April 29, 2015

Notes from the Vitamin D Workshop

Delft, the Netherlands 


Carole just finished a week-long visit with other international scientists at the Vitamin D Workshop, an annual meeting that focuses on the biology and health implications of Vitamin D. Here are some of her thoughts from the week.  


Who attended the Vitamin D Workshop?


Opening Reception

Most attendees were from Western Europe and were a very cautious group by and large. Many of the scientists were focused on biochemical research rather than public health action.


What were the hot topics at the Vitamin D Workshop?


Attention was paid to a recent resurgence of rickets caused by both vitamin D deficiency and calcium deficiency.  In Africa, there was an example of groups having plenty of vitamin D, but a calcium deficient diet and in North America, it seems the main cause is vitamin D deficiency.

There was awareness that pregnant women are deficient and need supplementation. One approach seems to be the Hollis/Wagner approach of making sure women reach a serum level of at least 40 ng/ml to maximize the 1,25 (OH)2D, a level with demonstrated safety in their trial.  Another approach is extremely cautious, worried about the risks/benefits of serum levels.

What 'lightbulbs' went off in your head during the week that will affect GrassrootsHealth going forward?

So much current research focuses on very low serum levels and the results are questionable. There was one pain study where the title indicated there was no reduction in pain with vitamin D. The maximum serum level they had was 24 ng/ml!  Well below our recommended range of 40-60 ng/ml.


There are also a number of research studies that used very large bolus doses at monthly intervals, one was even yearly. Dosing frequency impacts the amount of circulating vitamin D3 needed for non-skeletal systems, therefore different dosing regimens can produce different results. 


There is a significant difference in 'caution' with those who do the research at the lower levels. 


The Cochrane reviews, which are very popular, have excluded all randomized clinical trials that have a placebo group other than zero (0) intake. This runs counter to the U.S. practice of ensuring the placebo group has the recommended 'standard of care'(e.g. 400 IU for pregnant mothers). 


Institutional bodies such as the World Health Organization, are not yet ready to recommend doses or serum levels in the range suggested by our scientists' panel.

How will the workshop shape GrassrootsHealth's next steps?


GrassrootsHealth Poster

We will continue to promote our online CMEs around the world, adding more sessions as quickly as possible.  


We want to get more participation with public health action groups as well as our current scientific research groups. 


We will find and promote key research groups that are affected by vitamin D in our region.


Vitamin D Workshop 2016 will be in Boston. What do you hope will be different?


This workshop should include a larger group of scientists from the U.S. and include research results based on different dosing regimens. I hope to have specific attention paid to dosing frequency, not just 'standard' dose amounts (partly due to our research efforts). We will be presenting new information on our Protect our Children NOW! project, AND, more information on our cancer analysis.

What presentations would you like to highlight?


Dr. Vin Tangpritcha presented a report on treatment with vitamin D for cystic fibrosis patients who had recently been hospitalized.  It showed a 50% reduction in the number of deaths in the following year.  This was a small study (30 patients), but very significant.  This and other studies continue to raise an interesting question about regimens for disease treatment vs. disease prevention.

Watch GrassrootsHealth video with Dr. Tangpritcha 

Dr. Bruce Hollis led the pregnancy section, highlighting their research showing that daily dosing vs. other dosing regimens did indeed affect outcomes.

Watch GrassrootsHealth video with Dr. Hollis 

Dr. John White presented his ongoing work with tuberculosis and the innate immune system. He reported finding an effect of UV independently from vitamin D that he will be exploring more in the year to come.

Watch video of Dr. White 



Vitamin D Success Story


Tell us a little bit about yourself: 


My name is Mike Scott. I am 73 years old and live in Cedar Park, Texas. I retired in 2007 from biochemistry. I have been happily married for 30 years, with 3 grown children, 6 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandson.


I am in wonder because of all of the positive health affects that have resulted from vitamin D.


How did you hear about GrassrootsHealth / vitamin D?


I learned about vitamin D first as a biochemist. I was interested in it because when you have adequate amounts of vitamin D it increases your anti-microbial peptides (AMP), which is great for fighting disease. I think it is very interesting that every cell in your body has receptors for vitamin D.   I googled vitamin D and found out information from the Vitamin D Council and GrassrootsHealth.


How was your health before vitamin D?


I had a concern about a diagnosis for prostate cancer (G7) in 2010. I went through all the specialists (surgery, chemo, hormones) - they all wanted to fix me. But I decided that I wanted to go into vigilant watching by having a PSA test done every 3 months.


In 2011, another biopsy was done and came up positive. At that point I decided to start taking much more vitamin D than was recommended at the time - 10,000 IU/day. About half of my doctors thought I was crazy and that it was going to be toxic. Most of the health people of the time were recommending 1,000 - 2,000 IU/day.


In 2012 I had another biopsy. It came up completely negative. I met with my oncologist, I asked "what happened?" He told me to wait for another year... 2013 - It was completely negative. The oncologist wouldn't go on record, but he said that high levels of D can starve tumors. He is now recommending vitamin D to all of his patients, because he saw my success.


I no longer have any symptoms. My PSA is still elevated, but I feel much better and no one can find any prostate cancer.


How much vitamin D do you take? How do you get it (sun or supplements)?


I take 10,000 IU/day. I never miss a day. I also go for a daily walk for half an hour with no sunscreen.


What is your vitamin D level?


I have my blood levels done twice a year, it is usually an average of 75 ng/ml. One summer it got as high as 120 ng/ml. Usually in the winter it doesn't go too low, the lowest I have had is 60 ng/ml. I am very good at taking it daily - summer or winter, I never forget. Just to make sure, twice a year I also have calcium levels analyzed. I have never had a problem with calcium either.


In addition, I get proper hydration, adequate sleep (7-8 hours), and exercise. I drink 2.1 L of water every day, half of my liquid weight in water.


What would you recommend to others who are in a similar situation?


I recommend that people take 45 IU/day per lb of body weight. I determined that number through my biochemistry research over the years.


For people in the middle of cancer treatments, I tell my story first. They usually get excited, especially my black friends. I let them know that if they have adequate levels of vitamin D it will enhance and help some of their chemotherapy. I remind them that my doctorate is in biochemistry, but it can't hurt for them to take vitamin D. I tell them to take a minimum of 4000 IU/day along with all of their other medicines.


How do you tell others about vitamin D?


I tell others with or without cancer to see their doctor and first establish their baseline of D. Test once in the winter and once in the summer. I have lectured twice - for my church and at an AARP event. All those old folks do not take vitamin D, only one person out of a hundred was taking vitamin D when I asked for a show of hands.

Video of the Week 


Results of a Prostate Cancer/Vitamin D Trial: Effectiveness, Safety, Recommendations

Bruce W. Hollis, PhD

Professor of Pediatrics, College of Medicine

Medical University of South Carolina


Dr. Bruce Hollis Dr. Bruce Hollis received his Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science from Ohio State University. His PhD was obtained in Experimental Nutrition from the University of Guelph in 1979. He did an endocrine fellowship at Case Western Reserve University from 1979-1982 and was then appointed to Assisted Professor of Nutrition. In 1986 he moved to the Medical University of South Carolina as Associate Professor of Pediatrics. Today, Dr. Hollis is the Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The Medical University of South Carolina as well as the Director of Pediatric Nutritional Sciences. He has been involved in vitamin D research for the past 35 years and has published in excess of 200 peer reviewed articles. He has had many National Institute of Health grants and currently has 2 active research project grants under the National Institute of Health.


This talk is about how vitamin D affects prostate cancer. You will learn that the prostate gland is very sensitive to vitamin D, the level of vitamin D you need in your blood to protect the prostate gland, and the upper safe limit for vitamin D. Hollis was one of the first scientists to run a trial with high vitamin D supplementation (4000 IU/day in 2004). Hollis talks about how to dose studies, how important higher dosing is for studies to show positive results, and spends a good amount of time explaining how you need vitamin D daily (see sidebar) for optimal cancer fighting properties.  


Watch this video if you are interested in protecting against prostate cancer, but also if you are interested in an explanation of daily supplementation and how to address the public opinion about vitamin D toxicity. 


Editor's Letter 


I'm excited about this week's newsletter. I think Mike Scott's story is so powerful and I hope you share it on social media or with friends.


The story ties into Carole's take away from the workshop - dosing, dosing, dosing. Some say too much, others too little - but we continue to see that if you test and your blood levels are above 40 ng/ml - then there are positive results. Share this information with your family, friends, co-workers - they need to know that they can change their lives by just getting more sun or supplementing.


You may still contact me if you would like to tell your story in a future newsletter, please email me at [email protected].


Have a great week!


Susan Siljander       

Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth

A Public Health Promotion & 

Research Organization  

Moving Research into Practice NOW!


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Read more information at the Protect our Children NOW! web site
GrassrootsHealth Poster Presented at Vitamin D Workshop

Explained the Protect Our Children NOW! Project

Showed the Pregnancy Disease Incidence Prevention Chart

Described the goals of the project

Our goal is to establish vitamin D testing of pregnant women as standard of care in medical practice 
Vitamin D Workshop
Delft, the Netherlands
Improving Clinical Outcomes in Cystic Fibrosis with 
Vitamin D
Vin Tangpricha, MD PhD
Emory University School of Medicine
Watch Now

Information on why daily dosing is important
Bruce Hollis, PhD
Medical University of South Carolina
Watch Interview
Read Newsletter
View Paper

Vitamin D and Tuberculosis
John White, PhD
McGill University
Watch Now

Vitamin D: Role in Calcium Metabolism, Safety
Robert P. Heaney, MD
Creighton University
Watch Now

Vitamin D Reduces Prostate Cancer Associated Lesions
Reinhold Vieth, PhD
University of Toronto
Watch Now

Vitamin D, Prostate Cancer and Health Disparities
Bruce Hollis, PhD
Medical University of South Carolina
Watch Now
Effortless Healing

Decades of Dr. Mercola's experience, now all in one place

Sidestep illness
Shed excess weight
Help your body fix itself

Read about the book here or order on amazon.com.
Video of the Week 

Results of a Prostate Cancer/Vitamin D Trial: Effectiveness, Safety, Recommendations

Bruce W. Hollis, PhD

Professor of Pediatrics, College of Medicine

Medical University of South Carolina

 Watch Now
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