pound premature infant take virtually the same amount of vitamin D as a 300 pound pregnant woman. While that 400 IU/day dose is close to adequate for infants, 600 IU/day in pregnant women will do nothing to help the three childhood epidemics most closely associated with gestational and early childhood vitamin D deficiencies: asthma, auto-immune disorders, and, as recently reported in the largest pediatric journal in the world, autism. Professor Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina has shown pregnant and lactating women need at least 5,000 IU/day, not 600. […]
Viewed with different measure, this FNB report recommends that an infant should take 10 micrograms/day (400 IU) and a pregnant woman 15 micrograms/day (600 IU). As a single, 30 minute dose of summer sunshine gives adults more than 10,000 IU (250 micrograms), the FNB is apparently also warning that natural vitamin D input — as occurred from the sun before the widespread use of sunscreen — is dangerous. That is, the FNB is implying that God does not know what she is doing.
Disturbingly, this FNB committee focused on bone health, just like they did 14 years ago. They ignored the thousands of studies from the last ten years that showed higher doses of vitamin D helps: heart health, brain health, breast health, prostate health, pancreatic health, muscle health, nerve health, eye health, immune health, colon health, liver health, mood health, skin health, and especially fetal health. […]
Pregnant women taking 400 IU/day have the same blood levels as pregnant women not taking vitamin D; that is, 400 IU is a meaninglessly small dose for pregnant women. Even taking 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D will only increase the vitamin D levels of most pregnant women by about 10 points, depending mainly on their weight. Professor Bruce Hollis has shown that 2,000 IU/day does not raise vitamin D to healthy or natural levels in either pregnant or lactating women. Therefore supplementing with higher amounts — like 5000 IU/day — is crucial for those women who want their fetus to enjoy optimal vitamin D levels, and the future health benefits that go along with it. […]
Professor Urashima and colleagues in Japan, gave 1,200 IU/day of vitamin D3 for six months to Japanese 10-year-olds in a randomized controlled trial. They found vitamin D dramatically reduced the incidence of influenza A as well as the episodes of asthma attacks in the treated kids while the placebo group was not so fortunate. If Dr. Urashima had followed the newest FNB recommendations, it is unlikely that 400 IU/day treatment arm would have done much of anything and some of the treated young teenagers may have come to serious harm without the vitamin D.
Likewise, a randomized controlled prevention trial of adults by Professor Joan Lappe and colleagues at Creighton University, which showed dramatic improvements in the health of internal organs, used more than twice the FNB’s new adult recommendations.
Finally, the FNB committee consulted with 14 vitamin D experts and — after reading these 14 different reports — the FNB decided to suppress their reports. Many of these 14 consultants are either famous vitamin D researchers, like Professor Robert Heaney at Creighton or, as in the case of Professor Walter Willett at Harvard, the single best-known nutritionist in the world. So, the FNB will not tell us what Professors Heaney and Willett thought of their new report? Why not?
Indeed, why not? But’s it’s pretty much the same story everywhere. On the other hand, who cares? You need to get your health information on your own anyway, and you probably should, anyway. I guess that’s why I’m not getting worked up about this. As reported here, “vitamin D sales have soared, growing faster than those of any supplement, according to The Nutrition Business Journal. Sales rose 82 percent from 2008 to 2009, reaching $430 million.”
So, nobody has been listening to the cloistered authorities at “The Institute of Medicine” up to now, anyway. I see no reason to start now.
Most of my friends, hundreds of patients, and thousands of readers of the Vitamin D Council newsletter (not to mention myself), have been taking 5,000 IU/day for up to eight years. Not only have they reported no significant side-effects, indeed, they have reported greatly improved health in multiple organ systems.
My advice, especially for pregnant women: continue taking 5,000 IU/day until your 25(OH)D is between 50–80 ng/mL (the vitamin D blood levels obtained by humans who live and work in the sun and the mid-point of the current reference ranges at all American laboratories).
Gestational vitamin D deficiency is not only associated with rickets, but a significantly increased risk of neonatal pneumonia, a doubled risk for preeclampsia, a tripled risk for gestational diabetes, and a quadrupled risk for primary cesarean section.
And what has been your experience with vitamin D, readers?