Why does the government ignore evidence for the benefits of Vitamin D?

by Rufus Greenbaum

Rufus Greenbaum discovered the appalling truth when he investigated a little known committee that decides which supplements should be available on the NHS.

Some years ago I became interested in how the government and the Department of Health deal with preventing illness.  My own health had improved after I had lost a lot of weight and I felt so much better that I began researching what else could keep me feeling so well.  One bit of advice that kept cropping up was to keep Vitamin D levels topped up.

It seemed such a simple way to improve health in all sorts of ways that I contacted various experts to find out why the government was ignoring the evidence. After all, vitamin D is very cheap and making it widely available on the NHS would surely have all sorts of cost-saving health benefits.

Among those I spoke to was a doctor who had just written a book about Vitamin D and sunshine, plus a well-known academic and a campaigning journalist. They all explained that the two bodies that were key to getting any supplement or health initiative approved for the NHS were NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) and one I’d never heard of: SACN (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition www.sacn.gov.uk ).

Officially we only need a minuscule amount

Even though Vitamin D had been a hot area of research for over a decade, the SACN hadn’t assessed the evidence for over five years – their last significant paper on it had been in 2007. Then their conclusion had been much the same as it had been for decades – all we need is a minuscule amount in the blood stream ( 25 nmol/L) to avoid rickets and other bone problems.

On that basis we are all doing pretty OK since the UK average is between 25 and 50 nmol/L. However that is way below the amount now recommended by the 40 eminent experts from around the world whose work I had been following. Their advice was that every adult should have between 100 and150 nmol/L in their bloodstream to prevent some major long-term illnesses.

In their Call-To-Action program – which can be found at www.grassrootshealth.net – they say: “There are newly appreciated associations between low levels of vitamin D and a range of fairly common disorders including: tuberculosis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, type-1 diabetes, high blood pressure, increased heart failure, myopathy, breast and other cancers.

Rufus Greenbaum

Rufus Greenbaum

Rufus Greenbaum describes himself as a “private individual” but he has an extensive knowledge of Vitamin D and has also been experimenting with various approaches to preventative health and recording the results. His page with Vitamin D UK data.
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  • Good to know that people are picking up on this and trying to get the health professionals to pay more attention to it in the UK!

    You have a small but important error on this page:
    ” Traditional advice has been that an adult needed 200IUs or 5mg a day.” 5mg should be 5mcg.

    Personally I found that, despite eating oily fish twice a week, eating butter (fortified with vit D to “summer butter” levels) AND taking a fish oil supplement daily, I was STILL mildly deficient in vit D (by Australian standards, where I now live). Vit D testing is quite common here, as so many people use so much sunscreen and stay out of the fierce sun – and they are quite keen to promote supplementing it to prevent certain possible health outcomes, including bowel cancer, MS, Alzheimer’s. In my case, supplementing vit D3 separately MAY have contributed to a successful pregnancy after 3 miscarriages (low vit D status being associated, as I’m sure you know, with both miscarriage and subfertility).

    I still take 3000IU per day and on my last blood test, my levels hadn’t fallen out of range again so that’s good news.

    Keep up the good work with trying to get more people to understand the value and importance of good vit D levels.

    • Editorial

      thanks for pointing out the error – will correct. Resistance to vit D still strong here – about 18 months ago I suggested a story on vit D to the BMJ – British medical Journal) to be told “we don’t believe in vitamin D”!

      • The BMJ “don’t believe in vitamin D”?? Good grief.

        Mind you, I’m not sure they believe in coenzyme Q 10 either, although they have allowed articles on that component’s depletion due to statin use, so maybe it is “more important” than vitamin D in their eyes.

        Vitamin D must be more of a threat to certain extremely large commercial enterprises than I thought!

  • When I was in hospital recently with a kidney stone I was asked if I took vitamin D. They told me it that it can cause kidney stones (LOL). Any comments on this?

    • Editorial

      Hi I am not a clinician and I’ll try to get a response for someone better qualified but this is a copy of the first two paragraphs of a report on the news site Science Daily in October this year. It seems reassuring.

      Vitamin D Does Not Contribute to Kidney Stones
      Oct. 17, 2013 — Increased vitamin D levels may prevent a wide range of diseases, according to recent studies. However, some previous studies led to a concern that vitamin D supplementation could increase an individual’s risk of developing kidney stones.
      However, a study of 2,012 participants — published in the American Journal of Public Health -found no statistically relevant association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25 (OH)D) serum level in the range of 20 to 100 ng/mL and the incidence of kidney stones.

      See the full version at:

  • Rufus this needs to go on Facebook.


  • Rufus, excellent article, thank you.A conference, titled “Vitamin D, Sun and Human Health,” will be held on April 28th and 29th 2014, at the Holmenkollen Park Hotel in Oslo, Norway.
    The conference will provide the latest scientific news and research on all things related to vitamin D. This includes deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and health benefits of adequate vitamin D levels. The conference is mainly aimed for health professionals, medical doctors and researchers.
    Organizers are currently accepting proposals for presentations at the conference. In addition, they invite all attendees to submit an abstract to publish in a special edition of Dermato-Endocrinology, on vitamin D, sun and health. Abstracts must be original, unpublished work.
    For more information on the conference and how to register, and more, visit the conference website: http://oslo2014.d-vit.eu/

  • I have shared this on my FB page…. it is an excellent article about a deplorable situation. And without attempting any racism at all… how do Muslim Women who must cover themselves completely manage to keep their levels in the ‘normal’ range? GP’s in the UK obviously don’t care….. It sounds as if they wait for signs of Rickets to offer healing?

    by the way EDITOR I am not receiving regular notifications of new items posted…. I did register and you did say all was OK

    • Editorial

      Not sure it is fair to say UK GPs don’t care about vitamin d status of Muslim women, some are certainly well aware of it and try to help but but getting official recognition of the need for testing and supplementation is difficult.
      Sorry to hear you are having problems getting notification of new postings, will check out what’s happening.

  • I figured out more new stuff on this weight loss issue. One particular issue is that good nutrition is tremendously vital whenever dieting. An enormous reduction in bad foods, sugary ingredients, fried foods, sweet foods, beef, and whitened flour products may be necessary. Keeping wastes parasitic organisms, and toxic compounds may prevent aims for shedding fat. While specific drugs briefly solve the problem, the nasty side effects will not be worth it, they usually never present more than a non permanent solution. This can be a known idea that 95% of fad diets fail. Many thanks sharing your thinking on this blog site.

  • Excellent, Rufus.

    It is readily apparent to reasoned analysis that the way we live out our lives involves less frequent exposure to sun compared with times of the past, and even the best of dietary sources represent inadequate supply, hence the reason pale skin (deficient in the natural dark pigment and sub-block melanin) makes for a good evolutionary adaptation to more temperate latitudes – we need the necessary exposure to the sun to photosynthesise cholecalciferol (vitamin D) from its biochemical pre-cursor, cholesterol, and yet another reason to perceive we need all the cholesterol nature granted us with. That we can synthesise vitamin D is an indication we need to, because it would be rare for diet to match demand. We work longer than we ought, because many of us feel compelled to, then many of us work indoors and rarely see real daylight.

    Vitamin D is said to be genetically restorative. Are you in a position to write a feature upon this for HIUK?

    I’m no biochemist, but I note how genetic theory has advanced of late. The more dynamic and responsive component of the genome actually resides in the epigenome. While the epigenome sounds sophisticated and complicated it must be one of the simplest bits of chemistry in the body. Methyl (-( -CH3 ) tags that may be attached to individual genes render them mute, – so they have no say (cannot express themselves). Ergosterol, D2, 7-dehydrocholesterol, and D3, each look to me that they could be generous methyl group (-CH3) donors given need and appropriate requirement. Does this speculative observation on my part connect with D3s reputed capacity to repair damaged DNA, do you know? Aberrant methylation within the epigenome is increasingly considered the roots of cause where cancers are concerned.

    Additionally, would you know if homocysteine induced cholesterol derived oxy-sterols could be rendered (detoxified) by any antioxidants, and might vitamin E feature? Homocysteine theory has it that usual detoxification of homocysteine involves the process of methylation and the donation of methyl groups from B6, B12, or folic acid which opens the pathway for homocysteine to be converted to methionine. At the same time, if capacity for methylation is compromised homocysteine levels can rise and persist and promote peroxidation of otherwise healthful cholesterol.

    I’m afraid I could not attend debates and meetings of the SACN or NICE. The temptation to stamp up and down shouting indignantly, “It’s the environment you silly (so-and-sos)!! The departure from wellness witnessed in modernity is largely man-made, and the causes reside in aspects of the ‘environment’ we modern humans have fashioned for ourselves.!,” would be too great.

    NICE, the National Institute for Care and Clinical Excellence is not interested in demystifying effect, cause, and prevention. Instead NICE confine the application of their expertise to diagnosis and treatment. This pathway is second rate.

    Moreover the second rate pathway is compounded because the fat/cholesterol hypothesis of heart disease is falsehood from beginning to end, and championing it does much harm and no good. The policy upon lipid modification, prescribing statins, does not uphold standards of best practice and instead rank as guidelines that, in my eyes, trends to clinical malpractice.

    GPs could learn from a Naturally Oriented Institute for Care and Clinical Excellence (NO-NICE) promoting and permitting higher standards of care and prevention. Such a body could defeat the patients present lowly status of cash-cow for the big-pharma, and shave £millions from the national drugs bill.

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