In the last several weeks, two momentous occasions have occurred in the world of vitamin D.
First, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its new report. It tripled the recommended intakes, doubled the upper limit, and commissioned researchers to go forth and test the effects of intakes higher than the upper limit, as this would be safe under proper supervision and provide valuable information.
This sucker is 999 pages long. When I finish reading it, you can look forward to one heck of a blog post on the matter. Stay tuned, folks.
The second momentous occasion occurred two days ago (Tuesday, December 14, 2010) when bestselling business author and tango champion Tim Ferriss released The 4-Hour Body. Tim’s last book, The 4-Hour Workweek, was number one on the New York Times,Business Week, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists and has been translated thus far into 35 languages.
In his new book, he discusses my research on the interactions between vitamins A, D, and K, and gives the following warning:
Supplemental vitamin D increases your need for vitamin A, so don’t forget the aforementioned cod liver, which includes both.Hooray! It’s wonderful to see someone with this type of reach get this information out there.
I first raised the issue of vitamin A-and-D interactions in the spring of 2006 in my article on vitamin A and osteoporosis. I developed these thoughts further and introduced their interactions with vitamin K in the fall of 2006 in my article, From Seafood to Sunshine: A New Understanding of Vitamin D Safety, and in the spring of 2007 in my article, On the Trail of the Elusive X Factor: A 62-Year Mystery Finally Solved, Vitamin K2 Revealed.
I formally published my hypothesis that vitamin D toxicity results not so much from hypercalcemia but moreso from causing the excessive production of vitamin K-dependent proteins, leading to defective forms of these proteins in the absence of adequate vitamin K, in my December, 2007 Medical Hypotheses paper, Vitamin D Toxicity Redefined: Vitamin K and the Molecular Mechanism. Tufts University researchers confirmed the first prediction of this hypothesis the following year, showing that when vitamin A protects against vitamin D toxicity, it curbs the excessive production of vitamin K-dependent proteins.
When I wrote these articles, all the most compelling research I had was from animal studies. I wish that when I wrote them I had known that proof of principle for vitamin A-and-D interactions had already been experimentally demonstrated in humans. This revelation, however, had to wait for my 2009 Wise Traditions lecture, Cod Liver Oil: Our Number One Superfood. (You can get the DVDhere).
In 1941, Irwin G. Spiesman published a human trial in the Archives of Otolaryngology, a journal published by the American Medical Association, Massive Doses of Vitamins A and D in the Prevention of the Common Cold.
Spiesman treated 54 individuals who suffered from frequent colds (five to seven colds per winter) with massive doses of either vitamin A alone, vitamin D alone, or vitamins A and D together. He treated them during the winter, for as many as three years, with a dosing schedule reaching a maximum of 40,000 IU for vitamin A and 300,000 IU for vitamin D.
Spiesman found that vitamins A and D only reduced colds when fed together:
[Click on the title of this post to go to read the rest of this article.]
[Here are some comments found in the article:]
Several commenters on this blog and on my Facebook Fan Page have provided testimonials about their negative experiences with vitamin D supplementation that support the protective effects of vitamins A and K:
Cynthia Frederick, March 2010 I, and many others I’ve met on forums, have adverse reactions to Vit D3, even the lower amounts of 2,000 IU/day and even though we were tested and were deficient. And we do not have the conditions that would make Vit D contraindicated. . . . I’m waiting for the long-term effects to take place in people taking these higher amounts who are not simultaneously increasing their Vit A and K levels. In 10 years I wager we will be hearing about the negative effects that the higher doses of this ‘miracle nutrient’ have had on those taking it. . . [in a later comment] As I mentioned before, there seems to be a subset of us for whom even low doses (1,000 IU/day) of Vit D cause kidney stones, chest pain, fatigue, and aches and pains, even though our 25 OH D levels were ‘low’ (23). We get these symptoms as soon as a week after using the D. . . . I saved myself a trip to the ER with the above symptoms by remembering previous articles of yours about balancing the fat-soluble vitamins, and took about 100,000 IU of Vit A from fish oil and 5 mg of K2. Within 1/2 hour ALL the symptoms disappeared. This happened more than once so I know it is not coincidence. You are definitely on to something here.
Lynn Razaitis, June 2010 I certainly know what happens when you get these ratios off. I naively had a vitamin D shot of 200,000 units after a serious viral infection that used up my vit A. I wrecked my kidneys, thyroid and who knows what else. It took 6 months and Chris’s articles to figure out what the heck was going on with me. Within weeks of getting my vit A up with cod liver oil and a ton of liver (and I was thyroid blood testing monthly so I had test results to compare) my thyroid hormones all normalized. It was fairly stunning.
Andrea Schüler, June 2010 I stopped taking D3 because I developed tendonitis, bursitis, tendon calcification and aches and pains. I brought my level from 20 to 50 in the 25 OH test but maybe the 2000 – 4000 IU daily was not good for me or I have not enough A and K. I will test again to see where my levels are after several months without D3 pills. Maybe I should check Vit. A and K levels too.