Vitamin D on the brain

January 6, 2010

VitaminDLogo The drumbeat regarding the essential role circulating vitamin D plays in human health is getting louder and louder by the day. I personally find this especially gratifying because I’ve been alerting friends and family to the importance of vitamin D for years. My latest find on this topic, however, could be cause for concern for many who make a good living off of the negative health effects that closely correlate with rampant vitamin D deficiency.

University of California Television ( has an entire video series on the topic: Vitamin D Deficiency: Treatment and Diagnosis. You may watch it streamed directly from the site, or download the individual audio or video files for playback locally. I find that even though there are often presentations that go along with the talk, the audio by itself is quite useful in most cases.

There are two talks that bear particular note:


Vitamin D Prevents Cancer: Is It True?
First Aired: 09/28/2009
In a new study, researchers at the UCSD School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center used a complex computer prediction model to determine that intake of vitamin D3 and calcium would prevent 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer annually in the US and Canada. The researchers’ model also predicted that 75% of deaths from these cancers could be prevented with adequate intake of vitamin D3 and calcium. Join Carole Baggerly with GrassrootsHealth as she discusses this new research.


D-Lightful Vitamin D: Bone and Muscle Health and Prevention of Autoimmune and Chronic Diseases
First Aired: 03/11/2009
Can vitamin D help prevent certain cancers and other diseases such as type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain autoimmune and chronic diseases? To answer these questions and more, UCSD School of Medicine and GrassrootsHealth bring you this innovative series on vitamin D deficiency. Join nationally recognized experts as they discuss the latest research and its implications. In this program, Michael Holick, MD, discusses vitamin D relating to bone and muscle health and the prevention of autoimmune and chronic diseases.

There are also a raft of resources at the GrassrootsHealth site.

One picture says many, many volumes on this topic. It’s entitled Disease Incidence Prevention by Serum 25(OH)D Level. The story it tells is that there are clinically-verified correlations between the incidence of specific conditions and levels of circulating Vitamin D. Based on this large (and growing) body of evidence, it is reasonable to infer that by increasing our serum Vitamin D levels into the optimal range of 50 ng/ml, the following conditions could be reduced at the indicated rates:

  • Breast Cancer: down by 83%
  • Ovarian Cancer: down by 17%
  • Colon Cancer: down by 60%
  • Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma: down by 18%
  • Type-1 Diabetes: down by 66%
  • Fractures (all combined): down by 50%
  • Falls (women): down by 72%
  • Multiple Sclerosis: down by 54%
  • Heart Attack (men): down by 30%
  • Kidney Cancer: down by 49%
  • Endometrial Cancer: down by 37%

This topic is especially relevant to me and my family. As an African-American who lived his entire life above the 38th parallel (Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington, DC and Seattle, to be precise), the absence of adequate sun exposure during most months of the year had a profound effect on my health (primarily in the very early onset of severe periodontal disorders, seasonal allergies, lower bone density). This is a message that literally needs to be trumpeted from the rooftops for everyone – especially anyone who skin has a lot of melanin (like mine).

The optimal range (50 ng/ml) must be put into context: In A recent NHANES study (2001-2004), only 3% of black folks were in the ‘sufficiency’ range of >30 ng/ml. That is not a typo: three percent – and remember, the optimal range begins at 50 nl/ml. Of even greater concern is that prevalence of deficiency (<10 ng/ml) is at 29%.

This is the real pandemic.

The kicker here is that vitamin D is about the least expensive dietary supplement available. At about $.05 (that’s FIVE CENTS) a day, most of us can, over time, get our levels in the optimal range.

So, what is a person to do? Obviously, I am not your physician, so I cannot give you medical advice. However, I have it on extremely good authority that it is safe practically everyone to take 1,000 IU (international units) of oral vitamin D daily (you want the D3 form, not the D2 form). If you do not know your vitamin D levels, make a beeline to your doctor’s office to get tested. Please do not simply accept the ‘normal/not normal’ pronouncement from your doctor. Obtain the actual test results and read it for yourself to determine your levels. Ideally, you will want to test at least twice a year (once at the end of the winter, and again at the end of summer) to make sure you’re staying in range. Just so your expectations are appropriately set, it took me about two years to get my levels stabilized in the optimal range.

Please, please, PLEASE, do what you can to raise awareness of this inexpensive and powerful way to improve our health.

p.s. I have been alerted by one of my readers – who is also a physician – that I should take care to warn people who have kidney problems (renal disease, renal failure) or elevated creatinine levels (which is an indicator of diminished kidney function)that they should always check with their physician before taking any dietary supplements.


5 Responses to “Vitamin D on the brain”

  1. […] cited the alarming statistic I wrote a post on back in January of 2010 that 97% of African-Americans are deficient in Vitamin […]


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