The Nation's Health + vitamin D

vitamin D: Vitamin D on Good Morning America


Positive comments about vitamin D made it to a discussion on Good Morning America today about the new and exciting developments in nutrition and "functional foods".

I'm thrilled that the media is conducting these conversations. It sure is making my job easier, not having to persuade patients that taking vitamin D is truly and hugely beneficial for health. I still have to struggle with my colleagues, who tell patients to stop the "poisonous" doses we use.

But I worry that many of the details behind vitamin D don't quite make it to the media conversation. These are crucial, make-it-or-break-it issues, such as:

--Vitamin D must be vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol , not D2 or ergocalciferol. D2 is virtually worthless. Little or none is converted to the active D3, despite the fact that D2 is the form often added to some foods.

--Vitamin D3 supplements must be oil-based capsules, or gelcaps. Tablets are so poorly or erratically absorbed that it's simply not worth the effort. (We get ours from the Vitamin Shoppe.)

--The dose should be sufficient to eliminate the phenemena of deficiency, which is around 50 ng/ml. I take 6000 units per day. Dr. John Cannell of takes 5000 units per day. I give my wife 2000 units per day (she's not as deficient as I was), each of my kids 1000 units per day, except for my 180 lb. 15 year old who takes 2000 units.

I fear that, when people hear that vitamin D packs fabulous effects for health, they will take a 400 unit tablet--nothing will happen. They will not obtain the benefits such as reduction of blood pressure and blood sugar; increased bone density, reduction of arthritis, dramatic reduction in risk for fractures; reduction in risk for colon, prostate, and breast cancer; reduction in risk for multiple sclerosis; reduction in inflammatory processes such as those evidenced by C-reactive protein; and facilitation of reduction of heart scan score.

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