Monday, January 9, 2017

Vitamin D : The Sunshine Vitamin


The Vitamin D Revolution

By Dr. Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc. 

“We estimate that vitamin D deficiency is the most common medical condition in the world.”
Dr. Michael F. Holick, Vitamin D expert

When the June 8, 2007 front page of the Toronto Globe and Mail proclaimed the cancer preventing 
benefits of vitamin D (a.k.a.“the sunshine vitamin” or D3) and the Canadian Cancer Society chirped in with their modest recommendation for everyone to take
1100 IU of vitamin D daily, the natural health community may have felt vindicated. Many scientists felt hoodwinked.

This cancer preventive property of vitamin D was 
no big news to world experts and researchers who 
have been touting the numerous benefits of the 
vitamin for well over a decade. The medical 
profession and its various antiquated societies are,
unfortunately, far behind in applying scientific 
data to clinical health concerns. It’s a nice gesture 
on their part to recommend 1100 IU of vitamin 
a day to prevent cancer but it’s far from enough. 
Current research indicates that the figure for 
cancer prevention should be closer to 10,000 IU daily.

Vitamin D is really not a vitamin but a steroid
hormone precursor that plays a major role in many
diseases. It is created under the skin by ultraviolet
light and is found in few foods commonly
consumed by most Canadians. Vitamin D
deficiency or insufficiency (sub-optimal levels)
plays a role in causing seventeen types of cancer 
(especially breast, prostate and colon) as well as 
heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune 
diseases like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, 
depression, especially seasonal affective disorder,
chronic pain, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, osteo-
porosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth 
defects, and periodontal disease.

In my practice, at least half the patients I see for 
chronic health problems have insufficient blood 
levels of vitamin D despite consuming vitamin D
fortified dairy products or taking a multiple 
vitamin supplement. Sun phobia, a condition 
imposed on the population by sun paranoid 
dermatologists, sunscreens and spending too 
much time indoors have all contributed to the 
vitamin D insufficiency problem. One of the worst
offenders in creating vitamin D deficiency is the 
use of commercial sun blocks. Studies now 
indicate that while these may prevent sunburns, 
they do virtually nothing to prevent melanoma, 
the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

Research indicates that to get 4000 IU of vitamin D
daily if you totally avoid the sun, you must drink 40
glasses of milk a day or take 10 typical multivitamin
pills daily. As mentioned earlier, a more optimal 
daily dose of vitamin D is 10,000 IU daily. If your
blood levels of vitamin D are below the optimal 
levels research indicates that it will take at least 4000
IU of vitamin D daily to push the levels back to the
desirable range.

The purported toxicity of vitamin D is overstated. 
According to well documented research, a person 
standing in the summer sun for an hour at noontime
in a southern latitude in swim trunks, would 
naturally produce about 10,000 IU of vitamin D 
through skin exposure but sun poisoning from 
vitamin D overdose has never been reported anywhere.

For those who cannot tolerate the sun and prefer 
to take supplements, Dr. Reinhold Vieth PhD, 
researcher at the University of Toronto, notes that 
vitamin D toxicity begins at 40,000 IU daily only 
after many weeks of use. Taking 10,000 IU daily 
for months at a time provided there is no sun 
exposure is perfectly safe. Blood levels can be 
done periodically to verify this.

“Because vitamin D is so cheap and so clearly
reduces all-cause mortality, I can say this with 
great certainty: Vitamin D represents the single
most cost-effective medical intervention in the
United States.”
Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, Medical Director,
Penny George Institute for Health and Healing,
Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

Besides Cancer, Why Take Vitamin D?

Vitamin D supplementation is not only effective
for cancer prevention (60% of all cancers 
prevented) and treatment but for a long
list of other conditions. Below are a rapidly growing number of health problems that have been proven to be either prevented or
treated effectively by boosting the blood levels of vitamin D:

1. Rickets – even conventional medicos know this childhood bone disease is caused by vitamin D 
deficiency and was the major reason why milk became fortified with tiny doses of the supplement.

2. Osteoporosis – even though this is common knowledge numerous individuals who suffer from 
osteoporosis are low in their D levels and simply need to take more.

3. Heart disease – hardening of the arteries is caused by calcium deposition and vitamin D is an 
anticalcifying agent when at optimal levels in the bloodstream; both extremely high and low intake
levels of vitamin D induce calcification of arteries but calcification from overdose of vitamin D
requires many hundreds of thousands of international units and is rare; vitamin D 
deficiency is common and calcified arteries are a direct result of deficiency. Also, as is noted below, heart disease 
is often triggered and perpetuated by inflammation and vitamin D is anti-inflammatory.

4. Diabetes – evidence is mounting that vitamin D can improve insulin resistance and favorably affect Type 2 diabetes.

5. Hypertension – emerging evidence has 
compared the blood pressure lowering effects of 
vitamin D to ace (angiotensin converting enzyme) 
inhibitors, a class of blood pressure lowering 
drugs commonly prescribed by conventional 
doctors; don’t go off your blood pressure pills yet 
but consider high dose supplements of vitamin D 
and get the blood levels checked along with your blood pressures.

6. The common cold and the flu – ditch that 
mercury and formaldehyde laden flu shot; vitamin 
D has strong antibiotic properties and some studies
indicate that optimal blood levels will prevent the 
flu far better than those toxic flu shots. Dr. John 
Cannell, the director of the Vitamin D Council, 
suggests high-dose vitamin D (50,000 IU) be 
consumed for 3 days at the first sign of a cold or 
the flu. If you have an infection, you need more 
vitamin D. That’s a given.

7. Arthritis – Any kind of arthritis, especially
osteoarthritis, benefits from optimal levels of 
vitamin D. Ideally, vitamin D supplementation 
should be accompanied by omega-3 from the diet 
or supplements.

8. Autism - Research has shown that low maternal
vitamin D levels can adversely affect the 
developing brain and lead to autism and that 
vitamin D supplements can improve some of the 
signs of autistic behavior. Since most of the medical
and conventional treatments for autism are so 
dismal, supplementing with vitamin D may be well worth a try.

9. Inflammation – vitamin D is anti-inflammatory; 
if you have inflammation (arthritis, iritis, 
thyroiditis, pancreatitis, anything ending in “itis”), 
you need more vitamin D.

10. Autoimmune Disease – multiple sclerosis, 
psoriasis, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, 
fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and 
numerous other diseases where the immune 
system attacks various organs involves inflam-
mation that can be arrested by high dose vitamin D.

11. Melanoma – this most deadly form of skin 
cancer is now thought to be caused by a sunlight/
vitamin D deficiency coupled with a deficiency in
omega-3 oils; safe sun exposure actually helps 
prevent melanoma, a counter intuitive finding 
confusing the heck out of dermatologists.

12. Obesity – vitamin D levels are significantly
lower in overweight individuals; taking a 
vitamin D supplement certainly beats dieting but 
check your blood levels first.

For more info on the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and disease, see my book, “Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin.”

“No other method to prevent cancer has been identified that has such a powerful impact.”
Dr. Cedric Garland, Vitamin D expert

The Bottom Line

The only way to ensure vitamin D adequacy is to expose yourself to the sun regularly. In Canada and other northern latitude countries, this is next to impossible at any time other than the summer. As discussed earlier, drinking milk is not the answer.

For people who are not making frequent trips south, there are oral supplements that will do the trick. One choice would be cod liver oil or halibut liver oil liquid or capsules. The only problem here might be the high vitamin A (each capsule may contain as much as 5000 IU of vitamin A) that comes along with the vitamin D (usually 200 – 400 IU per capsule). If you want to take 2000 IU daily of vitamin D, this might be suitable. If you want to push the dose up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily, you might be getting too much vitamin A. There is also some new evidence indicating
that excessive amounts of vitamin A will interfere with the action of vitamin D in the body.

An alternative to cod or halibut liver oil would be 
a capsule containing only vitamin D3 (cholecalci-
ferol). These usually come in dosages of 400 IU 
or 1000 IU per capsule. Higher potencies per 
capsule are available by prescription only.

Why Micro Emulsified Vitamin D?

There are many individuals who have a problem
absorbing vitamin D from the gastrointestinal 
tract. In my practice, certain people taking even
50,000 IU of vitamin D daily for months fail to
boost their blood levels sufficiently. This may be
due to various bowel diseases like celiac disease
or various forms of inflammation (Crohn’s disease
or colitis), food allergies, bacterial flora
imbalances, candidiasis, digestive enzyme 
deficiencies or because of the use of numerous 
drugs affecting the gastrointestinal tract. These 
people can only achieve successful absorption 
with a micro emulsified form of vitamin D. 
Essentially, this converts a fat soluble vitamin 
into a water soluble form.

This most bioavailable form of vitamin D is most
suitable for people who have problems with 
absorption. The liquid form can be taken straight 
from the bottle or mixed into any food or 
beverage. Emulsified Vitamin D used to be only 
available at a high price from some health care 
practitioners or pharmacies specializing in natural
remedies. It is now available at much more 
reasonable prices at your neighborhood health 
food store without a prescription.


If you are suffering from any chronic health 
problem, ask your doctor to check your blood level
of 25-hydroxy vitamin D, the most accurate indicator of vitamin D status. The optimal blood levels should be between 100 and 250 nanomoles/ml. Levels below
75 are considered insufficient and levels below 25 are definitely in the deficiency category. With continued research, I predict
these numbers will all change, so stay tuned.

Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practises Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of
“The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.” He has also published several Canadian best-selling
books, including “Return to The Joy of Health” and “Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin.”

Imagine capturing
sunshine in a bottle
Helps to prevent Vitamin D
Vitamin D may reduce the
risk of developing Osteoporosis
when combined with calcium
intake, a healthy diet and
regular exercise
Helps in the development and
maintenance of bones and teeth
Helps in the absorption and use
of calcium and phosphorus
Vitamin D
1000 IU
Available in liquid
drops or capsules.

Vitamin D, disease and therapeutic opportunities

The major source of vitamin D3 is through ultraviolet irradiation of 7-dehydrocholesterol in skin. The liver 25-hydroxylase enzyme (possibly encoded by CYP2R1) then converts vitamin D3 to 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-OH-D3), the major circulating form of the vitamin. Generation of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 occurs primarily in the kidney by the 25-OH-D-1α-hydroxylase enzyme (encoded by CYP27B1), which is tightly regulated by blood calcium and phosphorus levels, and transcription of this enzyme is directly altered by parathyroid hormone (PTH).

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