Vitamin D was discovered to cure rickets in 1922. A short time later ergocalciferol, synthetic vitamin D, was developed and is still today the only FDA-approved prescription form of vitamin D despite it being inferior to natural form cholecalciferol – vitamin D3.
Over 90 years have passed since that discovery. The 1920 and 1930s was the era of vitamin discovery. During that time the practice of medicine gravitated away from use of crude medicines such as quinine, opium, cocaine, digitalis and nitroglycerin to synthetic molecules like procaine and barbital that garnered patent protection for pharmaceutical companies. Atabrine was among the first patentable drugs approved for many uses and is related to melfoquine used today to treat malaria.
Later, drugs designed to target cell receptor sites became the rage, followed by drugs that addressed narrow gene targets (one-drug, one-gene paradigm) like Erbitux and Herceptin for cancer, which have been met with limited success.
The “problem” with the development of drugs that address a broad number of genes (called gene promiscuity) is that such drugs are likely to successfully treat, prevent or cure many diseases at one time, which would be a big blow to Big Pharma’s scheme of a separate drug for every disease.
Despite the fact natural molecules obtained from botanical sources duplicate the biological action of most prescription drugs with fewer side effects and far less cost, the financial incentives belong to man-made molecules that can generate billions of dollars of profits.
Only man-made molecules cure disease
The current preposterous claim is that only man-made molecules are proven to be safe and effective and that no naturally occurring medicine is effective let alone safe. If a natural molecule IS proven to be safe and effective for any disease, having been shown a slight edge over an inactive placebo tablet in a controlled human study, it will be declared a drug at considerable increase in cost.
So Big Pharma has colluded with the research community and practicing physicians to fabricate the idea dietary supplements are at best, ineffective, and at their worst, deadly.
For example, the public has been barraged with claims that beta carotene is toxic to smokers and increases the risk for lung cancer (not true). There was the claim that over 200 milligrams of vitamin C caused gene mutations (not true). That elderly Americans risk losing their lives taking even modest amounts of supplemental vitamin E (not).
Journalist wants to know why all the foot dragging
Re-enter vitamin D. This steroidal hormone called a vitamin activates 900 human genes.
Award-winning British health journalist Oliver Gillie wants to know why modern medicine is dragging its feet over adoption of vitamin D into the armamentarium of prescribed medicine used to quell myriads of maladies (Vitamin D – Could It Stop ‘Modern’ Diseases? – Telegraph UK March 10, 2014).
With the renaissance of “sunshine” vitamin D comes the revelation that bad advice offered by modern medicine has made the plight of man on this planet worse. Mr. Gillie points to the advice to avoid excess sun and use sunscreen as a monstrous misdirection. Diseases such as mortal melanoma skin cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, schizophrenia, asthma and several forms of cancer are on the uptick largely due to declining blood levels of vitamin D.
Despite obvious associations between many diseases and season of the year (wintertime uptick in heart disease, mental depression/winter blues and cancer, as well as runny-nose colds and the flu) Mr. Gillie says health authorities have remained unresponsive.
“For a long time experts did not know what to make of this data, since these diseases had no obvious links,” he says. Vitamin D blood levels are lowest in winter when the earth tilts away from the sun in northern latitudes and cloud cover reduces delivery of the sun’s UV-B rays that produce vitamin D in the skin.
Now more diseases are being added to the list of seasonally diagnosed illnesses: ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus – all autoimmune diseases where the body is attacked by its own immune system. The same can be said for childhood-onset (Type 1) diabetes, asthma, food allergy and Crohn’s disease. Lack of vitamin D is the most obvious risk factor, says Mr. Gillie.
Oh my, another vitamin D-deprivation horror story. What have we done to our children? Bruce Ames, noted professor of biochemistry at University of California Berkeley, says four major characteristics associated with autism are explained by a lack of vitamin D during pregnancy. Ames proposes supplemental vitamin D as therapy for kids currently diagnosed with autism.
A return to the dark ages
A convincing piece of evidence Mr. Gillie draws attention to is the rise in multiple sclerosis in Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 when women were compelled by law to wear the veil outdoors together with clothing that covered most of their bodies. The incidence of multiple sclerosis rose 8-fold between 1989-2006 in Iran. Not only has Iran turned back to “the dark ages” health wise, but a resurgence of rickets suggests, a bone-softening disorder, suggests all of the health lessons learned from the discovery of vitamin D early in the past century have been forgotten.
How compelling does the evidence have to be to get modern medicine to get off its duff and focus on vitamin D adequacy rather than its misdirected statin drug paradigm?
Mr. Gillie suggests provision of vitamin D to all pregnant women and babies on the same intensive scale and priority as seen with the push for vaccines. In Mr. Gillie’s mind this would likely result in the virtual eradication of multiple sclerosis, childhood-onset diabetes and several autoimmune disorders. Food fortification programs would be the vehicle to produce vitamin D adequacy among the masses. Who knows, maybe even increase the vitamin D in fortified foods during sunless winter months.
For those online readers who have an extra half-hour to spend, they can hear Mr. Gillie deliver his gripping plea for universal vitamin D supplementation at YouTube.
Modern medicine’s duplicity
But as Mr. Gillie notes, modern medicine is not racing on roller skates to adopt vitamin D into health regimens anytime soon. As their excuse, health authorities use the argument there is a lack of acceptable peer-reviewed double-blind long-term controlled science to alter current health policy, considered the “gold standard” in medicine. However, it was OK for dermatology to make the misdirected and unsubstantiated claim for the universal use of sunscreens that resulted in increased mortality from skin cancer. More disease, particularly mortal disease, uses fear to drum up more business for modern medicine.
The kind of science demanded is years away and would require a study for each and every disease. Why let the masses wallow in a state of vitamin D deficiency while modern medicine ever so slowly sorts out the problem?
Examination of multiple sclerosis
Allow me to select just one malady that unequivocally is associated with vitamin D deficiency. I’m selecting multiple sclerosis. Recent studies point to an infectious trigger for MS with bacteria (Clostridium perfringens, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis) and viruses (Epstein-Barr, a herpes family virus) cited most often. Vitamin D, which activates the immune system, is posed as an antidote against these pathogenic organisms. An association between lack of vitamin D and MS is now “without doubt.”
However, modern medicine obfuscates any possible discovery that vitamin D prevents or cures MS by claiming high-dose vitamin D treatment doesn’t reduce the risk of relapse among MS patients. What is considered high-dose vitamin D is only equivalent to a few minutes of sunshine vitamin D. Studies unequivocally reveal low blood levels of vitamin D are related to the incidence and severity of MS.
Health authorities in Poland recommend relatively high blood levels of vitamin D (75-100 nanomoles/liter of blood) to quell the epidemic of MS in their country, which is 2-3 times greater concentration than suggested by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). In fact, in the face of growing evidence vitamin D deficiency is spawning so many modern diseases, the IOM reduced the blood level of vitamin D considered to be sufficient, thus ensuring a certain level of disease to treat in the population at large.
While modern medicine awaits results from studies that “might be long in coming,” some health authorities advise MS patients who are vitamin D deficient to supplement their diet. The risk for MS among healthy young adults with a high vitamin D blood level (greater than 100 nanomole/liter of blood) is about 60% reduced. Even then, there are animal studies showing vitamin D adequacy needs to be maintained during childhood and adolescence to effectively prevent MS.
Examine the compelling link between latitude and incidence of multiple sclerosis presented below.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AROUND THE GLOBE
|Country||World Rank||Rate per 100,000|
|Northern latitude countries|
|Mexico||Not in top 50||Negligible|
|Ecuador||Not in top 50||Negligible|
|Peru||Not in top 50||Negligible|
|Indonesia||Not in top 50||Negligible|
|Colombia||Not in top 50||Negligible|
|Israel||Not in top 50||Negligible|
How can modern medicine be express indifference and disingenuously demand more evidence while so many suffer? (Answer to that below)
Vitamin D supplementation doesn’t need to prevent or cure MS to be considered beneficial. Shifting vitamin D blood levels to a high range of concentration (75-100 nanomole/liter of blood) increases the effectiveness of current therapies for a wide range of diseases including multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, osteoporosis, epilepsy, atopic dermatitis, chronic kidney disease and chronic hepatitis.
Modern medicine’s inexplicable actions
Gregory Plotnikoff MD, editor of Global Advances in Health & Medicine, wants to know why the Institute of Medicine reduced recommended blood levels for vitamin D at a time when “the urgency was clear: vitamin D deficiency was going undiagnosed and untreated in large numbers of people. Patients were suffering needlessly.”
Dr. Plotnikoff says this vitamin is “so important in human health that replenishment of vitamin D deficiency is likely to be the single most cost-effective medical intervention in North America and Europe. Since that guideline was published by the IOM insurance payers have requested and even demanded that physicians not assess vitamin D status and recently Medicare said it will pay for only a single vitamin D blood test in the lifetime of a healthy adult.
Dr. Plotnikoff also notes that up to 30% of the dark-skinned African-Americans are abjectly vitamin D deficient (10 nanomole/liter of blood) and the IOM’s new guideline worsens their plight.
Dr. Plotnikoff does not stand alone. Some investigators in Canada are calling for urgent action, suggesting provision of 2000 International Units (IU) or just 50 micrograms (1/20th of 1 milligram) of vitamin D by any means (food fortification, supplementation). That clarion call was made over 3 years ago. Researcher William B. Grant estimates a significant increase in blood levels of vitamin D among Canadians would reduce the death rate by 37,000 annually and reduce the burden of healthcare costs by ~$14 billion annually.
Too much to lose
So why all the foot dragging by health authorities over adoption of vitamin D? Answer: because widespread vitamin D food fortification and/or supplementation would dramatically reduce the incidence of disease to treat and take billions of dollars out of the pockets of doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. The financial conflicts of interest among the scientists who serve on the Institute of Medicine committee on vitamin D guidelines have already been described by Dr. John Cannell of The Vitamin D Council. Even if adopted, pharmaceutical companies are campaigning behind the scenes to have expensive vitamin D-like drugs approved for use, rather than more economical natural-source vitamin D pills.
The incentive to maintain, even intentionally induce, a certain amount of disease to treat by covertly allowing a vitamin D shortages to persist benefits many who have a vested interest in making sure there is an ample amount of disease to treat. Campaigns to ensure vitamin D adequacy would take billions of dollars out of the hands of vaccine makers, pharmaceutical companies, physicians and insurers.
Humans don’t need a disease to prompt them to boost their intake of vitamin D from dietary supplements. Sunshine is the source of most of the vitamin D humans produce naturally, with the best diet only providing a modest amount, not enough to overcome most deficiencies.
The primary ethical guideline for modern medicine is to put itself out of business, to prevent disease before it occurs, to eliminate the need for more doctoring and to promote self-care. Modern medicine is headed in the opposite direction.