New Vitamin D News

September 15, 2010 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

There are many different writing styles. Some health reporters seek out a specific niche and stick to it. Others mine a more diverse topic base from which to select material. I tend to fall between the two camps. While researching, I allow the material that I come across in my daily life to dictate what I cover. At times this gives me the luxury of presenting a broad cross-section of information. But occasionally, what I discover prompts me to revisit select topics on a regular basis. Such is the case with research involving Vitamin D. Currently, there is a tremendous amount of scientific attention being paid to this humble “sunshine” nutrient. Some of the more dramatic data makes the evening news. Much of it does not. The latter category is the subject of my column today.

A rather bold proclamation was recently presented in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. According to the authors of a piece entitled, “Health Benefit of Increased Serum 25(OH)D Levels from Oral Intake and Ultraviolet B Irradiance in Nordic Countries”, elevating Vitamin D levels to 105 nmol/L would likely lower all-cause mortality rates by: 17% in Denmark; 24% in Finland; 24% in Iceland; 18% in Norway and 18% in Sweden. How is this possible? The researchers involved note that there is an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, “brain diseases”, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and infectious diseases in those with low blood levels of Vitamin D – serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D. (1)

If the prior assertions are accurate, one would expect to find numerous examples of the health benefits of Vitamin D in the medical literature. Those who look for such evidence will surely find it in abundance. I know I do. Here are several studies that strengthen the case for maintaining optimal 25(OH)D levels:

Breast Cancer: A current French investigation involving 636 women with breast cancer and 1,272 women without looked for a correlation between Vitamin D levels and cancer incidence. Women with the highest 25(OH)D serum concentrations were found 27% less likely to have breast cancer. This was especially true for women under the age of 53 – a 40% decreased risk. Also of note is a soon-to-be published study in the October 2010 issue of the journal Chemico-Biological Interactions. In it, two groups of mice were exposed to identical levels of a cancer causing agent. However, one group’s chow was supplemented with added fish oil and Vitamin D. The laboratory animals receiving the fish oil + Vit. D demonstrated a “significant reduction in incidence, multiplicity and volume of mammary tumors”. The authors of the trial concluded that, “In view of their natural availability, non-toxicity and acceptability; combined supplementation of fish oil and Vitamin D3 might be effective for chemoprevention of mammary carcinogenesis”. (2,3)

Diabetes: The October 2010 edition of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice reports that “women with active sun exposure habits were at a 30% lower risk of having DM (diabetes mellitus), as compared to those with non-active habits”. This finding is based on an examination of 29,518 Swedish women between the ages of 25 and 64. There was an average follow up time of 11 years. However, the question remains whether Vitamin D supplementation has a role to play in the prevention of diabetes or whether protection is conferred to those already living with DM. The latter inquiry is addressed in the current issue of the journal Diabetolgia. A total of 61 patients with DM were given a placebo; a single dose of 100,000 IUs of Vitamin D; or a single dose of 200,000 IUs of Vitamin D. Various measures of cardiovascular and diabetic health were taken at baseline and after 8 and 16 weeks. The patients receiving the supplemental Vitamin D3 exhibited lower systolic blood pressure (placebo: 146.4 mmHg; 100,000 IUs of D: 141.4 mmHg; 200,000 IUs of D: 136.8 mmHg). The higher-dosage Vitamin D group also demonstrated a decline in “B-type natriuretic peptide levels” – a cardiovascular bio-marker that may predict the risk of first-time heart events, heart failure and stroke. (4,5)

Periodontitis: It’s common knowledge that calcium and Vitamin D are essential for bone health. But what’s often overlooked is that oral health is largely influenced by the condition of the bone structure in the surrounding region. Two new publications in the Journal of Periodontology emphasize this connection. The first examined the effects of supplementing with 1,000 mg or more of calcium and 400 IUs or more of Vitamin D daily vs. no supplementation in a population of 51 dental patients. Once diet was factored in, it was estimated that the supplement group was consuming about 1,769 mg of calcium and 1,049 IUs of Vitamin D per day. The control group’s intake averaged 642 mg of calcium and 156 IUs of Vitamin D daily. Over the course of 12 months, dental health assessments were performed on all of the patients. The conclusion states that, “Calcium and Vitamin D supplementation (up to 1,000 IU daily) has a modest positive effect on periodontal health”. A separate examination reports that Vitamin D levels below 75 nmol/L contributed to the likelihood of periodontal disease in a group of 235 pregnant women – a population with a high incidence (up to 40%) of periodontitis. (6,7)

Calcium + Vitamin D May Promote Weight Loss in Women
Source: Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:62 (link)

I make it a point to mention the importance of Vitamin D testing whenever I cover this topic. The disconcerting reality is that you may not achieve adequate-to-optimal Vitamin D status even if you spend time in the sun and/or supplement with D. Numerous examples of this fact exist in the scientific literature. Some publications go on to describe how and why this may be occurring. Here are several of the reasons cited: a) inadequate dosages or dosing schedules and differences in assimilation between genders; b) height and weight variations; c) “insufficient cutaneous absorption of UVB” due to air pollution; d) malabsorption and/or variable absorption of Vitamin D supplements and fortified foods; e) supplement timing. (8,9,10,11,12,13)

In closing I’ll tell you how I supplement with this inexpensive and safe nutrient. I use the natural Vitamin D3 form and take it in a soft gel capsule which contains a base of olive oil. Research indicates that consuming Vitamin D along with the largest meal of the day further enhances absorption. I also spend some time outside in the sunlight during non-peak hours. However, I make it a point to never get sunburned. Finally, I have my 25(OH)D levels tested as part of my routine, yearly physical. At a minimum, I strive for a 25(OH)D level of 60 ng/mL or over. I believe this is one of the most important blood tests that isn’t yet considered standard practice. Fortunately, many physicians are quickly becoming familiar with the importance of Vitamin D status and are willing to order the test if they’re asked to do so. Based on your results, you can easily adjust your level of sun exposure and supplementation. Doing so may very well reduce the risk of many costly and preventable maladies that might otherwise become a part of your future. (14)

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


Tags: , ,
Posted in Dental Health, Diabetes, Nutritional Supplements

11 Comments & Updates to “New Vitamin D News”

  1. Oct Says:

    I’m a big fan of vitamin D. Thank you for writing about it and giving even more insight, JP. 😀

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Oct! 🙂

    Be well!


  3. Henry Lahore Says: has over 2500 articles on vitamin D – in 36+ categories. Adding about 200 items every month. Come learn

  4. Peter Says:

    Really great information I really enjoy your writing. A doctor friend mentioned vitamin D just recently. Although your article
    but it all in perspective. Thank You

  5. JP Says:

    Thank you, Peter! 🙂

    Be well!


  6. Dave Says:

    This was a great article. I wrote an article earlier this week about Vitamin D. This is by far the best hormone to take. No sickness in my family.


  7. JP Says:

    Thank you, Dave! Let’s keep spreading the word! 🙂

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Update: A powerful new study …

    Lupus. 2015 Apr;24(4-5):483-9.

    A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study adding high dose vitamin D to analgesic regimens in patients with musculoskeletal pain.

    BACKGROUND: The current mode of therapy for many patients with musculoskeletal pain is unsatisfactory.

    PURPOSE: We aimed to assess the impact of adding 4000 IU of vitamin D on pain and serological parameters in patients with musculoskeletal pain.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled study assessing the effect of 4000 IU of orally given vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) (four gel capsules of 1000 IU, (SupHerb, Israel) vs. placebo on different parameters of pain. Eighty patients were enrolled and therapy was given for 3 months. Parameters were scored at three time points: prior to intervention, at week 6 and week 12. Visual analogue scale (VAS) scores of pain perception were recorded following 6 and 12 weeks. We also measured serum levels of leukotriene B4 (LTB4), interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) by ELISA.

    RESULTS: The group receiving vitamin D achieved a statistically significant larger decline of their VAS measurement throughout the study compared with the placebo group. The need for analgesic ‘rescue therapy’ was significantly lower among the vitamin D-treated group. TNFα levels decreased by 54.3% in the group treated with vitamin D and increased by 16.1% in the placebo group. PGE2 decreased by39.2% in the group treated with vitamin D and increased by 16% in the placebo group. LTB4 levels decreased in both groups by 24% (p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: Adding 4000 IU of vitamin D for patients with musculoskeletal pain may lead to a faster decline of consecutive VAS scores and to a decrease in the levels of inflammatory and pain-related cytokines. Be well! JP

  9. JP Says:

    Update 05/18/15:

    Ann Epidemiol. 2015 Apr 18.

    Higher vitamin D intake during pregnancy is associated with reduced risk of dental caries in young Japanese children.

    PURPOSE: The intrauterine environment, including maternal nutrition status, may affect the development, formation, and mineralization of children’s teeth. We assessed the relationship between self-reported maternal dietary vitamin D intake during pregnancy and the risk of dental caries among young Japanese children.

    METHODS: This study is based on a prospective analysis of 1210 Japanese mother-child pairs. Information on maternal intake during pregnancy was collected using a validated diet history questionnaire. Data on oral examination at 36-46 months of age were obtained from the mothers, who transcribed the information from their maternal and child health handbooks to our self-administered questionnaire. Children were classified as having dental caries if one or more primary teeth had decayed or had been filled.

    RESULTS: Compared with the lowest quartile of maternal vitamin D intake during pregnancy, adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for quartiles 2, 3, and 4 were 1.06 (0.72-1.56), 0.53 (0.34-0.81), and 0.67 (0.44-1.02), respectively (P for trend = .01). When maternal vitamin D intake was treated as a continuous variable, the adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) was 0.94 (0.89-0.995).

    CONCLUSIONS: Higher maternal vitamin D intake during pregnancy may be associated with a lower risk of dental caries in children.

    Be well!


  10. JP Says:

    Updated 12/08/17:

    PLoS One. 2017 Dec 7;12(12):e0188424.

    Dose responses of vitamin D3 supplementation on arterial stiffness in overweight African Americans with vitamin D deficiency: A placebo controlled randomized trial.

    BACKGROUND: Clinical trials are scant and equivocal on whether vitamin D can ameliorate arterial stiffness, particularly in populations at high risk for vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease (CVD). This study determined the dose-response effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on arterial stiffness in overweight African Americans with vitamin D deficiency.

    METHODS: Seventy overweight African Americans (aged 13-45 years) with serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels ≤ 20 ng/mL were randomized to monthly oral supplementation of 18,000 IU (~600 IU/day, n = 17), 60,000 IU (~2000 IU/day, n = 18), or 120,000 IU (~4000 IU/day, n = 18) of vitamin D3 or placebo (n = 17) for 16-weeks. The arterial stiffness measurements, carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) and carotid-radial PWV, were assessed by applanation tonometry at baseline and 16 weeks.

    RESULTS: Vitamin D3 supplementation demonstrated a dose-response increase in serum 25(OH)D concentrations between groups (P<0.01). A significant downward linear trend was observed for carotid-femoral PWV (P<0.01), as the mean changes in carotid-femoral PWV across the four treatment groups were 0.13 m/s (95% CI: -0.24, 0.51 m/s) for placebo, 0.02 m/s (95% CI: -0.34, 0.38 m/s) for 600 IU/day group, -0.11 m/s (95% CI: -0.50, 0.27 m/s) for the 2,000 IU/day group, and -0.70 m/s (95% CI: -1.07, -0.32 m/s) for the 4,000 IU/day group. Findings were similar for carotid-radial PWV (P = 0.03), as the mean changes in carotid-radial PWV across the four treatment groups were 0.24 m/s (95% CI: -0.45, 0.92 m/s) for placebo, 0.09 m/s (95% CI: -0.54, 0.73 m/s) for 600 IU/day group, -0.57 m/s (95% CI: -1.20, 0.07 m/s) for the 2,000 IU/day group, and -0.61 m/s (95% CI: -1.25, 0.02 m/s) for the 4,000 IU/day group.

    CONCLUSION: Arterial stiffness was improved by vitamin D3 supplementation in a dose-response manner in overweight African Americans with vitamin D deficiency.

    Be well!


  11. JP Says:

    Updated 11/1/18:

    J Nutr Health Aging. 2018;22(9):1128-1132.

    Effect of Vitamin D Treatment on Glucose Homeostasis and Metabolism in Lebanese Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

    BACKGROUND: A low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [(25(OH) D)] concentration was shown to correlate with higher fasting blood glucose (FBG) and insulin levels. Since age affect insulin sensitivity and the metabolism, we aimed in this randomized controlled trial to investigate the effect of vitamin D supplementation on glucose homeostasis and index of insulin resistance in elderly subjects living in Beirut, Lebanon.

    METHODS: Participants (n= 115) deficient in vitamin D were randomly divided into two groups, a group receiving 30,000 IU cholecalciferol/week for a period of 6 months, and a placebo group. The index of insulin resistance HOMA (homeostasis model assessment) was the primary outcome. Glucose homeostasis and metabolic markers were also measured at start of treatment and at 6 months.

    RESULTS: Vitamin D supplementation led to significant improvements in blood levels of [25(OH) D] (P< 0.0001), and a significant decreased of HOMA, PTH and FBG concentrations (P< 0.0001) in the intervention group compared to placebo. No significant changes were observed in HbA1c levels for both groups. Total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol concentrations have also decreased significantly in the intervention group (P< 0.0001). CONCLUSION: Short-term supplementation with cholecalciferol improved vitamin D status, and markers of insulin resistance in healthy elder population. Be well! JP

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