Recommendations from the Vitamin D Council

The Vitamin D Council is a California non-profit that promotes education about the health benefits of Vitamin D, and advocates for wider use of supplementation, at a much higher dose than the current RDA, to ward off a variety of diseases, including several types of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Here are some highlights from the Council’s home page, as accessed by us 10/22/2009:

Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.

Vitamin D’s influence on key biological functions vital to one’s health and well-being mandates that vitamin D no longer be ignored by the health care industry nor by individuals striving to achieve and maintain a greater state of health.

Sunshine and Your Health

If well adults and adolescents regularly avoid sunlight exposure, research indicates a necessity to supplement with at least 5,000 units (IU) of vitamin D daily. To obtain this amount from milk one would need to consume 50 glasses. With a multivitamin more than 10 tablets would be necessary. Neither is advisable.

The skin produces approximately 10,000 IU vitamin D in response 20–30 minutes summer sun exposure—50 times more than the US government’s recommendation of 200 IU per day!

On this website, we also noted with interest a letter from a Wisconsin doctor/long-term care facility manager on the apparent protective value of Vitamin D during a spike in the state’s swine flu rate in June 2009. The doctor had mandated Vitamin D supplementation for the long-term care facility’s residents, whereas staff at the facility were under no such requirement. During the June swine flu peak, less than 1% of the facility residents developed swine flu, while at least 7% of the staff did–a significant variation in outcomes.

We’ll stay tuned to the Vitamin D Council’s website, which seems to us a useful clearinghouse of information on a supplement that holds a great deal of promise, if we’re to judge by the flood of positive new research results coming out in just the past few years. On the practical side, we also note that Vitamin D supplementation is inexpensive; that blood levels of the vitamin are easily monitored; and that overdose is rare (though we certainly recommend checking with your doctor if you plan to supplement at the levels advocated by the Vitamin D Council).


D3 – 2500IU (This format provides a convenient way to supplement for those wishing to follow the recommendations of the Vitamin D Council; other strengths are also available at NYBC.)


Maintaining bone health – recommendations for Calcium and Vitamin D3 supplementation

Calcium and Vitamin D are both important for keeping bones healthy. Calcium is needed by the body every day, and if not enough is taken in, then calcium is lost from the bones. Meanwhile, in order to absorb calcium effectively, the body needs Vitamin D3. So these two nutrients are both necessary, on a very regular basis, for the long-term maintenance of bone health and the prevention of such conditions as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Recently, there has also been a lot of research and discussion about the optimum intake of Vitamin D3 to maintain bone health. Many investigators now believe that a minimum of 700 to 800 IU of vitamin D3 per day is needed by adults. This is approximately double the daily intake of 400mg that was commonly recommended in the past.

Other lines of recent research have pointed to supplementation with calcium and Vitamin D3 as having benefits in reducing risk of cancer in some populations; and there is also much study now being devoted to Vitamin D3’s role in the health of the immune system. So the old “sunshine vitamin” is definitely one to watch!


Vieth R, Bischoff-Ferrari H, Boucher BJ, et al. The urgent need to recommend an intake of vitamin D that is effective. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 Mar;85:649-50.

Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. AmericanJournal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91.

For special concerns regarding HIV and bone loss, see the CATIE treatment update “Complications and Side Effects – Calcium and Vitamin D”.

For some recommendations on supplementation from NYBC, see the section “Better Bones”.

Vitamin D: more research, more benefits

Research on Vitamin D has been prominently featured in National Institutes of Health/Office of Dietary Supplements research reports in the last few years. Here’s a capsule summary from NYBC’s newsletter THE SUPPLEMENT:

Vitamin D3 has been in the news a lot—recent data show it could help prevent up to half of the cases of breast cancer and two-thirds of the cases of colorectal cancer. D3 is also known to play a powerful role in immune function, working in complex ways to increase the body’s immune response against infectious microorganisms, while also having the capacity to suppress autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. In people with HIV, D3 may play a part in maintaining CD4 counts. Lastly, a scientific paper published in 2006 suggested that supplementing with D3 in the winter months could ward off respiratory infections such as the flu! In short, there’s a lot more to this vitamin than the well-known connection with bone health.

Note: NYBC stocks D3, a naturally occurring form that is more bioavailable than older forms of the supplement.

NYBC Vitamin D3 Product Description

Additional note: the authors of an article in the June, 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that supplementing with calcium + Vitamin D3 “substantially reduced all-cancer risk for post-menopausal women.” 

Citation: Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, and Heaney RP, “Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial.”