Carole Baggerly http://www.grassrootshealth.net/
Carole just finished a week-long visit with other international scientists at the Vitamin D Workshop, an annual meeting that focuses on the biology and health implications of Vitamin D. Here are some of her thoughts from the week.
Who attended the Vitamin D Workshop?
Most attendees were from Western Europe and were a very cautious group by and large. Many of the scientists were focused on biochemical research rather than public health action.
What were the hot topics at the Vitamin D Workshop?
Attention was paid to a recent resurgence of rickets caused by both vitamin D deficiency and calcium deficiency. In Africa, there was an example of groups having plenty of vitamin D, but a calcium deficient diet and in North America, it seems the main cause is vitamin D deficiency.
There was awareness that pregnant women are deficient and need supplementation. One approach seems to be the Hollis/Wagner approach of making sure women reach a serum level of at least 40 ng/ml to maximize the 1,25 (OH)2D, a level with demonstrated safety in their trial. Another approach is extremely cautious, worried about the risks/benefits of serum levels.
What 'lightbulbs' went off in your head during the week that will affect GrassrootsHealth going forward?
So much current research focuses on very low serum levels and the results are questionable. There was one pain study where the title indicated there was no reduction in pain with vitamin D. The maximum serum level they had was 24 ng/ml! Well below our recommended range of 40-60 ng/ml.
There are also a number of research studies that used very large bolus doses at monthly intervals, one was even yearly. Dosing frequency impacts the amount of circulating vitamin D3 needed for non-skeletal systems, therefore different dosing regimens can produce different results.
There is a significant difference in 'caution' with those who do the research at the lower levels.
The Cochrane reviews, which are very popular, have excluded all randomized clinical trials that have a placebo group other than zero (0) intake. This runs counter to the U.S. practice of ensuring the placebo group has the recommended 'standard of care'(e.g. 400 IU for pregnant mothers).
Institutional bodies such as the World Health Organization, are not yet ready to recommend doses or serum levels in the range suggested by our scientists' panel.
How will the workshop shape GrassrootsHealth's next steps?
We will continue to promote our online CMEs around the world, adding more sessions as quickly as possible.
We want to get more participation with public health action groups as well as our current scientific research groups.
We will find and promote key research groups that are affected by vitamin D in our region.
Vitamin D Workshop 2016 will be in Boston. What do you hope will be different?
This workshop should include a larger group of scientists from the U.S. and include research results based on different dosing regimens. I hope to have specific attention paid to dosing frequency, not just 'standard' dose amounts (partly due to our research efforts). We will be presenting new information on our Protect our Children NOW! project, AND, more information on our cancer analysis.
What presentations would you like to highlight?
Dr. Vin Tangpritcha presented a report on treatment with vitamin D for cystic fibrosis patients who had recently been hospitalized. It showed a 50% reduction in the number of deaths in the following year. This was a small study (30 patients), but very significant. This and other studies continue to raise an interesting question about regimens for disease treatment vs. disease prevention. Watch GrassrootsHealth video with Dr. Tangpritcha June 2013, 32 minutes
Dr. Bruce Hollis led the pregnancy section, highlighting their research showing that daily dosing vs. other dosing regimens did indeed affect outcomes. Watch GrassrootsHealth video with Dr. Hollis Aug 2014 39 minutes
Dr. John White presented his ongoing work with tuberculosis and the innate immune system. He reported finding an effect of UV independently from vitamin D that he will be exploring more in the year to come. Watch video of Dr. White May 2012, 4 minutes