March 23, 2017

Director's Letter 
Carole Baggerly 
Director, GrassrootsHealth 

This week I am in South Carolina, meeting with various organizations about our Protect our Children NOW! project at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Even more exciting is that today, March 23rd, doctors and researchers from MUSC are putting on a free conference for the medical community about how vitamin D sufficiency, specifically getting above 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L), affects many aspects of pregnancy ( view agenda) culminating with a presentation of what happened at MUSC and how to replicate it in their hospitals. We will have a summary in next week's news, but you can imagine the excitement today as doctors talk to doctors about how effective this new standard of care is at MUSC.

I can feel the wave building, and soon many more organizations will recognize the impact and take the leap to change their standard of care - to treat mothers and in turn their babies... to give a better start to these children's lives... to protect our future children.

After this conference at MUSC I am flying on to Florida to participate in this year's Vitamin D Workshop. You can read more about the conference below, but it is one of the preeminent conferences for vitamin D research. I remember my first vitamin D conference, in Brugge, Belgium in 2009. It was there that I met many of the research members of our panel for the first time.

We will have a poster presentation on the findings of our Protect our Children NOW! project at MUSC during the Vitamin D Workshop. Our take home message for all attendees is that raising vitamin D levels above 40 ng/ml provides substantial reduction in preterm birth for a large, diverse population.

Carole Baggerly 
Director, GrassrootsHealth 
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization 
Moving Research into Practice NOW!
History of the Vitamin D Workshop

The 20th Vitamin D Workshop will be held March 28 through 31 in Orlando, FL, with a pre-workshop event, Vitamin D in the Prevention of Health Disparities During Pregnancy and Early Infancy, held at MUSC in Charleston, SC on March 23. The workshop will have about 40 oral presentations and around 125 poster presentations. 

For most of its history the workshop was held every three years, beginning with the first meeting in 1973. With the increase in vitamin D research in the past decade, the workshop changed to an annual meeting in 2012. The attendance at the workshop has also expanded from about 60 vitamin D basic researchers and nephrologists to over 200 international scientists in the fields of biochemistry, endocrinology, epidemiology, clinical health, and public health.

GrassrootsHealth has been attending the Vitamin D Workshop since the 2009 meeting in Brugge, Belgium where we first heard Dr. Bruce Hollis present the results of his trial determining the safety of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy. We also heard from Drs. Robert Heaney and Reinhold Vieth with presentations on optimal health requiring 25(OH)D levels ≥ 40 ng/ml.

At the workshop in Houston in 2012, GrassrootsHealth presented two posters, High Vitamin D Status is Associated with Reduced Insulin Resistance and Blood Pressure, and our first poster introducing Protect Our Children NOW!. We have had a poster presentation in every Vitamin D Workshop since and will have our latest update on Protect Our Children NOW! at this coming workshop with results from our field trial of vitamin D screening and supplementation at the Medical University of South Carolina.

2016 Discussion of Vitamin D and Cancer

The workshop presentations tend to be focused on the biology and biochemistry of vitamin D, but there is always some aspect of clinical application and discussion of trends in vitamin D research. This year we are looking forward to a scheduled debate on whether or not RCTs are the only appropriate way to demonstrate the role of vitamin D in health.

The proceedings of each Vitamin D Workshop are published in a special edition of the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and can be ordered online here.

View complete agenda to conference here.

Paper of the Week: Can More Vitamin D Help Bone Strength in the Elderly

This paper is research behind a talk given at the 2014 Vitamin D Workshop. Below is the summary from Highlights from the 17th Workshop on Vitamin D, Chicago, IL, June 17-21, 2014 written by JoEllen Welsh et al. (view paper)

"Dr. Eric Orwoll (Oregon Health and Science University, USA) reported on the Male Osteoporosis study, a large prospective observational cohort study examining vitamin D status in relation to multiple end points including bone mineral density, skeletal fractures, cardiovascular disease and cancer. A unique aspect of this study is the analysis of vitamin D-binding protein (DBP) and calculation of free 25(OH)D3 levels in relation to health outcomes."

Femoral Volumetric Bone Density, Geometry and Strength in Relation to 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D in Older Men
Elizabeth Martin et al.
Oregon Health & Science University, School of Medicine
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research
March 2015
Read Paper

This study recruited 5994 healthy men between March 2000 and April 2002 from six different academic centers across the US. To be eligible the men had to be age 65 or older, able to walk without assistance, and have their original hips.

Baseline measurements were taken on each participant including a blood sample, answers to health questions, their medical history, skeletal analysis by a doctor, and a physical activity number was assigned to each person.

From a random selection of 1608 men, a blood sample was analyzed for vitamin D levels (25(OH)D). PTH was also analyzed for 1593 of those men. QTC scans were obtained for 3786 men to determine volumetric bone mineral density.

For final analysis, 888 participants had a complete set of vitamin D levels, PTH levels, and a bone mineral density measurement of the femoral neck. They found that 25(OH)D concentrations were positively associated with volumetric bone mineral density and contributes positively to bone strength by affecting both the structure and density of the skeleton.

Read Paper
Editor's Letter
Susan Siljander
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth

Looking over the agenda for this year, I would want to attend the opening keynote - A year in Vitamin D - to hear them discuss the latest research and hopefully the latest public health initiatives (but they will probably stick to research at this conference).

On day two Dr. N. van Schoor is presenting results of the D-Vitaal study, a one-year RCT in the Netherlands testing a daily supplement (1200 IU vitamin D/day) in older adults (60-80 years old) and analyzing whether vitamin D reduces depressive symptoms and improves physical functioning.

I would also like to watch the debate over whether RCTs are the only way to demonstrate the role of vitamin D in health. Here at GrassrootsHealth we certainly don't believe that - our nutrient field trials show that vitamin D levels of 40-60 ng/ml are not only safe, but effective in preventing disease. If you participate by testing your blood levels at home - you are helping contribute to this research. Thank you!

I hope they have a great conference, and we will report on it through both Facebook and this newsletter.

Have a great week!

Susan Siljander
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization
Moving Research Into Practice NOW!

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The 20th Workshop on Vitamin D

Orlando, FL
March 28-31, 2017

F emoral Volumetric Bone Density, Geometry and Strength in Relation to 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D in Older Men
Elizabeth Martin et al.
Oregon Health & Science University, School of Medicine
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research
March 2015

Vitamin D supplementation to prevent depression and poor physical function in older adults: Study protocol of the D-Vitaal study, a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial
Elisa J. de Koning et al.
VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands
BMC Geriatrics
November 2015

Highlights from the 17th Workshop on Vitamin D, Chicago, IL, June 17-21, 2014
JoEllen Walsh et al.
University at Albany Cancer Research Center
The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
January 2015

Parathyroid Glands and Vitamin D
Vitamin D Council
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