The People's Perspective on Medicine

749 Vitamin D Update

Early vitamin research identified vitamin D as the way to treat rickets, or malformed bones. More recent research confirms that vitamin D is indeed essential for strong healthy bones. But its effects go far beyond bone. Inadequate vitamin D has been linked to a higher risk for many different cancers, cardiovascular complications, arthritic joints, type 2 diabetes and muscle weakness.
Although referred to as vitamin D, it is not so much a vitamin as the precursor to a hormone. How does it work? Why are do so many Americans have low levels of vitamin D, and how should they be getting more?
Guest: Bruce W. Hollis, PhD, is Professor of Pediatrics and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Director of Pediatric Nutritional Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Thank you for this information. I have just begun a vitamin plan, since I am nearly 50 have felt the need to begin since I just had a metatarsal stress fracture w/o anything specific occurring.
I am taking:
Salmon Oil 1000 mg, 1800 Calcium +1000 iu Vit D 3, 5000 Vit D, Multi Mineral, and Garcinia Cambogia.
Was wondering if I should also be taking Vitamin K and perhaps more B’s?
It is rather overwhelming to navigate the Vit/Mineral world.


I am 72 years old and am wondering, what dosage of B 12, D3 and
Omega 3 are advised and if they should be taken daily?

Thank you for your response

@ Dolly O
In the past I would get serious nausia along with aches and pains after eating raw carrots or taking many different types of vitamins/supplements in pill/capsule/gel tab form. I noticed the raw carrot problem about 15 years ago when I was 43. I think the problem with the tabs has gone on for about 10 years or so. One time I went to the Dr. and complained about serious overall body ache and the feeling that somehow I was getting poisoned. The Dr. didn’t have any answers.
That was bad, real bad times. If I was taking something that was “poisoning” me, I desperately needed to figure it out. I increased my water intake, changed to very bland/limited calorie diet and I also stopped taking all my supplements. Sure enough, within a few days I felt fine. It was one of the supplement’s coatings that was causing the problem.
However, some tabs didn’t bother me so I started investigating the composition of the binder to see if I could figure out specific ingredients that bothered me. Enteric coating didn’t bother me so I chalked up my nausea to some kind of allergy or like some foods, just something that didn’t sit right with my digestive system. While that turned out to be true the reason was more complicated but how I was able to solve my problem was very simple.
After reading many, many articles/books/websites and listening to various medical shows, I noticed none of my doctors were checking my vitamin levels. After finally getting one Dr. to test my B12 and D3 I was able to get some information that would change my life.
My B12 level was 545 and D3 level was 23. The Dr. stated that my B12 level was fine and I needed to increase my D3. I tried to take D3 tabs but the nausea came back and I had to stop.
While my b12 was in the middle of the range, I decided to use liquid supplements (15,000% of daily value) to see if I could tolerate them and to see if I felt better with a higher level of b12 in my blood. Sure enough, within 6-9 months I was more energized, had better thinking skills and my short and long term memory improved substantially. Best of all, some low grade fatigue I had been suffering from for years was lifted a quite bit, especially felt upon waking up. My B12 level increased to 1045 so I cut back to every other day.
What was surprising was after increasing my B12 levels, the nausea from carrots and tabs went away. I did take liquid D3 for about 2 years and now am using tablet form without a problem. I also take several other supplements in tab form without problems. Liquid Omega 3 fish oil has been a big plus for helping my mental faculties.
With D3, my levels went from 23 to 67 in about 8 months and I felt very good. Those months were from April to November (southern California area). I did spend a quite a bit of time outside during the summer.
Unfortunately, from November to February, my level went back to 24, all the while I was taking 4k units a day. I have parathyroid/calcium problems now so that’s being investigated.
Another big change in my life was the reduction of time being ill. I used to get seriously ill about twice a year, whether it be flu (I always got my flu vaccine), virus or some other infection (usually sinus). Always on meds,always in bed for 2-3 weeks and was known within the family as always missing family events. Within the last 2 years I had a very mild 1 day sniffles last year and this year a few days of a sinus problems that did not progress to serious as they usually did.
One book that helped me quite a bit is Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum’s “Fatigued to Fantastic!”.
Hope some of this helps.
Good luck.

The website of Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., author of _The Vitamin D Solution_:
I don’t find anything in his book to answer your question, but perhaps he has a blog on his website.

Does all these amounts and supplements also apply to one who is 95 yrs. old?

Hi, I listened to your talk about vitamin D and I have a question,
I have tried taking different kinds of D and they all make my bones very sore. I had a friend who told me I wouldn’t have a problem with D3 but the soreness was the same. I always have an reaction to the pills within 3 days of starting to take them. I also have the same problem with all kinds of calcium.
I just wander how many other people who think they have
arthritis would be ok if they just stopped taking the vitamin D.
I was only taking 200 mg morning and night. I also can’t eat oranges
or other citrus fruits or tomatoes without paying for it with
my bones becoming very sore. I’m 63 years old and have had this problem
for over 20 years.
Thank you
Dolly O

I have Interstitial Cystitis (painful bladder syndrome) and can tolerate taking only 400 IU’s of Vitamin D3 daily. Taking more than that causes a lot of bladder pain. My blood level is low – only 23 – even though I also sit in the sun at least 20 minutes a week and eat salmon 3 times a week. Dairy products also hurt IC, so I avoid them. I have no idea why Vit D3 causes such bladder pain for some of us with IC. What can I do to get the necessary Vitamin D3?
Thanks for any help anyone can give me.

I take a muli vit that has 2000 mg of vit-D-3 and a calcium with 500mg vit D-3. I’m a 64 yr young female. Should I take more? Nancy

What about vitamin D daily intake with 1% milk or soy milk?
Is there any thing that offsets the strengths of vitamin D? I heard it does a lot more than just build strong bones. It gives you energy?

What about vitamin D daily intake with 1% milk or soy milk?
Is there any thing that offsets the strengths of vitamin D? I heard it does a lot more than just build strong bones. It gives you energy, helps against the suns rays?

A blood test ordered by my family doctor showed that I had a very low level of vitamin D. After taking a supplement for 6 months it was raised to a normal range. As summer had come, I was advised to stop taking the supplement. I had experienced constant severe itching, tearing eyes for three years or more. It was not seasonal though symptoms worsened from the A/C in the grocery store, wind and cold weather.
OTC drops did not help and having chemical sensitivity I was not open to using prescription drops. I saw a naturopath for a different condition who ordered another blood test which showed that the D had dropped again to 11. He prescribed 2,000 i.u. of D twice a day. About six months later my D level was up and a benefit was that my swollen itching eye problem disappeared. I was leery of taking so much D but when I began to decrease to 2,000 once a day the tearing started again. I’m sold!

Hi, I don’t think it’s too late! I recently had a baby and had my Vit D levels checked postpartum and was found to be low and now supplement myself and my nursing baby. (I’m taking 2000 ius/day, and my baby takes Carlson baby d drops as breast milk offers tons of value to baby over formula with the exception of vit d: vit d doesn’t cross over well into breast milk, especially in mothers who are deficient so an easy supplement fixes that and makes sure my baby is good!) Your wife can have her doc check her levels to see if she could benefit.

SDW, There are theories about a possible link b/t autism and vit d deficiency, but it’s not w/o controversy (alike most theories). For some interesting info check out
Scroll down and there is a entire section on vit d and brain. Hope this helps!

Thank you so much for this show.
I hadn’t realized how deficient in Vitamin D I was. My doctor says I come in at 20!! I’m working on improving it. The chart:
that Lillian referred to really is what we all need to get us started on improving our Vit D status.

Is it possible that low vitamin D in pregnant women is the reason for so many children being born with autism? The doctor stated that it had a certain impact on the brain.

I am a long-time listener to your radio show but have only recently started following your info on-line. I very much appreciate having the opportunity to listen again to the podcasts (I don’t hear well and always miss things). . . and to read the follow up comments and questions. Do you/your guests ever answer these questions? If so, it would be great benefit to let all of us see the answers. We are hungry for information and such clarification and expansion would be invaluable.

1. Is Vitamin D3, water soluble?
2. Are there any side-effects with too high a dose?

I believe it could make a difference in her quality of life, if not her longevity. I like the chart found at this website: and the information on Vitamin D and health found at this website:

Enjoyed the Saturday program on Vitamin D. My husband, who is 69, was recently diagnosed by his endocrinologist as having a rather marked Vitamin D deficiency. He was put on 50,000 units per week of Vitamin D, and the resulting pick-up in his energy level was pronounced.
He is on a number of other medicines due to borderline diabetes and a heart condition and he has suffered from psoriasis for almost 50 years; are there medicines which cause your Vitamin D level to fall? He has always been a milk drinker (probably 1 1/2 pints to a quart a day) and is outdoors probably an average of 25-30 minutes a day in spring, summer, and fall without sunscreen (although never in shorts, due to the psoriasis), so we were surprised when his Vitamin D was so low.

My son is a research scientist and only believes data that has been published. Are any of the studies on Vitamin D proving its benefits published? If so, where, so he can refer to them?

I’m so glad you are covering this topic again, as I enjoyed your previous show with Dr. Holick. Both my husband and I found we are Vit D deficient and are now on supplements. I can’t help but wonder why oral supplementation is comparable to adequate daily skin exposure? I understand that oral supplements give the same form of Vit D3 that the skin makes, but wouldn’t intestinal absorption have a different effect than the Vit D3 made by the skin? I’d really love to understand this.

My wife is in her 28th week of pregnancy. Is it too late for the vitamin D to be helpful? How long does it take for Vitamin D to get in your system and be effective?

What is the connection between Vit. D and help for arthritis. I missed much of the call in from the doctor who, I thought, addressed this. Thanks.

Really, really good radio show today (749). Learned a lot. Very impressed with the documentation Dr. Hollis provided regarding the benefits of Vitamin D (D3) and the indicated dosage amounts. I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking at least 2,000 i.u. per day.

Are there vegetarian vitamin d 3? Is vitamin d2 as effective as d3?

I am 48, slender, and in good health. Last October, while sightseeing in Washington D.C. I tripped and fell on the sidewalk twice in a week. That seemed very strange. The second time I fell, I broke my wrist. When I returned home, it was discovered that my Vitamin D level was less than 4 (according to Dr. Hollis, it should be between 50-70). My thigh muscles felt weak and trembly.
The doctor ordered a prescription-strength dose of vitamin D. While supplementing, I felt a surge of energy and a sense of well-being. Three months later, my D level was in the normal range. I’ve been supplementing ever since, guessing at how much to take. In the summer, when I was outside a lot, I supplemented less. Now, I’m preparing for another long Minnesota winter and will double the dose. Just had a D test last week and am awaiting the result.

Thanks for the informative program. I had just been reading about vitamin D’s cancer protecting qualities in the latest issue of Life Extension, so I dropped what I was doing to listen to the whole program.
The facts presented made me wonder: is it possible that our bodies’ production of vitamin D from sun exposure is partly a natural response to the increased risk of (skin) cancer? Dr. Sharon Moalem hypothesized many such fascinating connections in his book “Survival of the Sickest.”
Could someone tell me the name of the caller from Buffalo? I have relatives in the area who are in need of a physician who is attuned to the benefits of proper nutrition.

This program was fascinating. Thank you so much Terry and Joe for giving us your wonderful program every week. It’s the best! Lucy

I didn’t catch the name of the other guest that was telling how he calculates how much Vitamin D3 a patient should take. I also didn’t catch the formula he gave. Could you help me?
I’ve been gradually increasing the amount of Vitamin D3 I take over the last three years trying to get my 25 OHD test levels up. I started at 1000 IU, then 2000 IU, and now that I’m up to 5000 IU per day of Vitamin D3 (I’m in Wisconsin) my levels are coming up into the optimal range Dr. Hollis mentioned. I take a product that comes in a rice bran oil gelcap.
Thank you for this program! I believe this vitamin has the potential to make a major difference in our health!

My mother is 86 years old. She had her first heart attack in her 60’s, had CABG surgery and stent placement since that time. I have asked her physician about checking vitamin D levels and she says it is not important at her age and will not make any significant change for her. She is very active, living independently until a recent stroke in May. She now lives in assisted living and is doing very well. She has had complaints for several years of general aches and fatigue.
She is treated for anemia, COPD, CHF and Coronary artery disease. She also has mild kidney disease. Is her doctor correct in saying that the elderly will not benefit with vitamin D replacement therapy? Should I discuss this again with her physician? I enjoyed your show. Especially hearing from the physician who is doing house calls!
I am a professional registered nurse who works in a nursing home and I am curious regarding vitamin D replacement in the very elderly who have so many complaints of generalized pain.

Great show this a.m. Keep up the good work.

I wanted to call in my question, but the signal was busy by the time I got into cell phone coverage on my way to work this morning (I’m a RN in a CCU). I did miss the first 20 minutes of the show, so maybe the guest addressed it.
What is a recommended dose of Vitamin D3 for children? He did thoroughly address the adult dose in the time I could listen. My family doctor was concerned that I’ve been giving a chewable Vit. D3 2,000 IU PO daily for the last month to my 1 year old son and 3 year old daughter because the RDA is 400 IU, which is the dose in 4 of their multivitamins.
The guest did say that the smallest of children should get about 1,000 IU daily. What age does that mean? After hearing the guest recommend 1,000 IU daily, I will start giving the 2,000 IU chewable every other day. I am going to find out the cost of the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test to see if I could have them tested.
We live at the 45th parallel. In the summer, I would let them have naked outside time for about 15 minutes or so a day, but there is little sun exposure starting in September, so I started giving them the supplement to boost their levels going into the winter. Last year I only gave my daughter the 400 IU in the multivitamin and my son got 400 IU in a liquid multivitamin along with nursing. I am very concerned about the risks of deficiency especially to their immune systems’ ability to fight viruses.

I always listen to your show Saturday mornings on the drive into work, I work as an LPN at Mendota.
I absolutely loved this article on Vit D3
I would like to ask if you can take your other alternative meds like Vit E, Fish Oil, Calcium, etc. when you take the Vit.D3
I went to Walgreen’s on my lunch break and bought the 1,000 iu soft gels which were a tad bit expensive, but, a friend who told me this morning that her numbers on Vit D was 13……….and the way HER body absorbs it is thru soft gel, well, I thought it was worth the extra money. This gal had stomach by pass surgery so maybe that was why she wasn’t absorbing the solid pill type D3. Oh, her numbers went up and seem to be holding.
I didn’t know that so much depended on your getting the proper amount of Vit D !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks so much, I wish I could listen to you every morning , I think your program is the bomb, Patrice

My NPR station in Wisconsin carries your wonderful program. So far, in the Tucson/Phoenix area stations, I have not found it. What is the best way to persuade one of these stations to broadcast the program?
Thank you.
D. Gross
And thank you D. Gross for your kind words.
The only way to get public radio stations to consider carrying our FREE program is to talk to the program director and be as persuasive as possible. Public radio is a highly competitive marketplace and it is only with listener encouragement that program directors and general managers of stations consider modifying their schedule.
Thanks for your efforts our our behalf!
Joe & Terry Graedon
The People’s Pharmacy

One Dr. called in and discussed a book that helps set the amount of Vitamin D an individual can us to determine if they are getting enough. Also I didn’t catch the doctors name. Can you reference the book please?

When calculating vitamin D3 dosage, should you include the amount in your multiple vitamin and calcium supplement, or only what you get from vitamin D3 capsules? I’ve been advised that vitamin D needs to be taken with oil, and not to count the multiple vitamin D dosage.

What is the optimal amount of daily sunshine for the body to manufacture the optimal amount of vitamin d?

Dear Dr. Hollis,
I enjoyed your show immensely as many of us in our office are growing concerned that we do not get enough Vitamin D.
Please tell me; does using sunscreen prevent Vitamin D absorption? I use a facial moisturizer with spf 15, daily, and also try to get out for a daily lunchtime walk. Am I limiting or preventing Vitamin D absorption on the areas that are spf 15-protected?
Also, if someone sits near a large picture window that the sun shines directly on, will they produce Vitamin D from sunshine that is outside a glass window. Similarly, what about driving?
Thank you so much for your help.
Christina W.

Are there any medications one may be taking for which vitamin D would be contraindicated?

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