Tag Archives: Vitamin D

Sufficient Vitamin D Improves Vascular Health

Sufficient Vitamin D Improves Vascular Health

References: Indian Jr Endo MetabAmerican Journal of Cardiology,

I was excited last year when it was reported that Vitamin D helped folks with congestive heart failure. When 233 patients with congestive heart failure were randomly given Vitamin D, their 6 minute walk time didn’t improve, but their ejection fraction increased 23% relatively, or 6% absolutely. The dose was 4000 IU a day, with no loading dose. Note, half of us will die of congestive heart failure, so this is a big deal for older folks, particularly those with congestive failure. You may not be able to walk further, but you are still walking. Most folks with an ejection fraction (the percent of blood your heart can pump out with each stroke, where normal is 65 and dead is 18) in the low 20s die within a year or less. So, being around fora year to finish a study is cool. I added Vitamin D to my Congestive Heart Failure protocol.

I’ve been watching for mechanisms of just how it works. Here it is! In this study, 103 folks with Vitamin D deficiency (below 20 ng) were given 60,000 IU a week for 8 weeks. Measurements were taken of vascular function like carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity, arterial stiffness index and oxidative stress markers like serum malondialdehyde levels and total antioxidant status. They demonstrated about a 10% reduction in pulse wave velocity, (996 cm.sec to 899 cm/sec) and systolic blood pressure from 115 to 106. All were statistically significant. Lowering blood pressure (996 cm.sec to 899 cm/sec) and systolic blood pressure from 115 to 106. All were statistically significant. Lowering blood pressure even 2 points reduces risk for vascular disease 4-6%.
[Now, there are any number of studies that are referenced in this article where Vitamin D didn’t help heart disease. Many of these have been highlighted in the popular press to suggest that vitamin D supplementation doesn’t work.

Cardiologists like to quote them to justify having a cath instead of taking D. Hmmm. Just about every one of those studies gave lower doses of D, in the 2000 iu range, for 6-8 weeks at a time. This is a good example of the utter stupidity of most studies that essentially don’t understand the physiology of Vitamin D. Your bodies fat tissue soaks up D and stores it. It is fat soluble. You are a big tank. If you are overweight, you are a bigger tank. When you start a new dose, it will take your body a full year before a new homeostasis is achieved. In the long run, a dose of 3-4,000 IU a day is sufficient in most folks to get to a level of 50 ng, my definition for replete.

This study effectively gives a loading dose. 60,000 IU a week gets to threshold.   I give 100,000 IU because that has been proven to raise your D level 14 ng a day. If someone is low, < 20 ng, you can give two doses in a row. They will add 14 ng a day and in two days will be at 45-50. Finally, Vitamin D works as your stem cell hormone, telling stems cells to wake up and start maturing into mature cells. Mature cells can do their function. It takes months for a mature cell to grow and start doing its function. If your D level is rising so slowly that you don’t have enough for a year, a study lasting 12 weeks, with an inadequate dose of D will never show an effect.

The final point to make about D is the clear need for it to be accompanied by K2. Weston Price highlighted this in the 1920s because that is what he observed when he documented the lifestyles and diets of “primitive” people. Like every pioneer, Weston Price didn’t get everything right, and his foundation has a few tangents that are off base, but by and large, he opened the door on omega fats, K2 and D, something we didn’t appreciate for another 70 years. When you look at D in isolation, you will often likely miss the beneficial effect if you don’t control for Vitamin K input. Increasing recognition of the complexity of our metabolism can be seen in the interplay of D and K2. They are really part of a biological partnership. Both are fat soluble.

www.What will work for me. I’m getting a better understanding of how D and K work together. Seeing a study where adequate doses of D make an impact when similar inadequately dosed folks didn’t get an impact is an important distinction. The self righteous deniers of this effect can’t explain that. Once they are ensconced in nay-saying, they keep nay-saying. As for me, I cheerfully take my D, 3500 IU a day in the form of 100,000 once a month. And I wear a hat and sun screen. Just one more skin cancer to take off my back.

Pop Quiz

  1. Vitamin D works by……….? Activating many genes, (10% of the human genome) which stimulates stem cells to become mature cells.
  2. It takes Vitamin D how long to change your blood level? Answer: If you don’t take enough, you will never get to an adequate blood level but generally you reach a new homeostasis in about a year after starting a new dose.
  3. To get to an adequate blood level Vitamin D, you need a loading dose of …..? Answer: 100,000 IU for every 14 ng you are deficient. If you want to get to a level of 50, and your level is 8, you need ………….? Answer: 3 doses of 100,000 IU, one day apart each.
  4. Your arterial blood velocity will drop when you take Vitamin D, which means your arteries have gotten stretchier and your blood pressure has dropped. T or F
  5. To prove that Vitamin D works on heart disease, you likely need to do what in terms of designing a study? Answer: It has to run longer than a year, have a loading dose, and take sufficient D to get to a level of 50. This has never been done. Any study with less, shorter, and no loading dose, no monitoring of blood level and no randomization will not show scientifically meaningful results. Meanwhile, the physiology of benefit sits right here, in this study.

Vitamin D and Survival of Breast Cancer and Colon Cancer

Vitamin D and Survival with Breast Cancer and Colon Cancer

Reference:  European Cancer Journal Feb 2014

That’s the summary.  It’s all in the title.  Folks with higher D levels and breast or colon cancer live longer.

What was the D level they were seeking?  Pretty easy to achieve.   75 nmoles is 30 ng.  (how we measure it in America).   Most Caucasians achieve that in the summer, in Wisconsin if they get outside.   African Americans and Asians have more skin pigment and need more sunlight, and have lower levels.  Milwaukee African Americans have D levels of about 14-16 ng year around (personal data).   That would be expected because pigment protects from sunlight, but also deters Vitamin D production.   I had an indoor job, and had a D level of 7 ng when I first measured mine.

The study quoted here took a combination of 5 studies and pooled all their data.  They were looking for studies of those two cancers, breast and colon.  The studies had to include D levels.   They compared those folks with the highest D levels with those folks with the lowest.   Some of the studies had 5 categories of D levels and some only two but combining all made for more powerful statistical effect.  The reduction for breast cancer was 42%.   Did you get that?   But with colon cancer, it was only 35%.  (Only?!!!)  Those are both huge!   That effect might rival almost any chemotherapy that we currently use.   This was an association, not causal proof.

I haven’t done a D article for a while so the question has to be answered.  Why is D so potent?  The answer lies in D’s fundamental role as a hormone throughout all nature.  From plankton to humans, D nudges cells to mature.  A mature cell stops dividing, does its function and then goes through natural cell death.  Cancer cells don’t do any of those things.  Particularly, not dying.  Cancer cells arrive in all stages of maturity.  If we can nudge it back towards maturity, it slows down its speed of doubling.   A marble sized cancer contains about a billion cells, which represents 60 doublings.  If we can get a doubling to occur in 6 months, that cancer is going to show up as a marble in 30 years.  If it doubles every two weeks, it will be there in two years.   Which do your prefer?

In Wisconsin, we dip below 30 ng every winter.  There is abundant literature that shows our immune system goes into hibernation when we drop below 30 ng.  Appears that level shuts down cancer fighting too.  It may be our immune system happening in its fight against cancer as well as the cancer cells themselves responding.  Either way, you live longer.

Now note, this was not a level of 60-80 ng.   Just 30.   Isn’t that interesting?

WWW.  What will work for me?  I take D every day.  It’s summer.  I’m older.  My skin makes about 20% of what it used to make because I’m over 60.  I’m still taking 5 K a day because I have a lousy D gene and a dermatologist who gets cross with me because of prior sun exposure..  Most of us need about 3000 IU a day or 20,000 a week to have a level of about 40-50.  That seems to be the sweet spot for prevention.


Pop Quiz

1.  Having a Vitamin D level of 32 or above might be very helpful with breast and colon cancer?   T or F


2.  I naturally have a blood level of 45 in the winter living in Wisconsin?  T or F

That would be living in S. Africa in our winter.  Caucasians in Wisconsin get to 45 in the summer, but bottom at abut 10-15 in the winter.  African Americans stay at 12-16 year around.

3.   This study is proof of the D concept?  T or F

Decidedly false.  It’s an association that they detected.  D may be low because aggressive cancer lowers it.  It may be a result of the disease.  We don’t have a prospective study that shows taking D will lower your cancer rate.

4.  If I have cancer, I will lower my mortality by starting taking D.  T or F

Again, we just don’t really know.  We have data from prostate cancer that the rate of rise of PSA drops by half with D, but no other cancer data to match that.   More likely, taking D for your lifetime will affect the initiation phase of cancer which occurs as much as 20 years before the clinical disease starts.  But I would most assuredly take it!  Remember, it takes a loading dose to get to effective levels quickly.  100,000 IU all at once will raise your level by 14 ng in one day.  Otherwise, it takes a year to reach a new homeostasis.   If you have a new diagnosis of cancer and a low D level (below 32 ng), take 100,000 IU TODAY!  If your level is below 10, take 100,000 IU two days in a row.

5.  The best advice for D and cancer is to keep by D level above 32 for my whole life.


Written by Dr. John Whitcomb at Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic