What would happen if we double our blood vitamin D levels?

Background: This study is based on the published literature relating to the effects of vitamin D in reducing the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory infections (please note MS was not included in the overall analysis). These vitamin D-sensitive diseases account for more than half of global deaths due to cancer, respiratory infections and diseases, tuberculosis and diabetes.

Additional vitamin D-sensitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, falls, meningitis, Parkinson’s disease, maternal sepsis, maternal hypertension (pre-eclampsia) and multiple sclerosis only account for 2-3% of global death. 
Results: Increasing blood vitamin D levels from 54 to 110 nmol/l would reduce the vitamin D-sensitive disease death rate by an estimated 20%.
Conclusions: Increasing blood vitamin D levels is the most cost-effective way to reduce global death rates, as the cost of vitamin D is very low and there are few side effects from oral intake and/or frequent moderate sun exposure with sufficient body surface area exposed.
“Wow, this is an important piece of work or modeling. Now you see why I don’t stop banging the vitamin D drum; it is not only important for MS but a large number of other diseases.”

“How do we get our vitamin D levels to 110nmol/L? Live in a country with a lot of sun and take-up an outdoor job and stop using sun block. Or you could simply take vitamin D supplements at a dose of 5,000U per day.”

“George Eber’s in Oxford estimates that we may be able to reduce the worldwide incidence of MS by up to 85% if we could make the world population vitamin D replete. Other feels this figure is on the high side and quote estimates of 40% to 60%. What do you think? I think we need a national vitamin D prevention study to convince public health officials to take up the baton.”
Extra reading: Vitamin D
Please see other postings on this blog about vitamin D:
05 Jul 2011
Vitamin D – some facts. Vitamin D is a misnomer; it was incorrectly classified as a vitamin. Vitamins: are nutrients that are required in tiny amounts; cannot be synthesised in sufficient quantities by our bodies 
05 Jul 2011
Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis hospital admissions in Scotland. In this study there is a link between hospital admissions due to MS in Scotland and the average vitamin D levels in the previous 4 months. 
05 Jul 2011
Vitamin D websites. You may find these websites helpful: Vitamin D Council & Vitamin D3 World CoI: Nil. Posted by Gavin Giovannoni at 09:38 · Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz 

20 Jun 2011
Previous studies have shown that serum vitamin D levels are genetically influenced. Therefore variations or polymorphisms in vitamin D pathway genes are candidates for association with MS susceptibility. 
01 Jun 2011
Efficacy of vitamin D(3) as add-on therapy in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis receiving subcutaneous interferon beta-1a: A Phase II, multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. 
07 Jul 2011
Sunlight, Vitamin D and EBV. More about the environmental risk factors that increase susceptibility to MS. “What we now need is a study to integrate these risk factors. Would you be interested in participating?” 
03 May 2011
Vitamin D Supplement Doses and Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in the Range Associated with Cancer Prevention. How safe are high dose Vitamin D3 (vD3) supplements? In this study on over 3600 study participants ~25% of the 

28 Jun 2011
The active metabolite of vitamin D is a potent modulator of immune cells. In this study the investigators’ determined whether vitamin D, a sun-dependent nutrient can affect the cells athat are associated with the immune 
Etc.  There are lot more posts on this subject (please use the search engine above to get to them)

16 thoughts on “What would happen if we double our blood vitamin D levels?”

  1. Then why on earth do people in sunny climates get MS? Someone on this blog commented the other day about a Pakistani supermodel with MS called Iman Ali. She probably had a lot of sun and still got it.

  2. I'm half Pakistani from my dad's side and can understand some Urdu. I saw the clip that was mentioned and Iman Ali did say her major problem was fatigue. I read up on her since and she is most certainly a crusader for MS in Pakistan and India. I had no idea that both of these countries have MS societies. That means MS is a problem in sunny climates, which makes this report seem redundant.My dad says Pakistan is really sunny, though I've never been.This blog is very good. I learn so much by coming here. I had no idea about Iman Ali before.

  3. RE: "why on earth do people in sunny climates get MS?"The way I understand it is that there is a complex set of risk factors for MS, with VitD being just one of them. Just because someone gets lots of sunshine and may not have low VitD levels does not mean that other risk factors disappear (e.g. genes, EBV, smoking etc etc). Taking out a single risk factor does not mean someone will never develop MS. It just reduces their chance of developing it. I'm sure Prof G will correct me if I'm wrong!

  4. God, MS is one headache of a disease. It makes you think what other contributing factors there must be that scientists have yet to discover.What get me is that although MS is arguably a rare disease, there's till 2.5 million people in the world suffering from it. That isn't exactly a small number.VitD seems to be overhyped in MS. The Iman Ali subject made me reassess the notion of a lack of sunshine being a primary factor in getting MS.

  5. Iman Ali is a model in a country which generally places emphasis on being fair skinned as a proxy for beauty. It would be interesting to learn if she used a lot of sunblock and generally covered up from sunlight in a bid to keep a fairer complexion and further her career? She may thus have been vit D deficient despite living in a sunny country?

  6. Darker skinned people tend to have lower vitD levels, sunblock or no sunblock. Something to do with it being harder to synthesize vitD if there's more melanin in the skin. Again, Prof G correct me if I'm wrong!

  7. To reinforce what an earlier commentor said- Indians and Pakistanis don't necessarily get much sun. Reasons1. Summers are so hot that being in the sun is unpleasant. On sunny days in our short winter, the parks and gardens of Delhi are full of people enjoying the sun, with covered arms and legs and only the face exposed.MS in India seems to be disease of the middle and upper classes. People who work outdoors, people who don't have cars and are obliged to walk more, don't seem to get it.2. As children we used to spend lots of time outdoors in all weathers. Children nowadays are always indoors.3. And finally, a traditional obsession with pale, clear skin. Companies have managed to cash in on this. Radio & TV are saturated with ads for products with names like 'Fair & Lovely' and 'Lakme Sun Expert'. I think people from all walks of life have started using them. I won't be surprised if diseases which earlier were found only in more affluent people start turning up in all sorts of people.

  8. one more point4. Pollution levels are high in cities and clear, blue skies have become rare. I think the haze blocks a lot of the sun

  9. Re; "Darker skinned people tend to have lower vitD levels.."Correct; evolution gave dark-skinned people melanin to protect them from ultra-violet A the part of the light spectrum that causes sunburn and skin cancer. When dark-skinned people left Africa on the big migration evolution selected against melanin so that the skin could maximise its ability to make vitamin D. There is good archaeological data to support this theory. I will do a more details post on this later.

  10. Re: "Iman Ali is a model in a country …. She may thus have been vit D deficient despite living in a sunny country? Any chance of putting me in contact with her? She may help with our campaign to get massive participation when we launch our Predict MS study. We will need as much help as possible with this study. Thanks.

  11. Re: "Then why on earth do people in sunny climates get MS?"We are not sure; but as you see by the comments above you can still be vitamin D deficient in a sunny climate. What we need to find out is how all the risk factors trigger the disease. When we know this we can answer some of your questions. However, in the interim it is still worthwhile acting on the knowledge we have already; i.e. it makes sense to make sure you and as many people as possible around understand the importance of being vitamin D replete.

  12. Re: “Iman Ali is a model in a country which generally places emphasis on being fair skinned as a proxy for beauty. It would be interesting to learn if she used a lot of sunblock and generally covered up from sunlight in a bid to keep a fairer complexion and further her career?”This is a very true statement, but it must be remembered that Punjabi people (Iman Ali is from Lahore) are naturally fairer skinned than Indian people.Nonetheless, there is such a fixation on being fair skinned, especially in Asian girls, that the correlation twixt vitD deficiency and MS in Pakistan is not all that surprising.It’s a big problem in this country tooBritish Asian girls avoid the sun as not to go dark, with the assumption that darker skin tones are less attractive. Sometimes Asian mothers rebuke daughters from getting too much sun as it can effect marriage options.

  13. There is an MS SOCIETY in U.A.E. (nothing but sunshine over there).Research figures show MS affects around 25 to 50 people in every 100,000 in Arabic populations and about 100 per 100,000 in Northern Europeans who display the highest risk of MS across the world, with prevalence seeming to increase with further distance from the equator.Fingolimod has been just been granted lisence in U.A.E."MS patients from across the UAE will now be able to access the world's first oral medication for the relapsing remitting form of the disease. The ministry fast-tracked fingolimod through the drug licensing process as part of its commitment to ensuring that those with chronic disease and disabilities receive the latest medications as soon as they are available on the world market." Thomas Wegmann, Head of Marketing Middle East, Novartis Pharma Services.Seems like the Arab world is way ahead when it comes to providing drugs for MS than what we are.

  14. Re: "British Asian girls avoid the sun as not to go dark, with the assumption that darker skin tones are less attractive. Sometimes Asian mothers rebuke daughters from getting too much sun as it can effect marriage options."Not pleasant reading but very true.MS is really hidden in the British Asian community because of the stigma, especially for us girls. The parent's reaction is not: 'How well are they, or what is it?' but: 'How am I going to get my daughter married now?' There is a tendency to believe that MS brought shame on the community.My own mum is really coy about disclosing my MS, but the community can be really hurtful so I understand why she does this. The problem is that hiding my MS damage is getting harder.PS- Iman Ali is really pretty. Never heard of her before (I'm of Indian origin, not Pakistani). Thanks for sharing.

  15. What is the right form of Vit D supplement? Doctors here in India prescribe Rocaltrol (Calcitriol). I read somewhere that Vit D3 cholecalciferol is ideal. It is not available here in India and I have been getting it from USA or UK.If possible, please point to some research on this.

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