March18, 2015

Letter from the Director


"Thankfuls" for all of you!


A few years ago, when our grandchildren were quite small and they joined us for a meal, we would sing our usual blessing. One day, the oldest said, "Grandma, I don't want to sing the blessing." I responded with something like "It's time to pause and be thankful. How can we do that?" To which she replied, "I want to do 'thankfuls'." Thus started a new tradition at the Baggerly household of doing 'thankfuls'....for whatever anyone wanted to be thankful for.


Today, I am filled with ''Thankfuls" that I wanted to share:

  • Scientists who swoop in to provide the information you'll see today in our main article - Drs. Garland, Giovannucci,  Heaney, Holick, and Hollis
  • Public health officials in South Carolina who are this very day introducing conversations about prenatal vitamin D supplementation to their associates
  • An insurance company executive who's proposing vitamin D supplementation for all members to their board
  • Our delightful staff who are very, very actively working to get projects done, newsletters out, validate data, complete analyses, and develop systems.

And, of course, the list includes YOU. Please note that we think of all D*action participants as 'donors'. You are giving of your time and money to help a major public health cause by sharing your vitamin D levels and health information! Very special 'thankfuls' for us all!


Today's information  especially needs your help to set the record straight.  Please let us know if we can help you further.


Carole Baggerly 

Director, GrassrootsHealth

A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization

Moving Research into Practice NOW!

Another published paper that correlates poor health outcomes to high vitamin D values - a "J-shaped" curve


Last week, Denmark news announced that high levels of vitamin D can lead to a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Please forward this newsletter to your friends to help set the record straight. Our scientists tell us a different story - that vitamin D levels within 40-60 ng/ml do not increase your chance of getting cardiovascular disease!


Study shows increased mortality with high vitamin D levels


A study published February 17, 2015 by Durup et al. reported "A reverse J-shaped association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and cardiovascular disease mortality - the CopD-study." This backwards J-shape implies that the lowest risk of mortality is in the middle range of vitamin D (70 nmol/L or 28 ng/ml) with an increased risk at low levels (12.5 nmol/L or 5 ng/ml) and a slight increased risk at high levels (125 nmol/L or 50 ng/ml).


The study used data from 247,574 subjects from the general practice sector. They had one blood sample from each person but followed the results for seven years, from 2004 to 2011. They looked at mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and compared this to the vitamin D level they had for that person at the beginning of the study (2004).


GrassrootsHealth scientists refute this conclusion 


GrassrootsHealth stands behind its recommendation of 40-60 ng/ml circulating 25(OH)D concentrations for preventive health. GrassrootsHealth scientists believe there is no J- or U-shaped curve, instead research shows a big decline, followed by gradual decline, and leveling off.


Dr. Cedric Garland et al. examined the relationship between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) and all-cause mortality in his paper "Meta-analysis of all-cause mortality according to serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D". The study searched biomedical databases for articles that assessed 2 or more categories of 25(OH)D from January 1, 1966, to January 15, 2013. They identified 32 studies and pooled the data. The outcome? "There is no acceleration of the curves toward higher mortality at higher serum 25(OH)D levels."


"Another study (Grober, Reichrath, & Holick - Nutrients 2015) specifically looked at mortality for individuals with 25(OH)D values above 50 ng/ml and 70 ng/ml. No increase in mortality was found. " - Dr. Robert Heaney


Possible explanation for outcome: The people with "high" (50 ng/ml) vitamin D levels were sick and on medication for vitamin D deficiency


In the Durup et al. study, they used one sample of vitamin D, from 2004. In 2004, much less was known about the association of vitamin D with improved health. Therefore only those who were under a doctor's care, and receiving prescription doses of vitamin D2, would have high vitamin D levels. It is safe to assume that even though their vitamin D levels were relatively high - those increased levels came too late. They still died of cardiovascular disease, but a higher vitamin D level was not the cause - just an outcome of the treatment.  


"Dosing very sick people with vitamin D is always worth a try, but the effort often comes too late in the natural history of the disease in some patients, producing potentially biased results such as those recently reported by Durup et al. " - Garland


"The high extremes are the few percent of people who were taking D supplements for an indication that would put them at higher risk for mortality." - Dr. Edward Giovannucci


Dr. John Cannell, founder and Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council, says the following, "...healthy vitamin D levels are important to maintain throughout life, beginning at an early age. A recent study found that vitamin D status during adolescence affects the risk of adult atherosclerosis, suggesting that vitamin D levels play a vital role in heart health starting at an early age. In this study (Durup et al.), the average age of the participants was 51."


Dr. Michael Holick cites a paper he co-authored using lab data from Quest Diagnostics. In this study he found that during the late 20th century if a subject had high values of circulating D, then they also had D2 in their system - proving that they were under a doctor's care and taking high doses of pharmaceutical D2 to correct a deficiency or disease.


Interview with Dr. Michael Holick


Dr. Michael Holick For those of us who are more visual, here is a great skype interview with Carole Baggerly and Dr. Holick.  


"Should they be worried?" - Baggerly

"No!" - Holick


This interview does a great job explaining why a "high" value of 50 ng/ml in 2004 would actually indicate that the subject was under medication for a disease and/or vitamin D deficiency. It also explains the sampling they took and why if this was correct, we would be extinct today.  


Extinct? Yes... if high vitamin D levels caused cardiopulmonary distress, then our ancestors who lived on the plains and had a blood level of about 50 ng/ml from birth would have all had heart attacks and died.  


"If this were true then people in Africa and other southern sunny climates should be dropping dead from heart attacks left and right!" - Dr. Bruce Hollis




What does the D*action data say?


Another compelling argument is the D*action data. In this cohort are many people (7000+) who have raised their vitamin D levels gradually to 40-60 ng/ml, using D3 supplementation or sun exposure. Looking at our data we notice that with an average vitamin D level of 43 ng/ml, our D*action participants have an 84% lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). 



GrassrootsHealth participants

U.S. Population

Hypertension prevalence

5 %

29% (2013)

CVD prevalence

6 %

36% (2010)

Average 25(OH)D

43 ng/ml (107 nmol/L)

25 ng/ml (64 nmol/L)


The following graph (notice it is almost flat, not a U or a backwards J) shows our D*action participants risk of cardiovascular disease by serum level from 5 to 200 ng/ml!  


Practical advice from an expert


"It would not be wise for anyone to reduce vitamin D3 dosage in response to the recent Durup et al. paper for another reason. A high serum 25(OH)D, which is usually in the form of 25(OH)D3, is associated with lower incidence of breast, colon and lung cancer, adult leukemia and other serious cancers, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, fractures and falls, among other very major public and personal health benefits.  Reducing or stopping vitamin D3 supplementation would raise the risk of these serious cases to the high level of people who are deficient (i.e., who have 25(OH)D < 40-60 ng/ml). A precancerous lesion that is being held in check by vitamin D could worsen or emerge within weeks or months if the vitamin D3 intake and serum 25(OH)D3 concentration D is reduced. " - Garland


Video of the Week 


Vitamin D Measurement, the Key to Change Alexander Wunsch, MD Wismar University of Applied Sciences, Germany


Watch Now


Alexander Wunsch is physician, researcher and lecturer in light medicine and photobiology with particular interest in light effects and beneficial/adverse health impacts of solar radiation and artificial light sources on endocrine and cellular levels in humans. He conducts studies on photobiological effects of optical (UV, VIS and IR) radiation. In his private medical practice in Heidelberg (Germany) he uses therapeutic light spectra in combination with other biophysically based treatments and develops light equipment for medical and cosmetic purposes. He is an associate lecturer at the Wismar University of Applied Sciences and mentors students in their master theses in light & health-associated topics. Alexander Wunsch presents at international conferences and operates as a consultant for federal authorities, media and industry. 


In this video Wunsch explains the features of sunlight and how it affects the body. He goes into depth explaining the color spectrum of the sun through wavelengths and compares this spectrum to an artificial light source. Wunsch explains how sun is good for the body, mind and soul and how the sun can be used to balance the body. He explains heliotherapy (light treatments) and the importance of starting them slow and gradually building up with increasing amounts of time over increasing amounts of exposed skin. 


This is a great presentation if you are interested in understanding what the sun can provide for your health.   


Editor's Letter 


Whew! That was a heavy topic this week. I hope we made this topic understandable and that you are now armed with more information as you talk to your friends and family. Please see the many resources in the side bar to help you understand the top level, or to delve deeper - depending on what you need.  


Thank you again for filling out our recent survey. In the sidebar you will see the results from the question - "Will you be testing your vitamin D level in the next 6 months?" I was pleased to see that many of you think it is important. Now don't forget to do it! Click here to login and fill out a questionnaire and request another test. I just sent in tests for my whole family and am awaiting results...


In the future we will report on other feedback from the survey and ask very short surveys to see how we can best serve you.  


"Thankfuls" for your time and feedback.


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.
Skype Interview

Carole Baggerly's 10-minute interview with Dr. Michael Holick
March 17, 2015

Is this study valid?

What are some possible explanations for this u-shaped curve?

Watch Now

 When a study reports a U-shaped curve it means that there is the lowest incidence of disease in the middle ranges, with peaks in both the lower and upper ranges. A graph of the outcomes would look something like this:

A similar type of graph is sometimes reported as a "backwards-J" shaped curve as in this study. In this case the outcome is still the best in the middle region, but the outcome is worse in the low levels than the high levels. Here is an example of a backwards-J shaped graph:




A reverse J-shaped association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and cardiovascular disease
mortality - the CopD-study
Durup et al.
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
February 24, 2015
View Here

Temporal Relationship between Vitamin D Status and Parathyroid Hormone in the United States  

Kroll et al.

March 4, 2015

Paper studying vitamin D data from Quest laboratories 

View Here 


Meta-analysis of all-cause mortality according to serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D

Garland et al.

August 2014

Paper show decrease in mortality at higher levels of vitamin D 

View Here 


Live Longer with Vitamin D?

Grober et al.

March 3, 2014

Paper shows no increased risk of mortality at >50ng/ml and >70ng/ml 

View Here 


Vitamin D Council Analysis 

View Here


Breaking News!

Press Release

March 17, 2015

Scientists confirm Institute of Medicine recommendation for Vitamin D intake was miscalculated and is far too low

View Here


New Blog Entry
February 13, 2015
Robert P. Heaney, MD
Creighton University
Summarizes and explains problem with IOM's recommended dietary allowance (RDA)
View Here


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

Interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola and Dr. Robert Heaney


Sign up for our Newsletter!
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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 Measurement, the Key to Change
Alexander Sunsch, MD
Wismar University, DE 

Watch Now 


Results from the recent survey showed that about 70% of 219 respondents are "very likely" or "extremely likely" to test their vitamin D levels in the next 6 months. 

March is usually the lowest reading you will get during the year.  


Test Now 

Share this newsletter on Facebook! Click on the top left social share buttons to share this entire newsletter. 


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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