The inaccuracy of current blood tests in determining vitamin D adequacy and the folly of prescribing megadoses of vitamin D.

The Great Vitamin D Deficiency Hoax

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The Great Vitamin D Deficiency Hoax

I have long been skeptical of
the current push by physicians to prescribe megadoses of vitamin D to their
patients. Nearly everyone I see who has
been to another physician has been told that they have vitamin D
deficiency. Itís not uncommon to see
people who are taking 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily and Iíve seen
individuals who are taking prescription doses up to 100,000 IU twice a week in
an attempt to achieve a "normalĒ level of vitamin D in their blood.

Iíve been encouraging people to take nutritional supplements
for over two decades. Iíve been labeled
a "quackĒ by the medical establishment for doing so. Perhaps thatís one of the reasons Iím shocked
by its blind acceptance of the idea that prescribing absurdly high amounts of
vitamin D to achieve blood levels that were arbitrarily set by a committee is
sound medical practice. I believe itís a
hoax, an act intended to trick people into believing something that is false or
even preposterous.

Two articles caught my eye this week. The first was Vitamin
D-binding protein and vitamin D
status of black Americans and white Americans
N Engl J Med.
2013;369:1991-2000, 2047-2048. The
article addressed what appears to be a paradox. Based on the current guidelines, which suggest
a minimum vitamin D blood level of 20 or 30 ng/ml, up to 96% of black people are
considered vitamin DĖdeficient. In spite
of this, blacks tend to have a higher bone density, higher calcium levels, and
slightly higher parathyroid hormone levels (all indicators of normal vitamin D
activity) than whites.

The authors found that the form of vitamin D being reported
in standard blood tests did not correlate with bioavailable vitamin D Ė the form
actually available to perform the functions of vitamin D in the body. They concluded that more research is needed
to fully appreciate what bioavailable versus total vitamin D status means for
bone health but also for other aspects of vitamin D in health and disease.

The second was "The effect of vitamin D supplementation on
skeletal, vascular, or cancer outcomes: a trial sequential meta-analysisĒ Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol
2014. Published online January 24, 2014. This was an analysis of the current
research regarding the benefits of vitamin D supplementation. The authors found that taking vitamin D does
not lower the incidence of heart attack, stroke, cancer, or hip fracture. The only benefit from vitamin D was in
reducing hip-fracture risk in elderly women living in residential care
facilities. The effective dose was 800
IU/day. The lead author, Dr. Mark
Bolland, concluded, "Until more information is available, it would be
prudent to choose a cautious approach to vitamin D supplementation and to put
more emphasis on the development of evidence-based cutoff points for vitamin D

If universal vitamin D deficiency is a hoax, who is
perpetrating it and why? The
pharmaceutical industry that stands to gain financially from the sale of
prescriptive doses of vitamin D and the nutritional industry that stands to
gain substantially from increased sales of over-the-counter vitamin D products.

What then, is the average person to do? Recognize that the body requires
approximately 100 different vitamins and minerals to properly maintain itself
on a daily basis. Yes, there are reports
that low levels of vitamin D are associated with nearly every disease known to
man, but that doesnít mean that supplementing vitamin D will solve the
problem. I am certain that low vitamin D
levels are simply an indicator of deficiencies of all needed vitamins and
minerals. I encourage vitamin D
supplementation, but only at amounts up to 1,000 IU daily and only as part of a
comprehensive formulation that provides all of the nutrients required to
restore and maintain health.