I have been planning for many months to write a commentary on Vitamin D. Recently I had the good fortune to spend a couple of hours with Dr. Joe Prendergast, an endocrinologist /diabetologist. (You can learn more about him and his work at www.uncommondoctor.com and www.endocrinemetabolic.com.)

Dr. Pendergast has managed over 1500 diabetic patients and, in the last decade, not one of his patients has had a stroke or heart attack. Only one has even been hospitalized!? His secret is 50,000 units of Vitamin D3 daily.

Dr. Joe further reports that his patients have seen the following vitamin D effects:

  • Reversal of advanced coronary disease
  • Reversal of advanced lung disease, avoiding a lung transplant!
  • Cure of multiple sclerosis
  • Cure of amotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Regression of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Improvement in allergies
  • Control of many cancers including prostate, breast, colon, brain tumors, leukemia, myeloma, etc
  • Reversal of osteoporosis
  • Prevention of influenza
  • Cure of depression and many other mental disorders
  • Hashimotos hyperthyroidism

He slyly then mentions that men report that the penis grows an average of 10% in length and girth (Volunteers??) and that women report growth of the labia.

Upon my return home, I searched the literature and found thousands of articles supporting in general every possibility Dr. Prendergast mentioned, except penis and labia growth. Interestingly, I did not find a single article integrating all this remarkable potential benefit in virtually every disease. Indeed, I know of no supplement or treatment that is so successful in such a broad variety of diseases. One of vitamin D’s greatest effects appears to be immune modulation. Indeed, even tuberculosis is strongly correlated with a deficiency of vitamin D!

Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption, which enhances milk production in pregnant women. Suckling of the breast induces prolactin and oxytocin production (even in non-pregnant women) the nurturing and trust hormones. Everything is related to everything!

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is only 400 units. When I was in medical school dosages above 1000 units were thought to be toxic perhaps because most of the D then came from cod liver oil and were associated with significant amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A is toxic at long term dosages above 10,000 units, although beta carotene is safe at dosages up to hundreds of thousands of units.

There are several articles which emphasize the safety of Vitamin D up to 10,000 units. And a single article suggests that 50,000 units will not induce toxicity.

Among the most interesting articles about Vitamin D effects are many that emphasize the remarkable decrease in Type 1 diabetes in children given 2000 units of D throughout early childhood up to 80% decreased incidence!? Dr. Prendergast recommends increasing to 50,000 units at puberty. There are also suggestions that gluten sensitivity may be increased because of inadequate D. Since one-third of Americans have gluten sensitivity, D deficiency may be a contributor!

One article has stated that 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight on face and hands leads to the production of 400 units of D. Total body exposure might then be approximately 8000 units per hour. One could argue that our forebears living in the tropics might have produced well over 50,000 units of D daily!!

Dr. Prendergast warns that patients taking 50,000 units of vitamin D3 SHOULD NOT TAKE ANY CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS!

It is fine to have some milk products and the small dose of calcium in most multivitamins (400 mg) will not be a problem. Since most adults seem to have deposits of calcium outside bones, in arteries, around joints, etc, perhaps the vitamin D assists in retrieving calcium from these undesirable deposits!

The OTHER EXCEPTION TO THE 50,000 UNITS WOULD BE INDIVIDUALS WITH KIDNEY FAILURE THOSE ON DIALYSIS. Although there is great evidence that D is needed and that D deficiency is related to kidney failure, the dose in these individuals should be monitored by blood levels!

In summary, the evidence for safety and the remarkable efficacy of Vitamin D3 suggests that virtually ALL adults should probably take 50,000 units of D3 daily. This is certainly true for those with virtually any illness. If you are concerned about that dosage, then take six 50,000 unit capsules each month. Children, pre-puberty should take 2000 units. 1000 and 50,000 units of D3.

Dr C. Norman Shealy is the father of holistic medicine. He recommends that everyone learn autogenic focus as part of their holistic health journey. Register and download your free autogenic focus MP3 today

Selected Bibliography on Vitamin D Effects

Woo TC, Choo R., Jamieson M, Chander S., Vieth R. Pilot study: potential role of vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) in patients with PSA relapse after definitive therapy.

Nutr Cancer, 2005; 51(1): 32-6

Driver JP, Foreman O, Mathieu C., van Etten E. Serreze DV

Comparative therapeutic effects of orally administered 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) and 1alpha-hydroxyvitamin D(3) on type-1 diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice fed a normal-calcaemic diet. Clin Exp Immunol, 2008 Jan;151(1):76-85, Qpub 2007 Nov 5

Shiizaki K, Hatamura I, Negi S, Sakaguchi T, Saji F, Imazeki I, Kusano E, Shigematsu T, Akizawa T Highly concentrated calcitriol and its analogues induce apoptosis of parathyroid cells and regression of the hyperplastic gland study in rats

Nephrol Dial Transplant, 2008 May;23(5):1529-36. Epub 2007 Dec 21

J J Cannell, R Vieth, J C Umhau, M F Holick, W. B. Grant, S. Madronich, C F Garland, E Giorvannucci  Epidemic influenza and vitamin D

Epidemiology and infection (2006, 134: 1129-1140 Cambridge University Press 2006 doi:10.1017/s0950268806007175

Lindeman RD  Chronic renal failure and magnesium metabolism

Magnesium. 1986;5(5-6): 300

Piazza L, Liardo G, DeMaria A, Troiano L, Terminella A, Cannizzaro MA  Hypocalcemia after total thyroidectomy. Therapeutic considerations

Minerva Chir, 1990 Sep 30:45(18):1161-3

Mortia R, Yamamoto I, Takada M, Ohnaka Y, Yuu I  {Hypervitaminosis D}

Nippon Rinsho, 1993 Apr;51(4):984-8

Pakkala S, deVos S, Elstner E., Rude RK, Uskokovic M, Binderup L, Koeffler HP  Vitamin D3 analogs: effect on leukemis clonal growth and differentiation, and on serum calcium levels Leuk Res. 1995 Jan;19(1):65-72

Omenn GS Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as cancer-preventive agents

IARC Sci Publ. 1996;(139):33-45

Hidalgo M, Rinaldi D, Medina G, Griffin T, Turner J, Von Hoff DD

A phase I trial of topical topitriol (calcitriol, 1,25-dihydoxyvitamin D3) to prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia  Anticancer Drugs, 1999 Apr;10(4):393-5

Wietrzyk J, Petczynska M, Madej J, Dzimira S, Kusnierczyk H, Kutner A, Szelejewski W, Opolski A Toxicity and antineoplastic effect of (24R)-1,24-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (PRI-2191) Steroids, 2004 Sep;69(10):629-35

David A. Hanley, K. Shawn Davison Symposium: Vitamin D insufficiency: a significant risk factor in Chronic Disease and Potential Disease-Specific Biomakers of Vitamin D Sufficiency Vitamin D Insufficiency in North America

2005 The American Society for Nutritional Sciences J. Nutr. 135:332-337, February 2005

T Cundy, S A Haining, D F Guilland-Cumming, J Butler, J A Kanis 1987 Remission of Hypoprathyroidism during Lactation: Evidence for a Physiological Role for Prolactin in the Regulation of Vitamin D Metabolism Clinical Endocrinology 26 (6), 667-674 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.1987.tb00824.x

A J Crowle, E J Ross, M H May Inhibition by 1,25(OH)2-vitamin D3 of the multiplication of virulent tubercles bacilli in cultured human macrophages

Infect Immun. 1987 December, 55(12): 2945-2950

Johannes P T M van Leeuwen,? Huibert A P Pols, Vitamine D: Cancer and Differentiation Vitamine D Vit D: Caner and Differentiation Vitamin D (2), 2005, page 1571-1597

Joellen Welsh Calcium and Vitamin D Nutritional Oncology (second edition), 2006, pages 545-558

Shraga Shany, Yfat Levy, Merav Lahav-Cohen The effects of 1a,24(S)-dihydroxyvitamin D2 analog on cancer cell proliferation and cytokine expression Steroids, Vol 66, Issue 3-5, 1 March-1 May 2001, p.319-323

H A P Pols, J C Birkenhauger, J A Foekens, J P T M van Leeuwen

Vitamin D: A modulator of cell proliferation and differentiation Doi:10.1016/0960-0760(90)90435-N 1990 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Emmnual Garcion, Nelly wion-Barbot, Claudia N Montero-Menel, Francois Berger, Didier Wion New clues about vitamin D functions in the nervous system Doi:10.1016/21043-2760(01) 00547-1 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Tomasz M Beer, Kristine M. Eilers, Mark Garzotto, Merril J Egorin, Bruce A Lowe, W David Henner Weekly High-Dose Calcitriol and Decetrzel in Metastic Androgen-Independent Prostate Cancer Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 21, Issue 1(January), 2003: 123-128, 2003 American Society of Clinical Oncology

Colleen E Hayes, Vitamin D: a natural inhibitor of multiple sclerosis, the Nutrition Society (2000), 59:531-535 Cambridge University Press, doi:10.1017/s0029665100000768

Michael F Holick, MD, PhD, Vitamin D Deficiency Article Review, NEJM Medical Progress, Vol. 357:266-281, 2007 No.3

The epidemiology of vitamin D and cancer incidence and mortality: A review (United States). Journal: Cancer Causes and Control, Springer 0957-5243 (print) 1573-7225 (online) 16.2 March 2005 10.1007/s10552-004-1661-4 83-95

Michael F Holick, PhD, MD, High Prevalence of Vitamin D Inadequacy and Implications for Health. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006;81:353-373, 2005 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Glenn Liu, Kurt Oettel, Gregory Ripple, Mary Jane Staab, Dorothea Horvath, Dona Alberti, Rhoda Arzoomanian, Rebecca Marnocha, Reginald Bruskewitz, Richard Mazess, Charles Bishop, Abhik Bhattacharya, Howard Bailey, George Wilding Phase I Trial of la-Hydrozyvitamin D2 in Patients with Hormone Refractory Prostate Cancer1. Clinical Cancer Research Vol. 8, 2820-2827, September 2002,  2002 American Association for Cancer Research

J Misselwitz, V Hesse, T Markestad (1990) Nephrocalcinoisis, Hypercalciuria and Elevated Serum Levels of 1, 25-Dihydroxyvitamin D in Children Possible Link to Vitamin D Toxicity, Acta Paediatrica 79 (6-7), 637-643 doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.1990.tb11528.x

S Johnson, H Melhus, Vitamin A Antagonizes Calcium Response to Vitamin D in Man, Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, October 2001:16:1899-1905(doi: 10.1359/jbmr.2001.16.10. 1899)

DeLuca H F, The kidney as an endocrine organ for the production of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D 3, a calcium-mobilizing hormone, N Engl J Med., 1973 Aug 16; 289 (7): 359-65

Fraser DR, Advances in the knowledge of the metabolism of vitamin D, Proc Nutr Soc. 1975 Sep;34(2):139-43

Norman AW, Henry H, The role of the kidney and vitamin D metabolism in health and disease, Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1974 Jan-Feb;(98):258-87

Fournier A, Garabedian M, Gregoire I, Sebert JL, Pruna A, Vitamin D: metabolism and biological properties, Ann Med Interne (Paris). 1985;136(2):154-63

T R J Evans, K W Colston, F J Lofts, D Cunningham, D A Anthoney, H Gogas, J S deBono, K J Hamberg, T Skov and J L Mansi, A phase II trial of the vitamin D analogue Seocalcitol (EB1089) in patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer, British Journal of Cancer (2002) 86, 680-685. doi:10.1038/sj/bjc/6600162

Robert P Heaney, The Vitamin D requirement in health and disease, doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2005.06.020, 2005 Elsevier Ltd.

D R Fraser, Regulation of the metabolism of vitamin D, Physiol. Rev. 60:551-613, 1980; 0031-9333/80

P Goldberg, Multiple sclerosis: vitamin D and calcium as environmental determinants of prevalence (A viewpoint) part 2. biochemical and genetic factors, Research Laboratory, Polaroid Corporation, Cambridge, Mass., USA, doi: 10.1080/00207237408709641

J L Omdhl and H F DeLuca, Regulation of vitamin D metabolism and function, Physiol. Rev. 53: 327-372, 1973; 0031-9333/73

Hedlund T E, Moffatt K A, Uskokovic M R, Miller G J, Three synthetic vitamin D analogues induce prostate-specific acid phosphatase and prostate-specific antigen while inhibiting the growth of human prostate cancer cells in a vitamin D receptor-dependent fashion, Clin. Cancer Res. 1997 Aug;3(8);1331-8.

B J Boucher, Inadequate vitamin D status: does it contribute to the disorder comprising syndrome X?, British Journal of Nutrition Society 1998 doi:10.1079/BJN19980055

Mellibovsky L; Diez A; Perez-Villa E; Serrano S; Nacher M; Aubian, Vitamin D treatment in myelodysplastic syndromes, British Journal of Haematology. 100(3-1):516-620, March 1998

Candace S Johson, Pamela A Hershberger, Donald L Trump, Vitamin D-related Therapies in Prostate Cancer, Cancer and Metastasis Review, Springer ND, Doi: 10.1023/A:1020836226594 (147-158), June 2002

Micahel F Holick, Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease, Am J Clin Nutr 2004:80(suppl):1678S-88S

Reinhold Vieth, Pak-Cheung R Chan, Gordon D MacFarlane, Efficacy and safety of vitamin D3 intake exceeding the lowest observed adverse effect level 1, 2, 3. American Journal of Clin Nutri. Vol. 73, No 2, 228-294, February 2001.

Reinhold Vieth, Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety 1, 2. Amer. Journal of Clin. Nutr. Vol. 69, No. 5, 842-856, May 1999

Edward Giovannucci, The epidemiology of vitamin D and cancer incidence and mortality: A review (United States), Cancer Causes and Control J., 0957-5243 (print) 1573-7225 dio: 10.1007/s10552-004-1661-4 (83-95), May 2005

Zittermann, Armin, Vitamin D in preventive medicine: are we ignoring the evidence? British Jour. of? Nut. 89(5):552-572, May 2003

Schwartzman M S and Franck W A, Vitamin D toxicity complicating the treatment of senile, postmenopausal, and glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Four case reports and a critical commentary on the use of vitamin D in these disorders. Am J Med. 1987 Feb;82(2): 224-30.

Alex J. Brown, Adriana Dusso, and Eduardo Slatopolsky,  Vitamin D, invited review, Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 277:F157-F175, 1999;0363-6127/99

John M Pettifor; Daniel D Bikle, Meropi Cavaleros, Dianne Zachen, Mahomid C Kamdar, Frederick P Ross, Serum Levels of Free 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D in Vitamin D Toxicity�? Brief Communication April 1995, Vol 122 (7), p 551-513

Reinhold Vieth, The mechanisms of vitamin D toxicity, Bone and Mineral, 11 (1990) 267-272 Elsevier BAM 00329

Cedric F Garland, DrPH, Frank, C Garland, PhD, Edward D Gorham, PhD, MPH, Martin Lipkin, MD, Harold Newmark, ScD, Sharif B Mohr, MPH and Michael F Holick, MD, PhD., Dealing with the Innovation and Uncertainty, The Role of Vitamin D in Cancer Prevention, Amer. J of Public Health 2006 Vol. 96. No. 2 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.045260

Reinhold Vieth, Donald Fraser, Vitamin D insufficiency: no recommended dietary allowance exists for this nutrient. CMAJ.June 11, 2002; 166 (12) Canadian Med. Assoc or its licensors.

David C Smith, Candace S Johnson, Catherine C Freeman, Josephia Muindi, John W Wilson and Donald L Trump. A Phase I Trial of calcitriol (1,25-Dihydroxycholecalciferol) in Patients with Advanced Malignancy, Clinical Cancer Research Vol. 5, 1339-1345; June 1999 Amer. Assoc for Cancer Research.

David A Hanley and K Shawn Davison, Vitamin D Insufficiency in North America Symposium: Vitamin D Insufficiency: A Significant Risk Factor in Chronic Diseases and Potential Disease-Specific Biomarkers of Vitamin D Sufficiency, Amer Soc for Nutr Sciences,? J. Nutr. 135:332-337, February 2005

Heide S Cross, Vitamin D and Colon Cancer, Vitamin D (2), 2005, p 1709-1725

F C Garland, C F Garland, E D Gorham, M Lipkin, H Newmark, M F Holick and S B Mohr, An epidemiologic basis for estimating optimal vitamin D3 intake for colon cancer prevention and a public health recommendation for greater vitamin D intake, Annals of Epidemiology, Volume 15, issue 8, Sept. 2005, p. 663.

Edward Giovannucci and Elizabeth A Platz, Epidemiology of Cancer Risk: Vitamin D and Calcium. Vitamin D (2), 2005, Pages 1617-1634

Edward D Gorham, Cedric F Garland, Frank C Garland, William B Grant, Sharif B Mohr, Martin Lipkin, Harold L Newmark, Edward Giovannucci, Melissa Wei and Michael F Hollick, Vitamin D and prevention of colorectal cancer. doi: 10.1016/j.sbmb.2005.06.018, 2005 Elsevier Ltd.

Vitamin D Workshop Meeting on VITAMIN D AND CANCER, The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Vol 97, Iss 1-2, October 2005, P. 179-194

Cedric F Garland, Frank C Garland and Edward Gorham, Calcium and Vitamin D: Their Potential Roles in Colon and Breast Cancer Prevention, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 889 (1), 107-119 doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.199.tb08728.x

Roberto Lin and John H White, The pleiotropic actions of vitamin D: Review Article, BioEssay Volume 26, Issue 1, p 21-28 Online, Dec 2003, Wiley Periodicals Inc.

Vijayakumar, Srinivasan MD, Mehta, Rajeshwari R, PhD, Boerner, Phillip S. MA, Packianathan, S MD, PhD, Mehta, Rajendra G. PhD.  Clinical Trials Involving Vitamin D Analogs in Prostate Cancer, Cancer Journal. 11(5):362-363, Sep/Oct 2005.

Putting the pieces of the puzzle together: a series of hypotheses on the etiology and pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes
Medical Hypotheses, Volume 68, Issue 3, 2007, Pages 607-619 William E. Barbeau, Josep Bassaganya-Riera, Raquel Hontecill

Intake of vitamin D and risk of type 1 diabetes: a birth-cohort study –  – The Lancet, 2001 Volume 358 , Issue 9292, Pages 1500 – 1503

Mathew S, Lund RJ, Chaudhary LR, Geurs T, Hruska KA. Vitamin D Receptor Activators Can Protect against Vascular Calcification. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008 Apr 30

Ruiz-Irastorza G, Egurbide MV, Olivares N, Martinez-Berriotxoa A, Aguirre C. Vitamin D deficiency in systemic lupus erythematosus: prevalence, predictors and clinical consequences. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 Apr 14

Alsafwah S, Laguardia SP, Arroyo M, Dockery BK, Bhattacharya SK, Ahokas RA, Newman KP. Congestive heart failure is a systemic illness: a role for minerals and micronutrients. Clin Med Res. 2007 Dec;5(4):238-43.

Atlas SA, Patel SS. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2007 Dec;9(6):447-449. Vitamin D Levels and the Risk of Hypertension.

Holick MF, Chen TC. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):1080S-6S. Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences.

Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic. The major cause of vitamin D deficiency is the lack of appreciation that sun exposure in moderation is the major source of vitamin D for most humans. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and foods that are fortified with vitamin D are often inadequate to satisfy either a child’s or an adult’s vitamin D requirement. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and will precipitate and exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures in adults. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and infectious diseases. A circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of >75 nmol/L, or 30 ng/mL, is required to maximize vitamin D’s beneficial effects for health. In the absence of adequate sun exposure, at least 800-1000 IU vitamin D3/d may be needed to achieve this in children and adults. Vitamin D2 may be equally effective for maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D when given in physiologic concentrations.

Vieth R. Vitamin D toxicity, policy, and science.

J Bone Miner Res. 2007 Dec;22 Suppl 2:V64-8.

Turner MK, Hooten WM, Schmidt JE, Kerkvliet JL, Townsend CO, Bruce BK. Prevalence and Clinical Correlates of Vitamin D Inadequacy among Patients with Chronic Pain. Pain Med. 2008 Mar 11

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