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History of Dr. Cannell and Vitamin D Council - Podcast with transcript - Dec 2014

Vitamin D Podcast 04: History of Dr. John Cannell and Vitamin D Council regular speed

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Podcast with clean up by Will Hunter


WILL HUNTER: Welcome back everyone to another episode of the vitamin D podcast. Today we have a very special episode for you. I’m going to be sitting down with Doctor John Cannell, the founder and Executive Director the Council. We’re going to be talking a little about his past, how he started the vitamin D Council, the early years of the Council 's, and his recent focus on autism and child abuse, and how they relate to vitamin D deficiency. Dr. Cannell has had a very interesting and unique past. After graduating in nineteen seventy six with his medical degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, he went on to become an emergency room physician, and then a general practitioner and finally, a psychiatrist. Hew was one of the first physicians to take a stand against smoking in the early eighties. He actually turned away any new patients that were smokers, except if they need emergency care. Eventually the New York Times picked up on it and Doctor Cannell drew both praise and criticism from all over the country. We begin this episode talking about his antismoking campaign and get into a few other movements he was a part of. So John, welcome to the podcast.

Dr. CANNELL: Thanks for having me.

WILL HUNTER: So yeah, tell us about this anti- smoking campaign. I imagine you got a lot of criticism for it.

DR. CANNELL:Well when I moved to West Virginia in nineteen ninety two I noticed that all the coal miners smoked cigarettes and started a big campaign. I hired teenagers in the summer, I put advertisements on TV and told all my patients to stop smoking and got quite a bit of press. It was written up in the New York Times. At one time I refused to take any new patients who smoked, which I wouldn't do now, but I did back then. But what I realized is that the coal miners West Virginia have to smoke. because they have to smoke to get their Black Lung disability. There is no form of retirement when I was there. There's no form of retirement for coal miners, so they all depend on Black Lung disability for their retirement funds and it used to be there was silica and coal anthracite and in coal mines and around the seventies, the federal government got all the silica or. most of the silica out of the coal mines and all was left was the antracite, the coal dust. Well, silica causes collagenase pneumoconiosis, an inflammatory reaction in the lungs, so if you inhale enough silica, your lungs will destroy themselves and that’s what black lung was basically based on, was silicosis, and the x-ray appearance of it is very dramatic. It looks like advanced tuberculosis, but when they got the silica out of the mines all that was left was anthracite and anthracite causes non-collagenase pneumoconiosis, that is your body doesn't react to it. It’ll build up in the lungs of the miners who have it and you can see it on x-ray, the coal dust. It doesn't really affect their breathing very much unless they smoke cigarettes. Ff you if you smoke cigarettes for twenty years it impairs your pulmonary function. So if you have coal dust in your lungs and you smoke for twenty years, you can get your retirement.

WILL HUNTER: Oh, so people were actually smoking to get their retirement. .

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, and if you work in the mines for twenty years and don’t smoke, you won't get any retirement. and the system was just corrupt. The doctors knew this. The lawyers knew this. And they all made a lot of money on these black lung examinations, on the medical and the legal black lung examination. . So I stopped my antismoking campaign. I didn't feel I could tell somebody to stop smoking if they were smoking in order to get their retirement.

WILL HUNTER: Wow, OK, was this happening just in West Virginia?

JOHN CANNELL: It was happening all through the Appalachian coal fields. It was a federal program wild.

WILL HUNTER: So how long do you keep up that policy?

JOHN CANNELL: For a couple years before I realized what was happening.

WILL HUNTER: But it did have an effect though? You got a lot of people to stop smoking?

JOHN CANNELL: I got a lot of non-minors to stop smoking. I ran adds on TV. But the miners all knew that they had to smoke to get their black lung.

WILL HUNTER: Interesting. So then you went on other endeavors. And your next foray was into the education system.

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, one day in West Virginia in nineteen eighty four,I read a newspaper article, a front-page article, that said that all fifty five counties in West Virginia were above the national average on their standardized achievement test in elementary school. And at first, I was happy and then thought about it and I said to myself, “If West Virginia is above average, what state is below average?” So I had my nurse and my lab technician and my x-ray technician in between patients call all fifty states and the states were defensive when we asked for their test scores. So what I had my staff say was: “ We’re thinking of moving to Mississippi. Can you send us a brochure about the public schools in Mississippi?. ” So when they used that approach they got these glossy brochures about how good the schools were in Mississippi and Louisiana and Arkansas and Tennessee and South Carolina and Georgia, etc. all the poor states that you think would be might be below average because I figured that half the states were above average, and have the states were below average. So what I discovered was that all fifty states were claiming they were above the national average on this test. .

WILL HUNTER: But that’s just not possible.

JOHN CANNELL: Right, it’s not possible. The US Secretary of Education William Bennett called a special meeting at the US Department education about this issue and he got people in the testing industry and people from the College Board and the ACT and everybody knew what was going on. There was basically widespread cheating on these tests that allowed all the states to be above average. The teachers were cheating, the principles were cheating, the superintendents were cheating, the test score preparation material turned out to be nothing but a crib sheet for the test the kids took. So if you took the test preparation materials for three days you will have been drilled on the actual test, so you would do well on the test. The College Board, the SAT or ACT, they don't compare all the kids that took it that year. They compare it the norm group that they obtained in previous years. that allowed all fifty states to claim they were above the national average because what they were actually doing is they were above the norm that was taken four or five years speak previously. And those are called norm-referenced achievements, but none of the brochures from the states explained that. They just said we’re above the national average. So that I was picked up by the New York Times on the front page, and the Washington Post on he front page, and there were literally hundreds of news stories about what was called the Lake Wobegon effect, where all the kids are above average. And it culminated with a Sixty Minutes segment on my work and my books that I published about the Lake Wobegon Effect and the cheating on the test scores. I naïvely thought that the Sixty Minutes segment would solve the problem. You know, when Sixty Minutes goes in and exposes fraud there is usually some investigation and some you know, some outcome that is favorable, but after the Sixty Minutes segment about the widespread cheating by public educators and test score manufacturers, nothing happened. It was just this deafening silence and all of the teachers and all the principles and all the superintendents and all the test score companies and all the politicians continued to do exactly what they'd been doing for years and years and that was telling everybody that their state was above the national average. Nothing changed.

WILL HUNTER: Why do you think that was?

JOHN CANNELL: because nobody had anything to gain by changing it. The teachers wanted their class above average. The principles wanted their schools is of average. The superintendents wanted their districts above average, the state superintendents wanted their state above average. The governors wanted their state above average. The senators wanted their state above average. Everybody wanted their state above average.

WILL HUNTER: Wow, so is this type of cheating still going on today then?

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, it is still going on today. Now, in two thousand and one, President Bush made it worse with the piece of legislation called the No Child Left Behind act, where he dramatically increased the amount of testing, what’s called high-stakes testing, the importance of the testing. He used these fraudulent tests to award money to teachers and to make schools either passing or failing based upon their grades, so the effect of No Child Left Behind was the widespread cheating that was occurring got much worse. And there been scandals every week in the newspapers about teachers and principals and superintendents found cheating on these No Child Left Behind tests so yeah, so though the way it stands now, the only people that are hurt by the testing we have now in public schools are the children because the children are told they’re above average when in fact they’re below average. So parents in the third grade will get a report card on the scores and will relax because their child is above the national average. But if they got the truth that their child was below the national average, they would scream bloody murder for the education system to do a better job. But they don't get those reports. They get reports showing the kids are above the national average and the schools are improving every year.

WILL HUNTER: So you started the nonprofit Friends for Education because of this. Is that still going on today?

JOHN CANNELL: Well, after the Sixty Minutes segment failed to change anything I realized there was nothing I could do to reform the public schools in the United States.

WILL HUNTER: So you just had to give up.

JOHN CANNELL: I gave up.

WILL HUNTER: That’s kind of sad.

JOHN CANNELL: Yeah it is sad. I was sad for quite a while.

WILL HUNTER: Okay, so you moved to San Luis in nineteen ninety six?

JOHN CANNELL: Yeah, I moved to San Luis and then I was looking around for something to do, and I always had an interest in nutrition and I started just researching vitamins and nutrients and supplements to see whether, what I was looking for was any major mistakes that were made in the recommended daily allowance for vitamins and supplements. So I researched all of them and look for evidence of major mistakes being made. And at a first I did about a year on fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, but concluded that the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids were probably minimal at best from the scientific literature, but then I stumbled upon vitamin D and I at that time the recommendation was 200 IU a day. But I stumbled across his fact that changed my life and the fact was that if you go out in the summer sunshine in your bathing suit. you make a 1000 IU of vitamin D a minute by sunbathing. So our ancestors were all sunbathing for a million years while we were evolving in equatorial , Africa. We didn’t have any clothes on. and we were out hunting for food and foraging for food, so we were in effect sunbathing. So the natural state of humans is to get thousands of units of vitamin D a day from the sunshine, but the government was saying all these indoor workers only needed two hundred units a day and they would be fine. So I found what I was looking for, this huge discrepancy in what the natural course of events are compared to what the government 's recommendations are.

WILL HUNTER: Okay, so were there any other nutrients, or was that the main one that you saw.

JOHN CANNELL: No, that was the main one that I saw. I didn't see any other major errors in any other nutrients, maybe with the exception of the dose of vitamin C, but that's controversial. . It was obvious. And then I realized vitamin D is not a vitamin. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone precursor that is made in the skin upon exposure to sunlight. And that the activated vitamin D controls about five percent of the genes that are active in the human genome. And like any steroid hormone, they work by turning genes on and off, so activated vitamin D actually goes right to the chromosome, right to the DNA, and it signals a DNA to start making a protein or enzyme or vitamin or something.

WILL HUNTER: So this is interfacing directly with your genetics.

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, it’s interfacing directly. It has a profound, dramatic mechanism of action. It turns your genes on and off. The stuff of life. So that's how it worked. In fact, of all that steroid hormones, vitamin D is the only one that requires human behavior to get adequate amounts. If you get pregnant, your progesterone levels will go up no matter what you do. If you're a young male, your testosterone levels will be high. no matter what you do. You don’t have to go in the sun. You have to eat anything. Your testosterone levels will be high because your body makes testosterone de novo, it doesn't need any building blocks. And the same with progesterone. The same with estradiol. They are all made de novo, but there is one steroid hormone, activated vitamin D, that requires a building block to work and that building block is vitamin D.

JOHN CANNELL: I’m guessing you looked at a lot of research after that?

JOHN CANNELL: I read thousands, thousands of power. The one that really influenced me the most was a nineteen ninety nine paper by Professor Reinhold Vieth, about vitamin D dose toxicity, in which he systematically debunked the idea that we only need two hundred or four hundred units of vitamin D a day and that he also systematically debunked the idea that five thousand or ten thousand units a day would be toxic. It was a very influential paper in my development.

WILL HUNTER: Yeah, I’d imagine. So, was that kind of your “Aha!” moment?

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, that was my “Aha!” moment. When I read Vieth’s paper, that was my “Aha!” moment.

WILL HUNTER: Okay, so that you knew you had to do something after that.

JOHN CANNELL: Yeah I knew that there was widespread vitamin D deficiency that the government was promulgating it by their advice and that people needed, doctors and patients, needed to be educated about vitamin D and particularly about the latest research in vitamin D. So I started a website and I started an organization. I mistakenly first started the organization as the Cholecalciferol Council.

WILL HUNTER: What is cholecalciferol?

JOHN CANNELL: Cholecalciferol is vitamin D3. And I love the alliteration of the Cholecalciferol Council. The problem was that nobody knew how to spell it, so I had to change the name to the Vitamin D Council. And it started in the bedroom of my house and I started writing newsletters, and then I started getting followers from the website who would sign up for my newsletter and developed an e-mail list of about 30,000 people, and I would write a newsletter every month or so about vitamin D. I didn't do much on the website because I didn't have any website designers or managers or anything like that.

WILL HUNTER: So point it was just you working on this?

JOHN CANNELL: Yeah, it was just me working on this on my home computer.

WILL HUNTER: How did you have time to do this and your practice? You were still practicing at this point, right?

JOHN CANNELL: I practiced during the day and researched vitamin D during the evening.

WILL HUNTER: That’s crazy. So you had no time to have fun?

JOHN CANNEL: Well, I had some fun with my children on the weekends.

WILL HUNTER: Okay, so those were the early years of the Council. Did someone join you pretty soon after that?

JOHN CANNELL: The first employee I got was, I think in 2010,was Brant Cebulla, and Brant immediately started working on the website to modernize the website and to make it more accessible and to get more information on the website and to build the subscriber base to our website and to blogs to put out blogs, news articles for fundraising, etc. and so he furthered the Vitamin D Council to the next step. The next step is where we are now with three employees and numerous projects about vitamin D and almost three half-million unique users to our website every year, and significant coverage in the press about vitamin D and significant awareness of the press about the importance of vitamin D, and I feel vitamin D is the next big vitamin, and like vitamin C was, and vitamin E was, I believe vitamin D will be the next big vitamin. , It hasn’t reached there yet, but it’s on its way.

WILL HUNTER: So you still think that more people are going to learn about it?

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, I think we are in the middle of the vitamin D revolution. In the last year, papers have been published that show that in the last ten years, doctors have ordered twenty times more vitamin D test then they did ten years ago.

WILL HUNTER: That’s big.

JOHN CANNELL: Something like twenty times more Americans are taking a vitamin D supplement than they did ten years ago. But the mass of people don't know about vitamin D. The mass of people think sunshine is their enemy and they need to avoid it at all costs and we’re trying to educate people about that.

WILL HUNTER: Yeah, we still have a ways to go

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, we’re still on the growth curve.

WILL HUNTER: And there’s also a lot of powerful opponents to us, you could say.

JOHN CANNELL: Yeah, yeah, there are skeptics. I wouldn’t call them opponents. They’re skeptics. So the gold standard for the effectiveness of taking a vitamin D pill is randomized controlled trials that they are currently underway in a large group of different patients with different diseases to see if vitamin D supplementation in fact helps.

WILL HUNTER: Okay so for our listeners, what are the name of these trials?

JOHN CANNELL: The big one is, the one Americans need to be aware of is the VITAL study at Harvard. They have taken twenty thousand Americans and given half of them vitamin D and half of them, a sugar pill, and are following them for five years to see what happens. Who dies, who gets cancer, who gets heart disease, etc.

WILL HUNTER: And when will that be completed?

JOHN CANNELL: I think the results will be out in late 2017 or 2018.

WILL HUNTER: Okay, so everyone mark your calendars. Where do see the future of the Vitamin D Council?

JOHN CANNELL: The vitamin D Council of right now we have three good employees who do excellent work and we have different programs that were instituting. We’re starting to make available thec heapest in-home vitamin D blood test on the market and its that the test is going to the done by probably the most reputable vitamin D blood testing lab in the country and so we're excited about that project rolling out. We’re excited about the project in which we supply vitamin D blood tests for free for indigent people who couldn't afford it otherwise. We’re translating our website into different languages. We’re putting forward other educational programs and cooperative programs with other nonprofits but it will grow for the next five years. It will grow.

WILL HUNTER: So real quick, do you want to talk about your work with autism?

JOHN CANNELL: Yeah, about four years ago, I had a mother who had a child with autism who called up andasked if vitamin D might help their child autism. And I had been thinking a lot about the autism epidemic. Some people say this autism epidemic is a phony epidemic, that what happened was that these cases of autism are simply missed in the sixties and seventies that the doctors and pediatricians, some teachers and the parents didn't recognize that the childhood autism.

WILL HUNTER: So it’s a matter of diagnosis.

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, diagnosis. The problem with that, if you have ever been around autistic children, the diagnosis is obvious. Something is different about this child. It’s not as subtle diagnosis. So the whole idea that it's the just pattern diagnosis is in my mind ludicrous. When I was in medical school, I was called by my professor to see an unusual child. I examined the child, and I told the professor I thought he had childhood schizophrenia and the professor told me, this was in the seventies, he said you just missed the only case you'll probably ever see of this disorder. This child has autism and it's so rare that you might not ever see another case in your career. That’s was told in medical school in the seventies. And of course since then there's been this explosion in the prevalence of autism and almost everybody knows somebody who has a child with autism. And anyway this parent wanted to know if vitamin D helps and I said let’s try it and see. I gave the child vitamin D and he seemed to improve so I started doing that to more children and I started our free clinic here at the Vitamin D Council. One of the projects we did here, we would do online state evaluations of the parents and the child and give them the child rating scales for the severity of the autism. And then we would give them relatively high doses of vitamin D and then three months later, or six months later, we would check to see whether the severity of the autism was affected by the vitamin D and what we found is about one third of the children responded dramatically. There were some children whose autism seemed to disaper with vitamin D or dramatically improve. That was one third of the children.

WILL HUNTER: So what were some of the improvements you saw?

JOHN CANNELL: Well, the mothers said as long as he takes vitamin D he’s a pretty normal kid. That's one third, either that or dramatic improvements, but still with autism but dramatically improved. The other word had some improvements, but not major improvements. Then there were about a third of the kids who had no improvement at all, the vitamin D had no effect on the autism. That’s as promising a treatment that exists for autism. There’s no medicine or drug or supplement or anything that has been shown to affect the core symptoms of autism. And what I was seeing in the patients who responded was that the core symptoms of autism were improved.

WILL HUNTER: So what do you think are the mechanisms behind this?

JOHN CANNELL: Well, the mechanisms behind it are manyfold. Vitamin D increases the amount of what are called neurotropins in the brain, and neurotropins have to do with how the brain grows and develops. There is an anti- oxidant in the brain called the glutathione that is low in children with autism and vitamin D in randomized controlled trials has been shown to increase the amount of glutathione in children, so that's another potential mechanism. There are mechanisms that involve detoxification. There are mechanisms that involve other developmental pathways in the brain. There are mechanisms that involve other antioxidants other than glutathione, like superoxide dismutase and vitamin D is responsible for making either some or many or most, nobody knows, but at least some of the enzymes that repair DNA. Most people don't understand it, but your DNA is under constant attack from radiation, from the products of oxidation. Your body is actually on fire. You’re burning food, literally burning it and there are byproducts that that hurt your DNA. There’s pesticides and other things that hurt your DNA. So, your DNA is injured, but if the body has a way of repairing it quickly enough, it doesn't cause of a genetic defect. It doesn't cause of a permanent problem because the DNA enzymes repair it so quickly and vitamin D is involved in at least six of those repair enzymes. When I say involved, that means the gene that produces those proteins is a vitamin D-regulated gene. If you don't have enough vitamin D, that gene cannot make enough DNA-repairing enzymes.

WILL HUNTER: So are these genes only regulated by vitamin D?

JOHN CANNELL: No, but they have to have vitamin D to work. There are many regulatory mechanisms for these genes but one of the essential ones is vitamin D. So if you don’t have enough vitamin D, you cannot repair your DNA properly. And if DNA goes long enough not being repaired, it causes of mutation and then cells start growing abnormally and you don't want that because that is that is potentially the development of cancer. The main mechanism we have of fighting cancer is repairing DNA, and then our immune system. When cancer cells do develop our immune system as mechanisms for destroying the cancer cells so there are some people that think tiny cancers exist in everybody and that your immune system and destroying those cancer as they crop up.

WILL HUNTER: Wow, that’s interesting. So you recently wrote a book summarizing your clinical and research findings.

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, it will be out in April of 2015 making the case that that vitamin D will have a treatment effect in some children with autism.

WILL HUNTER: And what is the name of that book?

JOHN CANNELL: It’s called called Autism: Causes, Preventions and Treatment.

WILL HUNTER: And that will be out in April, you said?

JOHN CANNELL: Yes.

WILL HUNTER: Okay, cool. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

JOHN CANNELL: Well, recently some of us in the vitamin D community have recognized that a terrible injustice is occurring. And that’s infants between the ages of birth and seven months of age, they get a swelling in their leg, for example, and their parents take them to the emergency room and x-rays reveal the child has ten to fifteen fractures in their bones in her body. If that occurs, the parents are almost always charged with child abuse, that is the child abuse expert say that the parents have beaten this child severely enough to fracture, ten or fifteen bones. There are a number of us now who feel that some of these cases are in fact vitamin D-deficient rickets and that the parents are totally innocent, that they've been accused of a horrendous crime that they would never commit. They are bankrupt financially because of legal bills. The only way they can win their cases is to have a number of experts on their side, expert witnesses, and it's a tragedy. We estimate about fifteen hundred parents a year have their infant taken away from them because he has nothing more than vitamin D deficient rickets.

WILL HUNTER: Wow, that’s too high of a number.

JOHN CANNELL: Yes, yes, it is a terrible injustice and we’re facing transient community of child abuse experts who come into the court and say the child was abused, despite the fact that it was at parents who brought the child to the doctors in the emergency room. Repeatedly the parents wanted to know what's going on. Well, abusers would never do that. They’d keep the child away because they know what wrong: they beat them up. The children never have any bruises over the fracture sites and even though they have ten or fifteen fractures there is no bruises and we cannot understand how you can beat a three-month-old infant, severely enough to fracture ten bones and not leave a bruise. But these children have no bruises. Also the trauma literature shows that when an infant suffers a fractured rib, they almost always suffer internal injuries with a fractured rib. Blood on the lung or pulmonary contusion or a ruptured liver or a ruptured spleen, etc. These children that we see have no internal injuries. The other thing in these cases is the rib fractures are all perfectly aligned. With trauma, you see an angulated rib fracture. When the rib fractures break they fly apart. So with trauma you often see angulated rib fractures. In the children we see the rib fractures are perfectly aligned as if their bones are simply fragile and we see often see very low vitamin D levels in these children. We see high alkaline phosphatase levels of these children, but the real problem, as it turns out, is that the pediatric radiologist in this country are terrible at detecting rickets on x-ray. They think they're good. But they’re in fact terrible because there have been two studies of infants that have died for other reasons. Theydid bone biopsies of the infants and they found out that they had rickets and then they went back and looked at the x-rays while the infant was alive to see what the radiologist detected. Well, eighty five percent of the time the radiologist missed the rickets. While the radiologist said normal wrists, normal ulna, , while in fact the bone biopsy proved the child had rickets. So one of the real problems is pediatric radiologists see what they think is child abuse when it is in fact rickets and so that going to take a long time to fix that.

WILL HUNTER: Well, that’s incredible work that you’re doing, so thanks for that. Thanks for sitting down with us today. That was a fascinating story.

JOHN CANNELL: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me, Will.

WILL HUNTER: I hope everyone enjoyed that. Right now I’m sitting down my cohost Jeff Nicklas. So last week we asked our listeners to submit questions for the podcast and we selected three questions to answer right now. , so from J. Ashford, they asked: “What is the difference between 25 hydroxy- vitamin D and 1,25 dihydroxy-vitamin D?”

JEFF NICKLAS: So what J. is referring to here is, there’s a 25 hydroxy- vitamin D and a 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D, Basically the difference between the two is that 25 hydroxy vitamin D is your biologically inactive and circulating form of vitamin D. Whereas the 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D is the activated form of vitamin D. So to give some context here, the 25 hydroxy- vitamin D, if you get a blood test, that’s what the level is indicating. So if you have thirty five nanograms per mililiter, that's measuring your 25 (OH)D and the reason that is, like I said that it is the circulating form, so it's more readily available to be measured in your blood. In terms of the vitamin D metabolism, when your body takes the vitamin the vitamin D that you ingest through a supplement or through sun exposure, it is taken first to the liver. The liver converts it into 25 (OH)D, which then gets sent back out of the body and is sent to the kidneys where it is converted into activated vitamin D, but also incentive various other tissues and cells that researchers are continually finding can locally activate vitamin D. When that is activated, that is what the signal being transmitted. That’s what your body’s using in those cells, in those tissues and that kind of thing. 25 (OH) D is the final activated form of vitamin D.

WILL HUNTER: Awesome. So our next question is from Linda and she asked, “What foods have vitamin D in them?” So the foods, top foods that have the most vitamin D in them are going to be fatty fish, milk, eggs, beef liver, as well as some cheeses. To give you specific numbers, cod liver oil, one tablespoon has 1300 IUs. That’s roughly 40% of the daily value. Three ounces of salmon has 447 IU, which is 178% of the daily value. Milk, three ounces of milk, has a 124 IU. Now this is all vitamin D3 in these food sources. There is also vitamin D2 in some mushrooms. These include maitake, Portobello and shiitake. However, we recommend you try to vitamin D from the animal sources because vitamin D3 has been shown to be more potent in raising and maintaining your vitamin D levels.

JEFF NICKLAS: I think it is important to note too, as Will was saying, the 127% of the daily value and that’s based on the RDA set by Food and Nutrition Board and in those organizations. So that’s based on a recommended intake of around 600 IU for adults compared to, you know, we believe that adults should be taking around 5000 IUs a day. As you can see by comparing that how much food you need to ingest in order to reach that natural daily intake. It would be quite a lot of food and that’s why we recommend sun exposure and supplements as the predominant sources you should get your vitamin D from.

WILL HUNTER: Right, that’s a good point. So our final question is from Peter and he asked, “My question is if being in the sun the best way for your body to produce vitamin D, then should I use a tanning bed during the winter months to get my sun exposure?”

JEFF NICKLAS: Yeah, I think this a great question. It’s one we get quite often specifically regarding tanning beds and what people should be doing with tanning beds in terms of vitamin D production. So I first want to say, you know, Peter during the winter months is the tanning bed is an option. Also, supplements is another option. For tanning beds, if you do want to use a tanning bed to get the vitamin D we recommend treating it the same as if you were getting safe, sensible sun exposure. So the first things to consider with tanning beds is to make sure that it's a low-pressure traditional tanning bed. What that means is that it has the ultraviolet a radiation as opposed to ultraviolet B radiation. The ratio between those two is more like what sun exposure is like compared to a high pressure tanning bed, which is most likely just the ultraviolet A, because that is what induces the tanning. So you want to look for a low-pressure traditional tanning bed. The second most important thing you want to pay attention to when getting a tanning bed is treat it as if you are taking the same amount of time in there as if you're out in the sun. So you don’t need to go into a tanning bed and sit there for two hours. You only need ten to fifteen minutes of exposure in a tanning bed and that’s likely to get you a similar amount of vitamin D production as if you're in the sun.

WILL HUNTER: Alright, that’s great. We’re going to be continuing this feature in our future podcasts, so continue to think of good questions to ask us and we’ll look forward to answering them. That's all we have to for today. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. Have a great Thanksgiving and we’ll see you next time.

JEFF NICKLAS: Thanks for listening everyone.

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