Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions page. Please review the information below:
- What is the difference between vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3? Which one should I take?
- If I need to take more vitamin D and eat “better” than my kids and other family members do as well, right?
- What am I suppose to eat for breakfast?
- Don’t we need the calcium from dairy?
- Where am I supposed to get fiber from?
- All the information out there says that whole grain is good for us; why do you say it isn’t?
- Why is vitamin D important?
- Won’t I get skin cancer?
- Why do the dermatologists tell us to stay out of the sun if we need more to make vitamin D?
- What foods should I eat to get more vitamin D?
- Why is my vitamin D level so low?
There are two forms of vitamin D, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol or Drisdol® the prescription form of D2) and D3 (cholecalciferol, for which there is no prescription in the USA). D2 comes from plants. D3 is made by mammals from cholesterol with the assistance of UVB radiation and heat. A dose of vitamin D2 in humans is metabolized by half in about 7 days with complete elimination occurring in 2 weeks. A dose of vitamin D3 is metabolized by half in about 10 weeks. Peak blood levels of vitamin D2 are 30 percent lower than D3 after the same dose.
Vitamin D 2 must be dosed at least twice a week and preferably daily to adjust for rapid elimination and lower peak levels. In general weekly or monthly dosing of D2 will not produce significant rises in vitamin D levels or vitamin D effect. A recent review on the effects of vitamin D on bone confirms the inefficacy of vitamin D2 as it is commonly prescribed by physicians. Unfortunately, there is only one dose of D2 readily available in the United States and that is 50,000 IU gel cap. That is like trying to do eye surgery with a butter knife. It is the wrong tool for the job.
There are several small manufacturers who are catering to vegetarians with vitamin D 2 products. Vegetarians should take into account these dosing differences and verify the purity of the products they purchase.
Vitamin D3 replacement at a given dose will reach steady state in 10 weeks. The long half-life of vitamin D3 allows for missed doses without a significant drop in blood level. It also allows for make-up doses and weekly or monthly dosing while still maintaining a steady blood level. Moreover, vitamin D3 is available over the counter at very low cost. A year’s supply of vitamin D3 gel caps costs less than 20 dollars. The co-pay for prescription vitamin D2 is likely to be as much for every month’s supply. So for prescription vitamin D2 (those little green gel caps) you end up paying 8-10 times as much for roughly 3 times less effective vitamin D based on weekly dosing.
Yes. Studies looking at vitamin D deficiency in children show that their mothers are deficient as well. Studies looking at vitamin D deficiency in adults show that their young children are deficient as well. Families tend to share the same life style; in essence you inherit your lifestyle from those who raised you. You eat the same foods, recreate in a similar fashion and exercise the same amount. Again, it is not your genes that are determining your health; it’s your choices.
The Vitamin D Cure will help you change your inheritance and pass on a healthier legacy to your children and everybody else that you influence.
Our choices for breakfast have been engrained into us. Breakfast to most Americans is cereal, toast, bagels, waffles, pancakes, fruit and juice. We have been told to stop eating eggs, bacon and sausage. So, breakfast is a carbohydrate/sugar feast. You are feeding yourself all this sugar when your cortisol levels are the highest for the day. Bad timing!
What your body is looking for early in the day is nutrition, protein, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and a healthy balance of fat. What you’re feeding yourself is sugar. That’s why you are hungry two hours later. You didn’t get anything on the grocery list so your brain tells you to go back and try again.
The Vitamin D Cure tells you how to get started with changing breakfast. There is a two week menu and recipes for some healthy breakfast. Get started tomorrow. You’ll feel grrreat!
Dairy like grain is inexpensive and convenient food. But, like grain it is not as healthy as lean meat and fresh vegetables. Three quarters of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. NHANES III tells us that 60 percent of European Americans and 90 percent of African Americans are vitamin D deficient. In addition, the darker your skin tone the more likely you will be lactose intolerant. So it does not make any logical sense that three servings of dairy should be required by the USDA and CDC.
Our calcium needs drop in half by normalizing our vitamin D levels. They drop further when we balance acid base in our diet. To better understand how to normalize your vitamin D and change your diet to reduce your calcium needs and eliminate the need for calcium supplements get The Vitamin D Cure.
There is about 3 grams of fiber in a bowl of plain oatmeal with skim milk. There is about 1 gram of fiber in a cup of spinach. There is about 1.5 grams of fiber in one medium sized tomato. There are 4 grams of fiber in a serving of green beans. One medium red skinned potato has 3 grams of fiber. So a meal with a 3 ounce serving of lean meat, salad, potatoes and green beans has almost 10 grams of fiber or the equivalent of 3-4 bowls of cereal and no more calories than the bowl of cereal.
Three long term studies looking at the ability of supplemental grain fiber to reduce the recurrence of colon polyps and/or the development of colon cancer all FAILED to show any benefit to supplementing cereal fiber. Cereal does not prevent colon cancer.
Cereal fiber lowers total cholesterol on average 5 percent and lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) on average 9 percent. So if your total cholesterol is 300 it will go down by 15 points to 285 by eating oatmeal for breakfast. Not very impressive!
I am not saying there is no benefit to fiber but it comes best from vegetables and fruits. Studies looking at the effect of these sources of fiber show a reduction in all bowel cancers. Increased vegetable intake is also associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. The mantra is green NOT grain (see Chapters 2 and 6).
Historically grain has allowed humans to evolve from small bands of hunter-gatherers to large complex specialized societies. As we have industrialized our food production we have increased the processing of grain stripping away what few nutrients it has. Today grain provides calories to keep us alive but does not promote health. Its advantage is low cost and ease of production in large quantities. The medical literature is filled with descriptions of malnourished children and adults whose diet was limited to porridge.
Let’s look at an example. Three ounces of whole grain cereal has about 3 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrates and some fiber. It has 210 calories with skim milk and produces about 8 points of acid. An equivalent serving of pork tenderloin has 25 grams of protein, no carbohydrates and 5 grams of fat. It has 159 calories and produces 9 points of acid. So the grain gives you mostly carbs for breakfast, almost no protein and produces 2-3 points of acid for every gram of protein. The lean pork provides you with mostly protein, no carbs and produces 0.4 points of acid per gram of protein or 6 times less acid per gram of protein.
To look at it another way you would have to eat 8 bowls of whole grain cereal to get the same amount of protein as the lean pork and in the process you will get 192 grams of carbohydrates and 864 calories. If you add skim milk to the equation you would still need to eat 3 bowls of cereal to get the same protein and in the process consume 950 calories. It is impossible for cereal and milk to equal the nutrition in meat and vegetables with fewer calories and less acid.
For starters, vitamin D is not a vitamin; it is a hormone from the same family of steroid hormones as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol. This means that, like these other hormones, vitamin D regulates gene expression in the nucleus of a cell. It doesn’t just have a seat on the front row in regulating our biochemistry, it is conducting the orchestra!
Our genes are just a compilation of notes. Geneticists will tell you that we are all 99.99 percent identical. It is not our genes or notes that make the music of our life it is how the notes are put together and played. And, vitamin D and our diet are writing the music from the moment of conception in the womb.
Dr. David Barker from Southampton, UK has published numerous ground breaking articles in journals like Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine. What his studies show is that deprivation of nutrients in the womb during fetal development increases our risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and bone disease as adults. Data from other researchers show that inadequate vitamin D and protein lead to smaller infants.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III conducted by the CDC shows a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and obesity, hypertension and diabetes in adults (See Chapter 9 References). Vitamin D deficiency early in development has also been associated with a 200 percent increase in the incidence of type I diabetes (childhood) and multiple sclerosis, both autoimmune diseases. And numerous studies show roughly half the risk for cancer with greater UV light exposure or higher vitamin D intake.
We have long known that vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and strong bones and teeth (See Chapter 13 References). We now know that it also slows cell growth, preventing the assembly line mistakes that lead to malignant transformation in cells (See Chapter 12 References). It regulates activation of our immune system during fetal development, ensuring that our immune system establishes tolerant recognition of our own normal cells (See Chapter 11 References). This early education of the immune system combined with normal blood levels enhances our ability to recognize and fight cancer cells and infections throughout our life.
In the womb vitamin D directs brain development in conjunction with omega 3 fatty acids and other dietary constituents (See Chapter 10 References). Lack of vitamin D during early development increases the risk of schizophrenia in males and Parkinson’s disease later in life. It is the cause of seasonal affective disorder and dramatically increases the likelihood of depression in Alzheimer’s patients. More recent data suggest it may also lead to more rapid loss of cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease.
Just last month an analysis of numerous vitamin D studies suggested you may live longer if you take vitamin D. For more detailed explanations and examples of how vitamin D works in health and disease get The Vitamin D Cure (buy it now).
More recent data suggests that too much ultraviolet light in the A spectrum (UVA) relative to the B spectrum (UVB) places us at greater risk for skin cancer. This makes sense because UVB is available at midday and UVA throughout the day. As our culture has moved indoors for work we are missing the midday sun and only getting AM and PM sun high in UVA and low in UVB, hence increasing our skin cancer risk. Maybe those Europeans who take sun breaks (siesta) in the middle of the day are on to something healthy.
The key, which is discussed in Chapter 5, is to get UVB to make enough vitamin D and then cover up with clothing or sunscreen. See our Sun Exposure Calculator to determine the number of minutes you need in real time.
Public health messages are usually over simplified at first in an effort to gain acceptance. Remember when all fat was bad for you or when all carbohydrates were bad for you. Now we know that there are good fats and bad fats, good carbs and bad carbs. We also know there is healthy sun exposure and unhealthy sun exposure.
Sunburn is unhealthy sun exposure. Healthy sun exposure gradually produces a tan if your skin tone is able to do so. This is your skin responding to increased ultraviolet exposure with more protection. The darker your skin gets the more sun you will need to make vitamin D. Science tells us that skin cancer of all types is related to sun exposure. It also tells us that somebody with melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer, is likely to live longer if they have higher vitamin D levels or a history of greater sun exposure. See Chapter 12 The Vitamin D Cure to Treat and Prevent Cancer.
Ninety percent of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure. In some cultures they do get closer to half their vitamin D from food. These cultures consume large amounts of fish, particularly Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Sardines, seal and seal blubber and Herring. Examples of these people are Icelanders, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegians, Japanese, Okinawans, and Inuit Indians (Eskimos).
Many of these same cultures consume these fish raw when it has even more vitamin D in it. Cooking seems to destroy more vitamin D. Increased intake of green leafy vegetables high in vitamin K, vitamin A, and magnesium facilitate the function of vitamin D at the cellular level.
Why is my vitamin D level so low?
Your vitamin D level is low primarily due to a lack of sun exposure in the middle of the day. Inadequate intake of green leafy vegetables and cold water fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) also contribute to lower vitamin D levels. As little as 200 years ago our sun exposure was much greater than today. Americans and Europeans were mostly farmers and worked out of doors all day. The industrial revolution around the Civil War and into the 20th century brought us all indoors for work. This transformation accelerated after World War II and the digital revolution of the nineties. Now we live in a service economy that is digitalized. Our sun exposure has dropped dramatically since the advent of the computerization of work and entertainment since 1990. Moreover, our physical activity has plummeted contributing to very low vitamin D levels.
To find out if your level is low, take the Vitamin D Risk Analysis Quiz