Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vitamin D—The Cure For Many Diseases?

C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.

I have been planning for many months to write a commentary on Vitamin D. Recently I had the good fortune to spend a couple of hours with Dr. Joe Prendergast, an endocrinologist /diabetologist.; He has managed over 1500 diabetic patients and, in the last decade, not one of his patients has had a stroke or heart attack. Only one has even been hospitalized! His secret—50,000 units of Vitamin D3 daily. Dr. Joe further reports:
  • Reversal of advanced coronary disease
  • Reversal of advanced lung disease, avoiding a lung transplant!
  • Cure of multiple sclerosis
  • Cure of amotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Regression of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Improvement in allergies
  • Control of many cancers including prostate, breast, colon, brain tumors, leukemia, myeloma, etc
  • Reversal of osteoporosis
  • Prevention of influenza
  • Cure of depression and many other mental disorders
  • Hashimoto’s hyperthyroidism
He slyly then mentions that men report that the penis grows an average of 10% in length and girth (Volunteers??) and that women report growth of the labia.

Upon my return home, I searched the literature and found thousands of articles supporting in general every possibility Dr. Prendergast mentioned, except penis and labia growth. Interestingly, I did not find a single article integrating all this remarkable potential benefit in virtually every disease. Indeed, I know of no supplement or treatment that is so successful in such a broad variety of diseases. One of D’s greatest effects appears to be immune modulation. Indeed, even tuberculosis is strongly correlated with deficiency of vitamin D!

Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption, which enhances milk production in pregnant women. Suckling of the breast induces prolactin and oxytocin production (even in non-pregnant women) the nurturing and trust hormones. Everything is related to everything!

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is only 400 units. When I was in medical school dosages above 1000 units were thought to be toxic—perhaps because most of the D then came from cod liver oil and were associated with significant amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A is toxic at long term dosages above 10,000 units, although beta carotene is safe at dosages up to hundreds of thousands of units. There are several articles which emphasize the safety of Vitamin D up to 10,000 units. And a single article suggests that 50,000 units will not induce toxicity. Among the most interesting articles are many that emphasize the remarkable decrease in Type 1 diabetes in children given 2000 units of D throughout early childhood—up to 80% decreased incidence! Dr. Prendergast recommends increasing to 50,000 units at puberty. There are also suggestions that gluten sensitivity may be increased because of inadequate D. Since one-third of Americans have gluten sensitivity, D deficiency may be a contributor!

One article has stated that 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight on face and hands leads to production of 400 units of D. Total body exposure might then be approximately 8000 units per hour. One could argue that our forebears living, in the tropics, might have produced well over 50,000 units of D daily!!

Dr. Prendergast warns that patients taking 50,000 units of vitamin D3 SHOULD NOT TAKE ANY CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS! It is fine to have some milk products and the small dose of calcium in most multivitamins (400 mg) will not be a problem. Since most adults seem to have deposits of calcium outside bones, in arteries, around joints, etc, perhaps the vitamin D assists in retrieving calcium from these undesirable deposits! The OTHER EXCEPTION TO THE 50,000 UNITS WOULD BE INDIVIDUALS WITH KIDNEY FAILURE—THOSE ON DIALYSIS. Although there is great evidence that D is needed and that D deficiency is related to kidney failure, the dose in these individuals should be monitored by blood levels!

In summary, the evidence for safety and remarkable efficacy of Vitamin D3 suggests that virtually ALL adults should probably take 50,000 units of D3 daily. This is certainly true for those with virtually any illness. If you are concerned about that dosage, then take six 50,000 unit capsules each month. Children, pre-puberty should take 2000 units. 1000 and 50,000 units of D3 ARE AVAILABLE AT WWW.SELFHEALTHSYSTEMS.COM, 888-242-6105.


Anonymous said...

I have recently been prescribed 50000 units of Vitamin D because my blood test showed 31. However, now I have been in the sun about 45-50 min per day and take 1000 per day D3 supplement + Calcium, Magnesium + 200-400D.
I also have very high blood pressure not controlled with medication. I will be 70 next month.
My M.D. never said anything about stopping calcium. Also, I have been allergic to many medications and have irritable bowel to the point that I am often late for my 3 day/week job.
I am concerned about the high probability of more diarrhea with the Vitamin D.

Any insights?

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous:
You didn't say how often you take the 50,000 units of vitamin D but I suspect it's not daily but once a week and while you should be taking vitamin D3, if you will check with your pharmacist, I'll bet it's vitamin D2. Your doctor is trying to help you get higher levels of vitamin D for disease protection and that is good but I suspect he is still not as well informed as he needs to be since there is still so much you have questions about. Time for you to assume some responsibility and make the effort to learn on your own what your doctor failed to tell you. Best advice: Go to and study the material at that site daily until your fears and misgivings are resolved. It should take at least a few days. To my knowledge, 50,000 units of vitamin D3 in capsule form and taken daily, will not cause diarrhea, even in patients with IBS. Good luck!
anonymous too

Anonymous said...

Is there any detrimental affect for a breast-feeding mother and the infant if taking 50,000 IU daily of the D3? Is there benefit for the infant? What precautions should be taken if any?

Dr. Joe said...

Smaller amounts such a s 2000 a re used in pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Joe:

The patient in question is no longer pregnant, she is already breast feeding her infant, right?

The vitamin D council is recommending 6,000 IUs daily for breast feeding mothers. ??


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Joe,

I've been taking about 20,000 IU vitamin d per day for about 2 months and feel and look great. Reading all the literature I think this is safe.

However, I'm getting really bad hangovers at the moment if I drink. I think this is due to me having taken a course of isotretinoin (which I stopped about 1 month ago), as too much vitamin a causes bad hangovers due to the liver damage it causes.

I'm concerned that it might be vitamin d though. Is this possible? I want to keep taking the d but need reassurance.


Dr. Joe said...

The only “toxicity” from Vitamin D is if you take excess Calcium with it. D promotes calcium absorption so it is

Calcium that is toxic.

EdC said...

Thanks for the response.

At 2 points in my life I've been extremely depressed - I now am sure this was due to vitamin a poisoning from taking high doses for acne. The information on the weston price foundation site makes you think you can take all the retinol you want if you take d - this hasn't been the case for me. I don't know what you think about the relationship between a and d but I don't think it's what's proposed on that site.

I feel absolutely fantastic on 25 or 50,000 d per day vitamin d - I have never felt this happy.

Thanks for taking the effort to let people know about vitamin d. (Thought this information might interest you).

Anonymous said...

I have been taking 6,000 per day of D3. I recently had my blood levels of 25 OH D tested and they came back as being very toxic.

I live in Canada and the test result was >320 nmol/L which is 108.8 ng/mL

In the week before the test I had 2 tanning sessions before going on holiday. I don't usually.

Is this truly a toxic level and what do you advise? I feel well.

Dr. Joe said...

The Vitamin D Council in general would not be concerned about your blood level of Vitamin D. Several small studies soon to be published have seen vitamin D level go over 1,200 after about 200 days on Vitamin D3. Then a curious observation was noted that not only did the patient feel fine at levels of 1,200 the blood levels began to decrease despite continuing the same dose of D3.

At 365 days it was noted that the levels continued to descend with no change in the dosing of the D3 to finally reach a blood level that even might be lower that the starting low dose a year before.

This has made all of us using Vitamin D3 in clinical work very comfortable that toxicity from Vitamin D does not exist. The “toxicity” seen is only due to people who take extra supplemental calcium. Vitamin D3 does enhance calcium absorption but this is “calcium toxicity”. “Calcium toxicity” has been known for decades in Medicine as the “milk alkali syndrome”. No one need be concerned with calcium containing foods, only with extra supplementation. This goes for D3 and the “milk alkali syndrome”.

By the way your tan looks just great and had nothing to do with the D level in this situation.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Joe, in response to the last comment, you mention that after 365 days research has shown that the vit d level has even come down from the original level. On the surface this seems to indicate that an increase in dosage would be necessary to again restore the vit d levels back to "normal" and seems contradictory.

On the issue of 50,000 International Units, my significant other has been requested to take that dosage; however, has also expressed a concern about side effects. Currently low dosages (~1000 IU) of OTC vit D seem to have caused tachychardia, light headedness to near fainting, and a sense of concern.

I realize these symptoms are relatively isolated to this individual; however, wouldn't mind some input.

Anonymous said...

My doctor just prescribed 50,000 units of Vitamin D daily along with 800 units of Caltrate three times a day. Is the combination of these two safe to ingest. I have type two diabetes, and was recently diagnosed with very low hemoglobin levels (7.9-8.3) - I am currently taking iron tabs (100 mg twice a day).

Anonymous said...

I am currently on a regimen of 50,000 ius of Vit. D twice a week for 6 months. My level was 4.5 when tested several weeks ago.

I have been diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and had a reactivation of mono last year. I take beta blockers twice a day to control my heart-rate and a small dose of clonazepam at night. Since last year, my daily life activities have dramatically lessened (and I am only 37 years old).

Since I started the Vit D. my tachycardia has been controllable and I have been feeling much more energetic. I have been walking every morning for 30 mins and my heart rate has stayed below 105! Also, my acid reflux issues are gone.

It amazes me that something as simple as Vit. D may be the answer to help get my old life back.

I now tell everyone to get their Vit. D level checked! I am a believer!

Steven said...

Dr. Joe,
Thank you for your Vitamin D advocacy! I have been taking 50,000 IU a day for the past 6 months and am a Type 1 diabetic (for over 20 years).

I am concerned, however, that since D3 is a steroid that it is complicating my insulin dosing. I have had trouble with my BGs whenever I've been under a steroid treatment (eg. Cortisone for skeletomuscular injury) Should I be worried or modify my dosage? Please advise. Many thanks, Steve Laz

Dr. Joe said...

The steroid ring in the D molecule is a steroid ring but not a hydrocortisone molecule. No need for any adjustments.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Joe,
I'm on 50,000 IU vitamin d3 every day or other day except if I get the chance to sunbathe and I feel this is helping me greatly.

However, if I eat a couple of meals in a row of high calcium foods like dairy or broccoli I am getting symptoms very like hyper calcemia. I start feeling a bit down, feel slightly nauseus,a bit spacey and tired and have a slightly upset stomach. This goes away after a couple of days of low/ no calcium.

What would you recommend I do? A very low calcium diet, less vitamin d (which I'm not keen to do), extra magnesium supplementation?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Does a daily intake of 50,000 units of Vitamin D help in Type 2 Diabetes? Please let me know.


Steven said...

I was recently tested and my vitamin D level was at 200! So my doc recommended that I cut back from 50,000 to 10,000 IU daily.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Joe,
Thank you for all the info on Vit D3. Is Vit. D3 safe to take with Warfarin and Synthroid.
I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis I think due to Warfarin which I have been taking for 9 yrs due to genetic Factor V Leiden heterozygous and a previous DVT after foot surgery and later some smaller superficial clots in upper thigh. I am 52 yrs and post menopausal. I have always been active and pretty healthy but 9 yrs on warfarin has taken its tole and caused me to not have a lot of energy and unhealthy bones.I would love to get off warfarin but am not sure if I can stay clot free without it.
Given that, if I stay on warfarin and synthroid is it safe to take Vit. D3 while taking the other drugs?

Dr. Joe said...

Vitamin D3 is not contraindicated with Synthroid or Warfarin. Vitamin D3 is used in our office for Osteoporosis. We do not encourage Actonel or Fosamax for Osteoporosis as they can cause jaw necrosis, “jaw bone loss”.

Anonymous said...

I was diagonosed with osteopenia and low Vitamin D levels. I have been prescribed 50,000 D 2 x week and fosamax once a week. I am now concerned since you indicate fosamax can cause a jaw problem, or is that only for full blown osteoperosos. I am on Fioricet regularly for migraines which I assume contributed to low Vit D as I thought I was eating healty. Response appreciated before I fill my Fosamax and start.

Dr. Joe said...

Fosamax stops bone remodeling. Vitamin D3 promotes bone remodeling. D3 grows bone and Fosamax hopes you will not lose any more.

Fosamax was developed for post menopausal women who have lost their estrogen. For years it was not allowed to be used in men.

Look up Osteonecrosis on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

My 74 yr old mother takes 2 calcichew tablets daily for oesteroporis which contains about 400iu of vit d as well as calcium, she also takes 1 aspirin, cholesterol lower drugs,and thyroid meds. I bought her a vitamin d spray from to build her up against flus/swine flus/colds etc. I think she is taking between 3000-6000 iu daily of this vit d spray. My question is, is it safe for her to be taking this additional vitamin d spray, or will it do more harm than good because of the calcichew tablets she is taking on her doctors advice. Tks

Anonymous said...

Three factors will greatly mitigate the possibility of getting vitamin D3 levels so high as to create vit. D3 toxicity. Being over 70 years of age, being severely overweight and having a lactose intolerance. Toxicity from Vitamin A is a greater possibility in many situations. Read about this at
Anonomous Too

Anonymous said...

Doctor Joe,

I am taking 5000 IU gel Vitamin D3 a day and I was worried about a comment you made to another individual which was:

(The “toxicity” seen is only due to people who take extra supplemental calcium).

I am taking a multi-vitamin which would have calcium and other vitamins included. Would you see this as a problem or the supplemental calcium you are referring to?

Appreciate your comments to clarify before I up my dose of Vitamin D3.

Thompson, Manitoba Canada

Dr. Joe Prendergast said...

Multivitamin generally don’t contain enough Calcium to be a problem.

Dr. Joe


Hi Dr Joe,
What are the normal readings of Vit D levels?
I want my vit D levels tested.
Im sure taking Vit D can be a solution for my condition. Generally low immune system. I was prescribed with calcium ascorbate.
Please let me know.
Is it Vit D3?
50,000 IU per day? or per week?

Dr. Joe Prendergast said...

Value in blood I aim for is between 100 – 200.

Yes, D3

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Joe
I have been living with Myeloma for almost 7 years, I have been taking extra Vit d for 5 of those years, but not to the levels you suggest, I have recently found I have a collasped T7 vertabrea with a tumor going towards the spinal cord. I have elected to continue on my own supllementary and nutritional path, although I do have zoladronic acid infusions once a months, I feel I should stop these but need to understand there action compared to Vit d is it cancelling it out. Could you give me an idea of levels of other supplements I should take, I live in the UK. Thanks

JONG said...

Hi Dr Joe,
I always test low on vitamin d (about 15). Everytime I try to take a vitamn d3 2000iu supplement,I get muscle twitches all over my body, headache, and heart palpitations.....could it be that my body is reacting this way because I am SO deficient? If not, what could be the cause of this reaction? By the way, I dont take any other vitamins or supplements.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr.Joe
I was just told I have a vitamin d deficiency which my level was 18 my doc put me on 50000 iu of vitamins per week. I havent felt good since I had my son three years ago. A gland swelled up in my neck and I beleive is my parathyroid gland but doc said its just a gland and he dont know why its enlarged. so my question is can the vitamin d deficiency cause parathyroid problems and if so will it get better as my vitamin d levels go up?
my other ? is my mom was just told she has ALS and when I was reading on your site it said 50000 of vitamin d daily can cure ALS can you tell me a little more about that please and why are these doctors not telling us about this I HAVE BEEN HEARING SO MUCH ABOUT VITAMIN D AND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THANK YOU

Dr. Joe Prendergast said...

That is low and it may have been that way for a long time. Your doctor will watch the lymph node until the situation is clear.

Your mother’s situation is not so good. I have not seen anyone with ALS improve at all with the use of Vitamin D or regular visits to UCSF. Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Joe-

I just saw your blog and am planning to boost my D3 intake to your suggested amounts. I took 5,000 mg. of it (sublingually) for many months over a year ago and still tested a bit on the low side (I think it was in the 30s). Recently I was diagnosed with non-aggressive breast cancer and choosing to go the 'alternative medicine' route with protocel, raspberries, cottage cheese, curcumin and pawpaw. Your suggestion I will add to my daily routine.

Anonymous said...

I was receiving 50,000 units of D3
daily under Dr. Joe's direction and
wound up in Stanford Hospital ER with
acute renal failure. Apparently my
kidney function was not being properly

Anonymous said...

Dr Joe, What is your reason to advocate NO calcium supplementation while taking VitD?

A friend who took 25,000 IUs of VitD daily and now, after two years, has irreversible stenosis of the spine. Her specialist says that taking calcium will not improve her condition much. He attributes her condition from high VitD intake while being calcium and magnesium deficient.

ISTM, that testing all bone minerals and supplementing each deficiency would be a wise choice, not just taking mega dose D.

I look forward to your reply. Helen in WA State

Dr. Joe Prendergast said...

The people who take Calcium With D3 are the people who end up with high blood Calcium and/stones.

Restrictive Lung Disease said...

I don’t know what it could be but obviously he needs hospital test to find out why – I don’t think the breathlessness and stomach problem are connected, the breathing could be asthma and the stomach problem could be various things but if it was something life threatening it would have shown up in the blood tests, it could be an ulcer but the website lists liver disease, gallbladder disease and several others

Anonymous said...

Is there an issue with taking this dosage if you have a tendency to afib? I have been dealing with afib by iodine supplementation and it is going well (also taking magnesium and potassium taurate). I've heard that calcium imbalance can stimulate afib.

siddharth jain said...

i had an intermedullary rod fixation of the tibia bone(left leg) 5 months ago... Since the last one month, i am experiencing pain in the bones and the muscles of the left leg. The pain radiates upto the groin including the thigh bone. My doctor advised me to take 60,000IU of Vitamin d3(cholecalciferol) daily for two months.. along with it he has advised a capsule called..NEWBONA PLUS daily.. which contains:
Calcium Carbonate(500mg).. Calcitriol(0.25mcg)..
Pyridoxine HCL..
Folic acid..

I am not sure if it is safe to Continue with 60,000IU daily for two months..

Anonymous said...

I took 10,000 IU for 3 months and my blood test result is now 46 ng/ml
So I have upped it to 20,000 and just took a 40,000 dose today. I have ulcerative colitis which it seems to have made worse by taking this dose. I am going back to taking 10 or 20,000. otherwise I seem to be able to get over colds faster. Are the large doses likely to cause problems in IBD like this?

Anonymous said...

For a person diagnosed with chronic leukemia, would you easily recommend 50,000 IU/day for him/her?