Vitamin D Levels Dip

By Meredith May, Chronicle Staff Writer

One April day after weeks of rain, Daniel Jiminez took a detour on his way to class: Dolores Park in San Francisco.

He needed the sun.

“I know what they say about skin cancer, but I just feel better when I’m warm and tan,” said Jiminez, 24. “I’m sorry, but I’d rather be happy.”

Turns out doctors are coming around to his point of view. After decades of slathering on SPF protection, more people are discovering through routine medical screens that they have deficiencies in vitamin D – a hormone produced in the body by sun exposure.

As a result, doctors are seeing a resurgence of rickets and are concerned with osteoporosis in adults over 50. But for most people with low vitamin D levels, symptoms are hard to pinpoint: feeling tired, sluggish or a general malaise.

Known for causing bowed legs and fractured bones primarily in children, rickets all but disappeared in the United States in the 1930s as diets improved and vitamin D was added to certain dairy products.

But in the ensuing decades, as people turned to increasingly stronger sunscreen to ward off melanomas, and work shifted from predominantly outdoor activity to office work, vitamin D has been slowly slipping out of our systems, according to Dr. Michael Holick of Boston University Medical Center, who writes in his new book “The Vitamin D Solution” that lack of vitamin D can lead to heart disease, cancer, depression, insomnia, diabetes, chronic pain and perhaps autism.

“We’ve done studies that show that people living at higher latitudes with less sun are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency,” Holick said.

Levels in breast milk

Another study of lactating women in South Carolina showed negligible levels of vitamin D in their breast milk. “Evolutionarily, that makes no sense when our forefathers made thousands of units of it a day,” Holick said.

National guidelines have not kept up with the dipping D levels, he said.

Federal health experts currently recommend between 200 and 600 international units of vitamin D a day. But those benchmarks are due to change this summer, as the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board responds to the new research about vitamin D.

“It should be 10 times that,” Holick said.

While vitamin D is found in some foods, such as wild caught salmon, fortified milk and mushrooms, it’s not enough to replenish what’s missing. Receiving serious attention

Holick has caught some flack from dermatologists for suggesting that 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure on the legs and arms per day, a few days a week, can restore vitamin D levels. Vitamin D created via sun exposure versus supplements lasts twice as long in the body.

Despite being fired from Boston University’s department of dermatology in 2004, Holick is now getting more serious attention because of his stance. He’s Boston University’s lead vitamin D researcher, studying the vitamin’s effect on genes.

“Just a light pink color, before burning, then put on the sunscreen, will do it,” he said, adding that the face should always be protected.

Holick keeps his own vitamin D levels up with three glasses of milk, a multivitamin and a 2,000-unit vitamin D capsule each day. He plays tennis, gardens and cycles each week for brief periods with sunscreen only on his face.

But pills can also do the trick, and that’s what more doctors are suggesting.

Patients can ask doctors to do a special screen for vitamin D (the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test) that costs about $200 and may or may not be covered by insurance. The magic number doctors are looking for is at least 30, which stands for nanograms per milliliter. Prescribing further units

If levels are too low, doctors typically prescribe 50,000 units once a week for eight weeks to fill up the tank, then every two weeks thereafter. The next two months, patients take anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 units until a healthy vitamin D level is reached. Maintenance is considered anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 units a day.

“It’s kind of a mixed message: Do you want cancer or do you want brittle bones?” said Wren Wolf, 21, a friend who joined Jiminez on his impromptu Dolores Park picnic.

“I think it all boils down to everything in moderation.”

E-mail Meredith May at



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Study: Pregnant women not getting enough vitamin D

By: Jeffrey Wolf

DENVER – When we think of vitamin D, we often think of the sun, and maybe trying to spend more time outdoors. But a new study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology says seven out of 10 pregnant women in the U.S. are not getting enough of this crucial vitamin.

Prenatal vitamins do raise vitamin D levels during pregnancy but this study shows that higher doses may be needed. That is because vitamin D has reemerged as an important nutritional factor in maternal and infant health.

If the mother has low levels of vitamin D during the pregnancy, it can have an affect on her child in its early life. The condition has been linked to increased risk of childhood wheezing and respiratory infections. Low levels in adults have been linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The lead author of the study, Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, is from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

“We already know that vitamin D is important for bone health of the mother and infant, but we are just starting to scratch the surface about the many potential health benefits of vitamin D during pregnancy,” he said.

Those with darker skin or who cover their skin during the day, as well as women living in northern parts of the country are at a particularly risk for lower vitamin D levels.

However, not all women have this problem and an excess of vitamin D can be risky as well.

“We need more data from clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women. If the ongoing trials continue to show benefit, the best strategy will likely be measuring vitamin D levels through a simple blood test and choosing supplementation doses according to those levels. This tailored approach is common in preventive care for people with high cholesterol, and safer and more effective than a one-size-fits-all solution,” Ginde said.

His best advice, and that of other experts, is to treat vitamin D like other medications. People should have levels checked initially to see how much extra is needed. Then recheck once on supplementation to ensure levels are where they are supposed to be.

On top of taking a supplement, you can also get vitamin D from many other sources. Fortified foods like milk, cereal and yogurt, as well as other foods like eggs, have higher levels of vitamin D.

The major source for us is still sunlight, but you have to weigh getting enough vitamin D from the sun against your risk of skin cancer from sun exposure. The bottom line is that it is important to make sure your levels of vitamin D are adequate, but not too high. This is especially true if you’re pregnant.

Much like folate, another essential vitamin for a baby’s development, mothers want levels of vitamin D to be high enough before becoming pregnant.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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Vitamin D in Pill Form May Cut Breast Cancer Risk

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women’s dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium doesn’t seem to influence their risk of breast cancer, before or after menopause, new research from Canada shows. But the findings do suggest that taking vitamin D in supplement form may be protective against the disease. Health

Given these new findings on vitamin D supplements, “it looks promising for vitamin D,” Laura N. Anderson, one of the study’s authors and a doctoral student at Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto, told Reuters Health. “We certainly need more research done in this area,” she said.

Some prior studies have suggested that vitamin D may reduce breast cancer risk. Breast cells have receptors for vitamin D, Anderson noted, raising the possibility that the nutrient could help regulate the division and proliferation of these cells; there’s also growing evidence that vitamin D could help protect against other types of cancer.

When it comes to diet and supplements, vitamin D and calcium often go hand in hand, she added. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, so women who want to keep their bones strong as they age are advised to take both; also, many calcium-rich foods, like milk, are enriched with vitamin D.

Anderson and her team sought to separate out the effects of vitamin D and calcium on breast cancer risk by surveying 3,101 breast cancer patients and 3,471 healthy controls about their intake of food and supplements.

The researchers found no relationship between overall vitamin D intake and breast cancer risk; nor was there any association between overall calcium intake and risk of the disease.

However, women who reported taking at least 400 international units of vitamin D every day were at 24 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Right now, Anderson noted, health authorities in Canada, the US and other countries are looking at revising the current recommendations on vitamin D intake upward, given that it looks like higher intakes of the vitamin D may be more beneficial.

Further research is needed, she and her colleagues conclude, to investigate the relationship between bigger doses of vitamin D and calcium and breast cancer risk.

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online April 14, 2010.


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The Vitamin “D”ilemma

By’s Victoria Atkinson

Vitamin D is now a hot topic, and not just because it as known as the sunshine vitamin.

According to James E. Dowd, MD, author of “The Vitamin D Cure,” the majority of Americans are Vitamin D deficient.

Low levels of this vitamin have correlated with an increase in cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, obesity and autoimmune diseases.

More than 90 percent of our total supply comes from the ultraviolet light of the sun.

The dilemma is that some people are exposed to too many harmful rays, whether natural or artificial.

Others are not getting enough sun either because they lather up in SPF or they are not outside enough.

Dowd’s book suggests spending time outside getting natural sunlight to achieve ample Vitamin D levels.

“Physicians should check Vitamin D levels as routinely as they check cholesterol and blood pressure,” said Dowd.

Linda Margusity was diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency and was recommended to begin a vitamin regimen.

“I believe it is easier to get Vitamin D through a supplement because you need direct rays to get it through the sun,” said Margusity.

The rays we need only hit at certain times of the year and in certain parts of the world.

“I am not going to stand outside in the winter every day for 10 minutes,” said Margusity. “If our plants don’t grow because there isn’t enough direct sunlight, how are we going to get enough Vitamin D?”

When outside in the sun, some are covering up their skin with sunscreen or makeup with high levels of SPF. After all of the years being told to lather up with sunblock, is it wiser to go without?

The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) does not recommend being in ultraviolet light without any sun protection.

“Our knowledge of the dangers associated with UVA rays has grown significantly over the last few decades,” said Perry Robins, MD, President, SCF. “We now know that UVA plays a direct role in skin cancer comparable to that of UVB.”

The SCF urges people to use a complete program of sun protection. Seeking shade, using protective clothing and sunglasses, and applying sunscreen are all important.

Obtaining Vitamin D from fortified juices or milk, fatty fish, or taking a vitamin supplement is smartest, according to the SCF.

“I would much rather take a supplement than get skin cancer,” Margusity said.


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UV Radiation, Not Vitamin D, Might Limit Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

By Nathan Seppa April 24th, 2010; Vol.177 #9 (p. 9)

Ultraviolet radiation from sunshine seems to thwart multiple sclerosis, but perhaps not the way most researchers had assumed, a new study in mice suggests.

If validated in further research, the finding could add a twist to a hypothesis that has gained credence in recent decades. The report appears online March 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists have hypothesized that MS is rare in the tropics because people synthesize ample vitamin D from exposure to the UV radiation in equatorial sunlight. What’s more, MS is more common in the high latitudes of northern parts of Europe and North America than in regions farther south. That pattern has led to the assumption that higher levels of vitamin D might prevent people from developing MS, what became known as the latitude hypothesis.

But a direct cause-and-effect relationship between vitamin D deficiency and MS has never been established. In past experiments, giving vitamin D supplements to mice with an MS-like disease required giving the animals harmful amounts of the nutrient, notes Hector DeLuca, a biochemist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“It just didn’t add up,” he says. “We decided to go back and see if maybe UV light by itself was doing something.”

In MS, the fatty myelin sheaths that insulate nerves in the central nervous system are damaged by attacks by the immune system. In a series of experiments in mice, DeLuca and his team induced a condition comparable to human MS by injecting the animals with proteins that instigate similar myelin damage.

The researchers exposed some mice to UV radiation before and after giving the animals the damaging injection. Another group of mice got the injection but not the UV exposure.

The mice exposed to UV rays suppressed the effects of MS-like disease better than the control mice, the researchers found, even though the amount of radiation wasn’t enough to greatly increase the animals’ blood concentrations of vitamin D.

In another test, the researchers gave injected mice varying doses of vitamin D supplements, but no UV radiation. The supplements failed to control the disease onset, severity or progression.

“We concluded that UV light is doing something beyond [making] vitamin D,” DeLuca says.

There’s no question that the latitude hypothesis has merit, says George Ebers, a neurologist at the University of Oxford in England. “MS risk is geographically related.” But that risk is more complicated than exposure to UV radiation during an MS attack, as this mouse model used. For example, previous research has shown that children in northern latitudes who are born in May, after their mothers had spent a winter with little sunshine, are more likely to develop MS than are kids born in November, he says.

Ebers notes that mice in this study were exposed or not exposed to UV over a matter of weeks and were in the throes of an MS-like disease during the study. “That’s completely separate … from the question of whether your risk is boosted or diminished by where your mother lived,” he says.

Apart from the timing issue, MS risk might well be influenced by a biological mechanism apart from vitamin D blood levels, but many questions remain, Ebers says. Those include how UV radiation might inhibit MS and, more specifically, what is the effect of UV rays in suppressing the immune system. “It’s quite possible that UV exposure will have a number of other mechanisms and be involved in hormonal circuits,” he says.

DeLuca and his colleagues speculate that UV radiation is playing a mysterious role in MS that is independent of vitamin D production. “We’re doing experiments trying to find out what it is,” he says.


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Got Milk (and Sunshine)?

Fighting high blood pressure and vitamin D deficiency could be as simple as a glass of milk and a healthy dose of sunshine.

By Gloria Dawson April 8, 2010
Two new studies demonstrate some age-old advice: A glass of milk and a healthy dose of sunshine could be the best defense for your kids against high blood pressure and vitamin D deficiency. One study put out by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and published in the most recent issue of Pediatrics found that seven in 10 kids have low levels of vitamin D. Another study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine sees a correlation in the amount of time children spend watching TV and how high their blood pressure is.

In the study focusing on vitamin D deficiency, researches analyzed data on more than 6,000 children, ages one to 21. The researchers found that 9% of the children in the study, the equivalent to 7.6 million children across the U.S., were vitamin D deficient. Another 61%, or 50.8 million children, are vitamin D insufficient. Low levels of vitamin D raise the risk of bone disease, as well as heart disease and other risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure.

Those most at risk for vitamin D deficiency are children who are older, female, African-American, Mexican-American, obese and those children who drank milk less than once a week, or who spent more than four hours a day watching TV, playing videogames or using computers.

Taking vitamin D supplements and drinking more milk and fish, which are high in the vitamin, are ways to combat the deficiency. Dr. Michal L. Melamed, the study leader, also suggests that, “It would be good [the parents] for them to turn off the TV and send their kids outside. Just 15 to 20 minutes a day should be enough. And unless they burn easily, don’t put sunscreen on them until they’ve been out in the sun for 10 minutes, so they get the good stuff but not sun damage.”

In another study, researches also suggest getting your kids away from the TV, this time to prevent high blood pressure. The study showed children spend on average five hours each day sedentary, and of that time 1.5 hours are spent in front of the TV. The correlation between high blood pressure and screen time did not exist for computer time, only time spent in front of the TV. The findings held true regardless of the childrens’ weight.

“Given that total objective sedentary time was not associated with elevated blood pressure, it appears that other factors, which occur during excessive screen time, should also be considered,” including unhealthy snacking, the study states. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more then two hours of TV per day, which should be combined with at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

It would seem that outside play can help tackle high blood pressure and vitamin D deficiency in your children, not to mention fighting weight gain and boredom. Having trouble getting your kids outside? The Daily Green has teamed up with National Wildlife Federation and has come up with 30 Ways to Get Your Kid to Play Outside.


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ECE: Low Vitamin D Linked to Fatigue After Brain Injury

By Todd Neale, Staff Writer, MedPage Today April 28, 2010 Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner

PRAGUE — Among patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased likelihood of having chronic fatigue, Dutch researchers found.

Of 90 such patients, 80% who were fatigued had the vitamin deficiency, compared with 40% of those who were not fatigued (P<0.05), Jessica Schnieders, MD, of Rijnstate Hospital in Arnhem, the Netherlands, reported at the European Congress of Endocrinology in Prague.

Having a sleep disorder strengthened the association between vitamin D deficiency — defined as a level less than 50 nmol/L — and fatigue, Schnieders said in an interview.

“I think it’s important to get knowledge to the patients, the rehabilitation doctors, and the family doctors that they should look at vitamin D and sleep in these patients,” she said.

Schnieders said all of the patients who had a vitamin D deficiency were treated, and many said they felt better.

Although the study could not establish a causal relationship between low vitamin D levels and fatigue, treating the vitamin deficiency can benefit other areas, including bone health, she said.

Previous studies have shown that some patients with a traumatic brain injury have hormone deficiencies related to damage to the pituitary gland. Schnieders and her colleagues wanted to find out whether this, as well as other factors like vitamin D deficiency, might explain the fatigue commonly seen after traumatic brain injury.

The researchers randomly selected 100 former patients of their rehabilitation center to participate in the study, and 90 agreed (26 females and 64 males). It had been about 10 years since the traumatic brain injuries.

All filled out a fatigue questionnaire and provided information on emotional well-being, quality of life, attention, coping style, daily activity, and physical performance as assessed on a cycling test. The researchers also measured vitamin D levels.

Slightly more than half (51%) of the patients reported being severely fatigued. As expected, these patients had more anxiety and a lower quality of life.

Deficiency in at least one of the pituitary hormones was identified in 29%, growth hormone deficiency was found in 24%, and gonadal hormone deficiency was observed in 10%. None of these deficiencies was significantly related to fatigue.

In a multivariate analysis including hormone deficiencies, vitamin D deficiency, sleep problems, attention, body mass index, and gender, vitamin D deficiency was the only factor independently associated with fatigue (P<0.05).

It is unclear why sleep problems strengthened the negative effect of vitamin D deficiency on fatigue, but Schnieders said there is some evidence linking melatonin, which is involved in regulating circadian rhythms, and vitamin D.

The observational study could not prove that vitamin D deficiency was causing the fatigue.

Schnieders said another possible explanation for the findings could be that fatigued patients are more likely to remain inside and not get enough exposure to sunlight.

“But I think it has something to do with the immunological system because both sleep and vitamin D are involved in the immunological system,” she said.

Schnieders reported no conflicts of interest.


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Melanoma: Midsummer Night’s Dream or Vitamin D-Deficiency Nightmare?

One of the most interesting medical research papers to arrive in recent memory is a 2009 study reported in the British Journal of Dermatology entitled, “Melanoma epidemic: a midsummer night’s dream?” [1] In it the authors make the case that melanoma is not caused by sunlight, but rather by an increasing diagnosis of benign lesions as melanoma. In other words, small spots on the skin that are harmless, and that in the past would have been classified as benign, are now being called stage-one melanoma. The authors point out that new diagnoses of stage-one melanoma have increased dramatically over the past few years, but new diagnoses of stage-two, -three and -four melanomas have not increased at all.

Some have suggested that the lack of increase in the latter stages of Melanoma is due to quick removal of the type-one melanomas, which prevents their progression to full-blown cancers. However, the authors point out that those in the study with type-two, three and four melanomas had not been previously diagnosed with type-one, and therefore could not have been “saved” by removal of type-one; the advanced cases were new presentations–people who had not been previously diagnosed with any stage of melanoma.

The case of these dermatologists—that melanoma is a “midsummer night’s dream”—is compelling. Obviously, millions of people who had nothing more than harmless lesions have been diagnosed with melanoma and have had their lesions removed surgically.

The researchers ended their analysis with this statement: “These findings should lead to a reconsideration of the treatment of ‘early’ lesions, a search for better diagnostic methods to distinguish them from truly malignant melanomas, re-evaluation of the role of ultraviolet radiation and recommendations for protection from it, as well as the need for a new direction in the search for the cause of melanoma.”

I can only say “amen” to this conclusion. However, these are not the first dermatologists to question the “epidemic” of melanoma and deny that sunlight is the cause. Dr. Bernard Ackerman, a celebrated dermatologist, wrote a monograph of several hundred pages entitled, Sunlight and the “Epidemic’ of Melanoma, Myth on Myth, in which he made the same argument about the supposed melanoma epidemic being due to incorrect diagnoses.[2] Dr. Arthur Rhodes, another dermatologist, has also given examples of many people who have died with real melanoma that occurred on areas of the body that were never exposed to sunlight.[3] These unfortunate people, believing that the lesions they discovered could not be melanoma because there was no sun exposure, failed to get help until it was too late.

Meanwhile, the world becomes more and more deficient in vitamin D due to the efforts of the “sunscare” movement that would have us believe that sunlight, one of God’s greatest gifts to living beings, is public enemy number one. This has resulted in incredible rates of vitamin D deficiency which have further resulted in an increase in at least 18 major cancers including breast, prostate and colon cancers. It has also resulted in increasing rates of heart disease, infections including flu, autism, and numerous other maladies that I discuss and fully document in my book. Never has there been a greater fraud than the push to scare people out of the sun to avoid a disease—melanoma—that is not an epidemic at all, and whose risk is increased by sun avoidance. Non-burning sunlight exposure is absolutely necessary for optimal human health.

Not only is the “epidemic” of melanoma a midsummer night’s dream, it has become a vitamin D-deficiency nightmare.

[1] N.J. Levell, C.C. Beattie,* S. Shuster and D.C. Greenberg* Melanoma epidemic: a midsummer night’s dream? British Journal of Dermatology 2009;161:630–634 [2] Ackerman, A. Sun and the “Epidemic” of Melanoma, Myth on Myth. Ardor Scribendi, LTD, New York, 2008 [3] Rhodes, A. Guest editorial, Melanoma’s Public Message. Skin and Allergy News 2003;34:1-4

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Do 250,000 North American babies die each year due to vitamin D deficiency?

Recent evidence has shown that pregnant mothers who were given 4,000 IU (ten times the usual dose) of vitamin D daily had only half the risk of giving birth to premature babies as those who were not supplemented. [1] That amount can also be produced by about 20 minutes of full- body exposure to non-burning sunlight at midday.

The importance of this information is shown in the fact that annually, half of all premature babies die in the first month after birth, according to the March of Dimes.[2] In North America, about 500,000 premature births occur annually.[2] If vitamin D supplementation could prevent half of these deaths, that would save the lives of 250,000 babies per year. Worldwide, the lives saved might be as many as 7 million, since approximately 13 million babies are born prematurely each year. We also know that the average cost for each premature baby in the first year of life is about $49,000.

Premature babies, of course, are also low-birth-weight babies in most cases, which present an additional problem. Here is one more reason for mothers to get back in the sunlight: the potential for low birth weight in their babies.

Low birth weight is associated with poor mood, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and other problems during childhood and afterward. Recent research shows that low birth weight is related to exposure by pregnant women to winter temperatures during a critical developmental time for the fetus.[3] [4] This could indicate vitamin D deficiency of the pregnant mother during “vitamin D winter,” the time of year in northern latitudes when the sun is too low in the sky to produce vitamin D. The answer, of course, is to use a tanning bed or take vitamin D3 supplements (3,000-5,000 IU) during the winter. Remember never to burn!

Those who make a living frightening people out of the sunlight are responsible for much of the vitamin D deficiency in the population of North America. Don’t expect them to change. Non-burning sunlight is a wonderful gift for health, and we must stop the insanity that is causing vitamin D deficiency. The child needs every possible advantage prior to birth, and one of the advantages is a mom with high vitamin D levels. The only source of vitamin D for the fetus is the mother’s body, and the only natural way to obtain vitamin D is exposure to sunlight.

[1] Hollis, B. and Wagner C. Report from an international conference on vitamin D in Bruges, Belgium. [2] March of Dimes statement Oct 4, 2009, based on World Health Organization (WHO) statistics. [3] [1] Elter K, et al. Exposure to low outdoor temperature in the midtrimester is associated with low birth weight. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynecol 2004;44:553-7. [4] Murray, L. et al. Links of Season and outdoor ambient temperature: effects on birth weight. Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Nov;96(5 Pt 1):689-95. – See more at:

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Will vitamin D stop the new killer strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis, or is sunlight the cure?

It appears that the first case of drug-resistant TB has arrived in the US from Peru.[1] It is nearly 100% resistant to antibiotics, and does not bode well for the country, since it could cause an immense killer epidemic. There seems to be no answer to the “superbug” that causes it. Or is there an answer? Could sunlight and its skin-produced hormone, vitamin D, provide answers to this latest health threat?

Sunlight has a long history of treatment for tuberculosis. Much of the following discussion of TB comes from Dr. Fielder’s history of heliotherapy.[2]

As early as 1857 Madame Duhamel of France exposed children with TB to sunshine because it hastened their recovery. Many doctors of that same era used heliotherapy (sunlight treatments) with great success, and as Dr. Fielder states, “As a general rule, the experience of all the Hygienists in their use of sunbathing was so successful that all question of doubt as to its place in the Hygienic System was ensured.”

Madame Duhamel was correct about sunbathing healing tuberculosis (TB). Later on, a disillusioned physician, Dr. Rollier, gave up a promising surgical practice and moved to the mountains of the Swiss countryside to practice medicine there. However, he discovered that the people needed little help, as they were seldom sick. People were always telling him, “Where the sun is, the doctor ain’t [sic].” In fact, Dr. Rollier’s fiancée had TB and would have died without intervention. He brought her to the Alpine area, exposed her regularly to sunshine, and she completely recovered.

Dr. Rollier opened a sanatorium in 1903 that was really just an extremely large solarium (sunbathing facility) with patient living quarters. There were 2,167 patients under Dr. Rollier’s care for TB following World War One. Of these, 1,746 completely recovered their health. Only those in the most advanced stages of the disease failed to recover.

In 1895, Dr. Niels Finsen made use of the first artificial UV light in treating patients with a particularly virulent form of TB known as lupus vulgaris (a skin disease). Though the disease was considered incurable, 41 of every 100 patients under his care recovered. Finsen’s work earned the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1903.

These researchers and physicians were not alone in their observations of the therapeutic power of sunlight. In 1877 two scientists, Arthur Downes and Thomas Blunt, discovered that sunlight was bactericidal. In 1890, the German microbiologist Robert Koch (who had isolated and described the tuberculosis bacterium in 1882), showed that sunlight killed TB bacteria.[3]

Recently, the interest in Vitamin D to thwart TB is being revisited.[4] [5] [6] and it has been shown that Black immigrants to Australia have much lower vitamin D levels than the general population and a much higher risk of TB.[7] Moreover, the effectiveness of vitamin D was demonstrated against the TB bacteria in an experiment in which a single dose of vitamin D (100,000 IU) significantly increased immunity to the TB bacterium.[8] The effectiveness of vitamin D against TB is determined by the production of cathelicidin,[9] an antibacterial peptide, which we could call the “body’s natural antibiotic.”

Further corroborating vitamin D’s essential role is that people who lack vitamin D receptors (VDR) are three times more likely to contract TB as those with normal VDR.[10] Vitamin D also inhibits the body’s inflammatory response to TB infection in the lungs.[11] [12] Considering the efficacy of sunlight therapy and vitamin D in inhibiting or even curing tuberculosis, doesn’t it seem that it’s time to return to the sun? Remember that you should never burn yourself in the sunlight.

[1]… [2] Fielder, J. Heliotherapy: the principles & practice of sunbathing. Soil and Health Library (online) [3] Hobday, R. The Healing sun. Findhorn Press 1999:132 [4] Martineau, A. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on anti-mycobacterial immunity: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial in London tuberculosis contacts. Int J Tuberculosis Lung Dis 2005;9:S173. [5] Martineau, A. et al. Vitamin D status of tuberculosis patients and healthy blood donors in Samara City, Russia. Int J Tuberculosis Lung Dis 2005;9:S225. [6] Nnoaham, K. et al. Low serum vitamin D levels and tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Epidemiol 2008;37:113-19. [7]Gibney, K. et al. vitamin D deficiency is associated with tuberculosis and latent tuberculosis infection in immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. Clin Infect Dis 2008’46:443-46. [8]Martineau, A et al. A single dose of vitamin D enhances immunity of mycobacteria. A J Respir Crit Care Med 2007;176:208-13. [9]Liu, P. et al. vitamin D mediated human antimicrobial activity against mycobacterium tuberculosis is dependent on the induction of cathelicidin. J Immunol 2007;179:2060-63. [10]Liu, W. et al. A case-control study on the vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms and susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis. Zhonghua Liu Xing Bing Xue Za Zhi 2003;24:389-92. [11] Selvaraj, P et al. Regulatory role of promoter and 3’ UTR variants of vitamin D receptor gene on cytokine response in pulmonary tuberculosis. J Clin Immunol 2008; January 30. Epub ahead of print. [12]Vidyarani, M. et al. 1, 25 Hydroxyvitamin D3 modulated cytokine response in pulmonary tuberculosis. Cytokine 2007;40:128-34. – See more at:

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