August 12, 2015

New Areas for Research - Vitamin D Utilization 

During the recent Vitamin D Workshop in Delft, Netherlands, there were several discussions about current and future randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for vitamin D. One of the problems with these types of studies is that, done in the traditional manner of a treatment group and a control/placebo group, they would be unethical to run for many research questions. How, for example, could you test in an RCT if, or by how much, extreme illness depletes vitamin D level? You would need to track serum levels in your treatment and control groups and for those who are diagnosed with a disease or extreme illness, watch to see if their serum levels are depleted while maintaining the dosage assigned to their treatment group. If levels are depleted, how far do you watch them decline without changing the dosage? How long do you let them have a level that you know is deficient just to see how long it takes them to recover? I know I wouldn't want to be a part of such a trial - either as a subject or as a researcher - as it seems unethical to find an answer for this question at the expense of a person's health.

To date, the research on vitamin D and disease treatment and prevention gives us an indication of relative disease response when the vitamin D level is lower or higher. There have been few studies on vitamin D metabolism/usage - information that would tell us how much is "used up" in every-day activities when healthy versus how much is used while fighting an illness or disease.

Enjoy this article from one of our D*action participants who went through a trial of one - through a short but potentially deadly bout with sickness - and how that affected his vitamin D level.
Carole Baggerly 
Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization
Moving Research into Practice NOW!
Vitamin D and Resolutions
We are over half-way through the year, how have you been doing with your vitamin D resolutions for 2015?


What are your goals with respect to vitamin D personally, within your family, and within a bigger population group? Maybe last year you worked on your own vitamin D levels, and now it is time to move to your family, or to your friends.
  • Did you get your vitamin D level checked?
  • Did you tell others about vitamin D?
  • Did you have health goals you wanted to achieve?
How are you doing with respect to these goals? Is it time to take another hard look at your health and make some small changes?
Participant Story
"One 'take away' of my story is that the Vitamin D level being touted as 'sufficient' (40-60 ng/ml) is only sufficient for as long as you are well. Most people have compromised immune systems, and they will need a bigger 'cushion' when they get sick - especially the top 5 today!" -  Catriel Blum    
Who is Catriel Blum?

Rabbi Catriel Blum
Rabbi and local kosher food inspector
Age 70
Toronto, Canada
BA in music SUNY at Stony Brook
MA Musicology University of Toronto
MA Musicology Queens College NY
PhD Musicology NYU
M.Ed University of Toronto

D*Action participant since 2011.
Tests every 6 months and usually has a vitamin D level in the range of 70 - 80 ng/ml.
Vitamin D regimen: Supplements 6000 IU/day, no indoor tanning, one hour of mid-day sun exposure per day (in full suit)
20 years+ free of colds and flus

What happened to his vitamin D level?

Before this event - 70-80 ng/ml for almost 5 years
After this event - 54 ng/ml 

What is his unique story?

I am 70 years old, but working full-time, 7 days a week, from 10 am to 11:30 pm every day of the week (except Saturday, only at night). And I walk 5 miles every day in my work.

My  story... about 6 months ago a new tenant moved in next door to me, and once the weather here in Toronto turned a bit nicer in March she began smoking outside on her balcony, which is only 6 feet from my open living room window. But she was smoking pot - and all the smoke was coming in through my open window. I'm extremely allergic to many things, especially pot. One night I woke up at 3 am and couldn't breathe. Nothing. That whole night and the next day and night I struggled to get enough oxygen into my lungs to remain alive. The first night I thought I was going to die! At first I thought I was suffering from a virus - so no antibiotics would work. I can't remember the last time I had the flu or even a cold - I couldn't understand what was happening - I never get sick.  It gradually got a little better, and after 6 weeks living on half-supply of oxygen I suddenly realized that it wasn't a virus at all - I had suffered an asthmatic attack, it had been over 30 years since my last one, and so the idea or possibility of an asthmatic attack never entered my mind! It wasn't even on my radar. And all asthmatic attacks need a trigger, once I realized that, it was easy to find that trigger - that pot smoke. I wrote an impassioned e-mail to the management of my building, who sternly warned my neighbor to smoke only inside, and not on the balcony. It took me over two months to get back to homeostasis, but it was literally a fight for my life!

That fight used up almost a third of my background vitamin D level - can you imagine what the outcome would have been for me if I had begun this whole fight at 20 ng/ml? My being at 70 ng/ml  literally saved my life - and all during those two months I continued to work full-time (which was also a life-saver, as it got me out of my apartment and into outside air)! I have been taking 6,000 IU's every day for the last 10 years, including the time leading up to my last test - nothing changed in my regime, neither more nor less. But as soon as I received the results of the last test I upped my intake to 8,000 IU's per day, which I am still taking.  I am fairly sure that my next test will show me up at around 70 ng/ml, which is where I want it. As a septagerian I feel I need that level of D protection.
The whole point of my telling you this story is something that (as a researcher in the health sciences, among other hats) I have not seen identified anywhere - that is, serious illnesses not only need Vitamin D, but severely deplete the background level of D, therefore making recovery much more difficult! This is an area that needs to be publicized, and is definitely another reason to keep your D level up - in case of any serious illness.

I enjoyed meeting Rabbi Blum this week, and loved reading his story. While anecdotal, it provides more inspiration to keep an eye on my vitamin D level. His energy and passion for vitamin D is great! I know there are many more of you with inspiring stories out there.
I looked at my personal goals for this year and I did accomplish one - to test my whole family's vitamin D levels. I have not been getting out in the sun as much as I would like - so I will make some minor adjustments to my schedule.
This year I have contacted many of you and have had the privilege to read and write some of your stories. I would like to continue to do that, so if you have a story to share - please send it my way. We are also trying to come up with an easier way for you to share the story of vitamin D with friends and family, so stay tuned... 

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.


Does vitamin D help 
grey hair?
Why are people deficient in sunny New Zealand?

Click here to view the questions and answers from last week's newsletter. 

Questions answered by Dr. Robert Scragg, MD, PhD, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Diabetes affects over 9% of the population.  

What if we could prevent diabetes?

GrassrootsHealth found 60% lower incidence rate of diabetes with vitamin D levels above 40 ng/ml.

We need to tell the world!

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If you have a question about vitamin D and disease prevention or treatment - please click here and they will be answered by:

William B. Grant, PhD
Dr. William Grant
We will publish the answers in a future newsletter.  
Open to any US woman, 18 years or older, at 12-17 weeks of pregnancy


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