Vitamin D

VITAMIN D Nature’s Magic Bullet
by Helke Ferrie
Vitality June 2009

Can you imagine what would happen if a drug company came out with a single pill that reduces the risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, PMS, SAD, and various autoimmune disorders? There would be a media frenzy the likes of which has never been seen before!  Well, guess what?  Such a drug exists … it is the sun.”

M. F. Holick MD, discoverer of Vitamin D3

At the 32nd annual conference on orthomolecular medicine in 2003, the ballroom at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto was packed with doctors and medical researchers. One of the speakers began by asking: “What would you like me to speak about? Cancer? Osteoporosis? Autoimmune diseases? Psychiatry?” It was Reinhold Vieth of the University of Toronto. His status as someone qualified to address all of the above conditions authoritatively was justified because he is one of the world’s leading authorities on vitamin D.

Vitamin D3 is the single most important precursor (a prohormone) of hormones, vitamins, and minerals that we have. Without this vitamin, the body’s signal systems (hormones, neurotransmitters), and super-catalysts (minerals), cannot enable all other catalysts (vitamins) to cause the liver to create the 600 vitamin/mineral-dependent enzymes our bodies depend on. Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphorus levels, without which our food cannot nourish us properly.

A healthy human body uses first the liver and then the kidneys to convert vitamin D obtained through diet and sunlight into an active form that the body can use. Up until 1998, it was believed that patients with chronic kidney disease are unable to complete the second step.

While still a graduate student in 1970, Michael F. Holick proved that actually every cell in our bodies has D3 receptors, not just the liver and kidneys. Holick also discovered that vitamin D3 is the only active form of Vitamin D, and therefore is essential.

Vitamin D3 prevents 17 types of cancer. Exactly how it prevents breast, colon and prostate cancers is now fully understood. Several long-term studies have shown that simply fortifying a person with 1,100 IU of D3 daily reduces the incidence of cancer by 77% over a three-year period. D3 also protects us against approximately 100 autoimmune diseases.

As well, D3 in therapeutic doses revs up all those activities in the immune system that fight viral and bacterial infection, thus its emerging reputation as “the antibiotic vitamin.” In a historical context, for a century before the advent of antibiotics, it was observed that daily, long-term exposure to sunshine was the most successful cure for tuberculosis. The proof that sunlight can cure rickets and TB won Dr. Niels Ryberg Finson the Nobel Prize in 1903. Rickets in children had been treated since the 1700s by exposure to sunlight. Indeed, the Floating Hospital in Boston in the 19th century was a hospital ship on which rickets-afflicted children were taken on long trips for “heliotherapy.”

The research of the last five years has further shown how D3 works to prevent (and even cure) certain types of liver disease (such as fatty liver), as well as bacterially-caused pregnancy problems, tooth decay, organ rejection in transplant surgery, certain skin diseases (atopic dermatitis, psoriasis), Type I diabetes in children, Multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. D3 also reduces the need for painkillers in chronic pain patients.

Adequate levels of this vitamin in our bodies are only present if we invite sunlight in. Our bodies can only make D3 by exposure to sun. Consequently, when sunlight is geographically or seasonally unavailable, or if (for reasons of bio-individuality) some people cannot expose themselves for too long to sunlight, supplementation is absolutely necessary.

And so, fortified by the very best published science, you can confidently tell your doctor you won’t need the (mercury-laced) ‘flu shot for any strain of influenza because nothing can prevent a ‘flu as effectively as D3. It has been shown that the ‘flu season is strictly associated with seasonal lack of sunlight, and that taking D3 supplements protects you in fall, winter, and spring.

You can also rest assured that your blood pressure will be just fine, too, if you have optimal amounts of D3 in your cells — optimal being dictated by the geographical region you live in: the more sun, the less blood pressure problems; the less sun, the more D3 supplementation is required to normalize and maintain healthy blood pressure. In fact, it is imperative not to take statin drugs and blood thinners for reducing blood pressure, since they prevent D3 from being absorbed, as do aspirin and all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

The sun also protects you against autoimmune diseases. A brief survey of the D3 maps available on the websites cited at the end of this article will show you how access to the sun (or lack of it) correlates with autoimmune disease incidence. PebMed, the international registry of mainstream medical research, lists about 50,000 items on D3 therapeutics and deficiencies.

Recommended Dosages of Vitamin D

Exposure to the sun for at least 20 minutes twice a week is necessary. In a bathing suit in summer, your skin will produce 10,000 IU in an hour. In fall, winter and spring, all Canadians should supplement with optimal amounts — especially lactating mothers and their breast-feeding infants, because human breast milk is virtually devoid of D3 and babies generally can’t sunbathe.

Following that 2003 presentation by Dr. Vieth, I became aware of vitamin D research and the fact that D3 supplementation also protects against sunburn. So, a few summers ago I gave all my grandchildren 2,000 IU with breakfast at the cottage, and found that we could spend the whole day at the glorious sandy beaches in our area without suffering from sunburns. Prior to this discovery, I had always taken them to the beaches in late afternoon to avoid the inevitable burns.

On the subject of Vitamin D for seniors, Drs. Klatz and Goldman in Townsend Letter (April 2009) state: “Americans over age 50 are thought to have a higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. The ability of skin to convert vitamin D to its active form decreases as we age. And the kidneys, which help convert vitamin D to its active form, sometimes do not work as well when people age”. In our latitude, it is necessary to take at least 4,000 IU daily (I take 8,000 IU; the older you are the more you need) of good quality Vitamin D3.

The current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 200 – 600 IU per day, in the words of Dr. Vieth, “offends the most basic principles of pharmacology and toxicology,” making these guidelines “scientifically indefensible.”  The indisputable fact is that everybody, from infancy onwards, needs an absolute bare minimum of 1,000 IU daily just to survive, never mind being protected against future “latency disease,” as described in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2003, vol. 78/5). Children need at least 2,000 IU daily, 10 times the RDA amount of 200 IU, according to The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, July 2008, which further asserts that the RDA’s outdated concepts of toxicity are based on flawed or fraudulent research.

In North American, 42% of all Caucasians are deficient in even the RDA levels of vitamin D, and 60% of African-Americans are even more so because they require more sun to produce sufficient amounts of D3. A Finnish study demonstrated that because Finland gets so little sunlight, it has the world’s highest incidence of Type I diabetes; their government started corrective action about a decade ago (by introducting mandatory fortification of certain foods with Vitamin D).

Overdoses and Caveats

There are precautions necessary depending on the type of skin you have. Dr. Holick’s book and the websites cited in our Resources section give the details. As reported this year in Medical Hypothesis (vol. 72), exposure to the sun through glass may be fatal. Indoor exposure to the sun blocks UVB radiation — the one that creates D3 in your cells  — and increases UVA radiation which alone passes through glass and can cause malignant melanoma.

Being a prohormone as well as a vitamin, D3 is subject to the preventive biological mechanism of self-destruction that kicks in when the body signals it has enough D3. Back in 1999, Vieth and his colleagues challenged the international medical community to provide evidence of toxicity. Today, the National Institutes of Health agrees with him (Archives of Internal Medicine, 169 /6, 2009): you would have to take 40,000 IU daily for a very long time to have symptoms of toxicity. Cancer patients on nutritional therapy take 30,000 IU daily.

Vitamin D2 is toxic! It is useful only to plants, fungi and invertebrate creatures (mammals are vertebrates dependent on D3). If you are victim of some foolish advice and take synthetic D2, calcium will be driven into your arteries producing atherosclerosis, the lead in pesticides and contaminated water and air will be driven into your bones, and the queen of all minerals, magnesium, on which your nervous system and muscles depend, will be driven out in the urine. This was demonstrated years ago by Simon Fraser University researchers led by Dr. J.C. Moon.

Where Do Sunscreens Fit In?

According to www.skinbiology.com: “It now appears that many heavily-used chemical sunscreens may actually increase cancers by virtue of their free radical generating properties. And more insidiously, many commonly used sunscreen chemicals have strong estrogenic actions that may cause serious problems in sexual development and adult sexual function, and may further increase cancer risks.

Chemical sunscreens include:

• Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)

• PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB,  glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA)

• Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate)

• Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate)

• Digalloyl trioleate

• Menthyl anthranilate

• Avobenzone [butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane]

Adding to the problem is that large amounts of applied sunscreens can enter the bloodstream though your skin. This may be a factor in the large increases in cancer (breast, uterine, colon, prostate) observed in regions, such as Northern Australia, where the use of sunscreen chemicals has been heavily promoted by medical groups and the local governments.

Many sunscreens also contain triethanolamine, a compound that can cause the formation of cancer causing nitrosamines in products by combining with nitrite used as preservative and often not disclosed on sunscreen labels.”

Furthermore, Holick’s research has shown that the application of chemical sunscreens results in a reduction in the skin’s ability to produce D3 by a whopping 97.5 per cent!

A point of interest – Canada’s new 2006 pesticide legislation came about when MP Marlene Jennings and her daughter developed serious skin problems in 1999, which they traced back to the pesticides found in popular sunscreen lotions. That got her galvanized into action and new legislation was formulated under the leadership of the late Senator Charles Caccia.

I never approved of any sunscreen products then on the market, because the fine print revealed the presence of toxins I was not prepared to put on my own skin or that of my children and grandchildren. Today, there are a few broad-spectrum sunscreens (brand names??) available that do not block the D3-producing UVB rays, therefore do not promote skin cancer and do not contain pesticides, either. And sunburns in our family were always treated with vitamin E oil only.  Nothing works better (even for diaper rash).

Lawsuits and Campaigns

I had hoped that writing about vitamin D3 would be a holiday from my monthly survey of the cesspool of corruption on which modern medicine floats, but I was mistaken.

When in 2003 Holick’s book on vitamin D3 appeared for the general public, he was interviewed on CBC radio. He told of the (unsuccessful) prosecution initiated against him by dermatologists in the U.S. (who were likely getting kickbacks from sunscreen lotion companies for supporting the lucrative sun-phobia illusion). What was the nature of the prosecution?

He and his colleagues had also vigorously protested the U.S. government’s pronouncing UV radiation a “known human carcinogen.” He observed that “saying that UV radiation causes cancer and should be avoided is akin to saying that water causes drowning, so don’t drink water.”

Since then, Holick, his U.S. colleagues, and Vieth in Canada, have been remarkably successful and making the truth known. However, they actually had to sue the FDA in 2005 to force the administration to reverse the aforementioned public health guidelines on vitamin D3. These served mostly the sunscreen and milk industries — the first wishing to maintain that lucrative sun phobia; the second because drinking more D3-fortified milk is obviously good business. You would have to drink 40 glasses of milk to get the minimum requirement of 1,000 IU of D3 daily. It so happens, that African-Americans don’t drink milk much and they also need a lot more sunlight to make enough D3. They also carry the greatest burden of D3 deficiency-related diseases. Of all children diagnosed with rickets in the U.S., 83 per cent are black.

Citing Constitutional rights which mandate protection for all Americans, and pointing to the historical precedents of food fortification with niacin to prevent pellagra, and with folic acid to prevent birth defects, the Vitamin D Council doctors demanded that D3 now become part of public health initiatives, as required by law.

The suit against the FDA quotes the great Constitutional law expert and US Supreme Court judge Louis Brandeis from a 1928 ruling: “Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.” Given that Canada has the highest rate of Multiple sclerosis, we should inform Ottawa of Brandeis’ observations and initiate a reform of Health Canada’s vitamin D3 policies.

In March 2009, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology announced that there are not really any useful tests for vitamin D. New, refined testing methods will be presented this summer at the 237th national meeting of the American Chemical Society.  Meanwhile, interests other than public health continue to contaminate reform efforts: The Institute of Medicine (IOM), charged with revising those “scientifically insupportable” intake levels for D3, quietly assembled their advisory committee — excluding the vitamin D3 experts, such as Holick and Vieth. The International Vitamin D Council raised hell of course, and we shall see what the IOM will come up with. Fortunately, the sun continues to shine for at least another 4 billion years and we can worship it and ignore the crooks.

Why D3 above all else?

Vitality readers know how bodily systems break down into disease patterns from environmental toxins, and you know about the preventive and curative properties of vitamins and minerals. You also know about the often deadly enslavement to symptom-controlling drugs and killer vaccines served up from Big Pharma’s kitchen.  You might understandably ask: what’s this with vitamin D3’s claim to being a magic bullet when so much else is known to be important as well?

Imagine a total, lasting power outage in Toronto.  That’s a vitamin D3 deficiency. Various generators and candles would deal with the emergency for a while, just as our bodies’ D3 reserves would do from the last fill-up of 10,000 IU obtained from one hour of sunshine in a bathing suit — this reserve lasts about 60 days. Such a power outage would soon incapacitate hospitals (DNA repair), schools (cellular growth), the garbage collection and sewage systems (immune system), telephones and internet (neurotransmitters/hormones), and the city would break down (organs).

Living creatures thrive as long as they know they are children of the earth and that the grace of the universe maintains them – a universe that boasts billions of suns.  One of them is fortunately ours.

Sources & Resources:

James Dowd MD. The Vitamin D Cure, 2009

M. F. Holick MD. The UV Advantage, iBooks, 2003

A. Hoffer MD. Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone, Basic Health, 2008

Z. Rona MD. See his excellent Vitality article on Vitamin D, September 2007.

www.vitamindcouncil.org

www.sunarc.org

www.orthomolecular.org subscribe to their free monthly newsletter

www.lpi.oregonstate.edu website of Linus Pauling Institute

www.Vitasearch.com for monthly reports on nutritional medicine research

Vitality’s website version of this article provides all the sources cited.

The single best source for Vitamin D3 research and how to “use” the sun is Dr. M. F. Holick’s The UV Advantage, iBooks, 2003.  An internet PubMed search will lead to his latest research publications, all found in the leading medical science journals.

The textbook on which is 2003 book is based is Vitamin D – Physiology, Molecular Biology, and Clinical Application, McGraw-Hill, 1999.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 78 (5): 912-119, 2003, on  vitamin D3 deficiency as the source of “latency diseases”.

Diabetes Educator, January 2009 on D3 and diabetes prevention

Seattle Times, April 17, 2008, on the findings in Finland on Type I diabetes and D3 deficiency

Mail Online, UK, February 6, 2009, report on Oxford University’s studies showing D3 levels and incidence of Multiple sclerosis

BBC News, October 13, 2008, reported on a publication in the October 08 issue Archives of Neurology which showed the relationship between D3 and Parkinson’s disease

ScienceDaily  (on-line science service) reported on March 27, 2009, and the BBC reported on March 25, 2008, on research done by the Mayo Clinic and the British Society for Rheumatology respectively. This showed the reduction in inflammation and chronic pain when patients were supplemented with high doses of vitamin D3.

Circulation published in January 2008 the results of research done by Harvard Medical School on vitamin D3 deficiency always being associated with heart and stroke disease.

Orthomolecular News Service, February 2, 2009, reported on the various aspect of vitamin D3 dosage as well as dosage issues regarding vitamins C and E.

The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World Out of Balance and the Cutting-Edge Science that Promises Hope by D. J. Nakazawa, Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2008

Vitamin D3 as the “antibiotic vitamin” is a report from the International Vitamin D Council reported in Science News, Nov. 11, 2006

The fact that glass filters out UVB rays that cause vitamin D3 production is in Medical Hypothesis, vol. 72:434-443, 2009

Scientific American had an excellent article on the latest vitamin D3 research in its November 2007 issue.

The medical journal articles on vitamin D3 and the flu are available for free downloading on the website of the International Vitamin D Council.  The moist important ones are:

  1. J.J. Cannell (the president of the Vitamin D Council) et al. “On the epidemiology of influenza” in Virology Journal, February 25, volume 5/9, 2008
  2. J. J. Cannell et al. “Epidemic influenza and vitamin D” in Epidemiology and Infection, December 2006, vol. 134/6

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, May 14, 2009, reported on the vitamin D-deficiency involved in infections that cause pregnancy problems

Research on liver diseases being mediated through D3 deficiencies was reported at the 73rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in  Orlando, Florida, October 2008

The Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, February 19, 2009, reported on the many research publications showing that tooth decay and vitamin d3 deficiency are causally related.

The need for vitamin d3 supplementation during acute illness was provided by the Garvan Institute of Medical research in Sydney, Australia, and reported in ScienceDaily, May 2, 2009

Vitamin D3 and cancer was reported in the Globe and Mail, June 8, 2007 (by Martin Mittelstaedt), the American Journal of Public Health, vol. 10, 2004, and the moist relevant sources are in Holick’s UV Advantage, 2003, as well as a slew of research best accessed through PubMed by searching  with the key words “vitamin D + cancer”. Most of it is provided b y the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy.  A journal that has lots on cancer and vitamin D is the Archives of Internal Medicine and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

On blood pressure and the influence of the seasons due to availability of D3, see Archives of Internal Medicine, vol. 169/1:75 ff, 2009, Circulation, vol. 117/4:503 ff, 2008 and Hypertension, vol. 52/5:828 ff, 2008

Wikipedia’s entry on Vitamin D was last updated in May 2009 and is very good, except for the RDA issue and the tests.

Dr. Zoltan Rona’s Vitality article of September 2007 is highly recommended. Available on-line.

The new tests being developed for vitamin D3 levels was reported in ScienceDaily, March 27, 2009.

The Institute of Medicine conflicts of interest and inappropriate committee selection was reported in the International Vitamin D Council Vitamin D Newsletter of January 20, 2009.  To see the details got to www.nationalacademies.org/cp/committeeview

For the full story ion Canada’s 2006 pesticide act download for free my book Dispatches from the War Zone of Environmental Health, Kos, 2004, on my website www.kospublishing.com and start on page 54.

The ruling by US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is found in United States versus Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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