Vitamin D conspiracy leads straight to Big Pharma

You’ve probably heard about the bad rap vitamin D has been getting lately. The argument goes something like this…the vitamin D crisis isn’t as bad as we thought. You probably don’t need as much of it as we thought. But it’s a free country. So go ahead and take 400 IU of it per day, if you want. That’s more than enough. Just don’t go over 4,000 IU per day. "High doses" like that can increase your risk for "harm"

These new guidelines come from the U.S. Institute of Medicine (or IOM), a powerful non-profit agency that advises the nation of matters of health. But here’s the problem: Their report is pure propaganda.

In fact, I believe these low doses of vitamin D are a deliberate attempt to keep the American public needing more drugs until the day they die. (I’ll admit, that sounds a tad paranoid. But I’ll explain why my paranoia is well-founded a moment.)

First, let’s look at the three major problems with the IOM research.

Leave it to the IOM to redefine "majority"

First off, the IOM report states that the "majority" of adults living in the U.S. get enough vitamin D…and that’s just nonsense.

As you’ll recall, last week I told you about a major CDC study that found almost 80 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D. Plus, another major study published late last year by researchers from the University of Tennessee came up with similar results. In fact, this time researchers found that 87 percent of the general population is mildly to severely deficient in vitamin D. Even the most conservative estimates put vitamin D deficiencies at about 50 percent of the population.

So how the IOM can confidently claim the "majority" of Americans get enough vitamin D, I have no idea!

Spend a minute in the sun each day

The IOM report also states that "North Americans need on average 400 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D per day. People age 71 and older may require as much as 800 IUs per day because of potential changes in people’s bodies as they age."

Again, this is pure nonsense. But before I go any further, here’s a quick biochemistry primer…

The IOM says you only need 400 IU of vitamin D. But they actually mean 400 IU of vitamin D3 (or cholecalciferol). Your skin makes this natural form of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. In fact, spending just 30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, your skin will produce anywhere from 10,000 IU to 50,000 IU of D3! Plus, you can also take D3 as a supplement.


Vitamin D3 passes through your liver and it turns into a pre-hormone called 25-hydroxycholecalciferol. This is abbreviated as 25(OH)D.

When you get a vitamin D blood test, we really want to see how much 25(OH)D is in your blood. We measure 25(OH)D in nanomoles per liter or nmol/l.

Now, stick with me, because here’s where it gets interesting…

According to the IOM report, taking just 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day will give 97 percent of us a blood serum level of 50 nmol/l. And that level will protect us from fractures. Sounds okay, I guess. But let me put this another way to show you just how silly the IOM recommendation really is…

Let’s assume that your body makes 10,000 IU of D3 for every 30 minutes spent in the sun without sunscreen. (Most experts say you make at least twice that much…but let’s not get picky.) So, how long does it take for your body to make 400 IU of D3?

Hurray! Just 1.2 minutes in the sun! That’s all you need to keep your bones strong.

Is it me, or does that just sound wrong?

Well, here’s the good news. It isn’t just me. It is wrong. And there’s some solid scientific proof to back me up…

IOM gets their numbers wrong

Two major meta-analysis’ from 2009 found that 50 nmol/l of 25(OH)D in your blood isn’t enough to protect you from a fracture or a fall. In fact, 28 separate studies found that 50 nmol/l isn’t enough!

Plus, the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends men and women have 75 nmol/l of 25(OH)D. This is what it takes to protect you from accidental falls and fractures. Lastly, numerous studies over the years show that the more 25(0H)D in your blood, the greater your bone density. But to get up to those higher levels of 25(OH)D, you need more D3.

Plus, here’s another interesting twist. The authors of the IOM report most likely knew about all this research…they just chose to ignore it.

You see, before publishing the new vitamin D guidelines, the IOM board consulted with Dr. Walter Willet. The board even thanked Dr. Willet at the end of their report.

So who’s Dr. Willet?

He’s a vitamin D expert and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard. He also co-wrote one of the 2009 reports on vitamin D I mentioned earlier. The IOM, however, ignored his findings.

But don’t feel bad, Dr. Willet. Yours isn’t the only research the IOM ignored…

IOM report ignores research on vitamin D and disease

Remember how I told you the IOM said 400 IU of D3 is enough to protect you against osteoporosis? Well, what about everything else…like cancer and heart disease?

In a press conference, IOM chair Dr. Catherine Ross said "We could not find solid evidence that consuming more [vitamin D] would protect the public from chronic disease ranging from cancer to diabetes to improved immune function." And with that simple statement, Dr. Ross lost all credibility.

Here are some of the best studies linking vitamin D and major diseases:

Breast cancer: Women with vitamin D blood serum levels less than 50 nmol/mL are eight times more likely to develop an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Colon cancer: Men and women with the highest vitamin D levels cut their colon cancer risk by 40 percent.

Heart Disease & Stroke: Men and women with low vitamin D double their heart attack or stroke risk.

Cognitive decline: Older women with low vitamin D are twice as likely to suffer cognitive impairment.

Diabetes: A whopping 91 percent of diabetics have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Plus, the less vitamin D in their blood, the greater their blood sugar problems.

And I’m just scratching the surface here! If you want to look at all the scientific data on vitamin D, the Vitamin D Council is a good place to start. They list the studies by disease, so you can see all the scientific data Dr. Catherine Ross and her colleagues missed.

In closing, there’s one last reason why the IOM report has the pungent smell of propaganda…

There’s a rat in the house

Glenville Jones, PhD is one of the authors of the IOM report. He’s a scientist and also the co-inventor of drug made by a company called Cytochroma. This drug is still in development…but what condition will they treat with their top-secret drug?

You got it.

Vitamin D deficiencies!

(I’m not making this stuff up. You can see the patent for yourself at the U.S. Patent Office website.)

Dr. Jones also sits on the scientific advisory board of a drug company called Receptor Therapeutics. These guys also made a synthetic vitamin D treatment for cancer…in fact THREE synthetic vitamin D treatments for cancer. (Drug companies use synthetic vitamin D because they can patent it and make a huge profit. You can’t patent natural vitamin D.)

Well, isn’t that so thoughtful…

You don’t need to take vitamin D. But if you do happen to get cancer…guess who plans to have a vitamin D drug you can take?

Here’s the bottom line for you: Ignore anything published by the IOM. Take up to 5,000 IU of natural vitamin D3 each day. And avoid anything made by Cytochroma and Receptor Therapeutics.

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Dr. Allan Spreen

Dr. Allan Spreen

Nationally acclaimed as America’s “Nutrition Physician,” Dr. Spreen has been helping people stay healthy and disease-free as a private doctor, published author, and noted researcher.

In addition to his role as a Senior Member of the prestigious Health Sciences Institute Advisory Panel in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Spreen also coaches diving at the international and Olympic levels. NorthStar Nutritionals is proud to have Dr. Spreen as our Chief Research Advisor.

Dr. Spreen also writes the Guide to Good Health.

Please let us know what you think about this article. All comments will be moderated before being posted publicly.


  1. Anonymous says

    Either they ignored or simply they are ignoramuses, or they simply ignore the truth, and as usual it would not surprise me a bit if they will ban anything that is good for us and keep us healthy, rather they go for their ill gotten gains, where do we get these people or who in tar nations appoint these people. JAM

  2. anonymoose says

    Isn’t the recommended 50nmol/l equate to 19ng/ml?

    If so, I agree thats pretty low… I would shoot for 50ng/ml which is 125 nmol/l)

  3. Anonymous says

    It’s this kind of stuff that throws me into hot flashes. It’s unconscionable that the IOM tells people they’re not D3 deficient, prescribes ridiculously low levels, and then capitalizes on the path of destruction they’re leaving. This kind of immoral, unethical behavior will come back and bite ’em in the ass.

  4. Anonymous says

    Until we as a nation start getting real people into our government and not puppets of big business, nothing is going to bite anyone’s butt, pure and simple. I have tried many times to get people to think beyond Desperate Housewives and the other pathetic excuses for tv, to no avail. We get what we deserve. Too bad, especially when there are so many excellent resources available such as this.

  5. Frederica Huxley says

    It astounds me that the IOM can get away with this obvious fraud! I know it is, yet again, a case of ‘follow the money’, but do they really think that they can fool everyone? Not.

  6. BarbaraB says

    Would you please give more detail on the action of Vitamin D as helping the “proof-reader” gene. I read somewhere that adequate Vitamin D keeps the “proof-reader” gene sound and working optimally, thereby weeding out and destroying any aberrations such as cancer cells.

  7. Hans says

    Don’t blame the IOM. They are mostly sincere and honest people and people can make mistakes. That’s why we have erasers. My Doctor told me to slow down on Vitamin D, but I haven’t yet. I have to find out more about it and discuss it with my Doctor.

  8. Lori says

    Hans – people do mistakes. But the IOM ignored hundreds of studies that show the role of D3 deficiency in the pathologies of 17 cancers, let alone diabetes, obesity, heart disease, fertility, and the list goes on. Dr. John Cannell, who started the vitamin D council website, warned even before the panel announced the new guidelines that there was a conflict of interest. Believe me, these folks knew exactly what they were doing. This guy stands to make huge profits on his stuff, at the expense of a sick public. Sorry, but this, in my opinion, is nothing short of criminal.

  9. says

    Great article Dr. Spreen. Yes, we can blame all our government health agencies all we want. They can put on a very honest and sincere pose when they know there is a revolving door into Big Pharma awaiting. And Big Pharma is very interested in ensuring we don’t PREVENT disease because that would spoil their racket.

  10. Emery says


    I didn’t believe the study for a minute because I know how big pharma uses doctors and “independent” organizations to prove their theories. Nice to know exactly how they rigged this one.

  11. Brian says

    I’ve read that most if not all Vitamin D sources contain too much Vitamin A. So that’s the real problem with taking up to 5,000 IU Vitamin D, you end up getting overdosed with Vitamin A.

  12. says

    Great analysis. I’ve been trying to find a good Kosher Vitamin D3 but in trying to research it, I’ve found that there are so many different arguments. Please, if anyone has any educated input on the matter, please do share.

    Enjoy your day!

  13. says

    Doctor you wrote…

    “In fact, I believe these low doses of vitamin D are a deliberate attempt to keep the American public needing more drugs until the day they die. (I’ll admit, that sounds a tad paranoid. But I’ll explain why my paranoia is well-founded a moment.) ”

    Keeping people sick is NOT paranoia. It’s simply ‘business as usual’ for the Pharmacological Industrial Complex. Read the book ‘The Drug Story’.

    I picked up and read my mother-in-law’s Women’s Home Journal. It must be ‘written’ by big pharma. Ad after ad, article after article, in big bold print “AVOID THE SUN!!” Needless to say, my wonderful mother-in-law all alone has made the business of medicine a pretty coin. Multiple cancers and medications later.

  14. Rusty says

    In November 2010, a series of “news spots” ran in the local and national media about Vitamin D. Yes – Vitamin D, not D3. They were all the same talking points about how the staggering increase by American in their consumption of Vitamin D “may not be good for their health”.

    As the wording was nearly identical, obvious propoganda was being pushed. A telling statistic was how much the sales of Vitamin D had increased beginning in 2009 (the uptake of the H1N1 CDC scare campaign). Sales were up over 3000% and in the billions of $.

    No wonder these “news items” ran. Too many people were taking D(3) and somewow, mysteriously, that H1N1 pandemic never materially manifested.

  15. Anonymous says

    when are you going to start hanging these people?
    in my country they would already be dead!

    and the worst part – american “studies” are often used to set policy in other country’s because they are seen to have “standing” – what a joke!

  16. Anonymous says

    LOL “take 400 iu a day if your want”. Well, how generous, giving me permission and all. 400 IU? Try 10,000 IU! The IOM can eat me.

  17. Zach says

    “Ignore anything published by the IOM. ”

    That’s some of the best advice I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks for the great article

  18. Tully says

    Superb sleuthing, Doc, you are the very Humphrey Bogart of medicine!
    To Anon (18) I agree all too much – America sets the ‘standard’ for many world governments, who cannot believe that the good ole USA might be happy to mislead its citizens so often, and so lethally.
    Follow the money, business as usual.

  19. Hannu Anttila says

    In Switzerland/January last year there was a conference of UN led organisation which decides international standards. In the organisation there are WHO and WTO as permanent members. For the first time there was a represantive from non-official health organisation, who had only talking possibility, no voting. The representative from WTO succested that they would lower the official standard of daily consumption of Vitamine D from 7,5 to 5mcgr and WHO was accepting it. Then this non-official representative rised his voice and the suggestion was turned down.
    Questions : What kind of experts do WHO use, when it was accepting this?
    What is the motive for WTO (World Trade Organisation ) to suggest anything like this >> if people have more sicknesses they buy more medicines/more trade!

  20. R Barkley says

    Certainly if your source for Vitamin D is Cod Liver Oil, you would be getting way too much Vitamin A. That’s the only natural food source I’m aware of that has high retinol levels. Trust me, you don’t want to get 5,000 IU a day from CLO. The only realistic way is to get it from a pure Vitamin D3 supplement. And this can be had for pennies a day. I’ve seen 500 caps 5000 IU bottles at the “big box stores” for $9. That’s less than $.02/day!

    Brian Wrote:
    Sun, 02/20/2011 – 7:08pm
    I’ve read that most if not all Vitamin D sources contain too much Vitamin A. So that’s the real problem with taking up to 5,000 IU Vitamin D, you end up getting overdosed with Vitamin A.

  21. Tim Webb says

    BarbaraB is asking about the Proof Reader gene, and how Vit D might switch it on and prevent cancers. Not totally sure about this, apart from saying that there are several proteins that proofread the DNA and cut out potentially cancer-causing gene errors, and selenium (from sesame/walnuts) is a vital component of one of these proteins, which is encoded by the p52 gene; but should point out that Vit D is not really a vitamin, it is a hormone, derived from cholesterol. (So beware of taking statins, that simultaneously block the availability of cholesterol for hormone production.) As a hormone, Vit D therefore interacts with the DNA itself, rather than with cell membrane receptors. Every cell in the body has Vit D receptors, so that indicates how important it is to the overall health of the body. Of its many actions, the one I am aware of is that it causes the transcription of the cathelicidin and antimicrobial peptide genes. These multiple peptides and proteins have specific actions against invading micro-organisms. Such as TB, hence the old treatment for TB which involved putting patients outside in the sun. So rather than running to the local witch doctor for antibiotics, which are indiscriminate killers of both good and bad commensal gut bacteria, and which open the way to gut colonization by deadly organisms such as candida, go outside into the sun for as long as possible.
    But it is absolutely clear that, irrespective of the precise and possibly still to be evaluated role of Vitamin D, its anti-cancer actions are dramatic. Hence the interest of the so called scientists, who are desperate to invent patentable analogues of it, which undoubtedly will have horrendous side-effects entirely absent from the real thing.

  22. Romany S says

    I understand your criticisms of the original IOM report. I am not disagreeing with the dosage of vitamin D required and I strongly support the research into the benefits of vitamin D. I would, however, like to ask if, by promoting people to increase their usage of vitamin D supplements, you are also getting some financial gain due to your affiliation with NorthStar Nutritionals? I do not know Dr. Spreen or Dr. Jones and thus would be equally critical of both of their opinions. I would encourage everyone else to be also. It seems like a lot of people are quite prepared to believe this article simply because it confirms their own opinions and not because they have read this article critically. I am not saying that the opinions expressed in this article are ‘wrong,’ I just believe people are not being as critical as they should be when making such harsh judgements.

  23. Steveo says

    Dr. Catherine Ross is an editor of the American Society for Nutrition. She probably does not realize that she has now discredited herself and any previous work or future work that she does. when you lie on technical reports, you have blown your credibility and the credibility of anyone who publishes your lies. Thus anything Ms. Ross produces is suspect, whether in the past or in the future.

    Hope she likes working for industry, especially a company that will go under. Hope she can find a job after the public blackballs any companies she works for or provides data for.

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