The Nation's Health + [vitamin D]

Actos, Avandia, and vitamin D

Up until a few years ago, if a patient showed signs of the metabolic syndrome/pre-diabetes, or early diabetes, I would often prescribe one of the drugs, Actos (pioglitazone) or Avandia (rosiglitazone), known as the thiazolidinediones, or TZD's for short. Although I do not manage diabetes, I was witnessing a flood of patients with pre-diabetic patterns that inhibited correction of lipoprotein patterns. So I saw the TZD's as a means of potentially assisting with correction of these abnormalities.

My rationale back then was that many people with metabolic syndrome struggled to raise HDL cholesterol, reduce triglycerides, reduce small LDL, reduce the inflammatory measure c-reactive protein (CRP), as well as reduce blood sugars towards the normal range. The TZD's partially corrected these phenomena.

But over the last 2 1/2 years, I haven't written a single prescription for these agents since I've added vitamin D to the regimen.

Vitamin D in my experience in the Track Your Plaque approach:

--Raises HDL--far more than the TZD's ever did.

--Reduces small LDL

--Reduces triglycerides

--Reduces c-reactive protein

--Reduces blood pressure

--Reduces blood sugar

In other words, vitamin D appears to not only reproduce many of the effects of the TZD's, but exceeds the effects. The effects are often so wonderful that I've taken many people off their TZD's.

Vitamin D, of course, also provides numerous benefits for bone health, reduction of cancer risk, and other health benefits that the TZD's simply cannot compete with. Vitamin D also lacks the quite substantial side-effects of TZD's: water retention and weight gain (around 8 lbs in the first year of treatment), possible increase in risk for heart attack (Avandia), definite increased likelihood of congestive heart failure in those prone to it.

How about cost? Actos goes for about $2 per pill (30 mg tablet). Vitamin D in the gelcap form (the only form we use) costs around $0.05 per capsule--5 cents . That's a 40-fold difference in price for what I would regard as an inferior--substantially inferior--product.

Throw into the mix a dramatic reduction or elimination of wheat products and other high-glycemic index foods, and all the phenomena of the metabolic syndrome and its associated lipoprotein patterns show even more improvement or full reversal.

In fact, with this approach we are seeing record-setting magnitudes of correction of these parameters every day. Getting HDL, for instance, into the 60 mg/dl or 70 mg/dl range has never been so easy.