Monday, December 21, 2009

Do 250,000 North American babies die each year due to vitamin D deficiency?

Recent evidence has shown that pregnant mothers who were given 4,000 IU (ten times the usual dose) of vitamin D daily had only half the risk of giving birth to premature babies as those who were not supplemented. [1] That amount can also be produced by about 20 minutes of full- body exposure to non-burning sunlight at midday.

The importance of this information is shown in the fact that annually, half of all premature babies die in the first month after birth, according to the March of Dimes.[2] In North America, about 500,000 premature births occur annually.[2] If vitamin D supplementation could prevent half of these deaths, that would save the lives of 250,000 babies per year. Worldwide, the lives saved might be as many as 7 million, since approximately 13 million babies are born prematurely each year. We also know that the average cost for each premature baby in the first year of life is about $49,000.

Premature babies, of course, are also low-birth-weight babies in most cases, which present an additional problem. Here is one more reason for mothers to get back in the sunlight: the potential for low birth weight in their babies.

Low birth weight is associated with poor mood, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and other problems during childhood and afterward. Recent research shows that low birth weight is related to exposure by pregnant women to winter temperatures during a critical developmental time for the fetus.[3] [4] This could indicate vitamin D deficiency of the pregnant mother during “vitamin D winter,” the time of year in northern latitudes when the sun is too low in the sky to produce vitamin D. The answer, of course, is to use a tanning bed or take vitamin D3 supplements (3,000-5,000 IU) during the winter. Remember never to burn!

Those who make a living frightening people out of the sunlight are responsible for much of the vitamin D deficiency in the population of North America. Don’t expect them to change. Non-burning sunlight is a wonderful gift for health, and we must stop the insanity that is causing vitamin D deficiency. The child needs every possible advantage prior to birth, and one of the advantages is a mom with high vitamin D levels. The only source of vitamin D for the fetus is the mother’s body, and the only natural way to obtain vitamin D is exposure to sunlight.

[1] Hollis, B. and Wagner C. Report from an international conference on vitamin D in Bruges, Belgium.
[2] March of Dimes statement Oct 4, 2009, based on World Health Organization (WHO) statistics.
[3] [1] Elter K, et al. Exposure to low outdoor temperature in the midtrimester is associated with low birth weight. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynecol 2004;44:553-7.
[4] Murray, L. et al. Links of Season and outdoor ambient temperature: effects on birth weight. Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Nov;96(5 Pt 1):689-95.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Melanoma: Midsummer Night’s Dream or Vitamin D-Deficiency Nightmare?

One of the most interesting medical research papers to arrive in recent memory is a 2009 study reported in the British Journal of Dermatology entitled, “Melanoma epidemic: a midsummer night’s dream?” [1] In it the authors make the case that melanoma is not caused by sunlight, but rather by an increasing diagnosis of benign lesions as melanoma. In other words, small spots on the skin that are harmless, and that in the past would have been classified as benign, are now being called stage-one melanoma. The authors point out that new diagnoses of stage-one melanoma have increased dramatically over the past few years, but new diagnoses of stage-two, -three and -four melanomas have not increased at all.

Some have suggested that the lack of increase in the latter stages of Melanoma is due to quick removal of the type-one melanomas, which prevents their progression to full-blown cancers. However, the authors point out that those in the study with type-two, three and four melanomas had not been previously diagnosed with type-one, and therefore could not have been “saved” by removal of type-one; the advanced cases were new presentations--people who had not been previously diagnosed with any stage of melanoma.

The case of these dermatologists—that melanoma is a “midsummer night’s dream”—is compelling. Obviously, millions of people who had nothing more than harmless lesions have been diagnosed with melanoma and have had their lesions removed surgically.

The researchers ended their analysis with this statement: “These findings should lead to a reconsideration of the treatment of ‘early’ lesions, a search for better diagnostic methods to distinguish them from truly malignant melanomas, re-evaluation of the role of ultraviolet radiation and recommendations for protection from it, as well as the need for a new direction in the search for the cause of melanoma.”

I can only say “amen” to this conclusion. However, these are not the first dermatologists to question the “epidemic” of melanoma and deny that sunlight is the cause. Dr. Bernard Ackerman, a celebrated dermatologist, wrote a monograph of several hundred pages entitled, Sunlight and the “Epidemic’ of Melanoma, Myth on Myth, in which he made the same argument about the supposed melanoma epidemic being due to incorrect diagnoses.[2] Dr. Arthur Rhodes, another dermatologist, has also given examples of many people who have died with real melanoma that occurred on areas of the body that were never exposed to sunlight.[3] These unfortunate people, believing that the lesions they discovered could not be melanoma because there was no sun exposure, failed to get help until it was too late.

Meanwhile, the world becomes more and more deficient in vitamin D due to the efforts of the “sunscare” movement that would have us believe that sunlight, one of God’s greatest gifts to living beings, is public enemy number one. This has resulted in incredible rates of vitamin D deficiency which have further resulted in an increase in at least 18 major cancers including breast, prostate and colon cancers. It has also resulted in increasing rates of heart disease, infections including flu, autism, and numerous other maladies that I discuss and fully document in my book. Never has there been a greater fraud than the push to scare people out of the sun to avoid a disease—melanoma—that is not an epidemic at all, and whose risk is increased by sun avoidance. Non-burning sunlight exposure is absolutely necessary for optimal human health.

Not only is the “epidemic” of melanoma a midsummer night’s dream, it has become a vitamin D-deficiency nightmare.

[1] N.J. Levell, C.C. Beattie,* S. Shuster and D.C. Greenberg* Melanoma epidemic: a midsummer night’s dream? British Journal of Dermatology 2009;161:630–634
[2] Ackerman, A. Sun and the “Epidemic” of Melanoma, Myth on Myth. Ardor Scribendi, LTD, New York, 2008
[3] Rhodes, A. Guest editorial, Melanoma’s Public Message. Skin and Allergy News 2003;34:1-4

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Will vitamin D help the U.S. dominate the 2012 Olympics?

Vitamin D may indeed help the U.S. dominate the next summer Olympics. So says an online article at

The article cites a new scientific paper, of which I was a coauthor(1), that presents compelling evidence that optimal vitamin D levels, produced by exposure to sunlight or sunlamps, dramatically improves strength, reaction time and endurance while profoundly reducing athletic injuries. It also increases the number and size of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Most athletes, particularly winter athletes, are very low in vitamin D levels. When there is a correction of that deficiency, performance improves and injuries subside.

I have tried to get this information to the Utah Jazz for more than two years, but have not been able to get an appointment. The Jazz had more injuries than any team I have ever seen and still managed to make the playoffs. Their coaching is superb; no one is better than Jerry Sloan. But their listless play on the road and their incredible injury count screams that the team is vitamin D deficient. So, we might also have a headline that says, "Vitamin D may help the Utah Jazz (or some other struggling team) win the NBA championship in 2010." I will continue to try to find a team that will listen. Interested parties may contact me at

Dr. John Cannell (the lead author of the paper) and I have nearly finished a book entitled "Quicker, Stronger, Faster with vitamin D." It will expatiate on the materials in the paper and furnish additional information.

In the meantime, all of you who are athletes should have your vitamin D levels assessed. If you are deficient, a bit more sunshine and vitamin D may just help you win your next competition.

(1) Cannell JJ, Hollis BW, Sorenson MB, Taft TN, Anderson JJ. Athletic Performance and Vitamin D. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Apr 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vitamin D: Our best protection against swine flu?

A headline reads, “Officials Race to Contain Swine Flu.” Another says, “CDC: Swine Flu Cases In NYC Rise To 45.” Still another screams, “Swine flu spreads to Middle East, Asia-Pacific.”

Strangely, there are no headlines that read, “Government delivers vitamin D3 to the masses to thwart flu pandemic.” It is worrisome that the least expensive, most effective therapy for flu prevention is hardly ever mentioned, probably because it sells no expensive drugs. For those who fear the flu and seek the best method of protection against it, I refer them to my earlier blogs on the subject in hopes that the information may ease apprehensions and save a few lives along the way. Here are four posts that explain the critical importance of high vitamin D levels to prevent flu.

I implore you to read the posts and the references that accompany them. The information could save your life!

Friday, April 17, 2009

NIF is back. The sunlight and vitamin D health resort will open in June!

Come learn about vitamin D, sunlight, and health while you lose weight, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and blood sugar and improve your vitality and wellbeing. Most people are severely vitamin D-deficient, and the education they receive may save their lives.

My wife, Vicki, and I previously owned one of the most popular destination health resorts (or “spas”) in the world, known as National Institute of Fitness (NIF). We are now opening another at our Nevada ranch, located next to Great Basin National Park. We will have one of the lowest prices in the industry and in addition to our work with nutrition and exercise, our education will also concentrate on the health benefits of vitamin D. We will still be known as NIF (Nevada Institute of Fitness).

Here are some of the results our guests experienced at our first resort:
During our 20+ years at NIF, our clients lost 110 tons of fat, two thirds of diabetic guests were free of all medication in less than two weeks, and many others recovered from high cholesterol, lupus, arthritis, migraines, hypertension, angina, arthritis and allergies. The institute was consistently ranked as one of the world’s best destination spas and was featured in major newspaper articles in the New York Times as well as other papers throughout the US and in Japan and Singapore.

You can learn more about our operation at

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Do you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Can vitamin D help?

Both dietary and supplemental vitamin D reduce the risk of RA, which is an autoimmune disease—a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue. In a study of 29,000 women, those who ranked in the top third of vitamin D consumption had one-third less risk of RA.[1] It is likely that a greater vitamin D intake would have produced much better results, since it is virtually impossible to ingest sufficient vitamin D from food and multivitamins.

In studies performed on mice, vitamin D was shown to inhibit the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and minimize or prevent symptoms.[2] The same is true in humans. In subjects diagnosed with a form of the disease known as inflammatory arthritis, the lower the vitamin D levels are, the higher is the disease activity.[3] Vitamin D's anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to reduce the autoimmune response are likely responsible for the improvement in RA.[4]

Investigations also find that RA is more common in winter, consistent with the idea that vitamin D is a major factor in reducing the risk.[5] In a report from researchers in Ireland, it was shown that 70% of patients had low vitamin D levels and that 26% were severely deficient.[6] However, in that report, 21 ng/ml was considered as the deficiency level and 10 as the severe deficiency level. A level of 21 is dangerously deficient. The ideal level of vitamin D is 50-60 ng/ml. Using those numbers, it is likely that all of these patients ranged between deficient and severely deficient.

In our health institute/resort, we observed that guests with arthritis often regained full range of motion in their joints from a week to a month after beginning a program. I assumed that our anti-inflammatory vegetarian nutrition was responsible for the positive results. Now I realize that many of the benefits came from sunlight exposure during outdoor exercise.

RA prevention and relief are two more reasons to obtain regular, non-burning sunlight exposure. Remember that sunscreens can prevent 99% of vitamin D production by the skin.

[1] Merlino, L. et al. Vitamin D intake is inversely associated with rheumatoid arthritis: Results from the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Arthritis & Rheumatism 2004;50:72-77.
[2] Cantorna, M. et al. 1,25-Dihydroxycholecalciferol inhibits the progression of arthritis in murine models of human arthritis. J Nutr1998;128:68-72.
[3] Patel, S. et al. Serum vitamin D metabolite levels may be inversely associated with current disease activity in patients with early inflammatory polyarthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2007;56;2143-49.
[4] Cutolo, M. et al. Vitamin D in rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune Rev 2007;7:59-64.
[5] Cutolo, M. et al. Circannual vitamin D serum levels and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis: Northern versus Southern Europe. Clin Exp Rheumatol 2006;24:702-4.
[6] Haroon, M. Report to European Union League Against Rheumatism , June 13, 2008.

Our medical advisory institutions need to wake up and smell the vitamin D!

The following is an approximate copy of a letter I sent to the Institute of Medicine, regarding their forthcoming vitamin D recommendations.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinions regarding the forthcoming determination by the Institute of Medicine as to whether the current recommended daily allowance of vitamin D should be revised to a higher level. In my opinion, the decision will be one of the most important in the annals of medicine, as it could positively or negatively affect the health of millions in the US. We have, as a society, ceased to spend as much time in the sunlight as we once did. This is due to our habits of working indoors and scrupulously avoiding sunlight when we venture outdoors. In consequence, we have become critically deficient in vitamin D, a potent steroid hormone whose chemical receptors are found throughout the body. Vitamin D levels are declining in the US population,[1] and that does not bode well for the health US citizens. It has been estimated that maintaining serum levels 25(OH)D of 55 ng/ml could prevent 85,000 cases of breast cancer and 60,000 cases of colon cancer.[2] If there were no other source of vitamin D, achieving that serum level would require the ingestion of about 5,500 IU of vitamin D3 daily for men and slightly less for women. It is obvious that the current recommendations of 400 IU are woefully inadequate.

In addition, sudden death from heart attack is about 2.4 times higher in men with the lowest levels of vitamin D compared to those with the highest levels.[3] It would be possible to go through a long list of diseases that correlate closely to vitamin D deficiency, such as MS, osteoporosis, twenty major cancers, hypertension, arthritis, Lupus, etc., but that would be laborious for both of us. My book, Vitamin D3 and Solar Power, has 800 references to the medical/scientific literature and discusses the influence of vitamin D on more than 100 diseases and conditions.

One double-blind, placebo controlled, interventional study has already determined that four years of vitamin D and calcium supplementation correlated to a 60-77% reduced risk of all cancers in women.[4] The researchers have just received a $4,000,000 grant to continue that research with higher dosages of vitamin D. Science often demands that such studies be conducted before any changes in recommendations are made. However, this may cause delays in action that could cost millions of lives. No such study could ever be attempted among smokers. Such a study would require that half of a group of non-smokers was given cigarettes, taught to smoke and then compared with the other half for death rates. Such a study was never done to furnish conclusive proof that smoking increased the risk of lung cancer. The reasons: (1) it would not have been ethical, and (2) the evidence from observation made the conclusion obvious and compelling. In my opinion, the evidence for higher vitamin D recommendations, either as supplementation or as sunlight exposure, is just as compelling. The researchers in the aforementioned cancer study for instance, stated that the reduction in cancer produced by vitamin D supplementation was about twice that which would be expected if all women stopped smoking.[4]

We cannot afford to wait for more studies to find conclusive proof of the need for higher supplemental recommendations while millions more people die. There is not one whit of evidence that vitamin D supplementation of 10,000 IU per day for an adult is toxic.[5]
I also suggest that you recommend regular, non-burning sunlight exposure as the most natural way to achieve optimal levels of vitamin D.

Marc Sorenson, EdD

[1] Looker, A. et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status of the US population: 1988-1994 compared with 2000-2004. Am J Clin Nutr December 2008; vol 88: pp 1519-1527.
[2]Garland, C et al. What is the dose-response relationship between vitamin D and cancer risk? Nutrition Reviews 2007;65:S91-5.
[3]Giovannucci, E. et al. 25-hydroxy-vitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men. Ann Intern Med 2008;168:1174-80.
[4]Lappe, J. et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:1586–91.
[5]Vieth, R. Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations and safety. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:842-56.

Vitamin D deficiency is costing Europe a fortune in lives and money!

Dr. William B Grant and his colleagues have just released a paper that analyzes the terrible financial burden that Europe is bearing due to lack of sunlight and vitamin D.[1] The diseases they mention that are related to vitamin D deficiency and have severe economic effects are “several types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, several bacterial and viral infections, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.”

The reasons offered for the deficiency are high latitudes, indoor living (lack of sunlight exposure), lack of sufficient dietary vitamin D and lack of vitamin D fortification in most European countries. The cost is estimated at a staggering 187,000 million Euros per year.

These researchers estimate that the cost to educate and test the population and furnish the supplementation that would eliminate the deficiency—and thereby eliminate the diseases caused by it—would be about 10,000 million Euros yearly. What a great return on investment that would be! For every Euro spent on the program 18.7 would be saved.

Let’s hope that the heads of state listen to Dr Grant and his colleagues, and let’s pray that the U.S. and Canada do the same. We cannot allow vitamin D deficiency to take the lives of millions of people while we wait for more research to be sure. The research on the marvelous benefits of optimal vitamin D levels piles up weekly; the time to act is now.

Dr. Grant, by the way wrote the foreword for my book, and there is a tribute to his work therein. His dedication to informing the public and saving lives is second to none.

[1] Grant, W.B., et al., Estimated benefit of increased vitamin D status in reducing the economic burden of disease
in western Europe, Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology (2009), doi:10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2009.02.003

Monday, March 9, 2009

Vitamin D reduces joint pain!

This interesting snippet appeared in the Houston Chronicle a few days back as a part of a question and answer session with Dr. Mitchell Hecht. “A couple of weeks ago, my husband saw his endocrinologist, and the doctor ordered a test of his vitamin D level. It was very low, so my husband was put on 2,000 units per day. My Husband has been having pain in his shoulder with a limited range of motion. An orthopedic surgeon told him he had a tear in his rotator cuff and the only option was surgery. In less than a week and a half on the vitamin D supplement, he has no pain and full range of motion. This is like a miracle! I think we need a second opinion on that surgery.”

As Dr. Hecht pointed out, it is unlikely that vitamin D could reverse a rotator-cuff tear, so there must have been a misdiagnosis. A rotator cuff tear is something that cannot be fixed without surgery, so it is likely that the pain was due to inflammation in the joint due to arthritis. As my posts have previously documented, vitamin D is a potent anti-inflammatory hormone. The total recovery from pain, along with a recovery of full range of motion, was likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Chalk up one more victory for this amazing hormone!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Will your statin drug kill you? Is vitamin D a better choice for preventing heart disease?

Drs BA Golomb and MA Evans recently wrote a review of the many papers that dealt with the adverse effects of statins, an immensely popular (and profitable) class of drugs that lowers blood cholesterol levels.[1] One of the potential little side effects is rhabdomyolysis, a devastating muscle-wasting disease described by Stedman’s Medical dictionary as “an acute, fulminant, potentially fatal disease that destroys skeletal muscle and is often accompanied by the excretion of myoglobin in the urine.” Others side effects are cognitive loss (decreased ability to think soundly), neuropathy (nerve deterioration), pancreatic and liver dysfunction and sexual dysfunction. The authors also mentioned that most physicians are unaware of these problems.

I recently commissioned research that shows that most physicians, as well as their patients are woefully ignorant of the importance of vitamin D. So how do the two tie together? In an earlier post on heart disease, I cited the research by Dr Ed Giovannucci and his colleagues at Harvard.[2] They showed that men with the lowest levels of serum (blood) vitamin D were about 2.4 times as likely to suffer a heart attack as those whose levels were highest. They also showed that those with the lowest vitamin D levels also had the lowest HDL, the “good cholesterol.” As also pointed out in my earlier blogs, vitamin D has the ability to reduce arterial calcification and reduce inflammation, both risk factors for heart disease.

Vitamin D also increases muscle strength rather than reducing it and increases fertility in men and women as well as protecting the nervous system and enhancing cognitive abilities. This can all be done for about $15 per year worth of supplementation, and sunlight is free. Compare that to the thousands of dollars required to poison oneself with statin drugs. Which way would you like to bet? Remember to check with your doctor before reducing or changing medications, as withdrawal could also be dangerous. Meanwhile, stop eating junk food and get some healthful outdoor exercise!

[1] Golomb BA, Evans MA. Statin adverse effects: a review of the literature and evidence for a mitochondrial mechanism. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2008;8(6):373-418.
[2] Giovannucci, E. et al. 25-hydroxy-vitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men. Ann Intern Med 2008;168:1174-80.

Can sunlight reduce the risk of type-one diabetes in children?

A recent study conducted in Newfoundland, Canada, compared sunlight exposure at different times and locations to the risk of type-one diabetes in children.[i] As I would have expected, the children who received the least sunlight were at greatest risk for type-one diabetes. Sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D, so the results were probably exactly what the researchers anticipated. Why should they have anticipated that result? An earlier study showed that among children who were supplemented with 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily, the risk of type-on diabetes was only 1/5 of the risk among children who were supplemented with less than 2,000 IU.[ii] Among those who were not supplemented at all, the risk was 8 times greater.

“Protecting” children from the sunlight is creating a terrible burden of poor health, and type-one diabetes is only one of its many manifestations. Safe, non-burning sun exposure is an integral part of childhood that should not be neglected.

[i] Sloka, S. Time series analysis of ultraviolet B radiation and type 1 diabetes in Newfoundland. Pediatric Diabetes 2008:9:81–6.
[ii] Hypponen, E. et al. Intake of vitamin D and risk of type 1 diabetes: a birth-cohort study. Lancet 2001;358:1500-03.

When is the safest time to sun tan?

I have never believed that the advice to stay out of the sunlight at midday was correct. Now, science is beginning to agree with me. Dr. J Moan and colleagues have explained that vitamin D production by the skin is much greater at midday than in early morning or late afternoon, and that the risk of developing melanoma is also much less at midday.[1]

This is thoroughly explained in my book; a greater percentage of UVA, which can cause damage to the lower layers of the skin, is available in the sunlight in the morning hours. A greater percentage of UVB that stimulates vitamin D production is available at midday. Therefore, the greatest potential for healthful D production and the least potential for damage occur at midday. The researchers stated it thusly: “To get an optimal vitamin D supplement from the sun at a minimal risk of getting cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM), the best time of sun exposure is noon. Thus, common health recommendations given by authorities in many countries, that sun exposure should be avoided for three to five hours around noon and postponed to the afternoon may be wrong and may even promote CMM.”

Let’s face it. Nearly everything we have been told by the sunscare/sunscreen industry is false. And remember that people who are regularly in the sunlight develop fewer melanomas than those who are cloistered indoors, as I have discussed in my previous posts. Another author has written a book called “Naked at Noon.” Sounds like she is on to something!

[1] Moan, J et al. At what time should one go out in the sun? Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;624:86-8.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Can vitamin D prevent the common cold in asthmatics?

New research shows that people with the lowest vitamin D blood levels are about one-third more likely to catch an upper respiratory tract infection (cold) than those with the highest levels[1] (the “high” vitamin D group, however was nowhere near optimal levels). This study is no surprise, considering the research that I posted earlier on this blog regarding colds and flu.[2] There is something that makes this research different, however. Among asthmatics, the risk of catching cold was 5.7 times higher in the people with the lowest levels of vitamin D.

One of my previous posts already discussed the profound correlation of low vitamin D levels to asthma.[3] With all of the suffering asthmatics must go through, an upper respiratory tract infection is not something that needs to be added to it. The evidence indicates that the risk of both asthma and colds can be reduced substantially by maintaining high levels of vitamin D. Act accordingly!

[1] Ginde, A. et al. Association Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Level and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey ARCH INTERN MED;169:4:384-90.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

KILLER VIRUS GRIPS BRITAIN and so does vitamin D deficiency.

The Headline in Britain’s Daily Express read, “KILLER VIRUS GRIPS BRITAIN.”[1]
For several years, Britain has experienced outbreaks of norovirus, which causes severe vomiting. Here is the way this winter’s outbreak was described prior to Christmas:

“MILLIONS face being struck down by a deadly winter vomiting bug sweeping the country. Scores of hospitals have been forced to close wards to new patients as they struggle to cope with the influx of norovirus sufferers. One of London’s leading hospitals has even had to turn away 999 emergency patients after being overwhelmed with cases of the virus, while another hospital has drafted in GPs to cover for staff hit by the bug. As the crisis deepens, health campaigners are warning that hospitals face going into “complete meltdown” over Christmas and New Year.”
“At its height last year the virus, which causes projectile vomiting, diarrhoea, mild fever and headaches, was striking down more than 200,000 a week. The illness can prove deadly for the vulnerable—children and the elderly.”

In my book, and in previous posts on this blog [], I have documented the antiviral and anti-flu effects of vitamin D. Cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide that is extremely effective in breaking down the walls of viruses and bacteria, is dependent on vitamin D to stimulate its production in the immune system. Without cathelicidin, immune function is compromised. It would therefore be expected that in the winter, when vitamin D levels are lowest due to lack of sunlight, viral diseases would be prevalent. In addition to my previous post on the subject of flu, there is an excellent paper by Dr. John Cannell that thoroughly discusses it.[2]

Britain’s northern climate, cloudy weather and “sunscare program” during summer ensure that vitamin D levels in that country are critically low, especially in winter, when no vitamin D can be produced by the sun at that latitude.

A few dollars worth of vitamin D or a couple of weekly (non-burning) sessions at a tanning salon could, in my opinion, quickly put a stop to the norovirus and the misery it causes.

[1] Brown, M and Dawar, A. Killer Virus Grips Britain. Daily Express, December 15, 2008.
[2] Cannell, J. et al. Epidemic Influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect 2006;134:1129-40.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Television viewing in teens is linked to adult depression. Lack of sunlight and vitamin D may be the reason.

Television viewing in teens is linked to adult depression. Lack of sunlight and vitamin D may be the reason.

An interesting study from the University of Pittsburgh has found that the more TV teenagers watch, the more likely they are to be depressed as adults.[1] The study author theorized that because there is so much depressing news and programming on TV, the more exposure, the more the internalizing or the depressing programming. For each hour of TV watched, the rate of depression increased significantly.

The researchers may be correct, or it could be that hours of sedentary life in front of the TV, watching commercials for junk food, leads to obesity and poor health as the teenager’s age. I have another theory that may supplant, or at least add to those theories. In an earlier post, I discussed the dramatically increased rate of depression among people who were vitamin D deficient.[2] Vitamin D is absolutely critical for the central nervous system (CNS) to function at optimal levels; it is possible that years of unnatural indoor habits create vitamin D deficiency, which damages the CNS, and—combined with the previously mentioned deleterious influences of excessive TV watching, result in depression. Sunlight and vitamin D are absolutely necessary for human health and happiness. An indoor lifestyle is unnatural and damaging to the human body and psyche.

Get away from the TV, video game and other sedentary, sunless activity and get outdoors. And, stop eating toxic foods. You will be glad you did!

[1] Primack, B. Association between media use in adolescence and depression in young adulthood: a longitudinal study. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;66(2):181-8

Living longer and better with Vitamin D and sunlight

Low vitamin D levels have once again proven to be a risk factor for earlier death. In a study of Asian women, low levels of vitamin D correlated to a doubling of the risk of death over 6.9 years.[1] Osteoporosis and cancer that existed when the study began were also predictive of early death, which would be expected. What intrigues me is that both osteoporosis and cancer are closely correlated to low vitamin D levels; it is therefore plausible that low levels of vitamin D were not only directly responsible for a higher death rate, but also at least partially responsible for the increased risk of the two deadly diseases that also predicted more deaths.

This is at least the third study to show that lower vitamin D levels correlate to shortened life spans. The evidence is incontrovertible: for a long life with fewer diseases, keep your vitamin D levels high.

[1] Kuroda, T et al. Contributions of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, co-morbidities and bone mass to mortality in Japanese postmenopausal women. Bone 2009;44:168–172

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Do you need pain relief? Have you considered a tanning bed?

As I previously posted, vitamin D deficiency correlates quite closely to chronic pain, and pain is usually reduced or eliminated by bringing blood levels of D to optimum. Another scientific paper on vitamin D and pain was recently brought to my attention; it discussed the case of a woman with Crohn’s disease, which tends to cause vitamin D deficiency.[1] She complained of bone pain and muscle weakness and had critically low vitamin D levels—only 7 ng/ml—which will do little more than sustain life. The woman was treated by putting her in a tanning bed three times weekly for ten minutes over a period of six months. She wore a one-piece bathing suit during these sessions. After the six months of treatments, she was “free of muscle weakness and bone and muscle pain.”

It is difficult to find anyone outside the tanning industry, other than vitamin D scientists, who has anything good to say about tanning beds. I am an exception, and use one in my home in winter when I cannot get any vitamin D from sunlight. I am careful not to burn in a tanning bed just as I am careful not to burn in the summer sunlight. It elevates my mood and gives me the vitamin D I need to lessen my risk of at least 105 diseases and disorders. However you decide to obtain your vitamin D3, make sure you get enough to produce a serum level of 50-60 ng/ml. If vitamin D supplementation is your only source, that will require about 4,000-5,000 IU per day, according to your size. Remember never to burn.

Here’s wishing you a pain-free future!

[1]Koutkia, P Treatment of vitamin D deficiency due to Crohn's disease with tanning bed ultraviolet B radiation. Gastroenterology. 2001;121:1485-8.Here’s to a pain-free future!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Losing your mind: Is Alzheimer’s disease in your future or your parents’ future? Can sunlight and vitamin D prevent it?

I have previously posted regarding the effect of vitamin D on cognitive disability, autism and other brain disorders. With all of these disorders, there is a clear correlation between sunlight and/or vitamin D deficiency and decreased brain function. Considering that most elderly people are severely vitamin D deficient and that there are vitamin D receptors throughout the brain, it would not be surprising to also find the same correlation with Alzheimer’s, which is a brain disease. An excellent paper by Dr Frederick Dyer[1] makes a case that Alzheimer’s is, at least in part, a vitamin D-deficiency disease.

Dr Dyer makes the point that many diseases or disorders—those that are well-established as correlating to vitamin D deficiency—are themselves risk factors for Alzheimer’s. These include depression, osteoporosis, diabetes, poor cognitive abilities, periodontal disease, dental caries, inflammation, tooth loss, low cognitive performance, poor strength, depression, congestive heart failure, peripheral artery disease, hypertension and arterial plaque. In other words, Alzheimer’s shows a "co-morbidity” with these disorders, meaning that they may have the same underlying causes. Lack of sunlight/vitamin D is likely one of those causes.

Until we know for sure, it is certainly a great idea to maintain high levels of vitamin D in ourselves and in our aging parents; there is no downside, and it may prevent us from losing our minds.

Another excellent paper on vitamin D and Alzheimer’s will be published soon; I will keep you posted.

[1] Dyer, F. Deficient Vitamin D in the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease. Unpublished manuscript furnished to author December 2008. Used by permission.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mammograms correlate to a 22% increase in the risk of Breast Cancer: What does this have to do with vitamin D?

A new research report has just been released; it is only the latest of several to suggest that mammograms are not effective or actually counterproductive.[1] Among women who were screened regularly for breast cancer by mammogram, the risk of the cancer was 22% higher than among those who were not screened for the cancer.

This is another example where the only people who benefit from some types of medicine are the physicians, the hospitals and the companies that build the technology; certainly mammograms are of no value to the most important people; women who are attempting to prevent breast cancer. It is possible that the radiation from the machines does a great deak of harm. Sunlight and vitamin D have both been proven to dramatically reduce the risk of cancers, including breast cancer, in women. Proper nutrition and exercise are also profoundly effective. See my previous posts: ( ( (

Remember, when it comes to cancer, an ounce of prevention is worth TONS of cure!

[1] Zahl, P. The Natural History of Invasive Breast Cancers Detected by Screening Mammography. Arch Intern Med;168:21:2311-16

Still more for expectant moms: Sunlight/vitamin D during pregnancy increases the strength of bone in children and leads to greater height.

Another new research paper provides one more reason for pregnant women to get out in the sunlight during the season when UVB light is available (UVB light is the wavelength that produces vitamin D); that habit by expectant mothers predicts that their children will have heavier bones that are less susceptible to osteoporosis, and in addition, they will be taller at the age of 9.[1] Greater lean muscle mass in the boys and girls studied was also related to higher UVB exposure during their fetal stage, meaning that both muscle and bone were enhanced-quite an advantage for youngsters considering athletics, and a boon in later stages of life for reducing the risk of osteoporosis and muscle wasting.

Moderate, consistent sunlight exposure to a large area of skin is vital to the health of the pregnant mother and her children. In winter, when no UVB is available in sunlight, and when sunlight itself is far less available, tanning beds are very effective in producing vitamin D (be careful not to burn). For those who prefer not to use tanning beds, vitamin D3 supplementation of 3,000-5,000 IU per day is critical.

[1] Sayers, A. et al. Estimated maternal ultraviolet B exposure levels in pregnancy influence skeletal development of the child. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Dec 30. [Epub ahead of print]

More for expectant mothers: Will your vitamin D deficiency lead to Multiple Sclerosis in your children?

A new multiple sclerosis (MS) study has shown that vitamin D has the ability to reduce a genetic susceptibility to the disease by reducing the force of genes that lead to MS.[1] In other words, vitamin D reduces the action of genes that trigger the autoimmune response leading to the disease. The researchers indicated that vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and early in life might act to prevent the disease.

In MS, the body’s own immune system attacks the myelin sheath—insulation that surrounds nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. When nerve tissue loses its myelin sheath, it is analogous to electric wiring that has lost its rubber insulation; it fails to carry the body’s electrical impulses properly and becomes “short circuited.” Those who suffer from MS experience numbness, poor coordination and balance, weakness, stiffness and poor vision.

This study simply gives one more reason to believe that vitamin D is a major player in reducing the risk of MS. The skin produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight during spring, summer and early fall; the more sunlight available, the more vitamin D is produced. It has been known for about 70 years that MS is much less prevalent in sunny, warm areas. More recent research has also shown that in Australia, there is a seven-fold increase in MS incidence between tropical Northern Queensland and Southern Hobart, located in the less sunny part of the country.[2] And when we observe the rates of MS worldwide, the geographical distribution of MS confirms the direct correlation between latitude and MS; the further from the equator, where there is less sunlight, the greater the incidence of MS.[3] [4] [5] There is more than 100 times the rate of MS in far northern areas as in equatorial areas, where sunlight is intense and the rate of MS approaches zero!

For a complete discussion of MS, see my chapter on the subject in my book. Meanwhile, If behooves all parents to be sure that they, their spouses and their children have high levels of vitamin D. The optimal levels are 50-60 ng/ml. Moderate, non-burning sunlight exposure is the most natural way to obtain vitamin D.

[1] Ramagopalan, S. et al. Expression of the multiple sclerosis-associated MHC class II Allele HLA-DRB1*1501 is regulated by vitamin D. PLoS Genet. 2009 Feb;5(2):e1000369. Epub 2009 Feb 6.
[2] McLeod, J. et al. Epidemiology of multiple sclerosis in Australia. With NSW and SA survey results. Med J Aust 1994;160:117-22.
[3] Alter, M. et al. Multiple sclerosis and nutrition. Arch Neurol l974;31:267-72.
[4] Kurtkze, J. et al. Geography in multiple sclerosis. J Neurol 1977;215:1-26.
[5] Hayes, C. et al. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1997;216:21-27.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Expectant mothers: will your newborn die of heart failure due to your vitamin D deficiency?

Tragically, newborns sometimes suffer heart failure, and until lately physicians had not considered vitamin D deficiency as a possible cause. However, in a study conducted in southeast England, sixteen infants were identified that had suffered heart failure and low blood calcium between 2000 and 2006[1]. Six were of Indian and ten of African ethnicity (dark skinned people do not make vitamin D efficiently).

Six of these unfortunate children suffered cardiac arrest, three died, eight were placed on lung machines, and two were referred for heart transplants. Can you imagine an innocent baby needing a heart transplant because his/her mother was severely deficient and passed that deficiency to the child? The average serum vitamin D level was only 7.4 ng/ml (50-60 is optimal), and some of the infants had undetectable levels.

Hypocalcaemia is usually caused by insufficient vitamin D in the blood and often results in convulsions and death. But the care givers had not even tried to assure that vitamin D levels were adequate. The researchers concluded with this statement: “Vitamin D deficiency and consequent hypocalcaemia are seen in association with severe and life-threatening infant heart failure. That no infant or mother was receiving the recommended vitamin supplementation highlights the need for adequate provision of vitamin D to ethnic minority populations."

Obviously, a few dollars worth of vitamin D or a lot of summer sunshine or tanning bed use could have prevented this catastrophe. At least the word is getting out.

[1][1] Maiya, S. et al. Hypocalcaemia and vitamin D deficiency: an important, but preventable cause of life-threatening heart failure. Heart 2008;94:581-84

Are you looking for help for anemia? Vitamin D may be your answer.

Anemia is a disorder caused by a reduction of the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. It causes pallor, weakness, breathlessness and fatigue. It has been shown that in patients with kidney disuse, each 10 ng/mL increase in serum levels of 25 (OH) D is associated with a 29% reduced risk of anemia, whereas each increase of 10 mg/dl of c-reactive protein (CRP) were associated with dramatically increased risk.[1] There is every reason to believe that those without kidney disease would have the same benefit from higher levels of vitamin D. In my book, I discussed the profound association of higher vitamin D levels with lowered levels of CRP, an inflammatory chemical that is a strong promoter of heart disease. Vitamin D's ability to control CRP may also be the reason for the impressive, positive influence of vitamin D on anemia.

Let's get back in the sunlight (without burning, of course).

[1] Kendrick, J. et al. Report to the conference of the National Kidney Foundation, Spring Clinical Meetings. May 16, 2008

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The most popular flu drug is now 99% ineffective. Another reason to keep vitamin D levels high!

The headline in the International Herald Tribune reads, “Flu in U.S. found resistant to main antiviral drug.” The article then goes on to say, “Virtually all the flu in the United States this season is resistant to the leading antiviral drug Tamiflu, and scientists and health officials are trying to figure out why.”[1]

According to this article, flu is now 99% resistant to Tamiflu, the most popular flu drug.
My earlier posts presented evidence that vitamin D is exceptionally effective against flu, in fact, nearly 100% effective in winter. []

Wake up world, and wake up drug companies; the answer to flu prevention is already here!


More for expectant mothers: will your baby be born with a soft skull due to your vitamin D deficiency?

Craniotabes is a skull condition characterized by thin, soft areas, and it has recently been defined as the earliest sign of vitamin D deficiency in newborns.[1] It may signal impending rickets, but until recently, it was considered a physiological anomaly needing no treatment. Obviously, any newborn diagnosed with craniotabes should be immediately checked for vitamin D deficiency to avert full-blown rickets.

Remember that it is virtually impossible for a newborn to be vitamin D deficient if the mother’s blood is replete with vitamin D. And as we have already discussed in a previous post, it is imperative that a woman who is breastfeeding take in 6,400 IU of vitamin D3 daily in order to maintain optimal levels in both herself and her infant.[2]

Moms, you are responsible for the health of your infant; you need sunlight or supplements. Act now!

[1] Yorifuji J. et al. Craniotabes in normal newborns: the earliest sign of subclinical vitamin D deficiency. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008 [Epub]
[2] Wagner C. et al. High-dose vitamin D3 supplementation in a cohort of breastfeeding mothers and their infants: a 6-month follow-up pilot study. Breastfeed Med. 2006;1:59-70.

Another method by which vitamin D prevents breast cancer.

In view of my just-completed post on breast cancer, I felt it appropriate to follow up with another piece of research that relates to the subject. Vitamin D has now been found to stimulate a protein that suppresses the growth of breast cancer tumors.[1] This is important research, because it indicates that breast cancer tumors that are already developed can be inhibited in their growth by vitamin D.

Let’s return to the sun and keep our vitamin D levels high!

[1] Dhawan, P. et al. CCAAT Enhancer-binding Protein {alpha} Is a Molecular Target of 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells.

Should you remove your breasts to prevent breast cancer? Would sunlight/vitamin D and exercise be a better choice?

I just read—with horror—a discussion among cancer “experts” about one of the worst atrocities being committed by medicine: the removal of a woman’s breasts as a procedure to prevent breast cancer in women who are genetically susceptible to that disease. One of them stated that the procedure was “95% effective.” [1]

In other words, a woman who has no cancer, but who had close relatives who had cancer, might have both breasts removed as a prophylactic measure.

This idea makes me ill. Genetics do not doom a woman to breast cancer; rather, they determine whether the woman can handle a lifestyle that leads her to cancer. In other words, “good genes” help one to resist the toxic lifestyle they have chosen to live. “Bad genes” cannot resist the damage done by that lifestyle, and cancer results. If what I just said is true, then the best option is to remove the toxic lifestyle. Sedentary living, for instance, is toxic to the female breast. That can be overcome. For example, women who exercise four hours per week reduce risk by 37%; those who exercise and also maintain the leanest bodies reduce risk by an impressive 72%![2]

And what about sunlight and vitamin D? Women who supplemented vitamin D and calcium for four years had a reduced risk of all cancers of 60-77%.[3] It is also known that women who live in sunny areas and spend the most time in the sunlight reduce their risk of breast cancer by 65%.[4] Other research shows that women who have the highest blood levels of vitamin D reduce the risk by 69% compared with those who have the lowest levels.[5]

For more on breast cancer and vitamin D, see my previous post:

It has also recently been shown that an eating pattern high in meat, butter and margarine—“a food pattern characterized by high-fat food choices” doubled the risk of breast cancer when compared with those who ate low fat choices,[6] and other research has shown that the highest consumption of grapes, soy foods, green peppers and tomatoes all predict a 40% reduction in the risk of breast cancer.[7] It behooves all of us to eat our veggies and fruits. Alcohol consumption also increases breast cancer risk, so don’t get your grape consumption from wine!

When you are considering prophylactic measures against breast cancer, it might be a better choice to change lifestyle than to remove your non-cancerous breasts. Sunlight, exercise and avoiding junk food are kinder alternatives. Think about it!

[2] McTiernan, A. Exercise and breast cancer - time to get moving? Editorial NEJM 1997;336, 1311-12.
[3] Lappe, J. et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:1586–91.
[4] John, E. et al. Vitamin D and breast cancer risk: The HANES 1 epidemiologic follow-up study, 1971-1975 to 1992. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention 1999;8:399-406.
[5] Abbas, S. et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of post-menopausal breast cancer—results of a large case-control study. Carcinogenesis. 2008;29:93-9.
[6] Schulz, M. Identification of a dietary pattern characterized by high-fat food choices associated with increased risk of breast cancer: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Potsdam Study. Br J Nutr. 2008 Nov;100(5):942-6.
[7] Do, M. et al. Fruits, vegetables, soy foods and breast cancer in pre- and postmenopausal Korean women: a case-control study. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2007 Mar;77(2):130-41.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

High blood pressure? Head for the sun!

A recent medical-journal article reported research showing that there was a direct correlation between higher temperatures and lower blood pressure.[1] We should expect this to be the case, since it is very-well established that higher vitamin D levels lead to a dramatically reduced risk of hypertension (high blood pressure). (See my previous post for more information on the relationship of blood pressure to vitamin D levels.

In summer, when temperatures are higher, the sun stimulates the production of vitamin D very efficiently; in winter, there is little or no production of vitamin D by sunlight, because the ultraviolet B light (UVB) is filtered out. It is also true that people like to go outside more in summer than winter, and that they use less clothing, thereby exposing more skin to the sunlight and making more vitamin D.

Therefore, if you suffer from hypertension, get outdoors in the summer (never sunburn). In winter, use a tanning bed (never burn), which is exceptionally efficient at stimulating vitamin D production, or take supplements of 3,000-5,000 IU daily.

One of the biggest lies in medicine is that a person must stay on hypertensive drugs for a lifetime if he/she is hypertensive. It is simply not true. In most people, sunlight and a plant-based nutrition program can easily bring blood pressure levels to normal. Ask your physician before changing any prescribed medication, of course.

[1] Alpérovitch, A. et al. Relationship between blood pressure and outdoor temperature in a large sample of elderly individuals: the Three-City study. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Jan 12;169(1):75-80.

Obesity in mothers leads to higher death rate in their children. Does vitamin D play a part?

On Friday, January 30, Yahoo News posted a Reuters article with the title, “Mom's obesity tied to higher infant mortality.”[1] This is not surprising. Obesity is closely correlated to many health problems, and one is the tendency of obese people, both children and adults, to be at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.[2] [3] We have already discussed in previous posts that children born to vitamin D-deficient mothers have greater risks of diabetes, autism, weak bones and other maladies.

Although it is not known if it is vitamin D deficiency in the obese mother that causes a greater death rate in the children, the greater number of health problems among children of vitamin D-deficient mothers certainly makes the theory tenable. Expectant mothers who are obese would be well-advised to keep their vitamin D levels high for their benefit and the benefit of their developing babies.

[2] Parikh, S. et al. The Relationship between Obesity and Serum 1,25-Dihydroxy Vitamin D Concentrations in Healthy Adults. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2004;89(3):1196-99.
[3] Smotkin-Tangora, M. er al. Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in obese children and adolescents. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab 2007;20:817-23.ttp://;_ylt=Arm4zrlZzzAv3NBv7PMRLKrVJRIF

Is your child’s health important? Be sure to provide meaningful quantities of sunlight exposure and/or vitamin D.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently doubled the recommended daily vitamin D intake for children from 200 to 400 IU per day—A nice step in the right direction, but terribly inadequate. Children who play outside in summer sunlight will make that much vitamin D in a few minutes, provided their parents do not slather them with sunscreen, which prevents 99% of all vitamin D production by skin.

In winter in northern latitudes, no vitamin D is produced by the skin. In that case, either food sources or supplementation are necessary to produce adequate levels of vitamin D. Food contains very little vitamin D. If supplementation is the only source of vitamin D, then recommending a change from 200 IU to 400 IU is akin to going from ridiculously low to just really bad; it is not going to do the job.

Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council recommends a minimum of 1,000 IU daily for children in the absence of sunlight exposure.[1] He and other scientists also recommend 1,000 IU per 25 pounds of bodyweight in order to bring blood vitamin D to the optimal levels of 50 ng/ml.[2]

It is unfortunate that government organizations usually recommend vitamin D intake that ranges from about 10-25% of the amount needed for optimal health. Those recommendations, coupled with the “sunscare movement” that has frightened the people away from natural, non-burning sunlight exposure, has been a disaster for children and adults alike and has led to an epidemic of autism, type one diabetes and weak bones in children. Hopefully, sanity will soon be restored and our children’s mental and physical health recovered.

[2] Cannell, J. et al. Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin A Toxicity, Frequent Respiratory Infections, and the Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 2008;117:864-870.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Is low birth weight in babies due to vitamin D deficiency during fetal development?

Here is one more reason for mothers to get back in the sunlight: the potential for low birth weight in their babies.

Low birth weight is associated with poor mood, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and other problems during childhood and afterward. Recent research shows that low birth weight is related to exposure by pregnant women to winter temperatures during a critical developmental time for the fetus.[1] [2] This could indicate vitamin D deficiency of the pregnant mother during “vitamin D winter,” the time of year in northern latitudes when the sun is too low in the sky to produce vitamin D. The answer, of course, is to use a tanning bed or take vitamin D3 supplements (3,000-5,000 IU) during the winter. Remember never to burn!

The child needs every possible advantage prior to birth, and one of the advantages is a mom with high vitamin D levels. The only source of vitamin D for the fetus is the mother’s body.

[1] Elter K, et al. Exposure to low outdoor temperature in the midtrimester is associated with low birth weight. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynecol 2004;44:553-7
[2] Murray, L. et al. Links of Season and outdoor ambient temperature: effects on birth weight. Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Nov;96(5 Pt 1):689-95

Is depression ruining your marriage? Light, love and vitamin D may save it!

WebMD’s alert for today was titled, “Is depression rocking your marriage?”

What followed were three pages of reasons why depression causes indifference and lack of interest in sex, thus creating divorces and otherwise tearing apart good relationships.[1]

Nowhere did the article mention that lack of sunlight and/or high blood vitamin D blood levels were major causes of depression. Dealing with depression, as suggested by WebMD, is one way of coping, I suppose; preventing it is quite another, and it is a far better choice. Fortunately, sunlight and vitamin D can often do both.

Sunlight that enters the eye dramatically relieves depression by increasing production of one of the body’s natural antidepressants, serotonin. Most antidepressant drugs also try to relieve depression by maintaining circulating blood-serotonin at high levels. Interestingly, research has proven that sunlight does a better job at raising serotonin levels that do drugs. A study reported in the Lancet in 2002 found that brain serotonin levels were greater during the summer, and higher on sunny days than cloudy ones—the brighter the sunlight, the greater the production of serotonin. The researchers also found that the number of daily hours of bright sunlight was directly related to the production of serotonin by the brain[2] (remember never to stare directly into the sun; indirect sunlight is sufficient). Anyone who has ventured outside on a sunny spring day after enduring a long, sunless winter immediately feels an increase in wellbeing and a decrease in depression. Here are more reasons to save your marriage with light and vitamin D as opposed to the noxious, antidepressant drugs:

1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), indicates that antidepressant medications known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) may increase depression in some cases and lead to suicidal thoughts.[3] Some of the brands involved are Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Luvox, Celexa and Serzone, although the FDA listed 34 drugs. The entire list is at

2. SSRI’s don’t work very well![8] A meta-analysis of data on SSRI’s submitted to the FDA indicates that placebos (sugar pills) are as effective as SSRI’s in reducing depression; in other words, only drug companies benefit from SSRI’s—not depression sufferers.

3. Two research papers in the journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, show that taking antidepressants called selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s)—the most popular antidepressant drugs—dramatically reduces bone mass in users compared to non-users.[4] [5] The first study demonstrated that elderly women who take SSRI’s lost nearly 43% more bone per year than those who did not. The second established that bone mineral density (BMD) among elderly male SSRI users was about 4% lower at the hip bone and about 6% lower at the spine compared to those reporting no SSRI use. Another investigation reported that SSRI-using adults over the age of 50 were twice as likely to fracture a bone and twice as likely to fall as those who did not use the drugs.[6] These risks were dose-dependent, meaning that as the dosage of the drug increased, there was an accompanying increase in fractures and falling.

4. The use of antidepressant drugs may lead to a doubling of the risk of diabetes![7]

5. Vitamin D itself dramatically reduces the risk of depression. See my previous blog:

Considering the downside of these awful drugs and the upside of sunlight/vitamin D therapy, it makes sense to improve your marriage the way God intended, with love, sunlight and vitamin D!

[2] Lambert, G. et al. Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain.  Lancet 2002;360:1840-42.
[3] USA Food and Drug Administration web site, updated July 12, 2005.
[4] Diem, S. et al. Use of antidepressants and rates of hip bone loss in older women: the study of osteoporotic fractures. Arch Intern Med 2007;167:1240.
[5] Haney, E. et al. Association of low bone mineral density with selective serotonin uptake inhibitor use by older men. Arch Intern Med 2007167:1246-51.
[6] Richards, J. et al. Effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors on the risk of fracture. Arch Intern Med 2007;167:188-94.
[7] University of Alberta (2008, March 26). Antidepressants Linked To Type 2 Diabetes, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 2, 2009, from­ /releases/2008/03/080325122804.htm
[8] Kirsch, I. et al. Initial severity and antidepressant benefits: a meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. PLoS Medicine 2008;5:e45. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050045 Accessed March 11, 2008.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Is your high-blood-pressure (hypertension) medication slowly killing you? Try vitamin D.

The Web MD alert today discussed the “Seven side effects of your blood pressure medication.”[1] Here are the common side effects that they listed for these noxious drugs: 1. fatigue and dizziness, 2. persistent cough, 3. frequent urination, 4. Fluid retention, 5. sexual dysfunction in men, 6. heart arrhythmia, and 7. allergies. They forgot to mention that beta blockers, a popular med for hypertension, has been shown to double the death risk from heart attacks, congestive heart failure and other major cardiovascular events.[2]

It is interesting that this article fails to mention that a change in nutrition that dramatically reduces fat, sugar, processed foods and animal products is quite effective in preventing and reversing hypertension, with the only side effects being weight loss, increased well-being, greater endurance and increased energy.

Furthermore, the article ignores the fact that men who have low vitamin D levels are more than six times as likely to be hypertensive as those who have high levels, or that women with low levels are nearly three times as likely to be hypertensive. [3]

A cocktail of laboratory-produced chemicals has never been the answer to our health problems. God has already provided us with an astounding internal laboratory that will produce what we need when given the raw materials of whole plant foods and plenty of sunshine. In the winter, however, it may be necessary to take supplements or use a tanning bed (never burn). These methods are certainly more natural and a lot less dangerous than hypertensive drugs.

[2] Wassertheil-Smoller, et al. Association between cardiovascular outcomes and antihypertensive drug treatment in older women. JAMA. 2004 Dec 15;292(23):2849-59.
[3] Forman, J. et al. Plasma Hydroxyvitamin D and risk of Incident Hypertension. (Hypertension. 2007;49:1-7.)

Are nursing mothers killing their infants with vitamin D-deficient breast milk? Part 2. How much vitamin D do mothers need?

The previous post discussed the crisis presented by vitamin D deficient breast milk furnished to nursing infants by their mothers. We established that the recommended amounts for supplementation are woefully inadequate to take care of the illnesses in children (rickets, autism, etc.) that are being caused by low vitamin D levels in breast milk. We also made it clear that breast milk is the perfect food for infants, but only if it has adequate vitamin D. So how much vitamin D is necessary from sunlight, tanning beds or supplementation to assure optimal vitamin D levels for both mother and child?

This is critically important information: Nursing mothers need at least 6,400 IU of vitamin D3 daily. [1] That amount can be easily produced by full-body exposure to summer sunshine in a few minutes, or a tanning bed (never burn) can also produce vast quantities of vitamin D in a short period. For those who wish to avoid the sun at all costs, supplementation is essential. Remember that in northern climes, there are several months in the winter where little or no vitamin D is produced by exposure to sunlight. In such areas, either sun lamps or supplementation are critical to the health of the infant and mother alike.

[1] Wagner C. et al. High-dose vitamin D3 supplementation in a cohort of breastfeeding mothers and their infants: a 6-month follow-up pilot study. Breastfeed Med. 2006;1:59-70.

Nursing mothers: Is your breast milk, nature’s perfect food, making your baby ill with vitamin D deficiency?

Posted on the online edition of US News and World Report for January 30, 2009 is a headline that screams, “Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers at Risk.”[i] The article goes on to say that breast feeding is a known risk factor for vitamin D deficiency in infants.

Though the information presented in the article is correct, I fear that such headlines appear as an indictment of breast milk, obviously the very best food for infants. Nursing mothers should realize that the problem is not with breast milk, but rather with their own vitamin D deficiency; no vitamin D-deficient nursing mother can provide anything but deficient breast milk. The problem lies in the fact that the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Cancer Society and other “health organizations” have frightened women out of the sunlight and away from tanning beds, either of which can maintain high vitamin D levels. As a consequence, we have a pandemic of vitamin D deficiency in infants that has lead to autism, rickets, brain disorders, soft skulls, heart failure and diabetes, among other disorders (see my book for the discussions).

For instance, after a century of knowing exactly how to prevent rickets, this disastrous children’s disease is returning, and cases are being reported as far south as Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.[ii] Not surprisingly, 83% of cases occur in black children, and 96% are breast-fed, indicating a lack of vitamin D in their mothers’ milk. We must educate expectant mothers to get out in the sun during their pregnancies or at least take a potent vitamin D supplement. Before and after giving birth, these mothers should assure that both they and their babies maintain optimal serum levels of vitamin D. Too many nursing mothers, especially African Americans, are providing vitamin D-deficient milk. Drs. Bruce Hollis and Carol Wagner have shown that 2,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily for nursing mothers falls woefully short of achieving healthful serum levels in their babies.[iii] Until lately, the typical multivitamin contained about 400 IU. Is it any wonder that deficiency exists in breast-fed infants? The next post on this blog will tell you exactly how much vitamin D is necessary for nursing mothers to achieve optimal levels for their own health and the health of their infants.

[ii] Weisberg, P. et al. Nutritional rickets among children in the United States: review of cases reported between 1986 and 2003. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80(6 Suppl):1697S-705S.
[iii] Hollis B. et al. Vitamin D requirements during lactation: high-dose maternal supplementation as therapy to prevent hypovitaminosis D for both the mother and the nursing infant. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:1752S-58S.

Friday, January 30, 2009

How much vitamin D do you need to reduce risk of cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, gum disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc.?

My book cites research from over 800 medical/scientific journals research that consistently demonstrates a direct correlation between vitamin D deficiency and more than one hundred diseases and disorders. Only those whose heads are buried in the sand could believe that optimal levels of D are not necessary for excellent health. However, along with vitamin D’s newfound popularity, there is bewilderment about what is “optimal.”

What is the optimal level of vitamin D?

Dr. Bruce Hollis and his colleagues conducted research in which they determined that no circulating vitamin D3 can be measured in the blood until 25(OH)D levels are greater than 40-50 ng/ml.[1] This means that all vitamin D3 is used by the tissues to make 25(OH)D until the level is greater than 40-50. At that point, vitamin D3 begins to be measurable, meaning that the tissues are no longer so “hungry” for D3 that they use up every molecule made by the skin or taken orally. Therefore, optimal levels are probably somewhere over 50. Dr. John Cannell and I, in researching our book on vitamin D and athletics, found that athletic performance improves up to about 50-60 ng/ml and declines slightly at higher levels. In addition, a recent study showed that those with high vitamin D levels lived 26% longer than those with low levels; however, beyond 50 ng/ml, higher levels did not confer further advantage.[2]

How much vitamin D does it take to produce the optimal level of 50-60?

Each intake of 100 IU per day of supplementation raises the blood levels of vitamin D about 1 ng/ml. Therefore, if there were no sun exposure or a source of dietary vitamin D, it would require 5,000 IU of supplemental D3 per day to achieve a level of 50. This rule of thumb, of course, varies according to the size of the person; a large person will require more vitamin D than a small person. It is also interesting to note that men who have high levels of vitamin D (due to outdoor summer activity) must take 5,000 IU during winter to maintain those levels.[3]
A special case: nursing mothers

Nursing mothers must furnish sufficient vitamin D3 for themselves and their babies; if they are deficient, the babies have a greater risk of autism, schizophrenia and osteoporosis as they grow older. Dr. Hollis and his colleagues have demonstrated that nursing women need at least 6,400 IU per day to maintain adequate levels of 25(OH)D in both mother and child.[4]

Remember that in Caucasian skin, twenty minutes of full-body sunlight exposure (both sides) will produce from 10,000-20,000 IU of vitamin D. A good tanning bed will produce about 10,000 IU in ten minutes. In either case, be sure not to burn.

Hopefully, this information has reduced any confusion about optimal levels of vitamin D and how to maintain them. Get those levels up to 50-60 ng/ml!

[1] Hollis, B. et al. Circulating Vitamin D3 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D in Humans: An Important Tool to Define Adequate Nutritional Vitamin D Status. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 March; 103(3-5): 631–634.
[2] Melamed, M. et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of mortality in the general population. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Aug 11;168(15):1629-37.
[3] Heaney, R. et al. Human serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol response to extended oral dosing with cholecalciferol. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77:204-10.
[4]Wagner C. et al. High-dose vitamin D3 supplementation in a cohort of breastfeeding mothers and their infants: a 6-month follow-up pilot study. Breastfeed Med. 2006;1:59-70.

Are “flesh-eating bacteria” more likely to consume you in the winter when you are vitamin D deficient?

The real name for flesh-eating disease is necrotizing fasciitis. It is caused by a type of strep bacteria that is extremely virulent and causes quick infection and death of the tissue it attacks; it does not, however, “eat flesh.” Necrotizing fasciitis is seasonal, and like so many of the diseases I have discussed, has a much higher incidence in winter.[1] It is likely that sunlight-stimulated vitamin D produces the natural antibiotics (cathelicidins) necessary to keep the disease at bay during summer. It is also interesting to note that Vitamin D3, applied directly, has been effective in treating the injury caused by the bacteria.[2]

I don’t know what your opinion is, but if high vitamin D levels will help me to stave off something called “flesh-eating bacteria,” I believe I’ll spend a lot of time in the sun.

[1] Vlaminckx, B. et al. Long-term surveillance of invasive group A streptococcal disease in The Netherlands, 1994-2003. Clinical Microbiology and Infection 2005;11:226-31.
[2] Sakai, H. et al. A verrucous lesion on skin grafted after necrotizing fasciitis in a diabetic patient successfully treated with combined topical 5-FU and tacalcitol. .J Dermatol. 1997;24:573-7

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can't get pregnant? Conception may be as easy as 1,2,D3

I have previously posted on vitamin D and fertility, but I think it bears repeating, since many couples have a difficult time in trying to produce a pregnancy.

A recent report adds credence to the idea that infertility may be due in great part to vitamin D deficiency. Dr. Anne Clark, who works at the Fertility First clinic in Sydney, Australia, assessed the blood levels of vitamin D among about 800 men who were unable to produce a pregnancy in their wives. About a third had low levels of vitamin D. Interestingly, after a regimen of lifestyle changes (stopped smoking, coffee drinking and alcohol consumption) and vitamin D supplementation, 40% of the men were able to impregnate their wives, probably due to improvement in the quality of sperm.

Dr Clark stated that "Vitamin D and folate deficiency are known to be associated with infertility in women, but the outcomes of the screening among men in our study group came as a complete surprise." Though it may have surprised Dr. Clark, the results of her findings should not be surprising to those who read my previous blog on vitamin D and infertility. In that blog, I mentioned that female rats mated to vitamin D-deficient males produced 73% fewer pregnancies. Nearly all tissues of the body contain vitamin D receptors (VDR). For the testes to function properly, those receptors must be stimulated by vitamin D.

For women who are having difficulties in conceiving, and for well their husbands who are probably vitamin D-deficient, this information is critically important. Pass it on!