The Nation's Health + [vitamin D]

"High-dose" Vitamin D

I stumbled on one of the growing number of local media stories on the power of vitamin D.

In one story, a purported "expert" was talking about the benefits of "high-dose" vitamin D, meaning up to 1000, even 2000 units per day.

I regard this as high-dose---for an infant.

Judging by my experiences, now numbering well over 1000 patients over three years time, I'd regard this dose range not as "high dose," nor moderate dose, perhaps not even low dose. I'd regard it as barely adequate .

Though needs vary widely, the majority of men require 6000 units per day, women 5000 units per day. Only then do most men and women achieve what I'd define as desirable: 60-70 ng/ml 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood level.

I base this target level by extrapolating from several simple observations:

--In epidemiologic studies, a blood level of 52 ng/ml seems to be an eerily consistent value: >52 ng/ml and cancer of the colon, breast, and prostate become far less common ; <52 ng/ml and cancers are far more likely. I don't know about you, but I'd like to have a little larger margin of safety than just achieving 52.1 ng/ml.

--Young people (not older people >40 years old, who have lost most of the capacity to activate vitamin D in the skin) who obtain several days to weeks of tropical sun typically have 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood levels of 80-100 ng/ml without adverse effect .

More recently, having achieved this target blood level in many people, I can tell you confidently that achieving this blood level of vitamin D achieves:

--Virtual elimination of "winter blues" and seasonal affective disorder in the great majority
--Dramatic increases in HDL cholesterol (though full effect can require a year to develop)
--Reduction in triglycerides
--Modest reduction in blood pressure
--Dramatic reduction in c-reactive protein (far greater than achieved with Crestor, JUPITER trial or no)
--Increased bone density (improved osteoporosis/osteopenia)
--Halting or reversal of aortic valve disease

(I don't see enough cancer in my cardiology practice to gauge whether or not there has been an impact on cancer incidence.)

My colleagues who have bothered to participate in the vitamin D conversation have issued warnings about not going "overboard" with vitamin D, generally meaning a level of >30 ng/ml.

I know of no rational basis for these cautions. If hypercalcemia (increased blood calcium) is the concern, then calcium levels can be monitored. I can reassure them that calcium levels virtually never go up in people (without rare diseases like sarcoid or hyperparathyroidism). Then why any hesitation in recreating blood levels that are enjoyed by tropical inhabitants exposed to plentiful sun that achieve these extraordinary health effects?

For the present, I have applied the target level of 60-70 ng/ml without apparent ill-effect. In fact, I have witnessed nothing but hugely positive effects.