Vitamin D Deficiency

Diseases and conditions cause by vitamin D deficiency:

  • Osteoporosis is commonly caused by a lack of vitamin D, which greatly impairs calcium absorption.
  • Sufficient vitamin D prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, depression, colon cancer and schizophrenia.
  • “Rickets” is the name of a bone-wasting disease caused by vitamin D deficiency.
  • Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate type 2 diabetes and impair insulin production in the pancreas.
  • Obesity impairs vitamin D utilization in the body, meaning obese people need twice as much vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is used around the world to treat Psoriasis.
  • Vitamin D deficiency causes schizophrenia.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a melatonin imbalance initiated by lack of exposure to sunlight.
  • Chronic vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia because its symptoms are so similar: muscle weakness, aches and pains.
  • Your risk of developing serious diseases like diabetes and cancer is reduced 50% – 80% through simple, sensible exposure to natural sunlight 2-3 times each week.
  • Infants who receive vitamin D supplementation (2000 units daily) have an 80% reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes over the next twenty years.


Shocking Vitamin D deficiency statistics:

  • 32% of doctors and med school students are vitamin D deficient.
  • 40% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient.
  • 42% of African American women of childbearing age are deficient in vitamin D.
  • 48% of young girls (9-11 years old) are vitamin D deficient.
  • Up to 60% of all hospital patients are vitamin D deficient.
  • 76% of pregnant mothers are severely vitamin D deficient, causing widespread vitamin Ddeficiencies in their unborn children, which predisposes them to type 1 diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia later in life. 81% of the children born to these mothers were deficient.
  • Up to 80% of nursing home patients are vitamin D deficient.

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What you can do:

Sensible exposure to natural sunlight is the simplest, easiest and yet one of the most important strategies for improving your health. I urge you to read the book, “The UV Advantage” by Dr. Michael Holick to get the full story on natural sunlight. You can find this book at most local bookstores or through,, etc. Note: This is not a paid endorsement or an affiliate link. I recommend it because of its great importance in preventing chronic disease and enhancing health without drugs or surgery.


This may be the single most important book on health you ever read.


If more people understood this information, we could drastically reduce the rates of chronic disease in this country and around the world. Sunlight exposure is truly one of the most powerful healing therapies in the world, far surpassing the best efforts of today’s so-called “advanced medicine.” There is no drug, no surgical procedure, and no high-tech procedure that comes even close to the astonishing healing power of natural sunlight.


Reducing the Burden of Disease Through Adequate Intake of Vitamin D3

A presentation at University of California, San DiegoApril 9, 2008

by William B. Grant, Ph.D.

Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research CenterSan Francisco, California

I am pleased to acknowledge funding from these organizations:

UV Foundation (McLean, Virginia)

The Vitamin D Society (Canada)

The European Sunlight

Learn the vitamin D-sensitive diseases

Bones, Cancers

Infectious diseases, Autoimmune diseases

Metabolic diseases, Congestive heart failure and muscles

Quantify potential benefits of solving vitamin D deficiency

Disease incidence and mortality rate risk reductions

Economic burden reductions

Vitamin D3(cholecalciferol) is made in the

skin from 7-dehydrocholesterol from

ultraviolet-B (UVB) and a thermal process.

Vitamin D3is converted in the liver to 25-hydroxyvitamin D3(calcidiol

Calcidiolis converted in the kidney and other organs to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3(calcitriol).

Types of evidence used to link risk-modifying factors to disease outcomes:

Ecological studies: populations, diseases and risks delimited geographically

Observational studies: case-control, cohort studies

Meta-analyses of several observational studies

Randomized controlled trials

Laboratory studies can identify mechanisms

Bones and Fracture Risk Reduction

Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium.

Vitamin D regulates parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels and serum calcium levels. If calcidiollevels are low and PTH levels are high, calcium will be taken from the bones, and may end up in the arterial walls.

Vitamin D supplementation improves neuromuscular or neuroprotectivefunction.1

1Dhesi JK, et al. Vitamin D supplementation improves neuromuscular function in older people who fall. Age Ageing. 2004 Nov;33(6):589-95.

Bones –Meta-analysis

A vitamin D dose of 700 to 800 IU/d reduced the relative risk (RR) of hip fracture by 26% (pooled RR, 0.74; 95% CI: 0.61-0.88) and any nonvertebralfracture by 23% vscalcium or placebo.

No significant benefit was observed for RCTs with 400 IU/d vitamin D.

Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC, Wong JB, GiovannucciE, Dietrich T, Dawson-Hughes B. JAMA. 2005 May 11;293(18):2257-64.

Cancer Risk Modifying Factors

There are a number of factors that modify the risk of cancer.

They can often be included in studies by means of indices.

Examples include air pollution, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, ethnic heritage, and urban/rural residence.

15 Vitamin D-Sensitive Cancers

Vitamin D-sensitive cancers with strong support after accounting for other factors:

Gastrointestinal: Colon, esophageal, gallbladder, gastric, pancreatic, rectal, small intestinal

Urogenital: Bladder, kidney, prostate

Female: Breast, endometrial, ovarian

Blood: Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

U.S. Vitamin D-Sensitive Cancer Deaths

Digestive system118,000


Genital system51,000

Urinary system27,000


Total257,000 (46% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2007)

JemalA, et al. Cancer statistics, 2007. CA Cancer J Clin. 2007 Jan-Feb;57(1):43-66.


Randomized Controlled Trial

Recent prospective study of vitamin D3and calcium and cancer risk post-menopausal women in Nebraska1

1100 IU of vitamin D3and/or 1400 mg of calcium per day, or a placebo.

Serum calcidiollevels rose from 71.8 nmol/L (28.7 ng/mL) to 96.0 nmol/L (38.4 ng/mL)

The all-cancer incidence for women over the age of 55 years at time of enrollment was reduced by 77% between the ends of the first and fourth years of the study.

1. LappeJM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, ReckerRR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J ClinNutr2007 Jun; 85(6): 1586-91.

Seasonal Survival in Norway

Cancer Survival with Respect to Season of Diagnosis in Norway1(mortality rate relative risk in southeast Norway vs. midwestwinter for 36 months)

Prostate cancer: 0.76 (0.73-0.79)*

Breast cancer: 0.75 (0.72-0.79)*

Colon cancer:0.79 (0.76-0.82)*

Hodgkin’s lymphoma:0.85 (0.74-0.98)

 indicates statistically significant result

1.PorojnicuAC, DahlbackA, Moan J. Sun exposure and cancer survival in Norway: changes in the risk of death with season of diagnosis and latitude. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;624:43-54.


Vitamin D, Cancer Survival: Implications

These findings strongly suggest that for many types of cancer, vitamin D is more important in the latter stages than in the earlier stages.

The mechanisms likely to be involved later are reduction in angiogenesis and metastasis.

However, other mechanisms are also involved in reducing cancer incidence, such as controlling cell differentiation and apoptosis and improving immune system function.

Vitamin D and Cancer Disparities

Two papers reported that differences in solar UVB and vitamin D can explain a good part of the cancer disparities between black and white Americans

Ecological study: Solar UVB was inversely correlated with mortality rates for breast, colon, esophageal, gastric and rectal cancers.

[Grant, J National Med Assoc, 2006]

Cohort study: Black men were at higher risk of total cancer incidence [relative risk (RR), 1.32; (95% CI), 1.08-1.61; P = 0.007] and mortality (RR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.40-2.56; P < 0.0001), especially digestive system cancer mortality.

[Giovannucci, Cancer EpidemiolBiomarkers Prevent, 2006]

Infectious Diseases

Calcitriolinduces production of human cathelicidin, LL-37, a polypetidewith modest antimicrobial and potent antiendotoxinactivities.1

There is strong evidence that LL-37 can fight bacterial infections.

There is weaker but growing evidence that LL-37 can fight viral infections.

Mookherjee N, RehaumeLM, Hancock RE. Cathelicidinsand functional analogues as antisepsis molecules. Expert OpinTherTargets. 2007 Aug;11(8):993-1004.

Vitamin D and Infectious Diseases: Summary of Evidence of Benefit

Bacterial diseases


Porphyromonasgingivalis(periodontal disease)



Viral diseases, respiratory system

Influenza (seasonal)

Respiratory syncytialvirus (bronchitis)

Rhinovirus (common cold

Autoimmune Diseases

The strongest evidence for a beneficial effect of vitamin D in reducing the risk of autoimmune diseases is for multiple sclerosis (MS) and type 1 diabetes mellitus.

For MS, the evidence points to the direct and indirect regulation of T cell development and function by vitamin D and cytokine expression.

CantornaMT, Mahon BD. D-hormone and the immune system. J RheumatolSuppl. 2005 Sep;76:11-20.

CantornaMT. Vitamin D and its role in immunology: multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. ProgBiophysMol Biol. 2006 Sep;92(1):60-4.

Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis

A nested case-control study among more than 7 million US military personnel.1

The OR for the highest quintile, corresponding to calcidiollevels higher than 99.1 nmol/L, was 0.38 (95% CI, 0.19-0.75; P = 0.006).

The inverse relation with multiple sclerosis risk was particularly strong for caldidiollevels measured before age 20 years.

1Munger KL, Levin LI, Hollis BW, Howard NS, AscherioA. JAMA. 2006 Dec 20;296(23):2832-8.

Metabolic Diseases

Metabolic diseases include cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, etc.

There is growing observational evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of metabolic diseases.

However, randomized controlled trials have not been reported yet.

Coronary Heart Disease

There was a graded increase in cardiovascular risk across categories of calcidiol, with multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios of 1.53 (95% CI: 1.00 to 2.36) for levels 10 to < 15 ng/mLand 1.80 (95% CI: 1.05 to 3.08) for levels < 10 ng/mL(P for linear trend=0.01).

Wang TJ, et al. Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease. Circulation. 2008 Jan 29;117(4):503-11.

CHD –Vitamin D Mechanisms

Reduces blood pressure.

Reduces risk of infection.

Increases insulin sensitivity.

Reduces circulating osteoprotegerin(a cytokine) levels1

1Gannagé-Yared MH, AzouryM, MansourI, BaddouraR, HalabyG, NaamanR. Effects of a short-term calcium and vitamin D treatment on serum cytokines, bone markers, insulin and lipid concentrations in healthy post-menopausal women. J EndocrinolInvest. 2003 Aug;26(8):748-53.

Vitamin D, Diabetes, Mechanisms

The mechanism of action of vitamin D in type 2 diabetes is thought to be mediated through regulation of plasma calcium levels, which regulate insulin synthesis and secretion, and a direct action on pancreatic beta-cell function.

PalomerX, González-Clemente JM, Blanco-VacaF, Mauricio D. Role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes ObesMetab. 2008 Mar;10(3):185-97.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

CHF results when the heart is no longer able to maintain adequate circulation of blood.

The heart is a muscle.

Risk increases rapidly with increasing age among the elderly.

Those over the age of 60 years produce vitamin D with about one-fourth the efficiency of those under the age of 20 years.

Mortality Rate Data, U.S., 2003

Data are available by sex, race, age for leading causes of death.

The leading causes of death are tabulated in the following tables.

Most of the diseases tabulated are vitamin D sensitive.

The black/white racial disparities are much higher for those aged 55-64 years than 65+ years.

Heron MP, Smith BL. Deaths: leading causes for 2003. NatlVital Stat Rep. 2007 Mar 15;55(10):1-92.

Mortality Rates, Males 55-64 Years


Disease    Black    White    Black/White       

Cancer    597    385    1.55       

Heart    589    312    1.89       

Stroke    114    32    3.56       

Diabetes    98    38    2.58       

Nephritis    53       

Lower respir    52    50    1.04       

HIV    51       

Liver    41    31    1.32       

Septicemia    39    12    3.25    


Disease    Black    White    Black/White       

Cancer    388    309    1.26       

Heart    311    127    2.45       

Diabetes    79    25    3.16       

Stroke    73    26    2.81       

Nephritis    37    9    4.11       

Lower respir.    33    <9    >3.67       

Septicemia    28    11    2.55       

Hypertension    21    <9    >2.33       

Flu, pneum.    14    9    1.56    

Vitamin D and Mortality Rates

We examined the risk of dying from any cause in subjects who participated in randomized trials testing the impact of vitamin D supplementation on any health condition. The study parameters:

18 independent randomized controlled trials

including 57,311 participants

A total of 4777 deaths from any cause occurred

Mean daily vitamin D dose was 528 IU, 5.7 year average.

The summary relative risk for mortality from any cause was 0.93 (95% CI: 0.87-0.99).

AutierP. GandiniS. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Sep 10;167(16):1730-7.


There is enough evidence now to conclude that vitamin D intake or production at the rate of 2000-4000 IU/day, leading to serum calcidiollevels of greater than 40 ng/mL(100 nmol/L) can significantly reduce the burden of both chronic and infectious diseases.

Those with darker skin should take higher vitamin D supplementation

Ode to Sunshine, 1913

Sunshine is a marvelous health-giving and healing power in the world. While sunshine is death to disease-producing agencies, it is life and health to all natural forms of life.

Sit in the sun, recline in the sun, walk on the sunny side of the street, avoid parasols, and ever recognize the sun as a friend and not an enemy, a promoter of health, and a destroyer of disease.

Frederick M. Rossiter, M.D. The Practical Guide to Health. Pacific Press Pub. Assoc., Mountain View, CA. 1913:193-5.

Additional Resources

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Harvard Cohort Study, Vitamin D, Cancer