Readers’ Corner

January 11, 2011
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This week, our readers comment on our stories about nutrition science integrity, herpes, and vitamin D.

Jim writes about the American Society for Nutrition’s attempt to monopolize the field:

You mentioned that ASN, which receives so much funding from junk food companies and Pharma, has belittled organic food. You might also be interested to know that the president of the American Society for Nutrition, Robert Russell, gave an interview to Science News (July 17, 2010, p. 32) in which he said, “Research has shown that in trials using fairly high doses of single antioxidants, or small combinations of them, that they don’t work…to modulate inflammation….In fact, they can become harmful pro-oxidants.”

This is typical of the skewed information coming from this source. The study usually cited alleging that antioxidant supplements become pro-oxidants and could contribute to cancer is a study that appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2005 (vol. 97, pp. 481–488). Dr. Russell should have known that the author of the study, Isabelle Bairati, later re-analyzed the data and reported that the initial conclusion was wrong.

By the way, this was a study of smokers, and it turned out that the people thought to have been harmed by the antioxidants were actually smokers who refused to quit smoking. So much for trusting what the ASN says about supplements! I guess the supplement industry will have to give the ASN more money if it wants a favorable verdict.

This is just more proof that scientific integrity is essential when it comes to matters concerning our health.

After our article on herpes, Susan wrote:

I am surprised that you didn’t mention iodine. There is a clear form of iodine sold as Tri-Quench (Scientific Botanicals) which won’t show as much as some iodines, and it will stop an active herpes lesion dead in its tracks. Healing stops almost immediately and the episode is quickly over. Highly recommended. Your doctor, of course, won’t mention this because iodine has been around forever, can’t be patented, and therefore won’t interest conventional medical profiteers.

Thanks for pointing that out, Susan. By the way, scientists are currently investigating the possibility that some breast and stomach cancers may be linked to iodine deficiency.

Regarding our article on the IOM’s report on vitamin D, Tarri wrote:

Yes, I agree their report on vitamin D was incorrect, but also you and they left out the major differences between regular vitamin D and vitamin D3—the one that our body recognizes to give us our greatest benefits. Isn’t time to tell the public the difference?

While we specified vitamin D3 in our herpes article, we didn’t do so in the IOM article because the IOM’s report didn’t distinguish between its different forms. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify things.

There is actually no “regular vitamin D.” Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). When vitamin D is referred to without a number, it can be D2, D3, or a combination.

Vitamin D2 is manufactured by plants or fungi. This is the kind usually added to fortified foods such as juices, milk or cereals. It is less potent than D3, partly because it has a shorter shelf life, so old D2 is much less effective. And it is broken down by the body into different substances, some of which may be harmful to the body, though scientists are not unanimous on that point.

Vitamin D3 is produced by the body through the exposure of the skin to UVA and UVB rays. Vitamin D3 can also be obtained by consuming animal products, and of course is found in supplements (which generally derive D3 from the lanolin in sheep’s wool). Vitamin D3 is broken down by the body into a substance called calcitrol, which has important cancer-fighting properties.

So when looking for a vitamin D supplement, always make sure it is vitamin D3 specifically.

9 Responses to “Readers’ Corner”

  1. David McMahon, holistic healthcare professional says:

    Timmie cited vitamin D3 and vitamin K2, not vitamin D2. Both are critically important and recent studies show that vitamin K2 provides major protection from osteoporosis, cardiovascular blockages and pathological calcification. Basically, it helps to ensure that calcium is put where it needs to be and not where it can cause harm. Vitamin K2 plays a critical role in preventing arterial calcification, which is a risk factor in coronary artery disease, as well as other calcification conditions associated with aging. A study published in the April 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that increased intake of vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 per cent. That data was based on a very large scale study of more than 11,000 men. Furthermore, a strong association was documented when researchers considered only advanced prostate cancer, with increased intake of vitamin K2 linked to a 63 per cent reduction in risk. Not bad for a previously little known nutrient!


  2. John T says:

    A Ron Carmichael:

    Good info, thanks. But Timmie said D3 + K2.


  3. PS – the cortisol level is DOUBLE the normal, on my days off. I attribute this to the inordinate stress that virtually EVERY pharmacist is experiencing these days thanks to the wonderful policies of the chain drugstores who think that every work unit can be quantified down until there is *no* time left for me to take a coffee break, a lunch break, nor even a bathroom break, during my shift of up to 13 hours. But’s that irrelevant to you taking D2 AND D3 at the same time. Please reconsider. Google “UTAH” “Vitamin D” “Finland” “Scotland”, and check the non-profit vitamin d foundation for more educational information that is NOT controlled by big pharma.


  4. TImmie – wherever did you read such a way=wrong idea? D3 is closest to what your body actually makes if under 45 y.o, and the sun is strong enough (ie, high in the sky enough that your shadow is shorter than you are tall), and you expose enough bare skin (nekkid is best) till your skin starts to “pink up”. If over 45, then your body no longer generates it from UV-B striking the cholesterol in your skin (as much), so an OTC supplement of D3 makes perfect sense. Cheap, zero side effects, zero drug interactions (demonstrated so far), and your body will take it and use it well. Until your blood level of 25(OH)D gets to about 40-50, none gets stored because your body’s organs ALL have receptor sites for D3, suck it up, convert it into a myriad of metabolites that in turn do WONDERFUL things for you. D2, on the other hand, is made by laying mushrooms out on trays and in essence xraying them till the proteins are all totally wack. Your body does NOT make D2! It must struggle to convert D2 into D3, in a very inferior way. D3 is OTC, D2 is what the physican reads when he reaches for the damn PDR and it’s the only thing in there. Stay away from D2 – take some calcium (preferably with manganese, magnesium, etc. mixed in) with plenty of water, GET TEST at ZRT LABS, (through the mail and 1/4 the price of your local lab), and get your blood level of 25(OH)D up to at least 50. 70 or 80 may be better, the studies are not yet decisive, but consider this: A gringo teenager laying out by the pool during the Texas summer sun will generate 20,000 U OR MORE per day. No adverse effects. I did this through out my childhood and teen years, my skin is in great shape, I have to take 15,000 alternating with 20,000 iu of D3 daily (at 55yo) to maintain a blood level of around 100 ng/ml. I’m 6′5″, 230 pounds, and aside from a dismally high cortisol level am in great shape. I haven’t been sick in 8 years – since I started JP+, and added D3 about 3 years ago. Please – stay the heck away from D2.


  5. I take Vitamin D3 along with vitamin k2 – Iv’e read that it is important to take them together.


  6. I’ve been analyzing my D-3 content for several years now and have found that it takes 7000 units per day of D-3 in the winter to keep my D level just above the median level that my Doctor recommends. In the summer, it only takes 6000 units of D-3 to keep about the same level of D-3 in my blood. I live in the Cleveland, OH area and do not deliberately expose myself to the sun at any time. As an addendum, I have had Diabetes since the early 80″s and am currently 73 years old with a hemoglobin A1C level of consistently under 6.0. I have had no lung or nasal infections for the past two years whereas I used to have a couple colds or flu infections each year.


  7. Kelli says:

    How do they get away with posting lies about antioxidants causing cancer? We must live in an Age of Corporate Science.


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