Mainstream Medicine Takes Another Big Step Backward on Vitamin D

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vitamin-dA national task force on “preventive” medicine is making dangerous new pronouncements based on profoundly flawed research and thinking.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (UPSTF) has issued a draft recommendation to take no vitamin D supplements.

In their view, the scientific evidence is “insufficient” to assess the benefits of vitamin D supplementation (with or without calcium) to prevent cancer in adults, nor the benefits of vitamin D and calcium (in combination) to prevent fractures in men or in postmenopausal women. The report recommends against daily supplementation with 400 IU of vitamin D3 and 1,000 mg of calcium carbonate for the prevention of fractures in postmenopausal women, even though the group had previously concluded that vitamin D supplementation is effective in preventing falls in community-dwelling adults aged 65 years or older who are at increased risk for falls.

This group’s official recommendation is even more conservative than the Institute of Medicine’s disastrous report from last year. It appears to be driven by a seriously flawed review (a meta-analysis) of vitamin D research, which has skewed the results.

The UPSTF was created in 1984 as a federally sponsored national task force in “preventive” medicine to improve the health of Americans. Under the recent healthcare reform legislation, the Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) was directed to provide further support to the task force. But note how they define preventive medicine: “Evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, or preventive medications.”

This definition does not include diet, supplement, and lifestyle choices to maintain health—in other words, the things that research has shown to be truly preventive. The task force’s research priorities, as listed in their latest newsletter, further emphasize the exclusive focus on screenings, medication and surgery—more of the standard “sick-care” model.

With such a strong focus on conventional medicine, it’s not surprising that the task force’s recommendations on vitamin D and calcium supplementation are mostly nonsense. At least the task force got one thing right, even though inadvertently, when they counseled against taking combined D and calcium supplements. Good research tells us to take calcium supplements not only with D, but with other co-factors, especially Vitamin K2, lest the calcium migrate to the wrong part of the body.

But how did the task force get it so wrong, telling everyone to take no supplemental D? As the Council for Responsible Nutrition notes, the task force’s original meta-analysis last December ignored many, many important scientific studies, focusing only on nineteen random-controlled trials (RCTs) and twenty-eight observational studies, concluding that vitamin D was effective in reducing cancer risk and fractures among older adults. However, these new draft recommendations look at an even narrower swath of studies. They don’t look at any observational studies, only RCTs.

The RCT they focus on the most is the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). Unfortunately, the control group in the WHI study was compromised. That group was not supposed to receive any calcium supplementation at all, yet some in the group took calcium supplements or had more calcium in their diet than the study allowed. So much for random-controlled studies being the “gold standard” of scientific research!

Anyway, RCTs are not the best way to study the therapeutic effects of vitamins and minerals. Often, to be effective, vitamins and minerals need to be taken with important co-factors, as noted above, though these are rarely included in the RCTs.

It is also true that each individual is unique and therefore might require different levels of supplementation to be effective. But minimal doses cannot be expected to produce results in anyone. The task force acknowledged that the administered dosage of vitamin D in the WHI and other similar clinical studies “may have been too low to cause an effect”—but they still used them as the basis for their conclusions!

Last year’s extraordinarily conservative IOM report recommended 600 IU of vitamin D  for people between the ages of 1 and 70, while many integrative physicians recommend much higher doses of D3 supplementation. Both Harvard and the Vitamin D Council recommend 1,000 to 5,000 IU a day.

Note that the IOM recommended exactly the same amount of D for infants, pregnant mothers, adults in the prime of life, and older people under 70, no matter what age or weight. This makes no sense at all.

And how are people going to be sure of getting even 600 IU of D3 per day without supplements? There is very little D in food and many people live in zones where sunlight is too weak or indirect to produce D on our skin, especially in the winter. Someone living in New York can sunbathe in freezing temperatures all winter but they won’t produce any D.

Besides, everyone has been told by conventional doctors not to go out in the sun without sunscreen, and applying sunscreen means that you won’t produce vitamin D either.

Studies show that 87% of patients are mildly to severely deficient in vitamin D, and a least one-third of Americans are wholly deficient in it—to the great detriment of their overall health and immunity. Vitamin D’s benefits are many. At the right level, it appears to prevent flu and colds by boosting the innate immune response and turning on an antimicrobial protein, among other actions. Vitamin D also balances the immune response, preventing inflammation that can lead to flu-related complications such as bacterial pneumonia or lung infection.

On top of that, a few drug companies (Receptor Therapeutics and Chytochroma, to name two) are spending huge sums of money on clinical trials on vitamin D as a cancer cure—which completely undermines the UPSTF’s statement that there is no reason to believe that vitamin D has anti-cancer benefits!

So once again, mainstream medicine pooh-poohs the benefit of nutritional supplements to fight diseases, only to use those same supplements to develop drugs to fight the same diseases—albeit at a much higher cost, and at greater danger to the patient.

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  • berry lee

    At 65 yrs of age I began having sleeping aches that woke me up after 4 or 5 hrs sleep. Increasing my vitamin D supplimentation from 2000iu to 3000iu got me over these sleeing aches!
    Life Extension magazine says there is little risk with vit D suppliments up to 5000iu!

  • Berenice

    I have come to believe after being on this earth for 70 years that if the government says it’s safe then you best run as fast as you can in the opposite direction and that if it says it will do you harm then seriously consider using it.

  • JAN

    vitamin D is totally beneficial. it seems “they” do not want us healthy and vit d keeps us healthy so it has to go. NOT!

  • The UPSTF should be renamed Pfizer-Novartis-Johnson-and-Johnson-Glaxo-SmithKline-Merck.
    PNJNJGSM. The love affair between the US government and the drug industry is still strong.

  • Margaret Heekin

    Fat soluble vitamins such as A and D can, in large doses over long periods of time be hepatotoxic however, nobody is suggesting these mega doses. What amazes me, is the proclivity of western medicine to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They don’t want to take the time to expalin the best way to take D..That is with Co Factors such a Q10. So, they discredit supplimentation altogether…Why not? it represents another income stream for them in the form of more sick people….After all, we are spending more than ever and are becoming sicker as a nation for it…If more people would only start asking WHY?

  • Susan

    Those who know better aren’t listening to this … it’s all the uneducated who will believe anything the quacks in mainstream medicine says. Shame on them for knowingly pushing these lies and propaganda. And God Bless the ignorant who don’t know any better than to believe everything they are told. Question everything. I guess those who blindly follow, aren’t questioning why record numbers are getting cancer these days. Makes you wonder, how little people are paying attention to their lives. Question everything, because we are a selling society how only cares about the almighty dollar, not our health.

    It continues to astound me how many haven’t connected the dots on how they are thinking to what they are eating and what they are putting on their skin, and in their lungs. Sleepwalkers.

  • Deb Cee

    I just sprayed Vitamin D on the Beginnings of a cold sore…within 24 hours it is totally gone !!!!!!

  • bob listecki

    I consider http://www.grassrootshealth.net/d-action from the U of Calif SanDeago to be the center of Vit D research and historics in the world. There is plenty of convincing evidence by my patients health benefits if they get their 25OH D levels above 40 to perhaps 70 or 80 ng/ml. 80% of the world is below 30 and the larger fatter folks usually test quite low and need more supplements than smaller skinnier folks. The sun is the free source. 10 minutes between 10am and 3 pm 40% of body exposed gets 20,000 IU and using soap on these area removes most of the D in 48 hours. Sun screen blocks 96% of UV rays. We preach 6,000 to 10,000 IU daily. Five links to low D during pregnancy and autism and this problem is rampant and going to be a large cost to families and the natiion for the life of the person. My pharmacy students just completed a paper on “Tips for a Healthy Baby” for a free copy [email protected] (2 pages)

    • kristen

      greed verses the truth. who will win? and when???????

  • Daryl

    Please protect my kids

  • dave organic gardener

    Little known fact dill is loaded with natural vitamin D

  • Bear in mind that these are the people who are also recommending that people take drugs like Foxamax, etc., to strengthen their bones when, in fact, the drug does just the opposite. All they want to do is sell lots of expensive drugs. And if you’re getting real help from vitamins, you might be less inclined to support their favorite drug company.

  • Debbie Bartelsmeyer

    I cannot believe that our government entities insist on clinging to a sick care model simply because they believe it will fund themselves and their Big Pharma buddies. Has anyone stopped to consider the moral imperative of putting out ACCURATE information to help those who may not have insurance or access to doctors in the first place?

  • Suzanne

    I really believe that they in power and it ain’t the Presidents and leaders of all the countries but the Illuminatis and the Bilderbergs and our presence in the UN. Moving backwards on vitamin D as well as getting rid of supplements, only growing GMO food, etc. is another Holocaust waiting to happen. Sure, they won’t kill people in the crematoriums but they are definitely taking over the food system and causing people to die a slow death.

  • Linda Zigich

    “America, what has happened to you?” Health information is being withheld or badly reported that citizens have to do their own research on products and treatments. We no longer trust the AMA, USDA, FDA, or our family doctors who are now depending for their information from pharmaceutical sales people. Foreign powers, terrorists are no match for the damage done by these once revered establishments. Please, pray for America. It is lost it’s way.

  • Leigh

    I take calcium and D3 daily and rarely get sick anymore. Such pronouncements are why I don’t pay any attention to the government’s warnings any more. They’re like the little boy who cried wolf.

    • willo

      My vitamin level is 84 and my 2 year old daughter’s own is 67.
      Vitamin D3 may be, if not the most important vitamin (although not a vitamin but a steroid) that should be take especially by people of color.
      The best way to achieve a fair and non-bias result in the study performed is to take away the nutrient in our cast vitamin D3 and see what the effects are. I am not sure why the researchers are doing this but I can tell you one thing, if they are white they are taking between 2-5000IU and if they are black they are taking between 5-10000IU.

      Thanks or being an informed person

    • Barbara

      Leigh, just be sure you also take Vit K2 with the calcium for absorption — otherwise the calcium might not go to the bones as desired.

  • Mike Maybury

    I’m pleased that some of the studies referred to seem to bear out my personal experiences in 77 years of life.
    I’ve always been keen on sunbathing. In fact, for four years recently I stopped sunbathing , believing the government propoganda. It was during that time that I got two coughs, which lasted a while.
    I’ve only had ‘flu once as an adult, and that was at a period when I was working 16 hours a day starting a new business, and not going out in the sun.
    All this, and the fact that I have no aches and pains or health problems at age 77, seem to support the fact that regular exposure to sun is good for health. All my adult life I’ve eaten a wholefood vegetarian diet, which I’d previuously thought was responsible for my good health. Perhaps the vitamin D also healps.

  • Thomas Q.

    Check out Dr. Mercola for many wonderful natural products and info videos on them by him. His skin butter, nontoxic sunscreen, and tanning oil are amazing for one. He also has D-3 and B-12 sublingual sprays, shower filters for chlorine, non toxic laundry soap, body washes, etc. Great freaking products!!

  • Warren Greene

    It’s amazing that in this day and age after numerous studies that support vitamin D supplementation, this talented group could turn there backs on this information. Most drug companies won’t run studies because they can’t patent these supplements. We know that certain medications deplete certain nutrients and yet the tradition medicine only focuses on pharmaceutical drugs. What about Co Q10, Vitamin B12, Magnesium, as well as Vitamin D? The average MD is barely trained in these and other supplements how will they ever learn what they need to, to better serve there patients.

  • Marym

    That is very sad. People won’t know what they’re missing. I have been taking 10,000 IUs of Cholecalciferol (D3) daily for the last 9 years. So far, I have had no problems taking this amount. I have my blood tested every 3 months (25 OH), and am still only as high as 73. I tend to fluctuate between 64 and 73, I would love to get higher but I think my body needs a lot of it due to the diabetes and other allergies. It makes a big difference when I don’t take it. That’s when I will have body aches and pains, the moodiness, and just not feeling as well. Now, if, on occasion, I am out in the sun a lot I may cut back to 5,000 IUs/day. Thanks to whoever discovered the need for D3, it’s been my happy and healthy pill for nine years and counting!!! Don’t take flu shots and I don’t get the flu.
    @Berenice – I like what you said. 😉 and I agree. I’m slightly behind you in years though (64).

    • MaryKay

      We’ve been giving our 13 (now 14) year old daughter big doses (4,000 IU up to 10,000 IU) of Vit. D-3 ‘now’ brand, for a little over a year. She had been having delayed reaction food allergy symptoms for 7 years when we started, including being sensitive to wheat/gluten and lactose intolerant, but the major problem was to ANY FORM OF CORN, including all derivatives such as citric acid, ascorbic acid, lactic acid, xanthan gum, etc. Her symptoms included behavioral episodes which ranged from mild to severe – the more corn she consumed, the worse the symptoms. After steady use of Vit. D-3 her behavioral episodes are DRASTICALLY REDUCED, such that the crankiness she sometimes experiences is pretty normal for girls her age. Vit. D has been the only vitamin that she has been able to use since all the other vitamins usually contain some form of corn. We are starting to expand her diet to include some dairy, wheat & gluten, and, yes, food w/ corn derivatives.

      My husband & I also use 2,000 – 4,000 IU Vit.D-3 daily, more fall – spring when there’s not as much sun.

  • JoAnn

    Vtamin D is easily supplemented by taking cod liver oil and getting plenty of sunshine (not sunburn) daily. Vitamin D3 also known as cholecalciferol is a synthetic compound shoved down our throats by none other than Big Pharma with help from their minions in the AMA.

  • Justin Laubach

    Wow…

  • Tim Webb

    It is very hard for people to accept that there is a group of other people out there who deliberately lie to you. In fact, their Holy Book advocates and praises this very thing. These people own the drug companies. They bribe the politicians down to the last Congressman. Their Holy Book actually states that their objective is to remove you from this earth. These people live among you. They frequently change their surnames to sound more like you. They change their names more frequently than any other ethnic group in America.
    These organizations are worse than criminal. They are murderous. They will not cease and desist, ever, in their ongoing agenda to maim and destroy you. Benjamin Franklin suggested that they be removed from the united States of America ( note the slightly different but highly-significant capitalization here ) at its inception, but liberalism and subsequently, political correctness, which these people have rammed down your throats through their ownership of all American media, has prevented this desperately-needed self protective measure. It is very very clear, that it is either you, or they, who will survive. And it looks very much as if it will be they.

  • DaisyPatch

    The amount you take is not the queston. What is important is the saturation in your bloodstream. I live in WA and am fortunate to have access to a Direct Results lab – I can walk in without a Dr’s prescription, get my blood tested for $35, and learn my level of Vitamin D (I target 50 ng/ml). It is crazy to base a study on the effects of taking a certain amount of Vit D daily. People vary in their ability to utilize oral D3. Such things as age, exposure to sun combined with skin color, and other personal differences will combine to cause 10 people taking the same amount of Vit D to have 10 different levels in their blood. It is like saying; let’s study the health of people who are taking in 200 grams of carbs a day. Some people could eat 200 grams and their blood glucose would barely shoot up. Yet it would cause others to have extreme levels of blood glucose with all the the devastating effects on the body that goes with high BG.. You can’t conclude anything by what went in the mouth – the important thing is what is in the blood. It would be more helpful to see studies on Vitamin D, for example, that compare people with a level of 20 ng/ml against people with a level of 60 ng/ml.

  • I have a biotoxic reaction to mold. In investigating what was wrong, my docs found a vitamin D and calcium deficiency. They looked for it. I now have osteoporosis despite taking calcium supplements. Both are regularly tested and reevaluated. Thanks God my docs don’t listen to what they know is flawed research through actual medicine. It goes to show you that you just can’t listen to every study, It can have serious consequences for folks like me.