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Vitamin D3 Supplementation: Useless or even Harmful?

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  • Vitamin D3 Supplementation: Useless or even Harmful?

    Although I trust the "consensus" among the paleo community that Vitamin D supplementation is critical - and myself and family members have been supplementing because of this - I've recently started to become a little dubious about the D3 supplements. My reasons for this odd feeling are:

    1) No discernable change in my body since I began supplementing
    2) The fact that D3 is, suddenly, being pushed by big pharma and the other usual suspects who advocate harmful things, and
    3) All of the non-paleo sources I've heard advocating Vitamin D3 actually go one step further and say that endogenous D3 (from the sun) is bad, and supplementation is the only way you can get good Vitamin D3 (this is in direct contrast to Dr. Michael Eades, who noted that endogenous Vitamin D is much healthier and has a larger half-life).

    Then, on this week's Robb Wolf podcast, a question referred to a Mercola article which straight-up said that Vitamin D3 supplementation is bad. I know that Mercola is prone to hyperbole, but overall I do trust him.

    Robb Wolf didn't have much of a reply, but he did note that, like many molecules, there are actually two versions of D3: mirrored "left/right" versions. I know that in amino acids, the left- or right orientation of the molecule is literally a deciding factor whether your body can use it for proteins or if it's waste. So could it be that the synthetic D3 we're consuming is the wrong mirrored version and, therefore, it's just waste (or even worse)?

    I believe this is of great importance because of how fervently Vitamin D3 is being advocated. I'm not quick to jump on the bandwagon, and yet even I was so convinced about it that I told everybody in my family to begin supplementing.

    So it would be fantastic to learn of a molecular analysis of the synthetic Vitamin D3 many of us buy and see whether it is indeed the proper shape for human consumption. Does anybody know of such an analysis? If one does not exist, it would be great to have a team of chemists do their thing.

    Here's the podcast. The discussion begins at roughly the 11:30 mark:

    Carbohydrate Requirement for Type 1 Diabetic Children - Episode 153

  • #2
    Obviously, it's not as good to get your D3 in supplemental form. However, many of us just can't get enough sun so we NEED to take it another way! I'm sure some D3 supplements are better than others, though. This seems just the way of it when it comes to supplements.

    If there are D/L problems with the vitamin D3 people get, I suppose one would assume it was about 50/50? (I have NO IDEA... I haven't read enough about it... so I don't even know what its molecular structure is ). So, from that theory, maybe 50% of the supplemental stuff is useful, and the rest isn't (harmful though?? who knows!).

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DavidBrennan View Post

      1) No discernable change in my body since I began supplementing
      2) The fact that D3 is, suddenly, being pushed by big pharma and the other usual suspects who advocate harmful things, and
      3) All of the non-paleo sources I've heard advocating Vitamin D3 actually go one step further and say that endogenous D3 (from the sun) is bad, and supplementation is the only way you can get good Vitamin D3 (this is in direct contrast to Dr. Michael Eades, who noted that endogenous Vitamin D is much healthier and has a larger half-life).
      1. how do you know there's been no change? you be having all kinds of change, like stronger bones, better immunity, etc. that aren't outwardly noticeable

      2. big pharma and the like don't set trends, they react to them.

      3. aren't these the same kinds of people who say you can't lower your cholesterol with diet and exercise alone?
      http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread60178.html

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      • #4
        Originally posted by primalrob View Post
        1. how do you know there's been no change? you be having all kinds of change, like stronger bones, better immunity, etc. that aren't outwardly noticeable

        2. big pharma and the like don't set trends, they react to them.

        3. aren't these the same kinds of people who say you can't lower your cholesterol with diet and exercise alone?
        1. Using my five senses is a major way I figure out whether something is good or bad. When I eat beef, veggies, and fish, in lieu of grains and pop, I feel better. Vitamin D3 supplementation has not made me feel better.

        2. I disagree. If marketers couldn't set trends, pharmaceutical companies wouldn't advertise to set them, because then that would be wasting their capital. Energy drink companies wouldn't pay athletes and movie stars hundreds of thousands of dollars to tweet their drinks. Basically, the whole point of marketing and advertising is to set trends.

        3. I've never worried about cholesterol, so I've never read up on it. But I think you were attempting to be funny and, in a "glib" way, is that the people who were making the claim I posted are not to be trusted. I agree. But the claim they were making was that you need Vitamin D3 supplementation because Vitamin D from the sun is bad.

        The larger point that I think I was making - and I got confused trying to extract anything useful from your reply - was that I don't trust the government, big pharma, big agra, or any of the other usual players in the S.A.D. And yet all of these people are now pushing Vitamin D supplementation. To me, these malevolent parties advocating it are a cause for me to think D3 might be harmful, not helpful.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Iron Fireling View Post
          Obviously, it's not as good to get your D3 in supplemental form. However, many of us just can't get enough sun so we NEED to take it another way! I'm sure some D3 supplements are better than others, though. This seems just the way of it when it comes to supplements.

          If there are D/L problems with the vitamin D3 people get, I suppose one would assume it was about 50/50? (I have NO IDEA... I haven't read enough about it... so I don't even know what its molecular structure is ). So, from that theory, maybe 50% of the supplemental stuff is useful, and the rest isn't (harmful though?? who knows!).
          What are "D/L problems"? Does this describe the mirrored versions of the molecules that I mentioned (via Robb Wolf?)

          But, considering how many and how forceful the statements about the benefits of D3 supplementation are, I think it would be great to get some real, down-and-dirty chemical experiments and/or clinical trials regarding the supplement, and any of the variants. I don't have the resources (or, honestly, the brains) to do any such analysis myself. But hopefully somebody can (or can refer us to any work already done).

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          • #6
            (Here's something kind of interesting: I just went to research this and, admittedly, I just went to Wikipedia. I just think of it is a starting point, but I do not let myself use it as a definitive or final source, because I've seen so many lies there, and all the sources are mainstream media. Anyway!....so how is synthetic Vitamin D3 actually made? Well, they take a wax from sheep and just expose that to the sun, or at least UV light. And then Vitamin D3 is naturally synthesized in that organic wax. Here's a link to where I read that.)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DavidBrennan View Post
              So it would be fantastic to learn of a molecular analysis of the synthetic Vitamin D3 many of us buy and see whether it is indeed the proper shape for human consumption. Does anybody know of such an analysis? If one does not exist, it would be great to have a team of chemists do their thing.
              Enter the chemist - you're talking about different types of stereoisomers, which definitely come into play with the biochemistry of a lot of molecules (thalidomide is a great example, the horrible birth defects were the doing of one of the enantiomers. In this particular example, though, the body converts the harmless enantiomer into the harmful one. But that isn't always the case.) I did some searching on Vitamin D and the only commercially available isomers are the E and Z forms. The Z is the most common, there are only a handful of suppliers for the E. So in this case, the supplements that you're taking are the Z form, which is the one you want.
              Last edited by faithy22; 10-12-2012, 08:17 AM.

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              • #8
                David,

                without knowing your Vitamin D levels, you dont know how much to take. You are shooting in the dark.

                if you have a level above 80 then you probably wont notice..
                if you have a level under 80... you probably wont notice especially if you are following anyone's recommendation.

                Vitamin D is a stored hormone that the body uses for many many things.
                Optimum Health powered by Actualized Self-Knowledge.

                Predator not Prey
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by faithy22 View Post
                  Enter the chemist - you're talking about different types of stereoisomers, which definitely come into play with the biochemistry of a lot of molecules (thalidomide is a great example, the horrible birth defects were the doing of one of the enantiomers. In this particular example, though, the body converts the harmless enantiomer into the harmful one. But that isn't always the case.) I did some searching on Vitamin D and the only commercially available isomers are the E and Z forms. The Z is the most common, there are only a handful of suppliers for the E. So in this case, the supplements that you're taking are the Z form, which is the one you want.
                  Thanks for the research. I will accept this (but be open to any counter evidence that might come along). Just to be clear, you're saying that the less ideal "E" form of Vitamin D is not as good nor as common as the Z form....but it's also not harmful to the body, is it? If you're one of the unlucky few who gets it, are there any bad aspects of it?

                  (And I'll definitely be adding the word, "stereoisomers" to my vocabulary. I can't wait to find a conversation I can inject that into to show that I'm smart!)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by quelsen View Post
                    David,

                    without knowing your Vitamin D levels, you dont know how much to take. You are shooting in the dark.

                    if you have a level above 80 then you probably wont notice..
                    if you have a level under 80... you probably wont notice especially if you are following anyone's recommendation.

                    Vitamin D is a stored hormone that the body uses for many many things.
                    Yeah, I guess it's always ideal to have your bloodwork done so that you have specifics to work off of. However, I don't have health insurance, and so I just have to do my best to guess about things, and base decisions on how I feel. It's imprecise and imperfect, obviously, but I work with what I can. (But Robb Wolf and many others have all said that most people, save for those who work outdoors, are Vitamin D deficient nowadays.)

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                    • #11
                      https://vitamindcouncil.zrtlab.com/
                      Here's a home test, costs $65.00.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ferti View Post
                        https://vitamindcouncil.zrtlab.com/
                        Here's a home test, costs $65.00.
                        Thanks for the link, but I cannot afford $65 for a disposable test which can be used only once. (Honestly, the way my finances are at this stage, I couldn't afford $65 for a test which worked forever, but having it be useful only once makes it a total non-starter.)

                        I hope that some others might be able to consider purchasing this (or other) tests, though.

                        (And I'd still like to know whether that alternative, "E" form of Vitamin D3 is harmful or merely not as good as the "Z" form. I'll look into it online if nobody else knows.)
                        Last edited by DavidBrennan; 10-12-2012, 07:13 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DavidBrennan View Post
                          I cannot afford $65 for a disposable test which can be used only once. (Honestly, the way my finances are at this stage, I couldn't afford $65 for a test which worked forever
                          Get out into some sunlight then. At present I don't think any government has found a way to tax it in that form.
                          Why use a sledge hammer to crack a nut when a steam roller is even more effective, and, is fun to drive.

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                          • #14
                            i live in new england and work indoors. i have been tested and was found low, even after supplementing at 5000 ius per day for 3 months prior to the test. 3 months more of taking 10,000 ius per day and i am still low. improved, but not yet within a safe range.

                            imho, gov't recs are way too low for most people, most of whom are deficient. then again, i've pretty much stopped paying any attention to gov't rec's for health and wellness.

                            the addition of supplemental d coincides with other more primal fine-tuning of my diet and i do feel much MUCH better than i did last year at this time. is it strictly from the d? probably not, but it's been a piece of the solution so i see no reason to dismiss it.
                            As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

                            Ernest Hemingway

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Nigel View Post
                              Get out into some sunlight then. At present I don't think any government has found a way to tax it in that form.
                              I think after Octoberish I can no longer obtain vitamin d from the sun because of it's angle. Michigan would be worse than me.
                              There's a nice website on vitamin D Vitamin D Council > Information on Vitamin D, Vitamin D Deficiency and Vitamin D Toxicity

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