Q: According to the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) final report released in November, there is a lack of evidence supporting the benefits of taking vitamin D. The report found that no studies show clear and direct health benefits. I know that you are a huge advocate of vitamin D and its benefits, so what are your feelings about this report? — K.M., Williamsburg, VA
Dr. Micozzi: First of all, it’s important to note that the USPSTF is a quasi-government committee that’s run by bureaucrats. And it’s staffed by their co-dependents, who rely on the government to string out their publicly subsidized careers for more and more grants to keep studying the same old questions, using the same old failed approaches. And, of course, they never find enough evidence on anything to actually put themselves out of a job, or a cushy government committee assignment.
The USPSTF joins the quasi-government committees that developed the recommended daily allowances (RDAs). These RDAs are still focused on preventing 19th century nutritional-deficiency diseases. Meanwhile, the bureaucrats on these committees steadfastly ignore the mounting scientific evidence showing how nutrients can prevent, treat, and even cure common diseases—if you use higher doses than could ever be achieved by the pathetic, outdated RDAs.
But you can bet your tax money still gets spent to gather these government-approved experts together for their regular ritualistic reviews of new evidence that never changes anything.
They justify their ridiculous recommendations by saying the purpose of the RDAs is to prevent outright nutritional deficiency, and that considering the ability of nutrition to prevent or treat disease is outside their scope.
To actually widen that scope, the academic-government-industrial medical complex would have to admit what has been known to leading natural scientists and physicians for ages—that nutrition is critical for all health and is involved in all disease.
If they did indeed embrace this fundamental truth, these nattering bureaucrats and political scientists would find themselves in the company of every genius from Thomas Sydenham to Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Alva Edison (and that’s just the Thomases!).
But somehow they think they know different.
So how does all of this apply to vitamin D? Well, while there is much scientific evidence to support the need for higher levels of many nutrients for optimal health, vitamin D is actually a little different.
You see, the issue is not just about how higher levels of vitamin D can prevent many common cancers, and increase survival time and quality of life in cancer patients. Or how adequate D can help prevent heart disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, and other common problems.
The real issue is that there is actually is a widespread deficiency of vitamin D in most people worldwide. And there are many medical problems associated with this deficiency.
So how did we get to this point? Part of the problem is that government committees have focused only on D’s effects on bone health, based on discoveries starting during the 1920s.
But in the last century, scientists have gone on to prove that vitamin D is critical for every cell, tissue, and organ in the body—not just the bones.
And sadly, that’s why there are over a dozen different serious signs of vitamin D deficiency that doctors are seeing every day.
Of course, we can start with bone pain not explained by a “pathologic” diagnosis.
Some research shows that constant respiratory infections in children may also be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. But rather than boost the RDA for kids, the CDC wants to make sure you vaccinate your children with flu shots that may be useless or harmful to their health.
Muscle weakness is another potential indicator of D deficiency. You see, muscles must have a constant supply of this vitamin to function. Ironically, none other than the National Institutes of Health warns us about this problem. They must not have gotten the anti-vitamin D memo from their bureaucratic brothers at the USPSTF.
There are also a variety of studies showing that vitamin D deficiency can lead to congestive heart failure. And high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease, is associated with low vitamin D as well. A long-term study conducted by Harvard University found a 47 percent increase in the risk of high blood pressure in women with low levels of vitamin D.
Depression may also be a sign of inadequate vitamin D. Studies show vitamin D helps our brains produce the “feel-good” chemical serotonin. And there is evidence that low vitamin D levels are associated with increased anxiety as well.
Surprisingly, research shows that abnormal sweating may also be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Years ago, doctors would ask pregnant women about increased sweating as a way to determine if they had nutritional deficiency due to the strenuous demands of a growing baby on their bodies.
Studies have also shown that inadequate D levels increase the risk of suffering from chronic pain. General malaise or fatigue may also be associated with lack of vitamin D. And in athletes, too little D may lead to a lack of endurance.
Finally, simply getting older can make it hard to get enough vitamin D. Unfortunately, our bodies just don’t activate as much of this crucial vitamin once we get past age 50. So while D is important throughout your life, you have to be especially vigilant as you get older.
Bottom line: Thousands of medical researchers have discovered convincing scientific evidence of the perils of D deficiency. And many more doctors are seeing vitamin D deficiency in real patients every day.
So I am not sure what that government committee was looking at when it issued its “no benefit” recommendation about vitamin D. And here’s the real kicker: Since this ridiculous report was released, two independent investigators have found the RDA is off by a factor of 10.
Instead of the 600 to 700 IU per day they currently recommend, the daily requirement should be 10 times higher—6,000 to 7,000 IU (when you know how to do the arithmetic right). If you allow for getting 1,000-2,000 IU per day from diet and sun exposure, that leaves the same 5,000 IU per day dietary supplement recommendation I (and many other astute medical professionals) have already been making for years.
Be on the lookout for any of the telltale symptoms of vitamin D deficiency listed above. And have your levels checked annually. A good vitamin D level for better health is 30 ng/ml or more.
So to reach and maintain this optimal level, make sure to supplement with 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily. If you don’t like taking pills, you can get vitamin D in a liquid form, which you can take straight or add to a small glass of natural fruit juice or milk in the morning.
 Nurses’ Health Study Newsletter, Volume 16, 2009. http://www.channing.harvard.edu/nhs/wp-content/uploads/n2009.pdf. Accessed March 25, 2015