Tag Archives: vitamin d

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin


Now that the long days of summer are gone, it’s more important than ever to focus on getting enough Vitamin D. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that over 40% of the U.S. population was deficient in vitamin D. That’s a really large number! 

So why is Vitamin D so important? Most of us recognize Vitamin D as being critical for bone growth, which it is. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, helping to form and maintain strong bones. When you don’t get enough Vitamin D, it puts you at risk for diseases such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. That’s why the government started fortifying milk with Vitamin D in the 1930s- rickets was a major health problem at the time. But Vitamin D is not just important for healthy bones- it actually has several other important functions in the body including maintaining a healthy immune system and modulating proper cell growth. Recent studies have linked Vitamin D deficiency to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease and several types of cancer. Continue reading

Are You Sick and Tired? Maybe It’s Your Thyroid

If you feel cold and tired all the time, there’s a good chance your thyroid is to blame, because one out of five women and one out of ten men have thyroid problems. That’s 30 million women and 15 million men. And half of them suffer needlessly because their doctors completely miss the diagnosis or don’t treat it properly.

You don’t have to suffer. Are you tired and sluggish? Do you have trouble getting going in the morning? Are you constipated? Do you have dry skin, dry, coarse hair, or hair loss? If the outer third of your eyebrows are thinning that could mean low thyroid function. Or maybe you have depression, high cholesterol, low sex drive, fluid retention, poor memory, and trouble concentrating.

All of these symptoms are potentially related to low thyroid function or what we call hypothyroidism. And because they can be vague and subtle, they’re easy to miss. But these symptoms can negatively affect your quality of life. But when you correct your thyroid function, you can get rid of these symptoms. You can actually get your life back and feel better.

One of my patients is a 73-year-old woman who was tired and a little depressed, had a little fluid retention, was constipated, and had trouble with memory. She had been to another doctor who said, “What do you expect? You’re 73.” Well, you know what? That’s not what 73 has to feel like. 73 can feel like 53 or 43 if you’re tuned up.

Get to the root cause

My job as a Functional Medicine doctor is to be a medical detective, to investigate and address the root causes of problems—not just the symptoms—and help people fix the underlying problems that CAUSE their symptoms and recreate balance in the whole system.

So, how do you find out the root cause of low thyroid function? What do you do about it? Can you reverse it? And what should you do if you have it? Well, if you fix the cause, you often can heal your thyroid. So, first, let’s take a look at the causes of this condition.

There are many causes of low thyroid function, but the most common one is environmental toxins.

For example, plastics, pesticides, thallates in plastic bottles, BPA (bis-phenol A) in cans, parabens in sunblock and make-up, chemicals in our food and water: all of these things interfere with our thyroid function, which acts like the yellow canary in the coalmine that died when the air went bad. When our environment becomes overloaded with toxic substances, the thyroid is the first to go down.

What you are eating can also mess up your thyroid. Gluten is one of the biggest causes of low thyroid function, because it causes an autoimmune reaction against the thyroid. We call this Hashimoto’s disease. It is fixable. If you get rid of gluten, you can heal it.

Nutritional deficiencies may also be causing the problem. Iodine, vitamin D, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fats, and vitamin A are all important for optimal thyroid function. You have to have optimal nutrient levels for your thyroid to work properly. For example, you can’t make thyroid hormone without iodine. You can’t convert the inactive to the active form of thyroid without selenium, and the thyroid can’t work on your cells without vitamin D and vitamin A.

Another big cause of thyroid dysfunction is heavy metals, such as mercury and lead.

People who eat a lot of fish, who have a lot of fillings in their mouth, or who have had a lot of vaccines that contain Thimerosal may develop problems with their thyroid.

Get tested

So, how can you know for sure that you have this problem? Well, first, you have to do the right tests. Most doctors do not do the right thyroid tests, and I strongly encourage you to demand your rights as a patient and ask for them. What are they?

It’s the TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone test, and the free T3 and free T4 tests. It’s very important to get the free levels of both the free T4 and free T3 hormones.

Next, you should also always check your TPO (thyroid peroxidase) and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. These are an indication of an autoimmune reaction against your thyroid.

Also, check for celiac or gluten antibodies or anti-gliadin antibodies, because these also can indicate a gluten problem that can trigger thyroid problems.

You also might need to get heavy metal testing, because high levels of mercury and lead can trigger thyroid issues, too. Go to www.functionalmedicine.org to find a doctor near you who can test for metals and help you fix your thyroid.

Take action

So, once you’ve found that you have this issue, follow these steps, so you can begin to treat yourself.

Clean up your diet. Get rid of the sources of pesticides and chemicals. Filter your water. Eat organic when possible. Eat safe fish. Minimize your exposure.

Eat foods that support your thyroid. These include vitamin D-rich foods like mushrooms, sardines, and herring; vitamin A-containing foods like green leafy vegetables and carrots; iodine-rich foods like seaweed, fish, and shellfish; and zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds and oysters.

Thyroid replacement may be needed for some people. But this is very controversial. Some doctors recommend only T4 and some recommend a combination of T4 and T3. I think, when you look at the scientific evidence, it’s clear that people do better when you combine the inactive T4 with the active T3 hormone. And that’s what we do at The UltraWellness Center. We give combinations, either in the form of Armour Thyroid, Nature Thyroid, or just combinations of T3 and T4.

Take thyroid supportive supplements. I recommend a combination supplement for my patients called Thyrosol, which contains kelp for iodine, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin A, and selenium.

This is all described in my UltraThyroid Solution. I go through everything in step-by-step detail. It’s a 7-step, goof-proof plan for fixing your thyroid. I encourage you to check it out. Learn what you need to do, and fix your thyroid, because you don’t have to feel tired and crummy all the time. There is a way out.

Originally posted on my website, DrHyman.com

photo by: adria.richards

5 Nutrient-Packed Foods for Healthy Hair

de5de856512394ea_shutterstock_96575575.previewMany of us assume that buying the best shampoos and conditioners will be enough to keep our hair looking healthy. These products do help to repair existing hair damage but don’t do much to promote new hair growth and cannot replace essential vitamins that we may be missing from our diet. There are certain essential vitamins and minerals that our hair relies upon, and a lack of these is often the source of many hair growth problems. Some simple changes to our diet can really make a big difference to the look of our hair.

Modern lifestyles can also have an impact – a busy lifestyle, lack of sleep, or even pregnancy can seriously make a difference in our hair health. Vitamin supplements have  been proven to help, but if you are looking for the most natural sources of these vitamins then here is a list of 5 food types foods that can help to provide those essential vitamins your hair needs.


Many sources site that salmon is the number 1 super food for healthy hair. This is because it contains a great combination of essential substances that our hair simply loves. Omega 3 oils help maintain a well hydrated scalp, and many believe this is essential to maintaining healthy hair growth. Oily fish such as herring, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3, and salmon is also rich in Vitamin D which is great for your hair follicles.

If you are someone who doesn’t like eating fish then certain vegetable sources can be a great way to get the omega-3 you need. Rapeseed, flaxseed, soya beans, walnuts, almond and even tofu are all good sources of Omega-3.

Vegetables with Beta-carotene

Beta carotene is present in many vegetables and provides us with a great source of Vitamin A. For many people who suffer from dandruff a simple addition of vitamin A to their diet can help solve the problem. Vitamin A helps to promote sebum oil which is our body’s natural conditioner for our scalp. It can also help with hair growth problems as it is said to assist with oxygenating our scalp. Sweet potatoes are known to be one of the best sources, and other vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and broccoli are also recommended.


Oysters are also recommended to help fight scalp problems such as dandruff. A lack of zinc in your diet may even be the cause of hair loss, and oysters have a particularly high zinc content. Zinc helps promote the level of androgens in our body, and for some people a low level of androgens has been directly linked to hair loss. Crab, liver and beef are also good sources of zinc.

Eggs and other biotin rich foods

Our hair is essentially built using protein, a nutrient that has been associated with speeding up hair growth. Protein can be found in many types of foods, but eggs are one of the best sources. Another important mineral in eggs is biotin, and those who have a biotin deficiency may suffer from brittle hair. To prevent this, biotin has been proven to be effective from both foods and supplements if needed. Kidney beans and nuts such as almonds and even peanuts are also good sources of biotin.

Fruit and vegetables with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is great for both our hair and skin. Vitamin C helps keep our blood vessels oxygenated, which in turn keeps our hair follicles healthy. Super fruits such as blueberries have a very high level of Vitamin C, and strawberries and citrus fruits are also good sources. Many vegetables such as green beans, spinach and broccoli are good sources, and the old-fashioned rule of eating colorful vegetables can give you a good indication of a high vitamin C content, as well.

You may have identified that one of these essential sources of vitamins is missing from your diet, and that may well be the cause of a particular problem. If you are concerned and believe you may have a nutrient deficiency then simple tests at your doctors can identify what vitamins and minerals you may be lacking. This Women’s Hair PDF can also help you to diagnose any hair health problems you may have!

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins (Part 2)

Amor Sin Remedio Hopeless Love Hoffnungslose LiebeClick here to read Part 1!

Why Most Vitamin Studies Are Flawed

There is another important thing to understand about clinical trials that review the utility of vitamins in the treatment of disease. The studies that show harm are often designed like drugs studies. For example, a study may use a high dose of vitamin E and see what happens. This is actually a prescient example also explored in recent media.

Studies recently found that high doses of vitamin E and selenium didn’t prevent prostate cancer and may increase risk. What this study didn’t explore properly was the true biochemical nature of vitamin E and selenium. These nutrients work as antioxidants by donating an electron to protect or repair a damaged molecule or DNA. Once this has happened, the molecules become oxidants that can cause more damage if not supported by the complex family of antioxidants used in the human body. It’s sort of like passing a hot potato. If you don’t keep passing it, you will get burned. Many studies simply fail to take this into account.

Nature doesn’t work by giving you only one thing. We all agree that broccoli is good for you, but if that were all you ate, you would die in short order. The same is true of vitamins. Nutrients are not drugs, and they can’t be studied as drugs. They are part of a biological system in which all nutrients work as a team to support your biochemical processes.

Michael Jordon may have been the best basketball player in history, but he couldn’t have won six NBA titles without a team.

Obesity Is Linked To Malnutrition

The tragedy of media attention on poor studies is that they undermine possible solutions to some of the modern health epidemics we are facing today, and they point attention away from the real drivers of disease.

Take the case of obesity, for example. Paradoxically, Americans are becoming both more obese and more nutrient deficient at the same time. Obese children eating processed foods are nutrient depleted and increasingly get scurvy and rickets–diseases we thought were left behind in the 19th and 20th centuries. After treating over 15,000 patients and performing extensive nutritional testing on them, it is clear to me that Americans suffer from widespread nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, folate, and omega 3 fats. This is supported by the government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on our population. In fact, 13% of our population is vitamin C deficient.

Scurvy in Americans in 2013? Really? But if all you eat is processed food–and many Americans do–then you, like the British sailors of the 17th century, will get scurvy.

Unfortunately, negative studies on vitamins get huge media attention while the fact that over 100,000 Americans die and 2.2 million suffer serious adverse reactions from medication use in hospitals when used as prescribed is quietly ignored. Did you know that anti-inflammatories like aspirin and ibuprofen kill more people every year than AIDS or asthma or leukemia?

In short, these studies often confuse rather than clarify, and they only serve up doses of media frenzy and superficial analysis. They leave the consumer afraid, dazed, bewildered, and reaching for their next prescription drug.

Please, be smart; don’t stop taking your vitamins. Every American needs a good quality multivitamin, vitamin D, and omega-3 fat supplement. It is part of getting a metabolic tune-up and keeping your telomeres long!


Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

Expert Report: Vitamin D/Calcium: The Right Stuff?

The IOM expert report on Vitamin D and Calcium suggests two changes: increasing your vitamin D intake from 200IU (under age 50) to 600IU daily, or 800IU if you are 71 or older; and not supplementing with calcium.


The new safe daily upper limit of vitamin D is 4000IU; for calcium it’s 2000mg, which increases kidney stone risk.


The IOM believes this much of each is best for bone health. Much of the public and many physicians believe that vitamin D is needed for more than that. People love supplements– and almost half of U.S. adults take them.


Especially in Winter, especially for dark-skinned Americans, vitamin D helps the body’s own immune system fight flu virus and improve multiple sclerosis.


I recommend few supplements, because high quality meals can contain everything you need. But pregnant and nursing women, newborns and the elderly on restricted diets need specific supplements.


Few foods, except wild salmon, mackerel, herring and caviar(!) have much vitamin D; the dairy adds vitamin D to milk, just enough to prevent rickets.


The smartest and safest approach is to have your 25-hydroxyvitamin D level measured. Your doctor can order it, or you can with this vitamin D kit. The test uses radioimmunoassay, the most accurate testing available.


The IOM thinks your level should be 20ng/ml; many vitamin D experts think it should be 30ng/ml; an independent group of vitamin D researchers (not vitamin sellers) thinks 40ng/ml. Ask your MD.


And check out a new national federally funded Vitamin D/Omega-3 study testing 2000IU daily, for optimal health.

Two Ways to Improve Your Flu Immunity: D3 and Vaccines

Earlier this month, I got a flu shot. I also took 2000IU of vitamin D3.  Some people see this as redundant.  Not me.

The recent news that pregnant women who get flu shots protect their fetuses and themselves meshes perfectly with the recent news that vitamin D3 is more of a (helpful) steroid hormone than a vitamin. Too little vitamin D means more fatal infections.

Almost two thirds of the U.S is deficient in vitamin D. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Some scholars believe Vitamin D deficiency is the "seasonal stimulus" for flu epidemics.  In fact, 2000 IU daily prevented nearly 100% of the flu in an excellent RCT study of post-menopausal women.

Epicurious asked me for a list of flu-fighting foods: I came up with six (actually six categories):

Quercetin Powerhouse Produce, Vitamin D–Rich Foods, Chicken Soup, Green Tea, Yogurt/Kefir, and Chilies.

But even these foods should be used in addition to vitamin D3, and a flu shot.

The more people learn about the relationship between what they eat and their personal health, the fewer medications and devices they are likely to need, and the less disease they are likely to have.

PHOTO (cc): Lance McCord


Lack of Vitamin D Weakens and Injures Muscles

Because of injuries in the springtime, I missed six Boston Marathons back in the 1960s.  It wasn’t until 40 years later that I found the cause: my vitamin D3 blood level was 20 nmol/l (normal is greater than 75 nmol/L, equal to 30 ng/ml).  Recently I moved to Florida and have been relatively injury free for the first time in my life. I now know that people genetically susceptible to vitamin D deficiency are the ones most likely to suffer muscle weakness, injuries and poor athletic performance.  Many exercisers and even competitive athletes are vitamin D deficient even if they live in the sunbelt. I believe that sunlight offers benefits that cannot be obtained just by taking vitamin D pills.


Vitamin D acts directly on specific receptors in muscles to make them stronger and prevent injury (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, April 2010).  As people age, they become increasingly susceptible to muscle weakness and falls caused by lack of vitamin D.  Muscles are made of thousands of individual fibers that are classified into two types: slow twitch fibers that govern endurance, and fast twitch fibers that govern primarily strength and speed.  Vitamin D specifically maintains the function of the fast twitch strength fibers.  A review of the world’s literature showed that lack of vitamin D is associated with muscle weakness in older people (Molecular Aspects of Medicine, June 2005). With aging, you lose muscle fibers. For example, the vastus medialis muscle in the front of the upper leg has 800,000 fibers in a 20 year old, but only 250,000 in a 60 year old. Vitamin D slows this loss of muscle fibers, preserves muscle strength and helps to prevent falls, while lack of vitamin D increases loss of fibers, muscle weakness and falls (Pediatric
Clinics of North America, June 2010).

If you suffer muscle weakness, pain or injuries:

* check your vitamin D3 level. That is the only available dependable test. If it is below 75 nmol/L (30 ng/ml), you are deficient.

* You can try taking vitamin D3 at a dose of at least 2000 IU/day for a month.

* If that does not bring your D3 level to normal, you can check with your doctor about taking higher doses.

* A certain percentage of people will have their vitamin D3 levels go above a normal 75 nmol/L and still suffer from muscle weakness, fatigue, pain and injuries.

* These people may benefit from exposure to sunlight.

* Since skin cancer is caused by cumulative exposure to sunlight over a lifetime, you should restrict exposure to sunlight on your head, face, top of ears, arms and hands.

* Try exposing your legs and bathing trunk areas. Be careful to avoid sunburn.

* Start at low exposures of less than a couple of minutes and work up gradually. You cannot tell that you have suffered a sunburn until the next day when your skin will burn, itch and perhaps blister.


Why People Risk Tanning to Hide Ugly White

Around the gym where I am scantily clad, I am known as “fish belly.” In sharp contrast people around me – teens to boomers – are tanning: sun bathing in summer and tanning beds or booths the rest of the year despite the fact that the skin cancer/melanoma risks are significantly higher for those who tan. Then why are people sacrificing health and premature aging to look golden brown?

Of course, exposure to the sun offers a variety of benefits like Vitamin D which is the vitamin du jour for preventing certain cancers, boosting the immune system and is proving to be neuro-protective; in addition, the sun heals acne outbreaks, tames psoriasis and eczema, elevates our moods and resets our natural rhythms to help us sleep better at night.

Because tanning helps to increase serotonin levels and people claim that they look better tanned with that healthy glow, it can become addictive. In a random statistical sample I learned from sun worshipers that tanning evens out their skin tone and hides blemishes. Also, those who are 35 and up feel it makes them look younger, slimmer and their body more defined. When asked about wrinkles and the breakdown of collagen – the cause of premature aging, the predominant answers can be summed up: “They’ll invent something,” or “I’ll get botox.”

However, what’s wrong with being a pale face?

* In some cultures and we can look to Melville’s symbolism in Moby Dick and Billy Budd, white can represent evil or at least an unwholesome pallor.
* White is reminiscent of death and ghosts.
* White is the absence of color.
* Many celebrities look tan.

But keep in mind that white also represents:
* Purity , peace and spirituality
* Clean laundry blowing in the breeze
* Angels
* Softness as cotton and clouds

“There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting.” (Well said by John Kenneth Galbraith)  When you think about it, health and vitality make a person appear more beautiful and notice more beauty around them.  

While sunshine in our lives makes us glow with happiness and aspiration, too much sun can burn, injure and hasten death. The Greeks wrote about this in the myth of Icarus whose waxen, feathery wings melted when he flew too close to the sun; it was such an exhilarating experience that he ignored his wise father’s instructions. Consequently, he dropped down into the ocean and died prematurely.

Could a tanning addiction be similar to a smoking addiction?

It’s time to lighten up and take things more lightly.

  PHOTO (cc): Flickr / m00by

Is Your Vitamin D Deficiency Inherited?

      A report from University of Toronto shows why come people develop severe vitamin D deficiency while others do not (Clinical Biochemistry, July 2009).  Some people and mice have abnormal Vitamin D binding protein (VDBP) and therefore cannot respond to vitamin D normally (Endocrine Reviews, June 2008). They are at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, certain cancers, depression, athletic injuries, muscle weakness and so forth.
       Furthermore, some people can take very large doses of vitamin D pills and still have low blood  levels of vitamin D. Dr. Robert Heaney of Creighton University reports that taking 2,200 IU of vitamin D every day will  give only enough vitamin D to last 12 days (Journal of American College of Nutrition, June 2009).
Over the years I have been unable to run effectively in the winter and injuries forced me to miss six Boston Marathons. This same pattern of winter-time weakness and injuries plagued me when I switched to cycling.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I drew blood and found that my vitamin D3 level was 22 ug/ml (normal is over 75).  Taking as much as 3000 IU of vitamin D failed to get my blood levels much over 30.  I moved to Florida and rode my bike very well last winter. This winter was extremely cold and cloudy ,and my injury and weakness pattern recurred.  I notice that a good day in the sun allows me to ride well for about three or four days, but the weakness and injuries recur until the next day of warm sunlight.  My skin has never been damaged by sunlight, has no pre-cancers and looks much younger than my 74 years.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated directly with muscle weakness (Scandanavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, October 2009) and athletic injuries (Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, November 2009;  Molecular Aspects of Medicine, December 2008).  It is my opinion that:
       * Certain people are genetically susceptible to vitamin D deficiency
       * These people are likely to be injured when they try to exercise vigorously in the winter
       * Vitamin D pills will help some athletes, but many do not regain their athleticism at any dose of vitamin D pills
       * These people will get better when they are exposed to sunlight during exercise. 
Of course they should be concerned about skin cancer from excess sunlight, but I think that people who are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency (such as those with darker skins) are at reduced risk for skin cancer. However, I have no available data to support that impression.


Haitian Orphans & Vit. D: Lessons Learned from Autism

I watched the Haitian orphans deplaning on TV with tears of joy that two local incredible sisters, Jamie and Ali McMutrie, somehow, against all odds, managed to airlift these 53 kids to Pittsburgh


As I looked outside at a typical Pittsburgh gray day, I worried about how the Haitian infants and babies could thrive without the daily doses of sunlight to store the vitamin D their immune systems need to survive. Somali immigrants living in Sweden and Minnesota, whose weather has little sun, just like Pittsburgh’s, show extremely high rates of autism. Dr. John J. Cannell, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council and a forensic psychiatrist in California, is convinced that Vitamin D deficiency plays a role in the autism epidemic.


Scientific American

wrote about this phenomenon last April.  


What is Vitamin D and How Do We Get It?


Vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin, is a fat soluble vitamin that is produced naturally as D3 or cholecalciferol (pronounced koh·luh ·kal·sif·uh·rawl)Most people used to get sufficient Vitamin D3 from sunlight. Today, Cannell believes that vitamin D deficiency is rampant because of increased use of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, coupled with a move away from an agrarian society.  A “perfect storm” for vitamin  D deficiency. when sunlight hits the skin.



With just 10-40 minutes of unprotected summer sun our bodies produce about 20,000 units of vitamin D. That’s the same as 200 glasses of milk! The body makes what it needs, accumulating and storing significant reserves in the tissues, liver, spleen, bones, and brain; it can be then be available during darker months. Vitamin D is fat soluble, requiring sufficient “good” fats in the diet for storage.   



In climates lacking in bright sun, people eat Vitamin D rich fatty fish such as mackerel, cod and salmon. Very few other foods contain natural Vitamin D. One, shiitake mushrooms may increase vitamin D levels. Some milk products, orange juice and breakfast cereals are fortified with synthetic Vitamin D, and less easily absorbed.





What is the Role of Vitamin D?


Vitamin D acts more like a neuro-steroid hormone than a vitamin, directly affecting brain development and regulation of behavior. It is crucial in the functioning of the immune system. Recent research suggests that vitamin D offers neuro-protection, anti-epileptic effects, immuno-modulation of several brain neurotransmitter systems and hormones. It is important in autism because it enhances the body’s ability to fight inflammation and destroy dangerous microbes.






How Much Vitamin D Is Necessary?


The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics recently doubled the recommended daily vitamin D allowance for children to 400 IUs per day. The Vitamin D Council says the new guideline is still too low, suggesting 1,000 IUs per day for children 2 years old and younger with little sun exposure. Today, many supplement 2,000 IU per day; some believe that we need as much as 5,000 IU daily!





The ideal amount of vitamin D depends upon various factors. Those with chronic and autoimmune conditions could require higher levels. Maybe the high autism incidence among Somalis living in Minnesota is due to the possibility that their bodies are programmed to the extremely high levels from the strong sun in their native land and lacking in their new home. Researchers are looking at this finding closely.





The “Vitamin D Deficiency Theory” of Autism


Evidence supports a vitamin D deficiency theory of autism. Vitamin D during gestation and early infancy is essential for normal brain functioning. In 2001 researchers concluded that vitamin D deficiencies in pregnant women should be considered a risk factor for neuro-developmental disorders such as autism.  The importance of prenatal, neonatal, and postnatal vitamin D supplementation cannot be underestimated.






Calcitriol, a form of D3, is different from all the body’s other steroid hormone systems.  While other steroids are produced directly from the body’s natural store of cholesterol “precursor” compounds, the amount of calcitriol is completely dependent on having enough precursor 25-hydroxyvitamin D present in the first place. Brain levels of activated vitamin D directly depend on the amount of vitamin D a pregnant mother makes in her skin or puts into her mouth, to act as a “molecular switch” in brain tissue, turning on genes that influence her baby’s brain development. About 1,000 genes are already known to be targets of calcitriol activity, and that number is growing fast.  






Cannell’s dramatic conclusion is that “Human behavior, be it the step into the sun, the step to the supplements, the step into the shade, or the step to the sunscreen, determine brain calcitriol levels.” In the case of the human fetus,   brain calcitriol levels are directly linked to very early cognitive development, with tremendous implications for the developing baby’s brain.





Vitamin D and Flu


Many health care practitioners are suggesting high doses of vitamin D along with probiotics to combat viral infections like the flu. They argue that if one examines the demographics of children who die from the flu, almost two-thirds had epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or other neuro-developmental conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency. Exacerbating the problem further: many of these kids were taking anti-convulsant drugs, known to leach Vitamin D.





Testing for Vitamin D Deficiency


Know your vitamin D level! Anyone with recurrent or chronic illness should obtain a baseline measurement. Make sure your whole family has blood levels of Vitamin D above 50 ng/ml. 


The most common way to have your vitamin D level tested is to see a doctor. But a new $65 at-home test


, which has partnered with ZRT Laboratory. The test measures 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25 (OH) D, an inactive form of vitamin D. Stick a finger or heel to get a few drops of blood and mail the kit back. The results will be mailed to you without involving a physician.


Prevention is the Medicine


To prevent Vitamin D deficiency, walk with face, hands and arms exposed to the sun, three or more times a week, for between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on skin tone, the season, and the distance from the Equator. Feed your family cod liver oil and shitake mushrooms! This insidious deficiency is tragically missed in many disease diagnoses. Thankfully, it is the single most cost-effective treatment. Check levels often, replenish and maintain!






I beg the medical professionals treating the Haitian children and families adopting them to strongly consider supplementing their diets with at least 1000 units a day of D3 as a preventative measure. The small amounts available in enriched orange juice and milk are simply not adequate for these children. Given all they have been through, let’s now think prevention!















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