THANKS to Dr. John Cannell
Vitamin D is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States, and most physicians are clueless about its importance. If you can answer the majority of these questions correctly you are doing better than the majority of physicians.
Please remember that without question the best way to optimize your vitamin D level is with regular exposure of large portions of your skin to the sun. However, with Labor Day behind us it is time for most of us to consider switching our source of omega-3 fats from fish oil to cod liver oil, as that will supply the missing vitamin D that many of us will start lacking due to diminishing sun exposure.
This test was developed by Dr. John Cannell. He is one of the leaders in the vitamin D education movement and has a very comprehensive Web site dedicated to vitamin D.
1. Vitamin D reverses inflammatory changes associated with age-related memory impairment.
True. Researchers from Ireland were the first to demonstrate that vitamin D3 acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and turns old brains into young brains–at least as far as inflammatory cytokines are concerned. This research suggests vitamin D may prevent, or even treat, age-related cognitive decline!
2. Your blood sugar is closely associated with your vitamin D level.
True. Researchers in
3. In July, a group from
True. The authors found that women taking supplemental vitamin D had average levels of 16.4 ng/ml while women not taking supplements had levels of 11.9.ng/ml, both dangerously low. None of the 82 women got enough sun or took enough vitamin D to obtain a level of 40 ng/ml. These were fragility fractures, not fractures caused by unusual trauma. That is, their bones just sort of fell apart.
4. Women with the lowest vitamin D levels had five times higher risk for breast cancer.
True. Women with 25(OH)-vitamin D blood levels less than 20 ng/ml were more than five times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than were women with levels above 60 ng/ml. That is five, repeat five, times more likely!
5. Avoiding the sun doubles the risk of prostate cancer.
True. Again, the risk of avoiding the sun is clear, this time in another study with prostate cancer. However, the authors pointed out that sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer and believed that proper vitamin D supplementation “may be the safest solution to achieve an adequate vitamin D status.”
I also believe supplementation is the only way to go for many people. African Americans are simply unable to spend an adequate time in the sun. In addition, the sun ages the skin and that fact alone will keep many Americans out of the sun. That said, I go into the sun whenever I can. The reason is simple: it is the most conservative thing to do. Until we know everything the sun does–and it does more than just make vitamin D–the conservative approach is to mimic our ancestors and the environment in which humans evolved, whenever we can. Therefore, it makes sense to sunbathe sensibly in the late spring, summer and early fall and take supplements or use UVB lamps the rest of the time.
6. South Korean researchers associated vitamin D deficiency with Parkinson’s disease.
True. Actually, they showed that certain genetic malformations (VDR polymorphisms) are more likely in patients with Parkinson’s disease, implying an association with vitamin D and Parkinsonism.
7. Researchers in
True. The authors added to the evidence that severe vitamin D deficiency is associated with chronic pain. They found that 88 percent of their patients with chronic pain had levels less than 10 ng/ml. If they treated their patients, they did not report it. However, Swiss researchers recently treated chronic pain patients with vitamin D and reported the pain “disappeared” within one to three months in most of their patients. This is the second open study that showed adequate doses of vitamin D dramatically improved chronic pain.
8. Severe vitamin D deficiency is common in TB patients.
Some English doctors don’t know the difference between ideal and “normal” levels.
Most American doctors don’t know the difference either.
a) All are true
b) All are false
c) Some are true and some are false
All are true. First, the authors reviewed the impressive animal evidence that vitamin D can help treat TB. Then they reported that most of their immigrant TB patients had undetectable vitamin D levels. Then they reported the normal range for their lab was between 5 to 47 ng/ml but “normal” was any level greater than 9 ng/ml. Finally, the researchers reported they treated their patients with “normal daily doses” of vitamin D, without reporting how much they gave. Apparently, they gave just enough to get patients above 9 ng/ml.
Keep in mind that different laboratory techniques result in different ranges for 25(OH)-vitamin D levels. No matter what technique is used, ideal levels can roughly be defined as any level above the median. In this case, as you will see below in Dr. Heaney’s article, the doctors should have treated their patients with 4,000 units a day. They should also have watched for evidence of vitamin D hypersensitivity, which can occur when treating tuberculosis patients for vitamin D deficiency.
We can only mourn for the poor immigrants who have to suffer from both TB and vitamin D deficiency. Of course, few physicians in the
9. Virtually all nephrologists give renal failure patients a vitamin D-like drug.
Virtually all renal failure patients are severely vitamin D deficient.
Some nephrologists know the difference between vitamin D and calcitriol.
a) All are true
b) All are false
c) Some are true and some are false.
All are true. Finally, the truth about renal failure patients: most of them are vitamin D deficient despite taking vitamin D analogs! Most nephrologists prescribe activated vitamin D (calcitriol) or vitamin D analogs but not vitamin D. Calcitriol and vitamin D analogs do nothing to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Renal failure patients need both vitamin D and a calcitriol-like drug. Moreover, 400 units a day of vitamin D will not correct their deficiencies. As you will see below, they need up to 4,000 units.
P.S. If you think nephrologists know the difference between vitamin D and calcitriol, read this month’s paper from some nephrologists at the University of Texas. They discuss the importance of vitamin D in preventing and treating heart disease. (I think adequate vitamin D nutrition may prevent more cardiovascular deaths than cancer deaths.) However, I read the
10. Professor Robert Heaney proved, again, that he is a gentleman and a scholar.
True. In the most important clinical paper published this month, Heaney gave the three best reasons why we should all maintain minimum levels of at least 32 ng/ml, the level that:
(a) Effectively suppresses PTH
(b) Maximizes calcium absorptio,
(c) Maximally improves glucose tolerance
Then he goes on to show that some of us, especially African Americans, will need to take 3,000 to 4,000 units every day to maintain healthy 25(OH)-vitamin D blood levels.
He then defends the
Writing two years later, Professor Reinhold Vieth came up with dozens of studies the IOM overlooked. These studies conclusively showed 2,000 units a day could not be toxic. Furthermore, Vieth found the literature published before 1997 clearly showed 10,000 units a day was unlikely to be toxic. Vitamin D toxicity probably starts around 20,000 units a day, and then only if taken for months or even years.