Today, the FNB has failed millions...
Dr. John Cannel, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council
November 30, 2010
13 year of silence, the quasi governmental agency, the Institute of
Medicine's (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), today recommended that a
three-pound premature infant take virtually the same amount of vitamin D
as a 300 pound pregnant woman. While that 400 IU/day dose is close to
adequate for infants, 600 IU/day in pregnant women will do nothing to
help the three childhood epidemics most closely associated with
gestational and early childhood vitamin D deficiencies: asthma,
auto-immune disorders, and, as recently reported in the largest
pediatric journal in the world, autism. Professor Bruce Hollis of the
Medical University of South Carolina has shown pregnant and lactating
women need at least 5,000 IU/day, not 600.
The FNB also reported that vitamin D
toxicity might occur at an intake of 10,000 IU/day (250 micrograms/day),
although they could produce no reproducible evidence that 10,000 IU/day
has ever caused toxicity in humans and only one poorly conducted study
indicating 20,000 IU/day may cause mild elevations in serum calcium, but
not clinical toxicity.
Viewed with different measure, this FNB
report recommends that an infant should take 10 micrograms/day (400 IU)
and a pregnant woman 15 micrograms/day (600 IU). As a single, 30 minute
dose of summer sunshine gives adults more than 10,000 IU (250
micrograms), the FNB is apparently also warning that natural vitamin D
input - as occurred from the sun before the widespread use of sunscreen -
is dangerous. That is, the FNB is implying that God does not know what
she is doing.
Disturbingly, this FNB committee focused
on bone health, just like they did 14 years ago. They ignored the
thousands of studies from the last ten years that showed higher doses of
vitamin D helps: heart health, brain health, breast health, prostate
health, pancreatic health, muscle health, nerve health, eye health,
immune health, colon health, liver health, mood health, skin health, and
especially fetal health. Tens of millions of pregnant women and their
breast-feeding infants are severely vitamin D deficient, resulting in a
great increase in the medieval disease, rickets. The FNB report seems to
reason that if so many pregnant women have low vitamin D blood levels
then it must be OK because such low levels are so common. However, such
circular logic simply represents the cave man existence (never exposed
to the light of the sun) of most modern-day pregnant women.
Hence, if you want to optimize your
vitamin D levels - not just optimize the bone effect - supplementing is
crucial. But it is almost impossible to significantly raise your vitamin
D levels when supplementing at only 600 IU/day (15 micrograms).
Pregnant women taking 400 IU/day have the same blood levels as pregnant
women not taking vitamin D; that is, 400 IU is a meaninglessly small
dose for pregnant women. Even taking 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D will only
increase the vitamin D levels of most pregnant women by about 10
points, depending mainly on their weight. Professor Bruce Hollis has
shown that 2,000 IU/day does not raise vitamin D to healthy or natural
levels in either pregnant or lactating women. Therefore supplementing
with higher amounts - like 5000 IU/day - is crucial for those women who
want their fetus to enjoy optimal vitamin D levels, and the future
health benefits that go along with it.
For example, taking only two of the
hundreds of recently published studies: Professor Urashima and
colleagues in Japan, gave 1,200 IU/day of vitamin D3 for six months to
Japanese 10-year-olds in a randomized controlled trial. They found
vitamin D dramatically reduced the incidence of influenza A as well as
the episodes of asthma attacks in the treated kids while the placebo
group was not so fortunate. If Dr. Urashima had followed the newest FNB
recommendations, it is unlikely that 400 IU/day treatment arm would have
done much of anything and some of the treated young teenagers may have
come to serious harm without the vitamin D. Likewise, a randomized
controlled prevention trial of adults by Professor Joan Lappe and
colleagues at Creighton University, which showed dramatic improvements
in the health of internal organs, used more than twice the FNB's new
Finally, the FNB committee consulted with
14 vitamin D experts and - after reading these 14 different reports -
the FNB decided to suppress their reports. Many of these 14 consultants
are either famous vitamin D researchers, like Professor Robert Heaney at
Creighton or, as in the case of Professor Walter Willett at Harvard,
the single best-known nutritionist in the world. So, the FNB will not
tell us what Professors Heaney and Willett thought of their new report?
Today, the Vitamin D Council directed our
attorney to file a federal Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the
IOM's FNB for the release of these 14 reports.
Most of my friends, hundreds of patients,
and thousands of readers of the Vitamin D Council newsletter (not to
mention myself), have been taking 5,000 IU/day for up to eight years.
Not only have they reported no significant side-effects, indeed, they
have reported greatly improved health in multiple organ systems. My
advice, especially for pregnant women: continue taking 5,000 IU/day
until your 25(OH)D is between 50-80 ng/mL (the vitamin D blood levels
obtained by humans who live and work in the sun and the mid-point of the
current reference ranges at all American laboratories). Gestational
vitamin D deficiency is not only associated with rickets, but a
significantly increased risk of neonatal pneumonia, a doubled risk for
preeclampsia, a tripled risk for gestational diabetes, and a quadrupled
risk for primary cesarean section.
Today, the FNB has failed millions of
pregnant women whose as yet unborn babies will pay the price. Let us
hope the FNB will comply with the spirit of "transparency" by quickly
responding to our Freedom of Information requests.
John Cannell, MD
The Vitamin D Council