October 22, 2015

Director's Letter 
Carole Baggerly 
Director, GrassrootsHealth 

Food and vitamin D???  I am frequently told 'No, I don't need to take any supplements, I get everything I need from my food.'  I laughed one time, the person was my friend, and asked if they ate a lot of whale blubber!  At this time, we don't have food sources of vitamin D that provide enough to meet our daily needs. This is changing, however.  Many animals are now fed with feed that contains vitamin D supplements--so, it is passing through their bodies and on to us, sometimes in the form of 25(OH)D. There are several projects underway to measure the vitamin D content of various foods so we can reliably use them to achieve our minimum 40 ng/ml. 

The KEY is still to monitor our serum levels with our individual lifestyles.  IF, indeed, you are able to get your serum level to 40 ng/ml without supplements, go for it!  Be healthy!
Missoula, here we come!  This last week, Mary Pittaway, one of our advocates, and a leader in the Missoula area, invited me to attend her D*party.  What a treat.  There were about 12 women there: a nutrition educator, a number from the prenatal care world,  a hospice director, a nursing professor, all very interested in vitamin D and the health of their groups.

The key questions from this group:
  1. How much should I give my clients?
  2. How do I get my family to take my advice about vitamin D?
  3. What dosing is recommended for infants?
  4. What agreement is there about vitamin D?
  5. What are the steps to doing a Protect our Children NOW! project in Missoula?


  1. As much as it takes to get the serum level to at least 40-60 ng/ml.  Please see our average change in serum level chart to help you decide how to supplement to achieve these levels.
  2. Family:  Well, enjoy.. if they're young, you can use a liquid drop variety and sprinkle on a piece of toast?  Cajole?  We had a good laugh on this one...
  3. Infants definitely need at least 400 IU/day and we were reminded that there was a Finnish study which gave 2000 IU/day to infants and followed the health of that group through adulthood. They had about an 80% reduction in diabetes by age 30!  Again, start paying attention to the serum levels.
  4. The best agreement we know about vitamin D is from our panel of 48 experts which recommend 40-60 ng/ml. 
  5. Steps to create a Protect our Children NOW! Project:  Briefly, formation of a local advocacy group, association with a local medical establishment that will provide prenatal care,  vitamin D testing and supplementation for a group of at least 500 pregnant women, education of its staff and sharing of data.  Last, but not at all least, association with the state and commercial insurance companies.  Missoula is on its way!

Hope you have a D*party with your friends. We can help address topics that interest you.  Let us know how we can help.   


Carole Baggerly
Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization
Moving Research into Practice NOW!

Vitamin D in our Food

Can we solve the vitamin D deficiency through food?

For most societies, food is not the primary source of vitamin D.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 600 IU/day of vitamin D for anyone 1-70 years old and 800 IU/day for those over 70. However, this recommendation is based on maintaining bone health with a 25(OH)D concentration of 20 ng/ml, and does not consider any other health benefits of vitamin D. With a diet of vitamin D-rich fatty fish, eggs, and meat, together with fortified food sources of milk, orange juice, and cereals 600 IU/day is possible, but may not be enough vitamin D for many people to reach 20 ng/ml. Read the NIH Fact sheet on vitamin D to learn more about how the government views vitamin D and food.

Your Data Your Answers - What did we find?

In an earlier version of the GrassrootsHealth D*action questionnaire than what you see today, there was a larger section on diet. We used data from this section for 780 non-supplement taking participants, aged 16 years or older, to analyze food sources of vitamin D. This group had a mean serum 25(OH)D of 33 ng/ml, a mean age of 48 years, and 65% were female.

Foods that had an impact on vitamin D levels were eggs, meat, and total protein. We found that serum 25(OH)D rose by about 2 ng/ml for each daily serving of eggs, and 1 ng/ml for each daily serving of meat and total protein. For each weekly serving of whole milk cottage cheese, serum 25(OH)D rose by about 1 ng/ml.

Neither fish nor milk - both considered traditional food sources of vitamin D - was positively associated with vitamin D serum level in this cohort. Other foods that did not seem to make a difference were butter, fruits/vegetables, olive oil, mayonnaise, cream cheese, or sour cream.

Since milk is fortified, shouldn't it have an impact on vitamin D levels? Yes, it should, but we may not have had enough milk drinkers in our group to show that impact. The milk consumption of the D*action cohort was very low, with an average of only 2 servings per week.

More on Milk - benefit in greater than one serving/day

Susan Whiting, who we heard from last week, participated in an analysis of milk consumption and vitamin D status of Canadians which found that frequency of milk consumption did indeed have a positive effect on 25(OH)D concentrations. Those who consumed milk more than once a day had a mean 25(OH)D concentration of 30 ng/ml whereas those who consumed it less than once a day had a mean concentration of 25 ng/ml (view paper for detail). The analysis also found that the percentage of people who consume milk more than once a day is highest in children ages 6 - 11 years (the youngest age group of the study), at about 65%, and declines with age to just over 20% in seniors aged 60 to 79 years.

Does Food provide most of the basal vitamin D input in the US?

A paper by Robert Heaney et al., All-Source Basal Vitamin D Inputs Are Greater Than Previously Thought and Cutaneous Inputs Are Smaller, analyzed 8 studies with a total sample size of 3,000 individuals. The purpose was to try to determine the various sources of vitamin D input for non-supplement users. The findings included:

1)    All-source, basal vitamin D inputs are approximately an order of magnitude higher than can be explained by traditional food sources, an average of 2,000 IU/day.

2)    Vitamin D produced from sun exposure accounts for only 10-25% of unsupplemented input at the summer peak. This suggests that while sun exposure may have been important for synthesis of vitamin D under ancestral conditions, it is not playing a very large role in the vitamin D status of many first-world populations today.

3)    The remainder, approximately 1,600 IU/day, must come from undocumented food sources, possibly from meat and poultry, and possibly, in part, as preformed 25(OH)D.


The next article is a profile of a D*action participant who has shown that it is possible to get enough vitamin D to maintain good health from food alone, but you will see that she does not have a typical western diet. While certain food sources can contribute significantly to vitamin D status, it is likely that vitamin D supplementation will remain key to improving vitamin D status at a population level.

Registered Dietician
Northern New Mexico
42 years old
Family of 5 - with children aged 6, 4, and 2
D-level in February 2015 = 52 ng/ml

Do you think a typical American diet would be vitamin D sufficient? (40-60 ng/ml)

No, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is deficient in many vitamins and minerals. The SAD creates inflammation and chronic disease. The typical American becomes undernourished.

When I was consuming the SAD, I had positive blood tests for Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I was depressed, suffered from constipation, and felt horrible. I refused to be "officially diagnosed" and put on meds. My aunt suffered from Lupus, my grandmother from RA- I knew where my life was headed and chose the road less traveled.

How have you managed to keep your vitamin D level up without supplementation or sun?

I simply eat real food! It took several years for it to come to this, but with determination and a drive for knowledge, I can now say it.   You see, I am professionally trained as a Registered Dietitian (RD). My health crisis (Lupus and RA) drove me to seek other teaching modalities because I knew the SAD wasn't going to heal me (it's what got me to that point). Paul Chek, the founder of the CHEK Institute, is where my life changed for the better. His information rocked my world to say the least. Then, I found out about Weston A. Price and I've never looked back. I have remained a RD to be able to educate others on this "new" information that I continue to learn about!

I have empowered myself by raising my own food and the food that I cannot raise, I purchase either locally or from companies that I know personally who have the same values that I do.

I have downsized my life, gotten rid of excess and the unnecessary, so that I can afford and have the time to do what I think is necessary to be healthy. Food is the foundation of health!

Within the last 10 years, I have completely changed my lifestyle by what I put in (food and drink) and on my body (lotions, soaps, etc.); and by what I do not allow in my house (chemicals, fragrances, etc.).

I am outside every single day, rain or shine. I don't wear sunscreen but I do wear a sunhat. My arms and legs are exposed (except in winter). I live at 7300 feet above sea level. I do avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day and I'm outside anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on my work. I don't care for the heat so I do avoid the sun as much as possible. I only work in the garden when it's been shaded by the trees/mountains. I either do my work first thing in the mornings or late afternoon/early evening when it's cooled off.

 Describe a typical day in your diet.

 I think the important place to start is with a healthy gut. If your gut is compromised (such as leaky gut syndrome), you're not going to be able to absorb the nutrients from what you eat.

A typical day in my diet consists of:

fresh milk from my certified Jersey milk cow. Fresh eggs from my chickens and ducks (they are free range and are fed organic, sprouted kamut and sunflower seeds). Organic potatoes fried in tallow (rendered fat from home raised beef), lard (rendered fat from home raised pigs), butter or coconut oil. Sprouted bread with butter.

Mid-morning snack:
kefir made from fresh cream, seasonal fresh fruit, veggies from the garden (I eat as I work in the garden), soaked, raw nuts and seeds like walnuts or pecans, sprouted sunflower seeds.

homemade broth based soup (veggies from garden like onions, garlic, cabbage, squash and tomatoes, and home-raised turkey).

Mid-afternoon snack:
either fruit smoothie (kefir, frozen fruit, coconut milk, supplements like cordyceps, astragalus, alfalfa, chlorophyll, etc.) or milkshake (fresh milk, raw egg yolks, vanilla). Raw carrots and pickles or sauerkraut.

Roasted homegrown chicken, root veggies such as potatoes, beets and turnips, coconut oil or tallow, and a nice big glass of fresh milk.

If I'm craving something sweet and fruit doesn't cut it, I'll reach for the dark chocolate.

Which foods do you believe are the most beneficial for vitamin D synthesis?

I think probiotics (good quality sources of pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha) and bone broth are the most healing and supportive to the gut so that in return it can digest and absorb the nutrients needed for vitamin synthesis such as B vitamins. It's those "good bugs" in our gut that help us assimilate vitamins and minerals.

Also a good diet with plenty of healthy fat such as tallow, lard, butter, and coconut oil (excellent quality of course) helps with vitamin d synthesis. We need cholesterol and saturated fats in our diet.  

How has D*action and GrassrootsHealth helped you?

I'm thankful for being able to do a home Vitamin D kit because I'm the one in charge of my health, not a doctor.

GrassrootsHealth has given me the opportunity to empower others. If we are proactive about our health, we can start to see changes. These changes start creating a new demand.

What would you like to tell the readers?

Eat as healthy as you can; what do you have to lose?
Editor's Letter 
Susan Siljander 
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth

After talking to Delia and reading her story I am convinced I need to visit her for a spa-type get-away. It sounds idyllic - very healthy and nurturing. It also reminds me of how most of Americans ate in the early 20th century - dare we go back to those ways? Will our modern-day health crises lead us back there eventually?

Last week we had two more D*parties. People like you are introducing the benefits of vitamin D to their friends and family, and we have seen some amazing results. Don't forget that when you decide to host a D*party you benefit - you can qualify for free vitamin D from BioTech Pharmacal and a free blood test.

Who would you invite to a D*party?

Susan Siljander
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization  
Moving Research into Practice NOW!

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

All the latest research and news on breast cancer prevention

Vitamin D Day is coming up on November 2nd, and we want to get the word out. Support Vitamin D Council's message on Thunderclap, and if we accomplish 100% of our goal, our reach will be amplified to thousands. 
Support Thunderclap by clicking here. 
GrassrootsHealth has launched a breast cancer prevention project. Watch this video to learn more.  

Results from our Breast Cancer study show vitamin D levels > 50 ng/ml may provide additional reduction in breast cancer risk.

D*party update

We had some more D*parties last week. The momentum is going strong, will you join?

New D*parties were held to
Educate about vitamin D

Currently scheduled

more people
Committed to a D*party

Can you host a D*party?

Open to any US woman, 18 years or older, at 12-17 weeks of pregnancy

D*certified Practitioners

Take two CME courses online to become D*certified

Quantifying the food sources of basal vitamin D input
Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
October 2014
Sharon L. McDonnell
Christine B. French
Robert P. Heaney

All-Source Basal Vitamin D Inputs Are Greater Than Previously Thought and Cutaneous Inputs Are Smaller
The Journal of Nutrition
Robert P. Heaney
Laura A. G. Armas
Christine French
March 2013

Vitamin D status of Canadians as measured in the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey
Kellie Langlois
Susan Whiting
Component of Statistics Canada Catalogue
March 2010
Read Paper

National Institutes of Health
Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals

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