Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vitamin D PSA

As school has started again and the rains won't be far behind (at least here in Portland, Oregon, USA), I thought it time to bring up Vitamin D supplementation.

The last few winters, I've suffered from what seemed like a never ending series of colds. From the beginning of November all the way through about March, I was constantly sick. Since I have a four year-old and was under a great deal of stress, I just chalked it up to that.

However, January of last year, I started reading about Vitamin D, and began supplementing with around 2000 units a day using a combination of cod liver oil and D3 oil gel caps (both the specific type of Vitamin D and the specific type of pill turn out to be important). This is actually much less than the Vitamin D Council recommends, but much more than the RDA, so to be cautious, I decided to split the difference.

Lo and behold, I haven't been sick since. And I'm not alone. Cardiologist Dr. William Davis hasn't been sick once in the three years since he started supplementing with Vitamin D.

If you think about Vitamin D in terms of evolution, this all makes perfect sense. We've gone from running around outside in loin cloths all summer long to slathering on SPF 5000 before venturing out to watch the sunset. The older you get, the more you use sunblock, the farther you live from the equator, and the darker your skin color, the more likely it is that you aren't getting enough Vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency causes many more problems than just an increased susceptibility to the common cold and influenza (i.e., cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, and periodontal disease).

But isn't the thought of NOT GETTING SICK AT ALL this winter enough?

If not, check out the Vitamin D Council. Actually, check it out anyway. Here are a few quotes to get you started...
"Because vitamin D is so cheap and so clearly reduces all-cause mortality, I can say this with great certainty: Vitamin D represents the single most cost-effective medical intervention in the United States."

~ Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, Medical Director, Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

"I believe [vitamin D] is the number one public health advance in medicine in the last twenty years."

~ Dr. John Whitcomb, Aurora Sinai Medical Center

"This is like the Holy Grail of cancer medicine; vitamin D produced a drop in cancer rates greater than that for quitting smoking, or indeed any other countermeasure in existence."

~ Dennis Mangan, clinical laboratory scientist
Okay, I admit that I have no clue who these people are, but still...


  1. Not to rain on your parade or anything, but I get really skeptical when I'm told there's some sort of Holy Grail of anything. I mean, when I was in college I started megadosing with Vitamin C because I spent most of high school with a sinus infection. Did it work? Sure. Who knows? Placebo effect? Maybe.

    I also tend to get at least one summer cold, which makes less sense since it's the time of year when I'm getting the most Vitamin D. Whatever. Maybe I'll try it this year. I'm getting over a cold right now and I'd love not to deal with this again for a long time.

  2. 5,000 daily for me still allowed the occasional flu-like symptoms. 10,000 for the last several months, so far so good. I have used "Stoss Therapy" at first feelings of flu: 1,000units D per pound of body weight daily for three days, knocks it out by the second day. I recommend 10,000 to most of my psych patients and have seen some with MRSA become infection free and many depressed people have improved mood. The ideal blood level appears to be 80-150 ng/Ml (upper end and beyond of norm lab range of 30-100).

  3. @Psych Resource

    Wow. 10,000? What kind of blood levels do you have with that?

    Also, do you try to balance with Vitamin A and/or K2?

    I hadn't heard of "Stoss Therapy," but I Googled it. I might try that if the less-than-dreaded Swine Flu hits...

  4. @Daniel

    Ah! That's who you are!

    You've been taking Vitamin A for some time, right? What kind of benefits have you noticed? Any negatives? (I imagine that with your high D intake there wouldn't be any.)

    I don't (yet) supplement with A or K2, but I do try to eat things like liver and fermented cheeses to try and up my intake.


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