Just got in from a whirlwind trip to New York, which ended up what with family and business obligations being the busiest trip there I’ve ever experienced. MD and I have just enough time to go through the mail, do laundry and head back to the airport to fly to Dallas for Christmas. Once back, we’ll have some time of our own.
I have to apologize yet again for not answering the many comments that have stacked up. I simply haven’t had time. But I will get to them, I promise.
The photo at the top of this post is St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Madison Ave. taken from our hotel room window a couple of nights ago.
Below is a photo of the two women in my life: wife and granddaughter. And below that is a photo of an exhausted grandfather and an even more exhausted granddaughter taken at about 1 AM, way past both of our bedtimes.
My harried schedule cut short my meeting with Gary Taubes so that I wasn’t able to convey to him the questions that many of you posted. I think I can talk him into either a guest post or a Q & A with answers posted. Gary and I were supposed to get together last Friday late in the morning. He had a lunch scheduled in the early afternoon, so we figured we would have plenty of time before to meet. I caught a cab to head down to our meeting place at 11th and 6th and got snarled up in all the holiday traffic and was abysmally late. By the time I got there, we were able to chew the fat for only 45 minutes or so. I tagged along with him to his lunch meeting, which was with Nina Teicholz, the journalist who wrote the great article on saturated fat for Men’s Health. (Gary and Nina are probably the only journalists who are low-carb friendly in New York.) I could only hang out for a few minutes with them before I had to scuttle back to midtown for yet another appointment. I got smart on the way back and took the subway to avoid the horrendous traffic.
I’ve got a bunch of posts in the works: new low-carb papers, vegetarian diets and free radicals, more Anthony Colpo silliness, the Anthony Colpo disciplinary post, and vitamin D.
While awaiting my scheduling problems to abate so that I can get back at it full force, here is a great article on the importance of vitamin D from the CBN, of all places. Be sure to watch the video. I tried to embed it and ended up crashing my machine. I think I’m the only person who can crash a Mac. If someone out there knows how to embed this video, let me know, and I’ll give it a try.
If you live anywhere in the northern US (and that’s above El Paso, Texas), in Canada or in Europe, you need vitamin D3 in pretty large doses. I take at least 5,000 IU daily during the winter and sometimes a 50,000 IU booster capsule if I’ve been exposed to a lot of sick people (for instance the lady who sat across the aisle from me on the flight last night and coughed the entire way). If you are like most of the New Yorkers I met and are fish-belly white, you need vitamin D. If you are African American you need vitamin D. Don’t leave home without it.
I’ll post again from Dallas. And, if I have my normal airline experience, I should have a lot of time cooling my heals at various airports tomorrow. If I do, I’ll catch up on all the comments that have stacked up. Pray for me.


  1. Hi Dr Mike,
    A couple quick questions about the D3.
    Which is better, the D3 from fish liver oil or the D3 from wool oil? (I think it’s wool oil, I’ve been buying the D3 from fish liver oil. I don’t know, fish liver oil just “sounds better” to me than wool oil.)
    Also the last bottle I bought (a different brand that usual, b/c they were out of the one I usually buy) says that along with 400 IU of D3, you’re getting 1000 IU of vitamin A. Is this OK? My former brand didn’t say anything on the bottle about vitamin A.
    I take 4 of those a day. I live in Northern Virginia. I’m guessing I need A LOT more than that, especially now. LOL Boy did I notice a difference in my skin when I added 1600 IU D3 to my daily dose 2 tsp of Carlson’s Lemon Fish Oil. (Probably need more of that, too?)
    I’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD, any thoughts on doses of either of those to help with a “miswired brain?” LOL I take Wellbutrin for the ADHD, with pretty good relief.
    Hi Elle–
    Vitamin D3 is vitamin D3 irrespective of where it comes from. Most commercial vitamin D3 does come from ‘wool oil’ also called lanolin, which does indeed come from sheep’s wool. A substance in the lanolin – 7 -dehydroxycholesterol – is irradiated to convert it to vitamin D3, which is how it works in our own skin. Our 7 – dehydroxycholesterol is activated by the sun to make our own vitamin D3.
    As to ADHD, there has been some research showing that krill oil has a positive effect on those so afflicted.

  2. Dr. Eades,
    on a german website i was warned to overdose Vitamin D3 for the following reasons: After taking high doses of Vitamin D the 25-Hydroxyvitamine-D-concentration in the serum can be very high for months. Overdosing can lead to long-lasting hypercalcemia with occasional deaths known in the literature (no references are provided). Suffering from Pseudohypoparathyreoidism is said to increase the risk for intoxication from overdoses of Vitamin D3 (also no references). What do you think about this? Thanks for your comments!
    I bought a very cheap high dose D3 powder (100.000 IU per 1 gr) here in Germany and am intimidated by warnings on the package insert and the bottle (it carries a black “X” which is used, i think, internationally for substances that can be dangerous…) that it may lead to serious ailments IF BREATHED IN!!
    Hi Niko–
    Take a cruise through the Vitamin D Council website. It should allay your fears.

  3. I can crash a Mac as well. Although that could be because ours is ancient and I ask too much of it with websites that have lots of graphics! Maybe Father Christmas will bring me a new one.
    Thanks for the tip about vitamin D3. My daily commute by train is full of people like the lady on your flight.
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Father Christmas comes through with a new Mac. The new iMacs are phenomenal as well as being fairly reasonable in price…just in case Father C needs a hint.

  4. Glad you enjoyed your visit to my city. Next time I recommend using the subway — you’d have made it to your meet in the Village lickety-split.
    Have started taking 6000 IU/day of vitamin D and am curious to see what effects it has for me. The article you link to kind of falls apart in the final paragraph but I guess that’s to be expected given that source. I hope you can link to some other sources of info on D ….
    On your rec I also began krill oil, and it’s probably too soon to say for sure, but I THINK it’s relieved the pre-menstrual symptoms I usually get … another few months will tell better, but so far I’m pleased.
    Thanks — I always find really useful thought-provoking info on this blog!
    Keep me posted on your progress. I’ll be posting and linking to a lot of other sources soon.

  5. ..that looks like a Barbour or a Filson coat
    Good eye, Simon.
    It’s a Barbour that I’ve had for years.

  6. I’m in Dallas. Would be nice to say hi and get my books signed. 🙂
    Hope you have a nice holiday! I’m going out of town.
    Thanks for all your hard work!
    Hey Alex–
    When do you leave town?

  7. Dear Dr. Eades,
    Beautiful grandchildren from obviously beautiful family.
    I picked up some D3 the same day as your last post. Thanks!
    Hi Gwen–
    Thanks. After raising three sons and then having the first two grandchildren be boys, I was a bit apprehensive about interacting with a little girl. But I’ve overcome all that – she is terrific. And much, much different to deal with than all the little boys, but I’m learning.

  8. .. they all used to be made in Wye-Eye land(Geordie land…South Shields man) and i wuz wrong as thought they made more oer seas but apparently not.
    Filson are great too .
    Thanks yr posts on Vit D3…i was going to ask you about Vit D the day after i came back from tropical Fort McMurray in Alberta.
    Bon Noel to the Clan
    Bon Noel back to yours.

  9. Dr. Mike, a couple of questions.
    In PPLP it states that you can overdose on Vitamin D. New research says No?
    Also why do you take magnesium at night? Is it not good to take during the day?
    Thanks for your blog (check in just about every day) and I am enjoying my book.
    Hi Miriam–
    The old form of vitamin D commonly found in supplements could be overdosed on. Not so much with vitamin D3 unless in really huge doses – over 100,000 IU for days at a time.
    I recommend magnesium at night because it helps with sleep. It can be taken any time.

  10. You might consider adding a link to the Vitamin D Council webpage. This is hosted by John Jacob Cannell MD and the link to them is He proposes several hypotheses concerning actions and benefits of Vitamin D that are supported by medical and epidemiological observations. Another true scientist in the mold of Gary Taubes. Thanks.
    Hi Mark–
    I’ve read Dr. Cannell’s newsletters forever. I should have linked to the Vitamin D Council’s website already. Thanks for reminding me of my oversight.

  11. Since the short days have come to western Washington state (we probably get less winter sunlight than just about anywhere else in the USA), I’ve been going to a tanning salon twice a week and taking cod liver oil (Carlson’s). I feel great and have so far been virus-free as far as I know.
    I have so many comments on this subject that I really need to do a post. There are basically two wave lenghts of sunlight: UVA and UVB. UVA penetrates deeper and is the wavelength that stimulates the melanocytes to migrate to the surface and give us a tan. UVB doesn’t penetrate as much and is the wavelength that causes sunburn. And UVB is also the wavelength that stimulates vitamin D production. Since tanning salons sell tans and not sunburn, tanning beds use way more UVA light than UVB. Since it takes about 20 minutes or so of full mid-day sun over about 40 percent of skin surface (this might not be exact, but it’s close – I don’t want to take the time to look up the exact figures right now) to provide adequate vitamin D status, it’s difficult to see how laying in a tanning bed for 10 or 15 minutes a couple of times per week is going to generate much vitamin D even though it may give you a deep tan.
    Were I you, I would supplement, too.

  12. That’s why the CLO… it has 400mg of vit D per tsp. I don’t know how much of that is D3, though the ad copy for it says “rich in D3”. However I have been trying to find out what the ratio of UVA/UVB is in natural sunlight and ran across this:
    which states that it varies from 70 to 22 depending on time of day. If that’s true, then at 5% UVB (according to Wikipedia and some tanning bed manufacturers) tanning bed lamps are pretty close to the midday ratio in natural sunlight.
    If I’m wrong about that I would very much like to find a better source of light therapy, because it’s not the color I’m interested in. I have a pretty nice glow with no tan at all from my high-fat thermogenic diet.
    Hi Lark–
    I need to look into it more closely, but I don’t think tanning beds (especially the modern ones) are even close to midday UVB rates. I’ll dig into it when I get back home and post on the subject.

  13. What a cutie! No doubt girls are different!
    Thanks for the link, I’ve sent it on to practically everyone I know!
    Glad you enjoyed it.

  14. FYI. Some other web sites who have had recent coverage of Vitamin D seem downright paranoid about Vitamin D supplementation without testing for 25hydroxyD levels every six months. Aside from that, there is a also some evidence(?) that even 5,000 units per day may not get them to the desirable middle range of Vitamin D, namely, 50-60 ng/ml without testing. Above 150 ng/ml is considered toxic it is thought.
    P.S. D2 seems to be worthless. And you need to be below 30 degrees latitude to get sufficient UVB rays in the winter from what I have read. El Paso would be close at 31.86 degrees latitude.
    Your thoughts? And should you be taking calcium and magnesium in conjunction with Vitamin D?
    Hi MAC–
    Most people I know don’t check 25 OHD levels, although to get precisely in the desirable range they should. And you’re right, 5,000 IU is no guarantee that you will get in that range, but it’ll get you a heck of a lot closer than 0 IU will.
    I always take plenty of magnesium so I don’t worry about that. And I’m not real concerned about calcium intake on a low-carb diet.

  15. Hi, Dr.Eades.
    We’ve a 2 y.o. daughter with a persistent cough. Could we use any supplements to help her to get rid of it (… excepted honey…)?
    Any suggestions? Cod liver oil? Vitamin C?
    Thanks for all
    I don’t know about supplements and chronic cough, but I do know that a major study was published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics showing that (for kids your daughter’s age) one half teaspoon of buckwheat honey at bedtime was a more effective treatment than dextromethorphan (the most commonly prescribed cough suppressant for kids) in the suppression of chronic nighttime cough.
    I hope you have had your daughter’s cough evaluated to make sure there is no underlying problem requiring treatment beyond cough.
    Good luck.

  16. is there a best way to take D? one dose? first thing am? or break it up with meals?
    I take mine all at once whenever I think of it. And I always take it with a meal because vitamin D is fat soluble and absorbs much better when consumed with fat.

  17. I’m confused. If I take krill oil, and/or cod liver oil, aren’t I getting an adequate dose of D already? I thought fish oils were loaded with A and D?????
    The krill oil doesn’t provide a lot – the cod liver oil does have some. But it costs so little to supplement with 5,000 units per day that I would recommend that along with the fish/krill oils as long as your doctor is okay with it.

  18. When you write that blog on tanning beds, please include some hints as to how to tell if the bulbs used are the best. You stated in response to a comment in your blog titled, “Mood Elevators”:
    “I would check on the wavelength of the light in the tanning beds before I spent much time in them. If I found it to be primarily UVA, I would avoid them like the plague. UVA is the wavelength that stimulates the melanocytes and increases the risk for melanoma, a very nasty cancer.”
    I’ve looked at the bulbs and can’t see where it says anything about the wavelength. I asked the salon owner, but unfortunately she’s a bit of a “dim bulb,” if you know what I mean!
    So, what is it I’m looking for on the bulbs? A wattage? I’ve also tried googling “tanning bulbs,” but couldn’t find the info I needed.
    The only time I go to the tanning salon is prior to a trip to a sunny destination. If I tan before, I can stay out in the sun virtually all day with no sunscreen and not burn. I’ve never believed in sunscreen. Strange, though. I used to burn fairly easily. Now I can be out in the sun mowing the lawn (5 acres mowed, 40 acres left as wild) for 4 hours and barely get any color, and I don’t use sunscreen. The first time I experienced this phenomenon was when we went deep-sea fishing in Florida about 7 years ago. We got out there and I realized I didn’t have any sunscreen with me. I worried momentarily, and then we were having so much fun I forgot all about it. At the end of the day I figured I’d be fried. Nope. The tops of my shoulders were slightly pink, and the rest of me tanned but ever so slightly. I’m of German/Dutch descent, so my skin is fair. Weird, huh?
    Hi Kathy–
    A strange story, your tanning situation. I don’t know what to make of it.
    The best way to find out about the wavelengths of light in the tanning beds is to deal with a reputable person who has good sense. The older tanning beds are the most likely to have full spectrum light – and the most likely to burn you if you stay in them too long.
    I’ll see what I can sniff out when I do the research for the post. You might want to read Annie’s comment also – she has done some research into the subject.

  19. Greetings Dr. Eades:
    Regarding tanning beds — as I mentioned in my previous post — they only work to generate vitamin d if they emit balanced UVA and UVB rays ie low and medium emission beds. The “high emission” UVA only beds are definitely more popular and prevalent but if one does a bit of research, the old school low and medium emission beds can be found. I’ve done this in NYC and the facility was able to tell me the UVB emission which was within Holick’s guidelines. The facility also mentioned that they have many seniors who come for that booth specifically for the Vitamin D benefits. There is no way a person could stay in an old style booth for 15 minutes — they would be burned. There is a formula in Holick’s book with precise guidelines that I urge people to follow and then confirm results with repeated blood tests as I did. I only used the booth a maximum of 5 minutes (gradually worked up from 1 and gnerally averaged only 2-3 minutes) and did indeed get tanned by the end of the winter but I tan very easily and had a bit of a base tan leftover from summer — tanning was not my goal and could have been avoided by simply staying at the 1-2 minute timing. I know it works because previously, I tested repeatedly (I never trust a single blood test because of lab error etc) Vitamin D “insufficient” at the end of the NYC winters despite the D in my multi (400 IU) plus an additional 400 IU in a combo A & D supplement plus eating 1 can of sardines at least 5 times per week. I am always in the excellent range at the end of summer despite the fact I drop all supplementation except for my multi and fish because I love sardines, shrimp etc. because I take long walks in the sunshine with no sunscreen. I do not burn because I build up gradually etc. I am in no way advocating tanning or condemning that practice. It’s up to the individual to decide if the risks are worth it. It is not necessary to tan one’s skin to get the benefits of sunlight and/or UVA + UVB tanning booths. I was only trying to point out that not everyone can raise their vitamin d status sufficiently through supplementation and that there are benefits ie endorphins are created by UVA and UVB light exposure to one’s skin that popping a pill just will not duplicate. Holick’s book has precise guidelines for both sunlight exposure and supplementation for various skin types and the guidelines vary depending upon where one lives, the season, and what kind of skin a person has. The 20 minutes or so of midday sun formula may or may not be sufficient for persons with certain kinds of skin and persons living at particular altitudes and/or in particular parts of the country during winter etc etc. One should also simply get their vitamin D status tested twice a year — should be part of your physical anyway — to see status at the end of dark winter and again at the end of summer and supplement accordingly. The implications for potential health benefits — especially within the realm of cancer prevention are exciting to say the least. While there seems to be a consensus on what constitutes a vitamin D insufficiency, but there appears to be disagreement as to what “ideal” levels are. Holick’s book sets a certain guideline but others set it higher. Any ideas as to what an ideal level should be and whther it should be different for men than for women? I notice Quest Labs has raised the upper limit of normal/sufficien than it was in previous years. I wonder if this is due to increased awareness about the benefits of supplementation whether by food/pills/uva&uvb.
    Hi Annie–
    I agree with you across the board. But I do maintain that for those who can’t or won’t take the time to tan, vitamin D3 supplementation is a must.

  20. Ah I wish I had checked back on the comments. I leave Christmas day in the early a.m.
    I hope you have a Merry Christmas.
    Warm Cheers,
    Ah, too bad. We could have gotten together for a glass of Christmas cheer. I’m pretty much tied up with family obligations for the rest of today (Christmas Eve). Maybe next time. I come to Dallas often.
    Merry Christmas to you.

  21. I’ve done the research, and came to a somewhat different conclusion that you may want to consider. There is a plateau between about 100 nm/L and 200 nm/L (divide by 2.5 to get ng/ml) where changes in vitamin D3 intake have less of an effect on 25-D levels than outside that range. This plateau is likely the true “normal” for humans getting adequate sunlight, and it may be questionable as to whether it matters much where one is in this range. To get to the bottom of this range typically requires at least 1000 IU, and usually more. To get to the top of the range may require over 10,000 IU. So your “5000 IU” sits somewhere in the middle, and is probably safe and adequate. However, it’s not true that everyone needs 5000 IU to get into this normal range, and the smartest approach is probably to start with 2000 IU and to get your 25-D level checked to see if you need more. Another consideration is that D works in concert with other vitamins and minerals, and it’s likely that taking too much of any one of these will result in a less than optimal combination. In other words, if you get your followers to start taking 5000 IU D3, be prepared for the possibility that you’ll be making them deficient with respect to some other vitamin or mineral. In particular, a vitamin that I don’t think you’ve spent much time talking about is vitamin K2, which is about as important as vitamin D (see Anyway, I hope your presentation addresses these issues. I generally have very high regard for whatever conclusions you come to.
    Hi Warner–
    I agree about the importance of vitamin K2 and will address it when I put up my definitive post on vitamin D.
    And you’re right that the best way to determine vitamin D levels is to check 25 (OH)D levels and adjust from there. But the truth of the matter is that most people will never get this test done (I know the importance and I haven’t had it done myself), and since it’s difficult to get vitamin D toxic at the 5,000 IU dose, that’s a good place to start for most adults in the winter months who live in northern latitudes.

  22. Adequate Vitamin A is very important for the effectiveness of Vitamin D and also protects against overdose. Here is a very nice explanation of the safety of Vitamin D and the interaction of various other vitamins with Vitamin D:
    The section on Vitamin A is here:
    People are afraid of Vitamin A but it is safe in natural form (from liver, specifically fish liver oil for supplements) and in conjunction with Vitamin D (and K). Just avoid synthetic Vitamin A or Beta Carotene supplements. Also, avoid eating seal and polar bear liver, as that’s a bit too much Vitamin A. 😀
    Thanks for the links.

  23. Dr. Mike, mind if I hijack your blog for a moment to ask Annie a question regarding those tanning beds?
    Annie, could you give me a 2- to 3-sentence primer about what to look for in tanning beds? You mention low-, medium-, and high-emission beds, and balanced UVA/UVB. Are the low or medium beds better? You also mention about the UVB emissions being within Holick’s guidelines. So:
    1. Which is best: low-, medium-, or high-emission beds?
    2. Balanced UVA/UVB or just one or the other?
    3. What is the range of emissions I should look for?
    The salon owner (the “dim bulb”) said she couldn’t answer my questions, but she did say that when she and her husband were deciding which brands and which bulbs to buy, she insisted on “the type that doesn’t cause skin cancer.”
    She has a bed that you can stay in a maximum of 15 minutes, and booths you can stay in a maximum of 10 minutes. I’m sure that doesn’t help you answer my questions, but I thought I’d mention it anyway since you said something about how you couldn’t stay in the “old style” booth for 15 minutes.
    It’s all very confusing. Thanks for the help!
    Sure. Maybe we can all learn something.

  24. I will be interested to see what Dr. Eades says about this. However, the article is somewhat suspect in my opinion. I read the first Q & A and there are a couple red flags:
    1. He is very adamant that the cause of a variety of health issues is a bacteria. He seems to be overselling his opinion on this subject.
    2. His comment “it seems little wonder that vitamin D has become so popular. It’s basically an over-the-counter steroid.” telling us that people take vitamin D because it is a OTC steroid seems pretty far fetched. IMO, he is making it sound like people are taking vitamin D to get some kind of high, which I think is completely false.
    I am sure other can offer a far more valuable evaluation of this article. I am not that impressed with it, and won’t stop taking vitimin D because of what this guy says.
    When In doubt about what to do, I look to nature if at all possible. In nature, Paleo man would have had far more sun exposure than most of us do. He would have also ate much more vitamin D than we do in sources like whole sea food and in liver. Supplementing to get us closer to what Paleo man would have gotten seems quite reasonable.

  25. “he is making it sound like people are taking vitamin D to get some kind of high”
    No, he’s making the case that elevated 25-D suppresses your innate immune response, thereby reducing inflammation without addressing its underlying cause. It’s like applying a steroid cream to treat a fungus infection – you may get some symptom relief, but the fungus infection gets worse. Basically, anytime that you hear that someone “feels better” taking high doses of vitamin D, the question needs to be asked whether that’s simply because they’ve suppressed their normal (and beneficial) immune response.
    I don’t know what the answer is to all of this, and I no longer have a clue as to what to do about vitamin D supplementation, but Marshall is a serious player, as shown by this link to his site and a review of the reasons why vitamin D supplementation may not be such a smart idea:
    This isn’t a link to his site – it’s a link to someone writing about Marshall’s theories. I’ll post on this soon.

  26. “This isn’t a link to his site – it’s a link to someone writing about Marshall’s theories” is one of several sites he’s associated with, and it is not just “someone” writing about Marshall’s “theories”. He has a group of people who help those trying the Marshall Protocol (MP). I see nothing wrong with this, nor much difference with your pushing 5000 IU vitamin D on this site/blog, even though we really don’t know what the long-term consequences of that will be. I think we are all more in the dark than the light when it comes to vitamin D.
    I don’t have a horse in this race, and am only interested in the science and it’s implications. However, I think we need to be careful about dismissing the MP given its apparent success, and what it may mean with respect to vitamin (hormone) D supplementation. Specifically, even if the guy is wrong, one still needs to explain at some point all the things he’s seeing – a point that is often missed when restricting our attention to well-designed studies. In other words, we often want to dismiss outright the research of others if it doesn’t quite meet our standards, but the truth is that the best theory should be able to explain not only the results of well-designed studies/experiments, but (eventually) also those of poorly designed ones, including the first-hand experiences of doctors and patients.
    So what I want to see is not just a healthy skepticism, but also an explanation of what Marshall’s seeing from the viewpoint of the vitamin-D-is-great side of the fence. This seems to be particularly important in this case because there isn’t much middle ground here – we’re either talking about avoiding almost all D supplementaion, or taking huge doses.

  27. Re: Kathy’s Indoor Tanning Questions
    I too encountered “dim bulbs” who worked at or managed or even owned tanning salons yet were clueless as to the differences and benefits regarding high versus low emission beds. Some also gave factually incorrect info. Example 1: an owner said that UVA only emitting beds are less damaging to the skin because they don’t contain the UVB which causes sunburn. Example 2: a manager argued that there is absolutely no difference between UVA and UVB. Example 3: a clerk gave me a blank stare and asked me to repeat the question — I did — 3 more times and all I got for my trouble was 3 more blank stares. Many salons only carry the UVA only beds but there are still some with the other type. The truth is that the UVA only beds can cause more damage despite no burn. Sunlight provides both UVA and UVB and so should an indoor tanning both unless one just wants a tan and is not looking for vitamin D benefits. Early indoor tanning beds emitted both UVA and UVB “low-pressure lamps” but the consumer demand was for a faster TAN — nobody talked about vitamin D synthesis — so the newer machines “high pressure” lamps emitted only UVA rays. These are still the bed of choice for many who just want to look tan as fast as possible. You can stay in the beds much longer than the other types and hence get tan faster. The gal at the desk of the salon I go to called the bulb supplier in front of me to ask for the UVA/UVB emission specifications.Holick claims there is a trend back toward the balanced emission beds. According to Holick, if one is interested in vitamin D synthesis in the skin, look for “low-pressure” beds that have a balanced UVA/UVB radiation emission (94-97.5% UVA to 2.5%-6% UVB) that replicates sunshine. For detailed info on how long to stay in for vitamin D synthesis, I really suggest you buy Holick’s book because this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Much depends on skin type, what latitude you live at, and special concerns ie whether or not one has had skin cancer or cannot tan etc. Here’s a possibility I may look into for next season — Dr. Mercola has recently begun selling home tanning lamps with balanced emissions on his websites. They are stand-up panels that really do not seem to require much room and should work nicely in my teensy nyc apartment — then I could store easily during the Spring and Summer. Remember, Holick is NOT advocating tanning — that is not the goal of this — vitamin D synthesis is. But he acknowledges that many people like the look of a tan and will want one so he goes to great length to explain the skin aging and other risks of tanning. He says tanning is a personal choice and one should be fully informed of the potential risks and purported associated risks (photoaging, squamas and basal cell carcinoma etc) and then decide if the risks are worth it. He is constantly misquoted on the tanning issue by pale-faced sun-phobe dermatologists. One NYC derm calls those who like to tan in the sunshine mentally ill! Guess I should be fitted for a straight-jacket cause nothing makes me feel more relaxed than lying on a sunny beach. I’ve taken to exercising outdoors as well and find doing so in the sunshine is a real mood elevator for me. Hope this was helpful — good luck!
    Thanks, Annie. Very informative. (For those interested in Holick’s book, click here.)

  28. Dear Mike,
    I’ve found, with great surprise, that Florence and Pisa (Italy) have the same latitude as Toronto (Ontario – Canada). That is 43°46′ lat. N.
    Now I’m a bit confused.
    Obviously (I’ve visited both) these two places have very different climates because latitude isn’t the only parameter the climate depends on. At least I suppose…
    But regarding to Vitamin D production in the skin, latitude should be tho only parameter to consider.
    So… same latitude (and same skin) = same Vitamin D production.
    Does all this mean that needing for Vitamin D supplements in Florence is the same as in Toronto?
    If this is true, then would be the recommendation of the Canadian Cancer Society valid also in Central Italy?
    Am I wrong?
    Thanks a lot.
    Hey Marco–
    I’ve spent a lot of time in both Florence and Toronto, and I can tell you that Florence is a lot hotter (and sunnier, it seems) than Toronto, yet they are both at the same latitude. Since I don’t have a clue much about climatology, I can’t tell you why the weather difference given the similar latitudes. Maybe Florence gets more sun because it is less cloudy – I don’t know. Seems hard to believe that you wouldn’t make more vit D most of the year in Florence than you would in Toronto. Maybe other readers can weigh in.

  29. To Dr. Eades,
    My OBGYN has concluded because I am border line osteopenia and osteoporosis, she has strongly suggested one of the meds, i.e. Avista. The doctor’s reasoning for the meds is to prevent a broken hip and cancer. When I asked if she would write a script for a D3 level she agreed, but said she still wanted me to take the Avista regardless of the level.
    My nutritionist says to “run the other way”. She was surprised the OBGYN did not order a D3 level right away. She says to have my blood levels drawn for D3 levels at intervals.
    The object is to start to build bone density as the D3 will gradually allow the calcium to be absorbed. Shaklee has 1000mg. calcium, 400 mg. magnesium, 400 IU D3.
    I have used sunscreen SPF15, on my face and arms for years because of the itching allergy to the sun. The sun does not affect my legs.
    Could you comment? How much D3 should I be taking? What are the recommended levels for a middle aged woman?
    I can’t make comments on specific medical conditions. I usually give my own patients – and I myself take – 5000 IU Vit D3 per day. Unless I spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer. Then I skip it.
    25 (OH)D (the only vitamin D test that is really valid) levels should be between 50-80 ng/ml.

  30. Dear Dr. Eades,
    I feel compelled to tell you about my success with weight loss after taking a high dose of Vitamin D. I should probably explain my situation and why I’m taking such a high dose. Last spring I had a baby and breastfed exclusively. I wanted to lose the baby weight and after reading several books including PPLP and Good Calories Bad Calories I decided that a low carb approach was not only the best way to lose weight but also the most healthful. I am eating a low-ish carb diet (about 60g/day). One problem I’ve run into is that there is almost no information about eating low carb during pregnancy and lactation. I was afraid to eat low carb while pregnant because I’d read that ketones could harm the baby’s brain, so I ate carbs and gained weight. Perhaps you could shed some light on this issue for me? On to the vitamin D story.
    Over the course of last summer I lost about 15 pounds, but once fall hit my weight loss completely halted. I tried your calorie reduction approach and I would lose weight only if I went to bed hungry, but I couldn’t sustain that and would gain it back. I live in an area where I get basically no sun during the winter. I became concerned about low vitamin D levels in my breast milk, and I read some studies that seemed to indicate the 2000 IU/day I was taking at the time was probably not enough to maintain an adequate level of vitamin D for my baby. After looking at several studies I decided to start taking 6400 IU/day. Some of this comes from cod liver oil and the rest from vitamin D3 pills. It took a few weeks but I suddenly started dropping weight. I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last 6 weeks. I’ve made no other changes. I wondered if you know of the possible mechanism for this or if you’ve seen this in your practice. Thanks for your time.
    Thanks for the informative comment. There is a little evidence in the medical literature that vitamin D helps with the weight loss process, but nothing really conclusive. It certainly seems to have helped a lot with yours. I’m sure this comment will inspire a few others to give it a try.

  31. My Dr. after doing blood tests found I had practically no Vitamin D. This was discovered while testing for an adrenal gland that was no longer producing. He recommended 5000 IU–which I have now been taking for a week. I take it at night with Oscal 500 with D. The first night I took it I slept all night like a baby (I have had problems not getting to sleep, but staying asleep). It has been like this every night since I started taking D3 with the calcium. I also have had diarhea with practically everything I eat for 4 years since I had my gallbladder out. Greasy food intake or spicy food is in and then immediately out. Since starting on the D3 I noticed my diarhea had stopped. The other thing I have noticed is pain I have had has almost subsided. For many years to run my hands over bones in my legs, arms, etc. has almost gone away. Without adequate adrenal gland function I felt sometimes I was hanging on by my fingernails. I am calmer and more relaxed–almost like my old self (which was very laid back). I feel much better after reading your comments on taking D3 . I always thought it was toxic or could be because it is oil soluble. Should I have my blood tested at intervals to be sure I’m not getting to much or too little? I am 66 years old and active.
    Thank you,
    Lee Kennedy

  32. Dear Dr Eades,
    I live in NE Oregon.
    From what I have been able to deduce, if a person lives more than 45 degrees from the Equator during the winter, any tan they get from the sun, even at noon, in January, will not indicate they have gotten any Vitamin D for their efforts. Is this true?
    Does the tan come from just UVA exposure in winter at my latitude? Is this kind of tan all cost and no benefit?
    Thank you,
    David Waln
    The tan comes primarily from UVA, which doesn’t produce vitamin D. It’s tough to get enough at your latitude in the winter months. Here is a blog post you might find interesting.

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