VITAMIN D 3-The most essential basic supplement
C. NORMAN SHEALY, M.D., Ph.D.
No matter who you are, unless you live at the equator and are outside most of the day wearing only a fig leaf, you need vitamin D 3. We live in modern caves, certainly somewhat more luxurious that primitive caves, but lacking in sunlight. Furthermore, for decades dermatologists have urged sun blockers so that even the few minutes of exposure to sunlight do us no real good! In one study of over 90 young adults in Hawaii, who averaged 4 hours daily of sun exposure, 51% still were deficient in blood levels of D!
There are, indeed, many essential deficiencies in modern “society”, ranging from magnesium and iodine to omega-3 and vitamin C. Indeed, back in the 70’s Emanuel Cheraskin demonstrated that the so-called RDA or MDR’s for essential nutrients were woefully low! At best those minimal almost trace amounts may prevent the more serious deficiency diseases such as beriberi, pellagra, rickets, scurvy, etc. They certainly do not provide optimal health!
Vitamin D 3 is crucial for immune competency. The recommended daily intake is dangerously low. In fact, OPTIMAL daily intake is between 5000 and 10,000 units daily for adults and 1000 to 2000 units daily for children.
Benefits of adequate D 3:
· Marked reduction in colds and influenza
· Marked reduction in cancer
· Marked reduction in hypertension
· Reduced obesity
· Marked reduction in osteoporosis and fractures
· Improved libido
· Marked reduction in autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and psoriasis
· Improved muscle strength and function
· Marked reduction in depression
D 3 as a Steroid
Although it has long been called a vitamin, D 3 is actually a steroid.
D 3 is manufactured in the skin exposed to sunlight. It is believed by many that 15 minutes a day of sun exposure of face and hands will allow the production of 400 units of D 3, the RDA of D. Actually many people do not receive even this minute amount of sunlight. Theoretically, if we lived at the equator and wore only a fig leaf, 8 to 10 hours of sun exposure might produce at least 100,000 units of D.
The “hormonal form” of D 3, Calcitriol, is a cell-differentiating factor, antiproliferative agent which influences gene expression, including muscle and keratinocyte differentiation, blood pressure regulation, and the immune response.
DHEA, the most prevalent steroid hormone is strikingly influenced by the concentration of D 3 in the blood. DHEA interacts with D 3 to stimulate osteoblastic cell differentiation. D 3 modulates FSH secretion and has a powerful effect upon normal growth and differentiation of the prostate gland. Vitamin D modulates gonadal steroids in human vascular cells in tissue cultures. D 3 also binds to androgen receptors. Finally, in mature adults, optimal D3 increases both length and girth of the penis.
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D 3 for IMMUNE STRENGTH
Numerous articles report the almost universal deficiency of D 3 in blood, probably because we spend so little time in the sun and most use sun blockers. Virtually every known cancer is associated with low levels of D 3. Individuals with low D3 also have many more infections. Some authors have recommended a single dose of 600,000 units of D 3 once a year to prevent flu. Upper respiratory infections are INVERSELY related to serum levels of 25-hydroxy D (D 3).
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D 3 for SKELETAL INTEGRITY
Osteoporosis is one of the most serious afflictions of aging and is often the cause of death from a hip fracture. Weakness, slowness, exhaustion, weight loss and pain are frequent accompaniments of osteoporosis. Many studies show that D deficiency is significantly associated with osteoporosis and fractures. The drugs for osteoporosis such as Fossamax® frequently produce extremely fragile bone, responsible for spontaneous hip fractures just in walking! D 3 on the other hand helps prevent and treat osteoporosis.
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D 3 for Brain and Mind and to prevent Alzheimer’s
D 3 is critically important in brain function. Low levels of D are associated with a wide variety of mood disturbances, including depression and Alzheimer’s. From autism to anxiety, depression and virtually every mood disorder, low levels of D 3 are virtually always part of the picture.
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D 3 for Libido
There are a number of animal studies on the effect of vitamin D on sexuality and at least one human study suggesting delayed sexual development in adolescents who are deficient in D. Interestingly, one study in young men given large dosages of testosterone, the levels of D 3 decreased, perhaps because the androgen receptors were filled with D 3?
In my own study of 50,000 units of D 3 daily in 17 men, increased libido and energy were routinely reported.
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D 3 FOR HEALTH
The bottom line is clear!! The current intake of D 3 is far below that required for health of body and mind. Two thousand units daily for children until age 12 and a minimum of 50,000 units once a week is essential for those over 12 to 16 and throughout life. Infections, mood disorders, atherosclerosis and cancer would be decreased markedly if individuals took adequate D 3.There is no reported toxicity of D 3 at levels up to 10,000 units daily. At onset of symptoms of flu. I recommend 150,000 units Of D 3 daily for 3 days. In my own practice hundreds of individuals have taken 50,000 units of D3 daily and I do not recommend it. HOWEVER, THERE ARE THREE CAVEATS, if you take that dose:
- Never take that dose of D 3 if you have kidney disease
- Take no calcium supplements on that dose. Calcium foods and multivitamin/minerals are OK
- Check your blood calcium level after 6 weeks, at 3 months, and every 6 months thereafter!
Finally, K 2 is a critical synergistic factor increasing the effectiveness of D 3. K 2 is contraindicated in patients on Coumadin. 100 to 150 micrograms daily should be taken with D 3. Together at least 50,000 units of D 3 each week and K 2 100 mcg daily could improve health and reduce disease more than any other known approach! Indeed there is good evidence that 15 mg of K 2 daily is safe and highly synergistic with the D 3
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Incidentally, the reason I recommend 50,000 units of D 3 once a week for adults and once a month for children is that it is far less expensive than taking even 5000 units daily—$30 for 100 capsules of 50,000 units!