Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic

Vitamin D3 Deficiency Epidemic Can Be Deadly

Amazingly, tens of millions of people are at risk of serious and deadly diseases from vitamin D3 deficiency, leading researchers to call this deficiency an epidemic. Neither vitamin nor hormone, Vitamin D is a pro-hormone that is synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight. However, most of us get too little direct, unfiltered sunlight for this to happen. Another problem is believing there is enough Vitamin D in milk. Not even close! In northern latitudes the best exposure is early and mid summer when the sun's rays are directly overhead, on bare skin, with no sunscreen and for at least 40 minutes every day. Color and age of skin also make a difference in synthesis.

Besides promoting healthy bones and teeth, scientists have recently discovered that vitamin D controls the immune system. Two new studies through the University of California, San Diego, report that higher levels of D are needed to cut breast and colon cancer risk. More than twenty-five years of research suggests that correcting vitamin D deficiency can avert colon cancer, saving about 56,000 lives a year. A study of 1,954 men found that those with the lowest vitamin D intake had more than double the risk of colon cancer compared to men with the highest intake. Interestingly, northern latitudes also have a greater risk of multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, certain other cancers and diabetes. And more studies continue to link higher levels of D3 to prevent cancer. A level of 80 to 100 is preferred with doctors and naturopaths who understand the link between higher levels of D3 and the immune system. They know that a level of 100 is not toxic, as some believe.

Vitamin D's strong relationship to calcium in the prevention of cancer continues. A large trial in 2003 demonstrated this with 803 people with previous colorectal adenomas, which can lead to cancer if they recur. Some were given calcium and some placebo, to measure recurrence. People with calcium supplementation reduced the risk of recurrence by 20 percent in those with normal D levels.

Prevention and Cure

Research also shows that vitamin D prevents breast cell proliferation and even helps differentiation of cells into normal healthy tissue. Data strongly connects low vitamin D levels in 16 different types of cancers. Evidence shows that breast and other cancers are lower in populations with more sun exposure and/or a higher intake of vitamin D supplementation.  People who live closer to the equator also have fewer flu and colds. Many conventional prostate cancer drugs impair androgen function (male hormones), so the connection between prostate cancer and vitamin D is great news.

Research on vitamin D also shows promise regarding heart failure, the leading cause of death in industrialized nations. Vitamin D, in combination with Co-enzyme Q10, B vitamins and other antioxidants, has shown to reduce harmful inflammation, which can cause heart failure, heart attacks and atherosclerosis. C-reactive protein measures chronic inflammation and is a better indicator of heart attack, heart failure and stroke than cholesterol readings.

Mental Ilness and SAD

 A 2004 study from Finland showed that the risk of developing schizophrenia in adult men was greatly increased in those who had never had Vitamin D supplementation as infants, compared to those who had at least some supplementation. Even depression is shown to be helped with Vitamin D supplementation. D deficiency is also common in dependency and addiction.

Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, a feeling of depression associated with lack of sunlight. A common theme during fall and winter is, " I get up when it's dark and get out of work when it's dark." These short days really deprive us of the sunlight we need. Just 2000 IU (International Unites) per day can make a difference in how you feel during this time, though we recommend 5000 IU for most others. During studies on SAD some people received just a single dose of 100,00 IU of D and some received one month of light therapy. None of the people who had light therapy showed improvement. All of those who had vitamin D supplementation showed major improvement in their depression scores.

Flu and H1N1

More than ever before we know that vitamin D is imperative for a strong immune system. Common theory among scientists now is that vitamin D levels diminish over the winter months, which increases susceptibility to influenza. In another study patients who were supplemented with vitamin D were completely protected against the infection, even when living with people who had the flu. Influenza season can be more dangerous for small children and the elderly. There is a lot of fear of the H1N1, or swine flu. It is not the flu itself that kills people but from the upper respiratory effects from the illness. If our immune system is strong, it will fight illness. Yearly immunizations target a only a particular flu, whereas a strong, healthy immune system protects us from any foreign invader. A common belief is that getting colds and flu during the winter months is because people are indoors more and spread illnesses through close contact.  However, in addition to preventing autoimmune diseases and cancer, scientists are now finding that those who get the flu are deficient in vitamin D.

Anyone born after the 70's, the last time H1N1, broke out, may not have immunity to the swine flu and may benefit from the vaccine, especially those with upper respiratory diseases. However, a healthy D level is particularly important for this group and they should be tested. 

Reduce Stress; Meditate Daily

What You Can Do To Strengthen Your Immunity

Bad stress versus positive stress. Good stress might be a new home, graduation, or paying for the graduation party, job promotion, etc. Bad stress is the "perception of no control." Too much stress compromises the immune system, as will poor diet, obesity, sleep disturbances and other excess stresses in life. Exercise and meditation are only two of many ways to reduce negative effects of stress.

The Institute of Medicine recommends a simple blood test. Severely deficient people need a temporary therapeutic dose. For others, a minimum of 5000 IU per day or 50,000 IU of D3 is good, depending on where you live. The RDA recommended daily allowance on all supplements is ridiculously low and based on poor science. What you get in a multi-vitamin is far too little to do much of anything.

Save your life with vitamin D

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Comments 20 comments

Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 5 years ago from Hamburg, NY Author

Hello Night Magic

Years ago I increased my level of D because I would get depressed this time of year, and it certainly helped. I do not know where you live, which can make a difference when asking about Vitamin D. But 2000iu at one time is fine. We live in the North East, where days are shorter now. We take 5000iu per day. Vitamin D is important for the immune system.

We always advise people to have their D levels tested. The OLD school of thought was that a level of 30 was good. We disagree. Newer studies show that 50 to 70 is better. Most Americans are deficient. If so, then 2000 or even 5000iu will not help a lot. You would have to take at least 10000iu per day for a couple of months and get re-tested. Once your level is up to par, then how much you take depends on where you live.

Thank you so much for your comment and for reading. Let me know how you are doing.

Dr. Cherie

Night Magic profile image

Night Magic 5 years ago from Canada

Thanks for all the info. I have osteoporosis and take 2000 iu a day and have been for quite awhile (about 2 years) It does help. Can you take 2000 at a time or should you split it up.

Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 5 years ago from Michigan

Dr. Cherie, my physician did not tell me to go off Vitamin D, it makes perfect sense that you should. Dear me. I live in Michigan and I don't get alot of sun because I have had basil cell carcinoma a few times. I wish I could redo that vita D test now. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. God Bless and Keep you! :)


Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 5 years ago from Hamburg, NY Author

Hey, Makenzie, how great to hear from you!

70 is a great level. Dr. Ron Santasiero, MD, said toxcicity is around 125, so I wouldn't worry. If you are at least an hour in the sun, where and when the sun is directly overhead, without sun screen, you can back down on the D if you want, but that's dependant on where you live. Above the equator, that's about now through August.

By the way, did you stop all products with D a few days before your blood test?????? For true levels, you are supposed to stop everything you are being tested for a few to several days before testing.

Let me know. Take care and God bless,

Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 5 years ago from Michigan

Hey Dr. Cheri, It's been awhile since I've been to your hubs. You have such a great wealth of information. I came to this hub today because my physician said my levels of D3 were too high. She said, as you, that 50 was the target. She said my results showed 70. I have been taking a multi with D3 plus 2000 IU's, she is suggesting only 1000 IU now. I am surprised I was that high. Would you agree that I need to decrease the amount? Thanks!

Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 6 years ago from Hamburg, NY Author

Hi CaliGirl

Sorry this is late, but haven't had much time lately.

I wouldn't say the pharmacist lied, just probably uninformed. The only way to get such a high dose of in a prescription is D2. And most traditional doctors don't know you can get D3 in 10000 and even higher, without a prescription. Also, even though Vital Nutrients' D3 is a tiny capsule, some people don't want to take it daily, nor pay for it; they'd rather have their insurance pay.

The test is usually 25-OH Vitamin D. I just had a patient whose doctor did the wrong test, but it's not that horrible. You can acutally get Vital from us online on our web site. IF you email me personally, I'll be happy to give that to you, because we aren't supposed to "promote" here.

I hope that helps! Let me know how you are.

Greetings KCC,

I am not surprised by your low number, as so many people are deficient. Vitamin D is necessary for your immune system. Science used to think that 30 was a good level, but now studies suggest that 50 is optimum. As you can see by Caligirl's experience, not too much understanding of nutrition's importance out there. It is not learned in medical school. Dr. Ron Santasiero, and other experts, suggest 10000iu of a "good" vitamin D per day for about 5 to 6 weeks and get re-tested. Depending on where you live and the time of year, a good daily dose, once your levels are optimal, is from 2,000 to 4000iu per day. I take 5000iu per day until May. From May until September or October, I take 2000 to 4000iu per day.

Make sure the D3, or any supplement you take, says "Standardized" on the bottle. We use a specific brand because we know it's been tested for heavy metals, spores, mildew, and other unhealthy stuff.

I'd like to know how you do. I wouldn't be surprised if you feel healthier and enjoy a better sense of well-being when your level is up.

Hope to hear from you again.

Take care

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas

Good information. I just discovered today that mine is a 10, but the nurse making the call didn't tell me how much to take. I was just told to begin an OTC supplement. Sounds like I need to do some mega-dosing for 5-6 wks.

CaliGirlsCorner profile image

CaliGirlsCorner 6 years ago

Hi Dr. Cherie,

So, why did the pharmacist lie to me about the absorption? That just makes me so mad. Isn't it the D3 that is so important? Also, the D test will show an increase, but it will be the wrong D, correct? So, where can I get the Vital Nutrients D3, 10000iu per day, supplements? I'm so confused. Thank you for commenting. Should I stop taking the D2? Seems like its a waste, or is D2 useful too. Too many questions, huh? God Bless you.

Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 6 years ago from Hamburg, NY Author

Hey there Ms. Caligirl,

D2 does not absorb better, and it does not exactly convert to D3. D3 cannot be patented! Prescription D is only D2. If it were Dr. Ron and me, we'd take Vital Nutrients D3, 10000iu per day, which is 70,000iu per week, for about 4 or 5 weeks and get re-tested. Our levels are about 40 and 50, and we take 5000iu per day from October to May, then 2000iu per day for Dr. Ron and 4000 for me, because I am diligent about sunscreen.

I hope that helps. Thank you for keeping in touch. You're great!

CaliGirlsCorner profile image

CaliGirlsCorner 6 years ago

Hi Dr. Cherie,

I got the prescription from my dr. for the 50,000 units. Its a green softgel. They gave me 8 of them. It doesn't say a word about which Vitamin D they gave me. Only that its D. I called the pharmacy and they told me it is D2 which converts to D3 in the system. She said D2 absorbs easier. I will be taking my 2nd one today. Any comments on the D2, D3 discrepancy? I'll follow up when my test is done in 8 weeks.

Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 6 years ago from Hamburg, NY Author

Wow, CaliGirl,

18 is VERY low! Old school is 30, but more updated GOOD research suggests 50, which is what we suggest and follow for ourselves. We personally take 5000iu per day, but you need 50,000iu per day for at least 5 or 6 weeks. Then you should be tested again. I would start right away, especially since the days are shorter.

Please, I'd be happy to know how you do. I'm hoping to hear from you soon.

Dr. Cherie

CaliGirlsCorner profile image

CaliGirlsCorner 6 years ago

Hi Dr. Cherie,

I had my D3 tested last week and it was extremely low. My number was at 18. I am requesting that my Dr. prescribe the 50,000 units for 4-6 weeks. Is 18 low enough to ask for that? My sister was telling me about the vitamin D3 deficiency. She is battling cancer and has started taking it. I want to get my levels up before i end up with something like cancer. Thank you so much for your hub. Its very informative. I did a search for this topic and found you.

Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 6 years ago from Hamburg, NY Author

Hi Tranquilheart,

I don't know how old you are, but I'll assume you've had a full hormone testing. As for joint inflammation, avoid inflammatory foods, ie the nightshade foods, like potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, etc, which are mentioned in my hub "Inflammation, the Real Killer."

As for Vitamin D, unless you live near the equator, supplement all year. We live in New York and take 5000iu per day. Because we do a LOT of outdoor activities in the summer, we take 2000iu daily between May and September. Many doctors think a level of 30 is normal, but now science shows that 50 is better. Anti-depressants feel good for a little while, but were not meant to be taken indefinitely. We do a neuro-chemical assessment to see what neurotransmitters are deficient and address that naturally. VERY often, the wrong prescription makes a bad situation even worse. Remember, no one has a Prozac deficiency! Or deficiency of any other prescription anti-depressant. Deficiencies occur for a reason and they are in the form of a brain chemical. What seems more reasonable to make your pain worse: natural supplements (given properly by a qualified physician/nutritionist) or a deficiency and/or prescription?

I hope you feel better soon. The exercise is a great pain reliever. Please let me know how you do.

God bless,

Tranquilheart profile image

Tranquilheart 6 years ago from Canada

I'm trying different herbal supplements for perimenopause and for inflammation due to arthritis (which seems to be related to the perimenopause), like Swiss Herbal HRT and Osteo Joint Ease. I also take meds for depression. I try to take Vit D daily during the Fall months to gear up for the Winter. The Vit D seems to help with my inflammation too, which I never expected. The pain eases enough so I can do some exercise. It could also be the combo of supplements.

Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 6 years ago from Hamburg, NY Author

Hi again, GmaGoldie,

We take 5000 iu per day. It is important to get a level done as a bench mark. If it's low, you most likely be told at least 50,000 iu per week for about 4 to 6 weeks and have another level done. Once optimized, then 5000 iu per day should keep you at an optimum level. By the way, most doctors who do not know the latest research will say that 30 is a good level, but 50 is much better.

Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it.

GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

I had heard this but didn't fully understand the effects. Great Hub!

Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 6 years ago from Hamburg, NY Author

Hey there Mekenzie,

When a D level comes in low, Dr. R. Santasiero always recommends about 50,000 to 60,000IR per week for about 4 to 6 weeks. Then retest. After that, you can take what we take, 5000IU per DAY! You won't get your D up with only 4000 IU per day if it's low. I'd also like to know what the number is. Ask him/her what it is. Then I'll personally ask Dr. Ron. He shoots for 50. Older research thought 30 was good, but now scientists say 50 is optimum.

Thanks for to comment. Very nice.

Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 6 years ago from Michigan

Dr. Cherie, My Doctor did testing and told me I was low but did not give me a number. He recommended 4,000 IU a day. I am glad to read the newest research and will increase the amount based on your recommendation. Thanks so much for the Informtion ... I truly appreciate that you share your expertise here.

Blessings! Mekenzie

Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 7 years ago from Hamburg, NY Author

Hey, there, katyzzz:

Yeah! It's amazing how even most doctors don't have a clue as to how deficient we are in D. The newest research suggests 10000 IU per day! If you've been tested and are at least 30, then 5000 per day is probably a good dose. I'm surprised how many people take 1000 and think it's good, of course, at least they're taking something. Problem is, you should be tested, because if you're low, you're going to need at least 50000 per week for 4 to 8 weeks.

Thanks for reading it and sending a comment. Too bad more people aren't interested!

Dr. Cherie

katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

A very significant hub, let's hope people read it and respond to it. Well done. Great video. I'm off to get some more sun, always thought I had ample.

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