However, many scientists are hesitant to openly criticize the powerful National Academies of Science, which controls many researchers' grants and which oversees the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board (FNB).
The vitamin D scientists quoted in this press release may not be happy about it as we found their statements buried in scientific papers on vitamin D. In 1997, the FNB made some progress by increasing vitamin D recommendations to 200, 400 and 600 units, depending on age, but their recommendations remain woefully inadequate.
In addition, the FNB made a serious error when they said 2,000 units a day might be toxic and that caution reinforced physicians near hysterical fear that vitamin D is highly toxic.
Scientists now know humans need at least 1,000 units a day for good health and perhaps more in those deprived of sunlight. Potential toxicity of vitamin D may start at 10,000 units a day (from all sources) but is probably closer to 40,000 units a day according to Dr. Vieth. Dr. Reinhold Vieth, a prominent vitamin D researcher in Toronto, Canada, first drew attention to the FNB's error four years ago.
He attempted to dispel physician's unwarranted fears of vitamin D toxicity in a scholarly and widely quoted 1999 paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vieth stated that the IOM toxicity threshold for vitamin D is ?too low by at least 5-fold.? ?New scientific evidence suggests that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D should be much higher to achieve adequate nutritional vitamin D status, especially in the African-American population because of their pigmentation,? adds Dr. Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina. Also contrary to the FNB's declaration, Dr. Robert Heaney, a professor at Creighton University and an expert on vitamin D and calcium metabolism, reported in 2003 that humans in fact use between 3,000 and 5,000 units of vitamin D a day, amounts physicians traditionally think are toxic. Professor Heaney recently wrote that the FNB recommendations, ?fall into a curious zone between irrelevance and inadequacy.?
Since the release of the FNB's recommendations in 1997, many have assumed that vitamin D deficiency has been eliminated as a significant problem, and that the strategies used to achieve this success served as role models of successful public health interventions.
However, vitamin D deficiency was not eradicated; rather it has been escalating among Americans, especially Blacks, pregnant women and the elderly. It is associated with conditions such as osteoporosis, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer of the colon, prostrate, breast, ovary, bladder, uterus, esophagus, rectum, and stomach, according to Dr. Michael Holick of Boston University, a full professor in three separate disciplines. Dr. Holick, who has written the relevant chapters in Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine for the last 15 years, says that an educational program is needed in order to teach the public the importance of monitoring their vitamin D (calcidiol) levels just as they would check their cholesterol levels. ?Vitamin D deficiency and its consequences are extremely subtle, but have enormous implications for human health and disease. It is for this reason that vitamin D deficiency continues to go unrecognized by a majority of health care professionals,? he says.
In spite of scientific data that Americans are at risk for numerous diseases from vitamin D deficiency, the Food and Nutrition Board has refused to act. In an attempt to present current research about the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the diseases caused by those deficiencies, the National Institute of Health is sponsoring a hastily arranged conference in Bethesda, Maryland, on October 9 and 10, titled ?Vitamin D and Health in the 21st Century.? For more information: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/about/od/prip.
About vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol):
Vitamin D3, cholecalciferol, is a vital nutrient that is unique, both in terms of its physiology and human reliance on both endogenous skin production and exogenous sources to meet biological requirements. Vitamin D3, made in the skin, is turned into calcidiol [(25(OH)D] by the liver, which the kidney then turns into calcitriol [1,25(OH)D], a steroid hormone, to regulate calcium in the blood.
This is the main endocrine function of vitamin D. Meanwhile, many tissues other than the kidney turn calcidiol into calcitriol to help regulate gene expression locally; this is the newly discovered paracrine function of vitamin D. This paracrine function is impaired in vitamin D deficient subjects and all studies show many Americans are vitamin D deficient, especially Blacks and the aged. This use of calcitriol by other tissues as a paracrine hormone is a relatively new discovery that explains many of the health benefits of sunlight and vitamin D such as possible prevention of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, autoimmune illness, various cancers and mental illness. These non-classic benefits are also the reason the National Institute of Health is sponsoring the conference mentioned above.
The single most important fact we all need to know about vitamin D is that most humans make thousands of units of vitamin D in their skin within minutes of whole-body, summer-sun exposure. This is many times more units than recommended by the IOM. Therefore, many Americans exceed the FNB's safety recommendations by simply spending a few minutes outside in their swimming suits!
About The Cholecalciferol Council:
The Cholecalciferol Council is a group of citizens concerned about vitamin D deficiency and the diseases associated with that deficiency. The group will attempt to draw attention to the problem through the education of professionals, the media, government officials and average citizens. The Cholecalciferol Council has applied for tax-exempt, non-profit [501(c)(3)] status as an educational organization under the laws of California and the United States. The Executive Director of The Cholecalciferol Council is John Jacob Cannell, MD, who has an activist past concerning similar issues. Details of his background are available on the Council's web site, cholecalciferol-council.com or via email at email@example.com.
John Jacob Cannell, MD,
Executive Director Cholecalciferol Council
9100 San Gregorio Road Atascadero,
CA 93422 (805) 462-8129