Is vitamin D the new miracle drug?

First of all, vitamin D isn’t a drug. It is a vitamin, and one that most people through history have metabolized from sun exposure.

Our bodies absorb UV rays and turn it into vitamin D. And recent research all over the world is discovering how many roles vitamin D plays in preventing illness and disease.

The problem is, most people don’t get nearly enough.

Vitamin D is metabolized by the body from the UV rays of sunshine. We get almost none from food.

The challenge is that we live in Canada. For six to eight months, our bodies get no UV rays at all, in part because we are bundled up from head to toe, and in part because the angle of the sun doesn’t deliver those UV rays.

Even in the summer, most people block UV rays with sunscreen – a sensible precaution, but it also prevents vitamin D metabolism.

More: larger people need more vitamin D because it is fat-soluble; older people don’t efficiently make vitamin D from the sun; and people with dark skin screen out the UV rays more effectively.

Fortunately, vitamin D is very inexpensive, so taking some each day is a good idea. Just about every reputable health agency – including Health Canada – recommends that most people take a vitamin D supplement.

How Much
Vitamin D?

That question hasn’t been definitely answered yet. But we urge you to consider this: there is no downside to taking vitamin D up to reasonable limits.

You can take a significant quantity of vitamin D before you run the risk of having any side effects.

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There is no downside to taking 
vitamin D to a reasonable limit

Health Canada says you can take up to 4,000 IU (International Units) per day without any risk at all. In fact, most people get more than twice as much sitting in the summertime sun for half an hour.

Source: Health Canada

Health Canada says you can take up to 4,000 IU (International Units) per day without any risk at all. In fact, most people get more than twice as much sitting in the summertime sun for half an hour.

Many researchers recommend much higher doses, such as 10,000 IU per day, or “boosters” of even higher amounts. At Pure North, we recommend you take higher doses with supervision from a health care professional.

But again, research has found no ill side effects up to a very high limit of vitamin D – a limit you would likely never reach without professional intervention. And because vitamin D is very inexpensive and can be purchased at the grocery store, warehouse store like Costco, or your local pharmacy, it is easily accessible and won’t be a strain on your finances.

Blood levels of
vitamin D

The most important measurement of vitamin D is not how much you take, but how much is in your blood.

People process vitamin D differently. Larger people need more because vitamin D is fat soluble. As you age, you need more because the body processes sunlight less efficiently. People with darker skin need more because their skin deflects the sun.

At Pure North, we measure the vitamin D in your blood. This is a test that Alberta Health Services no longer provides, so you can’t get it from your regular doctor unless you have certain illnesses.

But at Pure North, we consider this test to be essential. It tells us not how much vitamin D you are taking, but how much is in your blood. That lets us calculate how much you should take in order to reach ideal blood serum levels of vitamin D.

This is the important measurement of whether you are vitamin D deficient or insufficient, and you can only get it from the Pure North program.

There is considerable research being done on vitamin D around the world, and some of it right here in Alberta at the University of Alberta, and the University of Calgary. Some of the researchers have used data gathered from Pure North participants (anonymous, and with their consent of course).

That data is showing considerable health improvements in many patients. The data can be found in some of the studies below, but also take a look at what people say:

I appreciate the chance to review my vitamin intake. i always took supplements but i did it on my own and probably not the best idea as it was never monitored so i feel more secure with my program having the monitoring regularly.
I love the fact that they take blood and check for any abnormalities as a base line. i appreciate the medical consultations provided.
I really like the fact that the supplements are pure and that they are combined with blood work.
I really appreciate the advice and support i have received to help me do everything possible to look after myself and my physical and mental health.

There is no obligation to come and talk to us. Do your homework, and bring us your questions. We’re happy to talk about options, and see what works for you.

Research and References

We urge you to do your own research, and then bring us your questions. Here are some scientific papers to get you started. All are available online.

Ekwaru, J.P., A. Ohinmaa & Paul J. Veugelers. “The effectiveness of a preventive health program and vitamin D status in improving health-related quality of life of older Canadians” in Quality of Life Research, (2015) ISSN 0962-9343, DOI 10.1007/s11136-015-1103-7

Mastroeni, Silmara S, Lalani L. Munasinghe, Truong-Minh Pham, Sarah A. Loehr, John Paul Ekwaru, Marco F. Mastroeni and Paul J. Veugelers. “The Effect of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations on Elevated Serum C-Reactive Protein Concentrations in Normal Weight, Overweight and Obese Participants of a Preventive Health Program” in Nutrients (2016) 8, 696; doi:10.3390/nu8110696

Pham, Truong-Minh, John Paul Ekwaru, Solmaz Setayeshgar and Paul J. Veugelers. “The Effect of Changing Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations on Metabolic Syndrome: A Longitudinal Analysis of Participants of a Preventive Health Program” in Nutrients (2015) ISSN 2072-6643

Pham, Truong-Minh, John Paul Ekwaru, Sarah A. Loehr, Paul J. Veugelers. “The Relationship of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Insulin Resistance among Nondiabetic Canadians: A Longitudinal Analysis of Participants of a Preventive Health Program” in Population Health Intervention Research Unit, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada; (2015) PLoS ONE 10(10): e0141081. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141081

Pham T-M, Ekwaru JP, Mastroeni SS, Mastroeni MF, Loehr SA, Veugelers PJ. “The Effect of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D on Elevated Homocysteine Concentrations in Participants of a Preventive Health Program”. (2016) PLoS ONE 11(8):e0161368. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161368

Pham, Truong-Minh, John Paul Ekwaru, Solmaz Setayeshgar, Paul J. Veugelers. “The effect of changing Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D concentrations on metabolic syndrome: A longitudinal analysis of Participants of a Preventative Health Program” in Journal of Nutrients (2015) 7, 7271-784.

Burton, J.M., S. Kimball, R. Vieth, A. Bar-Or, H.-M. Dosch, R. Cheung, D. Gagne, C. D’Souza, M. Ursell, P. O’Connor. “A phase I/II dose-escalation trial of vitamin D3 and calcium in multiple sclerosis” in Neurology (2010) 74:1852-1859.

Chao, Yi-Sheng, Ludovic Brunel, Peter Faris and Paul J. Veugelers. “The Importance of Dose, Frequency and Duration of Vitamin D Supplementation for Plasma 25-Hydroxyvitamin D” in Nutrients (2013), 5, 4067-4078; doi:10.3390/nu5104067, ISSN 2072-6643,

Chao, Yi-Sheng, L. Brunel, P. Faris and P. J. Veugelers. “Vitamin D status of Canadians employed in northern latitudes” in Occupational Medicine (2013)63:485–493

Chao, Y.S., J. P. Ekwaru, A. Ohinmaa, G. Griener, P. J. Veugelers. “Vitamin D and health-related quality of life in a community sample of older Canadians” in Qual Life Res (2014) DOI 10.1007/s11136-014-0696-6

Ekwaru, John Paul, Jennifer D. Zwicker, Michael F. Holick, Edward Giovannucci, Paul J. Veugelers. “The Importance of Body Weight for the Dose Response Relationship of Oral Vitamin D Supplementation and Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in Healthy Volunteers” (2014) PLoS ONE 9(11): e111265. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111265

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