The Nation's Health + vitamin D

vitamin D: Is vitamin D a "vitamin"?

Vitamins are crucial participants in the body's reactions and are obtainable from food. Vitamin C, for example, comes from citrus fruits and vegetables. Vitamin K comes from green vegetables. The B vitamins are found in meats, soy, dairy products, and grains. Vitamin A comes from carrots, squash, and other orange and green colored vegetables.

How about vitamin D? What foods contain vitamin D? The list includes:

Food International Units(IU) vitamin D per serving

Cod liver oil, 1 Tablespoon 1,360
Salmon, cooked, 3½ ounces 360
Mackerel, cooked, 3½ ounces 345
Tuna fish, canned in oil, 3 ounces 200
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 1¾ ounces 250

Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D fortified, 1 cup 98
Margarine, fortified, 1 Tablespoon 60
Pudding, prepared from mix and made with vitamin D fortified milk, ½ cup 50
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce 12

Ready-to-eat cereals fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, ¾ cup to 1 cup servings (servings vary according to the brand) 40

Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is found in egg yolk) 20
Liver, beef, cooked, 3½ ounces 15

(Modified from the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health)

You'll note that the only naturally-occurring food sources of vitamin D are the modest quantities in fish, egg yolks, and liver. All the other vitamin D-containing foods like cereal, milk, and other dairy products have vitamin D only because humans add it.

It takes me (personally) 6000 units of vitamin D per day to bring my blood level to an acceptable 50 ng/ml. To obtain this from eating salmon, I would have to eat 58 ounces, or 3 1/2 pounds of salmon--every day. Or, I could eat 30 cans of tuna fish.

If I didn't want to eat loads of fish every day, I could drink 60 glasses of milk every day. After I recovered from the diarrhea, my vitamin D might be adequate, provided the milk indeed contained the amount stated on the label (which it often does not when scrutinized by the USDA).

If vitamin D is a vitamin, how are humans supposed to get sufficient quantities? I don't know anybody who can eat 3 1/2 lbs of salmon per day, nor drink 60 glasses of milk per day. But aren't vitamins supposed to come from food?


The problem is that vitamin D is not really a vitamin, it's a hormone. If your thyroid hormone level was low, you'd gain 20, 30, or more pounds in weight, your blood pressure would skyrocket, you'd lose your hair, become constipated, develop blood clots, be terribly fatigued. In other words, you'd suffer profound changes. Likewise, if thyroid hormone levels are corrected by giving you thyroid hormone, you'd experience profound correction of these phenomena.

That's what I'm seeing with vitamin D: restoration of this hormone to normal blood levels (25-OH-vitamin D3 50 ng/ml) yields profound changes in the body.

If there's one thing that I've come across lately that packs extraordinary potential to help us in reducing heart scan scores, it's the vitamin--sorry, the hormone--cholecalciferol, or D3.

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