Supplementing daily with vitamin D is important year-round. But it’s especially important now as we head into winter, and the sun’s rays in most parts of the country aren’t strong enough to trigger your skin’s production of this crucial vitamin.
Of course, as I regularly report, vitamin D acts as a hormone in the body to protect you against any number of chronic diseases. In fact, a new study has found it can even protect you against dying from cancer.
But in recent months, I’ve seen a lot of mainstream news reports warning you about getting “too much vitamin D.” Or, alternatively, that supplementing with vitamin D doesn’t actually do anything.
So, today, I’d like to—yet again—set the record straight. Here’s what you really need to know about the recent controversial news coverage of the sunshine vitamin…
Fake news based on old, flawed studies
Mainstream medicine has long been worried about getting “too much” vitamin D.
But you can count the number of actual “overdose” cases through the years on one hand. And those rare cases always stem from highly unusual circumstances, as I reported last summer.
Furthermore, the unlikely side effects the mainstream worries about from getting “too much” vitamin D are almost laughable compared to the carnage caused by taking prescription drugs every day—year after year.
Plus, in my view, the fears about “too much” vitamin D really stem from confusion—even among doctors—about its dosing.
Remember—unlike most other vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements—vitamin D is measured in international units (IUs), rather than milligrams or micrograms. And IUs don’t refer to mass or volume that we can physically see or feel, as in the case with milligrams or micrograms. Instead, they measure the potency, or biological activity, of a compound.
But if vitamin D were measured in the metric system, the recommended daily doses would sound much more familiar…but tiny. In fact, 10,000 IU of vitamin D—which is the amount I recommend you take daily—is just a miniscule 250 micrograms.
Unfortunately, most folks don’t understand this critical point.
And it certainly doesn’t help matters that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D (600 IU for adults under age 70) is woefully inadequate.
RDA for D far too low to do any good
Remember, the RDA for vitamin D was established based only on the science for bone health…and bone health alone. And it ignores the science showing that much higher doses are required to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, depression, heart disease, lung disease, multiple sclerosis, and more.
For years, Dr. Michael Holick from Boston University has tried to bring the important roles of D, beyond bone health, “to light.” I met him when I served as the keynote speaker for the annual continuing medical education course on complementary medicine at John Hopkins Medical School in June 2006. I was thankful to have the opportunity to speak with him personally about the important role of D in the body, based on research findings.
Of course, last year, The New York Times mounted a baseless attack on Dr. Holick for “encouraging” vitamin D blood testing. The charge was comical considering the current vitamin D deficiency epidemic this country now faces. (Of course we should be promoting blood testing!)
Plus, the vitamin D blood test costs a mere $40. That’s a pittance compared to the billions wasted on ineffective, flawed screening tests for breast, colon, prostate, and thyroid cancer, for example.
Now, let’s get back to the new meta-analysis I mentioned at the very beginning of this Daily Dispatch…
Supplementing with vitamin D protects against cancer death
The new meta-analysis included data from 52 previously published studies and involved more than 21,000 men and women. Researchers found that men and women who supplemented with vitamin D3 (the form I always recommend) had a 16 percent lower risk of dying from cancer. In addition, there was a clear trend toward reduced death from all causes in men and women who took vitamin D3 daily.
Given everything we know about vitamin D and how it acts as a hormone in the body, these results don’t come as much of a surprise to me. Indeed, they support everything I’ve been saying for decades.
In fact, years ago, I documented all the evidence that had been published up until that point on vitamin D and cancer in a book called, Nutrition and Cancer Prevention: Investigating the Role of Micronutrients. It noted that scientists have known about the anti-cancer effects of vitamin D since 1941, starting with findings that more sun exposure granted a kind of “immunity” from cancer.
Of course, other research suggests that optimal doses of vitamin D also protect against Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Type II diabetes, and heart disease.
So, once again, my advice remains the same…
- Continue to supplement daily with 10,000 IU of vitamin D3, which you can find in easy-to-use liquid form with or without the potent marine carotenoid, astaxanthin.
- Continue to spend 15 to 20 minutes in the sun daily without sunscreen. Spending this amount of time in the sun without sunscreen, between April in October, is enough to activate your body’s own natural vitamin D production. (And there are other benefits to outdoor sun exposure year-round.)
- Ask your doctor to check your blood levels of vitamin D twice a year. (Ideally, once at the end of summer and again at the end of winter.) Aim to achieve optimal blood levels of 50 to 70 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL). This level will help protect against cancer, as discussed today, as well as other chronic diseases.
- Always discuss your family history and supplement use with your personal doctor.
For more of the truth behind recent “controversial” studies on vitamin D, check out the September 2019 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“Debunking the latest ‘fake news’ about vitamin D). Subscribers have access to this report and all of my past content in the archives. So, if you haven’t already, consider signing up today. Click here now!
And tune back in tomorrow for the latest research showing that supplementing with optimal doses of vitamin D can help prevent three other major chronic diseases.
“Association between vitamin D supplementation and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMJ 2019; 366: l4673. doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l4673