February 25, 2015

Letter from the Director: Controversy or Self-Interest? 


At GrassrootsHealth, we are always attending to the latest research and making decisions on what to bring to your attention. Is it a well done study?  Are the results meaningful to our population?  We tend not to report on the 'bad' studies since there are so many good studies. We want to provide positive direction. 

This last week, however, there was one article in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) that caught my eye for all the wrong reasons and I want to give you my thoughts and let you decide.

In the article, the author states: "However, clinical enthusiasm for supplemental vitamin D has outpaced available evidence on its effectiveness and threatens to jeopardize the ability of researchers to conduct randomized trials in "usual-risk" populations." Later in the paper she goes on to describe other trials as, "... these trials will be informative only if the results are not diluted by widespread out-of-study prescription and use of high-dose vitamin D supplementation in the enrolled populations. Primary care physicians who routinely screen for 25(OH)D and prescribe high-dose supplements in the absence of a clear clinical indication may reduce differences in intakes between study groups, jeopardizing the opportunity for the trials to yield informative results."

The particular trial that Dr. Manson is running is giving a dose of 2000 IU/day.  At the beginning of that study, counsel was provided by a number of researchers on our panel that 2000 IU/day was not enough to show any meaningful information, the population at large was already becoming aware of many of the benefits of vitamin D and, foods were being fortified, etc..  And, many studies had already been done at that or even higher levels.  So, by the time the study would be done (2017) there truly wouldn't be enough people still on that dosage to make a difference. In the table showing the other studies currently in process, they are almost all using 'bolus' doses (very large, once/month/longer time periods) which have also been demonstrated to have problems
, "...they increase the rate of catabolism (break down) of the relevant metabolites" per Dr. Garland.

Click here to see a letter that Dr. William Grant has written in response to this article.

And, Dr. Michael Holick has written a letter to the journal partially reiterating the Endocrine Society's Guidelines. Here is a snippet from his letter.


"However, based on the large number of association and ecological studies relating vitamin D deficiency with many chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, several cancers, neurocognitive dysfunction, type 2 diabetes and infectious diseases, the Endocrine Society recommended that there was no downside to increasing a person's vitamin D intake to the recommended levels (preferred range 40-60 ng/ml) and that there may be some additional health benefits by following their guidelines for the treatment and prevention of vitamin D deficiency."


It seems to me that recommending we 'wait' for the clinical trials is much more indicative at this point of an interest in the trial, not in health. So much valid research has already been done. It is urgent to act now with simple, cost effective, safe and of high probability of benefit.


I have a very simple question to ask you, our readers. Do you know enough to take action now?  If not, how can we help you?  We at GrassrootsHealth, as well as our panel of researchers, are still confident that there is much to gain by getting your serum level to 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L) and, you, by participating in the D*action project, are making the best of all contributions to furthering the knowledge about health with vitamin D.  Please spread the word, keep it up!  


Thanks for your ongoing participation.


Carole Baggerly 

Director, GrassrootsHealth

A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization

Moving Research into Practice NOW!

Interviews with D*action Participants 


Barb Schmitt

Zeeland, Michigan

Latitude:  42o North

Retired Nurse


D-level: 38 ng/ml in winter, 58 ng/ml in summer

Condition: Multiple Sclerosis


Barb heard about GrassrootsHealth via the Internet when she was searching health conditions. As a retired nurse she is very health conscious. Many people ask her for health advice. She likes to give sound advice that is natural and avoids medications.


I think the most interesting piece of information is how her husband, Dave, tracked her vitamin D levels. Since she lives pretty far north (it is cold and snowy right now) she doesn't have much chance for sun exposure in the winter, but in the summer she gets out for 10 minutes every day during solar noon. This has led to much higher levels in the summer. During both winter and summer she takes 10,000 IU D3 per day.  


Barb's grassroots effort in her community is to talk about the benefits of vitamin D and the sun. The biggest problem she sees is people lathering up with sunscreen. She explains the importance of sensible sun (it doesn't have to be a lot of time) and then... putting on your sunscreen. 


Editor's Note: For those of you who fight this battle - here is a great presentation: "Skin Cancer/Sunscreen - the Dilemma". I like to share this with parents who are worried about sun exposure.



Ron Randall

Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada

Latitude: 56o North



D-level: 22 ng/ml (2009, needs a re-test)


As you might be able to tell from his picture, Ron is a motorcycle enthusiast. He is also very talented, running a business in accounting, bookkeeping, and cosmetology. At one time he was also an EMT.


He was drawn to GrassrootsHealth due to the limitations of socialized medicine in Canada. He currently does not have access to a primary care physician that could order him a vitamin D test, but appreciates that he can order one from GrassrootsHealth at any time. He is used to looking up health problems on the Internet and finding solutions on his own. 


Ron does not have a medical condition but he has noticed that before he started taking vitamin D regularly he felt miserable and had no energy. That was when his vitamin D level was 22 ng/ml. When he discovered what his level was, he immediately started supplementing, 2,000 IU D3 per day, and within a week felt better. He has consistently supplemented since then and has gradually bumped up the dosage, mainly due to input from GrassrootsHealth. He currently takes 8,000 IU D3 per day.


Ron's grassroots effort is with his grandchildren who are frequently sick. They live in the same town and do not supplement with vitamin D. He has read so much about vitamin D's benefits for children and would love to see them supplement, unfortunately their doctors think that milk is enough.


In addition, Ron talks to his clients about vitamin D and routinely posts our newsletters to his Facebook account. Thank you Ron! 


Editor's Note: If your doctor thinks that milk (and food) is enough, I suggest sharing this presentation from Mary Pittaway, "Vitamin D and Public Health". She has slides explaining how much milk you need per day to get adequate Vitamin D.


Video of the Week 


Vitamin D and Sunlight for Cancer Prevention


Cedric F. Garland, Dr PH FACE 

UCSD School of Medicine  


Watch Now 


Dr. Cedric Garland is adjunct professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. His research interests include epidemiology of breast cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, melanoma, multiple sclerosis and ovarian cancer. Dr. Garland is one of the world's leading authorities on vitamin D and he has contributed to stories about vitamin D on CNN and in The New York Times, and is coauthor of "The Calcium Connection: A Revolutionary Diet and Health Program to Reduce Hypertension, Prevent Osteoporosis, and Lower the Risk of Cancer."   


Garland's presentation is told from an epidemiologist's point of view. He points out trends such as cancer incidence being lower as you near the equator. He shows graphs which are conglomerations of public health data and explains trends that epidemiologists glean from that data. He has coined a "smiley" curve for the incidence of cancer with respect to latitude.  


Garland is the author of the "DINOMIT" model which explains the incidence of cancer with respect to sunlight (latitude). Dr. Garland has studied cancer and vitamin D for over 20 years. If you are interested in prevention or treatment of cancer you would enjoy this presentation.

Watch Now

Letter from the Editor


I enjoyed talking with D*action participants this week as it is always fun to hear personal stories. Most of the people who follow GrassrootsHealth have positive stories to tell. I love hearing stories about a condition or health status that has been improved by increasing vitamin D levels. I also love hearing how many of you spread the word in your community.  


I also want to take a moment and explain the importance of sending in test #2 or #3 or #4. If you haven't tested in awhile, it is good to see where your level is. You might think it is 

within the recommended range (40-60 ng/ml) but you never know unless you test. As you change things in your life (diet, supplements, time in the sun) your vitamin D level will change. It is good to test often so that you know what works and what doesn't. It is also much better for GrassrootsHealth if we have multiple years of data on each person. It makes our case for vitamin D much stronger. Every data point we
you add helps define public heath data more clearly. 



Thank you for your commitment to vitamin D!


Susan Siljander       

Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth

A Public Health Promotion & 

Research Organization  

Moving Research into Practice NOW!

Order Your Home Vitamin D Test TODAY!
Your participation in this project funds all the GrassrootsHealth research and promotion.

D*action is the world's largest vitamin D project

When you sign up for D*action you complete a questionnaire and take a blood spot test (in the privacy of your home). In a couple of weeks you receive your vitamin D level. We use your data (vitamin D level and answers to questions) to track health outcomes associated with vitamin D. By joining D*action you receive health data for yourself and help fund GrassrootsHealth.


Follow-up tests


Many of our participants have only done one test. It is best for the study to have regular data, every 6 months, for each participant. If you made any changes after your first test, such as adding a supplement or spending a few minutes outside each day, it is a good idea to take a new test so that you can know how the changes worked for you. At each blood draw you update your health data via the questionnaire and take a blood spot test. 


If you haven't had your test in awhile - please order another test here. Type in your login and password.


Watch Interview
Do You Need a Vitamin D Supplement to Maintain Ideal Levels

Interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola and Dr. Robert Heaney


Article in JAMA
JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH
View Here

Comment on Article
William B. Grant, PhD
View Here

Skin Cancer / Sunscreen - The Dilemma
Video Presentation
Edward Gorham, PhD
View Here

Vitamin D and Public Health
Video Presentation
Mary Pittaway, MA RD
View Here


Did you miss the seminar?

No Problem - watch the videos now!

Vitamin D for Public Health Seminar

December 9-10, 2014

La Jolla, CA


Vitamin D and Sunlight for Cancer Prevention 

Cedric F. Garland

UCSD School of Medicine

Watch Now 

Thank you! 


Danaum Co. Ltd. stepped up last week and finished funding our paper for the RDA. 


Who is Danaum?


Danaum is a leading healthcare marketing company specialized in pharmacy distribution in South Korea, developing and distributing ethical products in the field of health functional foods and supplements containing scientifically proven ingredients. Knowing that prevention is the best approach to chronic illness, Danaum is a pioneer who successfully sells Vitamin D products with evidence -based marketing.  

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You can prevent disease if just one more person finds out about the preventative properties of vitamin D and starts moving their blood serum levels to 40-60 ng/ml. 

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