The Top 18 Vitamin D Papers in 2015-2016
William B. Grant, PhD
Dr. William Grant cites 8,744 papers on vitamin D were published in the years 2015 and 2016. The papers cited in this article are based on their potential impact to medical and public health policies.
Sunlight and Vitamin D: Necessary for Public Health
, is cited as one of the key papers to report on not only the vitamin D benefits of sunlight, but other benefits as well. This paper is unique in that it is a peer-reviewed, published summary of a seminar we conducted in the fall of 2014. It was a 2 day seminar in San Diego, where attendees heard from 13 different presenters on the benefits of sunlight as it relates to a myriad of topics including cancer, diabetes, pregnancy, and overall public health costs. Every presentation was recorded and all are
available on our video page
from the seminar. Some of these have been turned into
free CME courses
. (Continuing Medical Education)
The key take-away in all the papers referenced by Grant in this section is that sensible sun exposure
(non-burning) IS good for your health - as noted by lower disease incidence in sunnier climates and higher death rates in winter.
Pregnancy and Lactation
GrassrootsHealth led the way, with a paper that took existing data and changed the analysis - from dosage group to achieved serum level. The serum level data came from the two RCTs done by Drs Bruce Hollis and Carol Wagner. We found that raising serum levels from 20 ng/ml to 40 ng/ml reduced the risk of preterm birth by 59%. We also compared the risk of preterm birth for those women who achieved a serum level of at least 40 ng/ml to the reference rate of preterm birth published by the March of Dimes for the same county and found a 46% lower risk overall. Since preterm birth can lead to many more conditions, it is a key predictor in the health of the child and in overall healthcare costs.
Another paper by Drs Hollis and Wagner - cited in our
- was also on the list. The conclusion of this paper was that 6,400 IU/day for lactating mothers provides adequate vitamin D for both herself and her baby. This RCT showed that giving mothers 6,400 IU/day not only allowed the mothers to be sufficient, but also the babies. The babies in this group had similar serum levels (with no supplementation) as the group of control babies on 400 IU/day vitamin D drops whose mothers also received 400 IU/day.
Mirzakhani et al. showed a drop in preeclampsia rates with a raise in serum level and De-Regil et al. did a meta-analysis of vitamin D and calcium which found that high dose vitamin D reduced preterm birth, but vitamin D with high doses of calcium did not.
Autism Spectrum Disease
One of the scientists from our panel
and the founder of Vitamin D Council, Dr. John Cannell, hypothesized in 2008 that there was a connection between vitamin D and autism. Two different papers are cited on children with autism who were given differing amounts of vitamin D based on weight of the child, with significant improvement of most autism scores (CARS).
Broken Bones in Infancy
We reported on this in our
about breastfeeding. There is a tendency for infants to come into the ER with unknown sickness - the parents are distressed. Over the course of diagnosis the infants are taken away from the parents because broken bones are found and child abuse is suspected. Three of our scientist panel members have helped to fight these cases in court - Drs John Cannell, Michael Holick and Carol Wagner. A paper published on this issue by Cannell and Holick highlighted that X-rays will miss a diagnosis of rickets 80% of the time, and doctors will miss the connection that the broken bones are a result of severe vitamin D deficiency, or rickets, which can be solved with sunlight and supplementation.
The second publication is by Dr. Joan Lappe, another GrassrootsHealth panel member, who conducted an RCT in which subjects were given either 2000 IU/day vitamin D and 1500 mg/day calcium, or placebo. Cancer incidence was decreased by one third in the treatment group. The preliminary results were presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in November 2016; the full paper from this RCT, including results analyzed by serum level, is expected to be published later this year. We will let you know as soon as this new paper is available!
Public Health Policy and Vitamin D
Three papers were mentioned in this area. One study from France noted that the public is
NOT aware of the benefits of vitamin D, nor does the public truly understand vitamin D.
Another problem is that studies keep popping up that report J-shaped or U-shaped curves - which leads researchers to surmise that there is a sweet pocket of benefit, but above certain levels vitamin D can do harm. Grant et al. tackled this notion in their paper, "
Do studies reporting U-shaped serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D-health outcome relationships reflect adverse effects?
" and found little evidence that 25(OH)D levels up to 100 ng/ml were a cause for harm. Part of the issue has been that the people in the studies were ill and had had vitamin D prescribed to them by their doctors and, thus, more likely to be ill to start with.
Another paper makes a case for more vitamin D fortification in the food supply, to try and get 400-800 IU/day through daily food intake.
Time is Short
If you only have time for a few papers, these are the ones to start with and share with your doctor. Below is the list of papers with links to all that are available online.