May 20, 2015

Director's Letter 


STAKEHOLDERS--the answer to 'who cares?'

All of you who participate in this 'crowd
funded' D*action project are indeed stakeholders! We are entering into a new era of Moving Research into Practice in more ways, with community projects (the Protect our Children NOW! Project (POC)) and we are starting our analysis of our own outcomes with the D*action Cancer Prevention Project.

Our D*action Cancer Prevention Project is at a point of having enough data to warrant the full analysis and publication of the results. We will be looking at all of the GrassrootsHealth cohort and, at some data from the Lappe study published in 2007. One of the interesting things about our data is that the median serum level is 45 ng/ml. The question we have to address is how much cancer prevention can there be within such a high-D level cohort?  We can compare to the NHANES database of people who have much lower serum levels, we can also look at the data in the Lappe study that definitely showed a cancer reduction going from an average of about 30 ng/ml to 40 ng/ml. What happens after 40 ng/ml? We intend to find out!

We are working with some new stakeholders for the community projects: insurers, commercial companies, the state government, health organizations. It is very interesting to get to know more about them, how they work, how we best work with them. Not too surprising, one of our key assets is a well defined project structure that can be integrated into what they are already doing, i.e., the POC project is not necessarily another project for them! We are working with a number of groups that already help pregnant women and are eager to include the vitamin D testing and supplementation into their existing programs.

With our D*action Cancer Prevention Project, the stakeholders we have are eager to see the health outcomes and how vitamin D can help prevent this disease. We are looking for a set of additional stakeholders who can help
us analyze and publish our findings. Pure North S'Energy Foundation, a Canadian non-profit is helping with this. We invite your individual contributions and invitations to other organizations or individuals you know to share in the benefits of the knowledge and the publication to the masses--through education and many outreach efforts.

Our new health portal, HYLION, is being implemented with the POC project
. HYLION is designed to increase engagement with participants and allow for customer feedback. Sponsors will have access to this data, similar to the 'Your Data-Your Answers' segments we often publish. This data will enable them to better meet the needs of their customers.  We will be tracking what people like, what they use, and what helps them achieve their health goals so we can create the best of all supportive environments...  all while maintaining the strictest of patient privacy laws.

Stay tuned for new announcements and opportunities to be involved. Our goal is to 'Move Research into Practice'--not to stop with the research!  To do that, we need to do the analysis, to create the public health methods and information to make it happen! We definitely need your help to get the results we have out into the public, to save lives, to prevent the occurrence of many diseases, to focus on prevention. 
Thanks again for your ongoing support.


Carole Baggerly 

Director, GrassrootsHealth

A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization

Moving Research into Practice NOW!

Your Data Your Answers:

Does Exercise Help Vitamin D Absorption? 


Let's look at our D*action data, 7000 members strong... does exercise help vitamin D absorption?


As part of the D*action questionnaire, we ask participants to describe their typical physical activity during the past 12 months. Categories to choose from are: none, mild, moderate or strenuous. Mild physical activity includes activities like gardening, walking or biking for at least 20 minutes, three or more times per week. Activities that usually break a sweat are considered moderate. Activities that always break a sweat are defined as strenuous. We then assign participants to an activity group based on the most vigorous activity they reported.  Participants who engage in less than mild or infrequent activity are grouped together in a 'none/non-regular' activity group.  For outdoor activity, we ask about each season and categorize participants into groups by the activity they engage in for at least half of the year. 


Here are some of our findings:





More than 90% of D*action participants report some level of regular exercise. You are a healthy bunch! Congratulations.


About half of the participants engage in mild or moderate activity and one third engage in strenuous activity.    


What about exercise in relation to vitamin D? We took our data and charted the dose response of each exercise category. The exercisers (mild through strenuous) are the green and blue lines, see how they track almost the same? The red line is the 'none/non-regular' grouping.





This data seems to show that regular exercisers have a slightly higher vitamin D dose response than non-regular exercisers, especially at the lower dosages of vitamin D. What we can't tell from this chart is why. It could be that the exercisers have lower BMIs. It is well known in research that BMI is a factor in vitamin D absorption (the higher the BMI the slower the absorption).


Research on exercise and vitamin D


There is some evidence that exercise may be an independent factor for vitamin D level, but it doesn't seem to be certain. Here are a couple of references.



Sunlight and other Determinants of Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels in Black and White Participants in a Nationwide US Study  

D. Michal Freedman, et al.

National Cancer Institute
Click to View Paper 


Freedman studied around 1500 participants, over 2 years, asking each participant for monthly blood samples and questionnaires. The population was diverse - black and white, male and female, and from different latitudes. The study ran for two years (2008, 2009) and was published in 2011. If you choose to read the paper, please note they report all vitamin D blood samples in nmol/L (divide by 2.5 to get ng/ml).


One of the conclusions from this paper was:


"factors that were most strongly associated with higher circulating 25(OH)D levels in the overall population were increased age, summer and fall blood collection (compared with winter collection), hours outdoors being physically active, and vitamin D supplement intake level. Factors most strongly related to lower 25(OH)D were race (black compared with white) and BMI above 25."

Later in the paper they also state it this way:


" the number of hours being physically active outdoors was a stronger predictor than hours outside also suggests that the character of outside time may be important. Some have suggested that exercise itself, independent of outdoor time, may affect vitamin D levels; however, our finding that indoor physical activity was unrelated to vitamin D levels does not support this hypothesis."


The effects of muscle-building exercise on Vitamin D and mineral metabolism

Dr. Norman H. Bell, et al.

View paper


In this study Bell took fourteen men who had engaged in regular muscle-building exercises for at least 1 year and 14 age-matched controls (age range, 19-36 year). He hospitalized them on a metabolic ward and they were given a constant daily diet that was the same. He then measured many different minerals and vitamins in their blood, including vitamin D.


From the abstract:


"The results indicate that muscle-building exercise is associated with increases in serum Gla-protein, serum 1,25(OH)2D, and urinary cyclic AMP. The increase in serum Gla-protein suggests that this form of exercise enhances bone formation.'

Video of the Week 


It's up to US!
Carole Baggerly
Founder and Director, GrassrootsHealth

This video was published in November 2013. It was created on a trip Carole was making around the country to get Protect our Children NOW! (POC) started. Now, looking back, we have the first POC project underway in South Carolina and will start two others this year.


This presentation would be great if you want to understand the mission of GrassrootsHealth and its projects. It is always a delight to hear Carole speak on all of the data related to vitamin D health, but none other than when she is traveling and getting more data, more examples, and more input. Please watch this video if you want to familiarize yourself with all the reasons for vitamin D health or want to hear more about our vitamin D projects.


Watch Now
 Vitamin D Success Story


Tell us a little bit about yourself:


My name is Paula Williams.  I am a Registered Dietitian, working in a hospital.  I live in Fort Worth, Texas, am 57 years old, married, and have two children and four grandchildren.


How did you hear about GrassrootsHealth / vitamin D?


I found it online after discovering my own level was low. It was 39 ng/ml even though I did everything I teach!  I consume dairy products, eat fish, take a multivitamin and calcium/D supplement.  I was shocked.  I assumed it would be within the recommended range. My doctor recommended 2000 IU/day.  I did not expect to feel anything.  I felt like a different person after just three weeks of supplements.  


How was your health before vitamin D?


As I became older I noticed I did not have as much energy and started having aches/pains and sensitive teeth. I assumed this was normal aging.


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


I take 2000-4000 IU per day from a combination of supplements and food.  I always wear sunscreen.


What is your vitamin D level?


Last time it was checked it was 92 ng/ml.  I feel 20 years younger. I feel like I'm in my 30's not my 50's. I no longer have the aches/pains and my teeth sensitivity has improved. I rarely catch colds. Looking back, it seemed to come on gradually, so I didn't realize how poorly I was feeling until I started to feel better.  It made me curious about the patients I see. [Note: Grassroots Health recommends vitamin D levels in the range of 40 - 60 ng/ml.]


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


Everyone should test, otherwise you don't have a baseline and know how much to take.


How do you tell others about vitamin D?


I discuss it with most of the patients I see.  I have worked to get vitamin D level testing in guidelines for certain conditions, such as Sickle Cell Disease & Osteoporosis/falls.


I ask doctors to order the test on those with heart failure, diabetes, MS, heart disease, cancer, lupus and hypertension. I have found patients with levels <4 ng/ml!  


One 35-year old black lady had Transverse Myelitis (which is similar to MS), had a previous stroke, was hypertensive, depressed and bedridden. We checked her level and it was 11 ng/ml. She started supplementing and returned to see me 2 years later. She was then able to walk and her level was up to 70 ng/ml. She said the doctor told her it was a miracle, which may be the case, however I credit the vitamin D. She reported feeling much better and her depression had improved.


I have had mixed response from the doctors.  Many are focused on just treating the illness that led to the admission.  I feel prevention is better than allowing people to develop diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  I feel people deserve to hear about this amazing nutrient. 


Editor's Letter 


It is exciting to write about the new projects at GrassrootsHealth. I was on a walk with Carole, discussing this upcoming cancer project, and got very excited. It seems like our data could very well be instrumental for cancer prevention. We want to change the discussion (and tests) doctors have with patients. How can we get the word out that cancer incidence is greatly reduced when vitamin D blood levels are between 40-60 ng/ml? Our goal for the cancer project is to convince more and more doctors of the importance of vitamin D - thus bringing research into practice. If you have thoughts on who could help, or any contacts - please reach out to us at GrassrootsHealth!


What a great success story! This story really highlights how important it is to test. Paula seems to have a very good level of vitamin D from taking 2,000-4,000 IU/day. Not everyone would get these results. But she tests regularly and has adjusted her dosage. Not everyone responds the same to supplementation, or sun, and so it is important to stress testing.


Have a great week. 



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.

Please check out our new web page.  


If you know a mother to be - please send them to this page. They can read up on how vitamin D affects pregnancy and the future health of their child. 


Click here for web page 

Story at-a-glance

The Institute of Medicine's (IOM) recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D underestimates the need by a factor of 10, due to a mathematical error. 


IOM posits that a vitamin D serum level of 20 ng/ml is adequate, but many researchers believe that is too low; 20 ng/ml has been shown to be inadequate even for prevention of osteomalacia.


To ascertain your ideal dose, you need to test your vitamin D level. Aim to get above 40 ng/ml, and take whatever dose you need to reach and maintain that level.


Watch Interview 


Sunlight and other Determinants of Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels in Black and White Participants in a Nationwide US Study

D. Michal Freedman, et al.

National Cancer Institute
April 18, 2012
View Paper

The effects of muscle-building exercise on Vitamin D and mineral metabolism

Dr. Norman H. Bell, et al.
December 3, 2009
View Paper
Video of the Week 
It is up to US!
Carole Baggerly
Founder and Director
November 2013
Watch Now

Disease Incidence Prevention Chart
(referenced in video)
Updated 8/24/12
View Now

Disease Incidence Prevention Chart for Pregnancy
(new since video - but very pertinent to video)
View Now
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