Vitamin D in the UK

In a recent article in the Financial Times by Sam Apple, Why Governments are Selling Vitamin D Short, this statement is made: “For Britons, the most alarming aspect of these government responses is that people living in the UK have so much to lose. For much of the year, it is impossible in this country to obtain vitamin D from the sun.”

One of the best warriors in this battle for your health in vitamin D deficiency is Oliver Gillie of the Health Research Forum of the UK.  Mr. Gillie has written three major reports on vitamin D and health and the last one on Scotland describes a country in crisis for health because of vitamin D deficiency. “Scotland’s Health Deficit: An Explanation and A Plan”.  In this report we see not only the problems with detailed explanation of the diseases that are caused but also a plan for reducing the impact of the diseases through improved use of vitamin D.  THIS REPORT IS A MUST READ FOR ALL DOCTORS AND MEDICAL PROVIDERS!

People located above about 38 degrees latitude have much to lose and much to gain in the understanding of vitamin D.  I think ultimately that the UK and Canada will lead the world in implementing the understanding for two reasons.

1. As just stated, these two countries are well into the northern latitudes and for much of the year the sun is not available for the body to make vitamin D.

2. Both of the these countries have nationalized healthcare systems so it is much to their benefit to move quickly.

The UK medical economy is two and one half times less than the US medical economy and the Canadian medical economy is two times less than the US economy.  So allowing people to be healthy gives them a direct savings to the amount of money that government has to spend.  This money could then be used to stimulate the economy in other ways through government spending.  The difference in spending is the amount of money that insurance companies get.

In the US where the medical economy is so dominated by the insurance industry it will be a much tougher battle.  You can get a feel for this in the battle that is now going on in the US Congress about health insurance.  This battle is being described in ‘double speak’ as health care reform.  It is really health insurance reform.

I say to the UK and Canada not to wait until the US decides that it wants to move.  This will significantly delay your benefits.  I do understand how closely the provider institutions are intertwined and I say to not let this slow you down.  Your largest battle will be against the pharmaceutical manufacturers as their markets will shrink from the use of vitamin D.  You will not have the battle with the insurers as you have already won.  Lead us forward to health.

Go UK and Canada!!    –  Pandemic Survivor


Major Newspaper Gets It

The Financial Times of the UK needs to be awarded bright gold star for having the courage to publish a story that is the greatest understanding of health ever in the history of man.  I know that seems to be too grand a statement but when you find one thing that has an impact on 2000 genes or about 10 percent of the genome and is the primary factor in preventing all chronic disease then maybe it is not grand enough.

Here is the article: Why Governments are Selling Vitamin D Short – Sam Apple – published October 23, 2009 Financial Times

The Financial Times is a lot like the US paper the Wall Street Journal and is respected worldwide by financial investors for the accuracy of its information.

Sam Apple starts by explaining the frustration of the researchers.  He then describes why governments are not investing in the understanding by saying that it is the money and the inertia to overcome the ‘baggage of other vitamins’.  He will give you an incite into the history of vitamin D and even gets into the toxicity problem.

The only thing that Mr. Apple leaves out is the suffering of the millions of people that are deficient in this most vital substance.  After having been in torturous pain and on the verge of death because of my deficiency my frustration is about 100 times higher than the researchers.

It is about the MONEY!!!

Governments consider the economy much more significant than your health.  If you recall from a prior post the principles of former US Secretary of Health Leavitt where ‘markets before mandates’ was fourth and to ‘value life’ was ninth or last.  I suspect that most policy makers just do not understand the significance of how vitamin D affects the body and prevents disease states.  What is interesting is that their own health is suffering because of this failure in understanding.

It may be that it is more about the money than Sam Apple even understands.  If the researchers are correct and I know that they are based solely on my recovery then the medical economy could shrink by 25 to 50 percent and the centers of commerce would change significantly.  This could have a huge destabilizing affect on the world’s economies is one way to look at it.  So governments are gambling your health against a stable economy.  This sounds a lot like war.  It is.

If you want a better understanding of this war then read these post on the health care crisis:

Celebrate this small victory of a skirmish in the battle of understanding for your health by GOING INTO THE SUN!  – Pandemic Survivor

Vitamin D – Testing Serum Levels

Vitamin D is an extremely vital substance that is formed in your body when ultra violet B radiation, UVB, converts cholesterol in your skin to cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3).  The Vitamin D3 then forms a prehormone,  25(OH)D that converts to a ‘steroid’, calcidiol.  The importance of calcidiol is that it targets over 2000 genes in the human body.  That is about 10  percent of genome or the total amount of genes that directs our biological functions.  It is also implicated in cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disease, hypertension, bone diseases, cavities and periodontal disease, pain, muscle strength, birth defects, immune function, and mental health in depression and schizophrenia.  The seriousness of these diseases and the fact that everyone uses vitamin D at a different rate is why you should test and not just guess at what you ‘think’ may be an adequate amount.

The old understanding was that all of the calcitriol was made in the kidney and circulated to all other places in the body where it was used.  The new understanding is that every cell in the body uses the ubiquitous storage form of 25(OH)D to make the calcitriol as it is needed.  This is exciting as genes get turned off and on and cells communicate with each other through the aid of vitamin D.  Please read the physiology at the Vitamin D Council.

As you would imagine it is very important to keep your storage of form vitamin D level high enough so that all of these really good things can happen within your biological functions.  This has been part of the problem as scientists tried to correlate the active form of vitamin D or calcitriol to disease states in your body.  There was no correlation.  However, in the 1970’s the correlation between disease and the storage form of vitamin D, 25(OH)D,  was discovered to be significant.  So what was happening with the active form in your blood was not what was happening with the active form in the rest of your body.

So it is the storage form of the vitamin D that we are most interested in maintaining at a correct level for health.  The amount of the storage form, 25(OH)D, has been found in typical sunny countries to be in the range of 54 ng/ml to 90 ng/ml.  (Benefits and Requirements for Vitamin D for Optimal Health, Grant and Holick at )  So is this the correct range for health?  It would seem that this is most likely the case.  The researchers are saying that a significant number of chronic diseases could be eliminated by keeping it within this range.  See chart by Dr. Garland and Carrole Baggerly at GrassrootsHealth disease prevention chart.  (pdf)

When the level of 25(OH)D increases, it appears from the extrapolation of many different studies that disease rates are significantly reduced.  If you look at breast cancer for example from the above chart you see that the incidence rate decreases by 80 percent in the low 50 ng/ml range.  I suspect as more research is done that we can find significant treatment and not just prevention at higher levels.  To think that when you reach the level of a sunny country that rates of breast cancer become extremely low is exciting considering what is happening with this serious disease in the northern latitudes.  Does this bear out in the studies of breast cancer by latitude?  In other words as you get closer to the equator does the breast cancer rate go down.  The answer is yes as you can see from SUNARC Breast Cancer Studies the mortality rate is about half in south Texas of what it is in New England.

So does everyone’s serum level of vitamin D reach the same amount with the same intake of vitamin D3?   The answer is a definite no and much research is needed to better understand why this is the case.  About sixty percent of the variation is due to difference in weight which makes it easier to determine how much to take.  If you are a 150 lb person you could expect your serum 25(OH)D to increase by 1 ng/ml for 100 IU of vitamin D that you take.  If you found that your serum level was 20 ng/ml,  then to get to 60 ng/ml or an increase of 40 ng/ml you would need to take about 4000 IU per day.  This information was obtained from Dr. Heaney’s work at Creighton University and his video presentation through GrassrootsHealth and UCSD public TV is well worth watching even if it is 50 minutes long.  It will answer many of your questions about vitamin D deficiency and how much we need and the levels of safety.

So the thrust of this is that if you weigh more,  then you need to take more to reach the desired level of vitamin D.  Another good method to achieve the desire level is that suggested by Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council home page.  That is you start out by taking 5000 IU of D3 per day and then have your serum level tested after three months.

For children Dr. Cannell suggest that 1000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight per day will get you to a reasonable level.  If your child has any significant disease state such as asthma or autism then you should have your child tested regularly initially to be sure that you are given them enough for health.  Here is Dr. Cannell’s newsletter on pediatrics.

D3 Test

There are several methods for having your vitamin D tested.  I think that it is best to have a doctor do it so that you can discuss the validity of the data and how it relates to health.  Not only that, if you doctor is not up to speed on the research you may help get him there.  However, if you have read my two most recent posts then you know that not all doctors are on board.  I have taken on the quest of finding the places online that you can use:

Vitamin D Council:  $65 per test

GrassrootsHealth: here you join the national survey and fill out a short form about your current health at $40 per test.

In the above test you get a test kit in the mail.  You prick your finger and do a blood smear and send the kit back in the mail and receive the test results some time later.

Life Extension: This test is $63 and you get your serum drawn at a testing facility in your town or the one closest to you.

At your doctor’s office.  The prices vary significantly depending on how much the doctor wants to add to the test for drawing the blood and interpreting the results and advising you.  I have typically seen the number between $150 and $300.  If your insurance does not pay then you may want to use one of the methods above.

Understanding the meaning of the results: Sometimes the test will include both the steroid form or calcitriol and the storage form or calcidiol or 25 hydroxy-vitamin D or 25(OH)D.  It is only the 25(OH)D level that you are interested about.

The typical reference range or some may think ‘normal’ range is 20 ng/ml to 100 ng/ml.  Some people who spend large amounts of time in the sun with their clothes off may have values of 125 ng/ml or higher such as life guards in the summertime.  There is not any case of extremely high values of 25(OH)D with sun exposure.  The NIH fact sheet that says that anything sustained below 200 ng/ml is safe.  See table 1.  NIH Vitamin D Fact Sheet

You know that you are getting enough when your test comes in above 50 ng/ml.  If you are consistently above 80 ng/ml then you may want to consider reducing the amount of vitamin D that you are getting.

D2 Test If you have taken D2.

When you get your 25(OH)D test result it will most likely show only the total of 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D3.  If you have not had any vitamin D2, then your result will show the total of 25(OH)D3.  In some cases where the patient is being aggressively treated with the 50,000 IU D2 then it may show both D2 and D3 results.

Keep healthy serum levels between 50 ng/ml to 80 ng/ml or just be a ‘sunny country’.   – Pandemic Survivor

Vitamin D and the Doctor II

Digging deeper into the perception that doctors bring on an emerging treatment that could reduce the size of their practice by 25 to 50 percent is an enigma.  After all doctors were given the task to ‘do no harm’.  This is where  the metal meets the road.  What is doing harm?  This is a cultural question, a question among friends, a question among enemies, a medical question, and a legal question.  In what ever form we chosen to engage this question it for sure leads to a quest.

Does withholding information from a patient constitute harm.  It has long been the practice of medicine that harm is done when we introduce a substance to the body that causes disease or we do a procedure that causes harm.  It has often thought to be wise to hold critical information about the suspected course of a disease from the patient to prevent them from getting discouraged and bringing increase to the negative impact of the placebo effect.  So what happens when we withhold information and more importantly withhold a substance that can have a beneficial outcome for the patient.

I am sure that there have been many cases where the air has been withheld from a person and this has lead to a negative outcome.  So how is it that the medical profession has been able to withhold sunshine from people without being convicted of committing harm to entire generations.  We go after parents that do not feed their children properly and call it child abuse and yet there for 50 years or more are the warnings to stay out of the sun as it will cause you harm.

Going to the doctor and telling them that you want to have a test done to see how much time you have spent in the sun will most likely bring ridicule as we discussed in the previous post with a doctor treating a doctor.  And yet there are doctors that know it is their responsibility to bring you the best treatment possible and have kept up with the science.  It may be in your best interest to seek another doctor if your present physician ridicules you.  This of course is not just about vitamin D as much as it is about doctor patient relationships and how the doctor perceives your own understanding of your body and your ability to read and understand simple medical suggestions.

There is so much ‘junk science’ out there and a lot of it is pushed as modern medical practice simply for the sake of making money.  Our medical system is sick and needs to be sent to the doctor for a check up and most likely a surgical procedure for a ‘corruptectomy’.   Our government health organization have been bought off and are run by people with too many associations with the companies that they are trying to keep in check.  It just blows my mind to think that we can let companies get so far down the road in misadventure that we are able to fine them over a billion dollars like what just happened to Pfizer.  Think of the suffering that most have resulted from the need for such a large fine.  I believe that some modern medicine has truly fallen into the current day ‘snake oil for healing’ lies.

So what do we do with doctors that just simply follow the modern guidelines for treating patients without keeping up with a more modern understanding.  Nothing!  If they are following guidelines which is what you want through your government then there is nothing that you can do.  In the meantime another patient dies from lack of ‘air’.

The only way that you can tell if your doctor is giving you the best treatment is his willingness to talk with you without treating you like you are an idiot.  To take the time to explain what his thinking is about your disease and what he believes is the best course of treatment for you.  However, when new emerging technologies come through what do you do.  If the technology is believed to cause no harm then what is the point in your doctor not allowing you to proceed.  If your doctor is not willing to discuss benefits and possible harms then find another because as far as your doctor is concerned you are just a means of income for him.

This is the case with vitamin D.  Populations that live in sunny countries have 25(OH)D levels that typically range from 54 to 90 ng/ml of this storage form of vitamin D and this does no harm.  So what is wrong with you taking enough of this natural substance, D3?  In particular if it causes a positive outcome for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and hundreds of other types of chronic disease.

Doctors were told in medical school that vitamin D was a bad thing because it could cause your serum calcium to spike and this would cause as my doctor suggested ‘your organs to turn to stone’.  It seems now that after much reading that the toxicity problem is primarily with D2 and not D3 because D2 is made from yeast and other fungus by radiating it with UVB.  The problem comes from over irradiation which causes isomers to from that are called toxisterols.  D3 is typically made by using solvent to extract it from lamb’s fat and wool so it is not likely to have toxisterols.

So your doctor is a really good guy that does keep up with the research and understands the importance of vitamin D but has not yet reached the understanding that D3 is much better for you than D2.  He writes you a prescription for you to take 50,000 D2 once per week.  D2 is presently the only thing that your pharmacist can give you unless he is a compounding pharmacist.  At this point it would be wise to ask you doctor if you can take D3 and not D2.  Then just go buy the D3 from a company like BioTech Pharmacal in the 50,000 IU capsules.

There is more complexity here than just going into the sun for a while to get our vitamin D although this is most likely the best way to become replete.  It would be great if we all lived below 30 degrees latitude.  However, with modern testing techniques we can be sure that we are within a serum range of D that could possibly give us health and do us no harm.

But above all else — Go into the Sun!    – Pandemic Survivor

Vitamin D and the Doctor

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”–Arthur Schopenhauer.

This nineteenth century German philosopher had it right.  I believe that we are still in the ridicule stage and that the violent opposition stage will be played out in the courts as awareness becomes more public about the negative impact of vitamin D deficiency.  The politicians will allow the court cases because of the masses of people that start become aware of their own disease and the dying and suffering of their friends and family from vitamin D deficiency.

I apologize for not writing more because I had become bitter and downcast.  This has not been a more pleasant side of my recovery.  Even though I have been through the trials and hard times of serious disease I am now grateful for how it has strengthen my faith and now better understand my responsibility to you to bring you education and understanding.  I do praise the spirit of hope, love, and acceptance.  I have been trying to write about the emotional recovery side of the disease and it has brought back a lot of ‘emotional’ pain.

So how are doctors reacting to the publicity about vitamin D and its impact on general health.  It is a very ‘mixed’ bag.  Many have recognized the research and are starting to treat their patients with testing and supplementation of vitamin D.  Others are just sure that their patients are all ‘idiots’ after the fashion of the TV character Dr. House.  The attitude is, “I have been trained and know much better than you ever will and this stuff in the press is just ‘junk science’.”

I have really been alarmed as we have moved into ‘vitamin D winter’ in the northern latitudes and there has not been a large national discussion about the benefits of vitamin D and its affect on the immune system in particular with the seasonal outbreaks of the flu.  See what Dr. John Cannell has to say at the Vitamin D Council. Vitamin D and the Flu. Here you can plainly see an example of a doctor that has reacted and one in the same family practice that has not in Georgia.

Also please read Dr. Cannell’s May newsletter about the flu and vitamin D:  I know that I have repeated this many times but it breaks my heart to think about the needless death of children and pregnant women.

I will relay this story of a pregnant woman that I know that is a medical professional.  She has been one of the few that has not had flu like symptoms in the large hospital where she works and she has been taking enough vitamin D to be replete.

During one of her regular visits to her doctor, she decided that she should have her vitamin D level tested.  She was chastised by her physician for falling into the ‘trap of something not in the medical guideline’.  Remember now we are talking about two doctors talking to each other and the person in responsible charge for the health of her patient tells the other doctor that she just does not know what she is talking about.  My friend had read the many research papers on vitamin D in particular those by Dr. Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina.  This is a professor of pediatrics and has done extensive research on pregnant women and vitamin D.  Here is some of his work at Google Scholar:   Also she is familiar with this newsletter from the Vitamin D Council on pregnancy and gestation.   She decided not to engage and just left the office visit steaming mad.  She has decided to have another doctor order her vitamin D test.

So here we have two doctors that just results in ridicule of current research.  How is this suppose to work with just plain everyday folk that put their trust in the medical profession.  You know it makes me think of two things.  First consider how long we struggled with the understanding of tobacco and how it affected health.  It was ridicule and then finally submission under the weight of government court battles with that industry.  With vitamin D there have been large cohort studies and many more epidemiological studies. With tobacco to my knowledge there have not been cohort studies and just a few epidemiological studies.  The government acted because of the rich reward that they saw in tax and penalty income from the tobacco companies.  Also here there was a substance being put into our bodies and not just the withholding of knowledge by our professionals on research that dates to early part of the twentieth century.  If we had been a vitamin D replete population I wonder how the tobacco trials would have played out.

Second it is like an episode of House being played out in real life.  I am sure that we will never see an episode of House where the patient is found to have vitamin D deficiency and that is the cause of the failure of their immune systems and endocrine system.  Modern medicine has been practiced on a population deficient in vitamin D and this includes all testing, research, and practice guidelines.  If this ever plays out on House then we will know as a society that we have overcome this certain tragedy.  Also the government will definitely be slow to act because as some researchers have stated that a vitamin-D-replete population would cause a reduction of twenty five to fifty percent of our medical economy. What would happen to all that tax income and how would we pay for all of the older folks that did not die when ‘they were suppose to’.

Hold onto your chairs folks because if this change starts to play out in the courts then it will be just like the tobacco trials except there will many more people affected as in everyone.  Just think you can tune into the TV every night and watch your favorite news channel as the court battles are engaged.  I am sure the lawyers are just licking their chops, but they are also slow to act because there have not been any trials of significance where a substance was withheld that caused the death and suffering of millions.

More likely the large institutions will control the media and it will be bloggers and face to face conversations with friends that result in a replete population over many decades.  However, medical professionals that I know say that this is now moving through the systems faster than any change they have seen previously.

With great hope I look forward to that stage of great health for everyone when we begin to accept the truth of sunshine and vitamin D as being ‘self-evident’.

We are in ‘vitamin D winter’ in the northern hemisphere so take care to be sure that you are replete.  Follow the instructions on the home page of the Vitamin D Council.

– Be sure to supplement!!!  – Pandemic Survivor