Dr. Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D.
Dr. Michael F. Holick

Multiple Sclerosis and Vitamin D

Posted by admin on November 27, 2008 under Multiple Sclerosis, Vitamin D | 11 Comments to Read

It is known that if you are born above 35° latitude at approximately Atlanta, Georgia, and live at this latitude for the first ten years of your life that you have a 100% increase risk of developing multiple sclerosis.  Recent studies have suggested that women and men who increase their vitamin D intake above 400 IU of vitamin D a day reduces risk of developing multiple sclerosis by approximately 40%.  


Munger KL, Zhang SM, O’Reilly E, Hernan MA, Olek MJ, Willett WC, Ascherio A.  Vitamin D intake and incidence of multiple sclerosis.  Neurology  2004; 62(1):60-5.

Munger KL, Levin LI, Hollis, BW, Howard NS, Ascheino A.  Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and risk of multiple sclerosis.  JAMA 2006; 296:2832-2838.

Ponsonby A-L, McMichael A, and van der Mei I.  Ultraviolet radiation and autoimmune disease: insights from epidemiological research. Toxocology 2002;181-182:71-78.

Infectious Diseases and Vitamin D

Posted by admin on under Infectious Disease, Vitamin D | 4 Comments to Read

It has long been recognized that patients with tuberculous do better when treated with vitamin D or exposed to sunlight.  It was recently recognized that the immune cell known as the macrophage needs vitamin D in order to produce a peptide which is responsible for killing infectious agents such as tuberculous.  It has been speculated that one of the reasons that influenza occurs in the winter time in tepid climates is because the sun is unable to produce vitamin D, and the resulting vitamin D insufficiency may promote and enhance the infectivity of the influenza virus.  

Adams,J.S., Gacad,M.A., Anders,A., Endres,D.B., and Sharma,O.P. 1986. Biochemical indicators of disordered vitamin D and calcium homeostasis in sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis 3:1-6.

Gallo, R.L., Eisenberg, D., Hewison, M., Hollis, B.W., Adams, J.S., Bloom, B.R., Modlin, R.L.  2006.  Toll-like receptor Triggering of a vitamin D-mediated human antimicrobial response.  Sciencexpress.  3:1770-1773.  
Liu, P.T., Stenger, S., Li, H., Wenzel, L., Tan, B.H., Krutzik, S., Ochoa, M.T., Schauber, J., Wu, K., Meinken, C., Kamen, D.L., Wagner, M., Bals, R., Steinmeyer, A., Zugel, U.

Arthritis and Vitamin D

Posted by admin on under Arthritis, Vitamin D | 17 Comments to Read

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Recent studies have revealed that women who ingest more than 400 IU of vitamin D a day reduce their risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by as much as 42%.

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis.  

Merlino LA, Curtis J, Mikuls TR, Cerhan JR, Criswell LA, and Saag KG.  Vitamin D intake is inversely associated with rheumatoid arthritis.  Arthritis & Rheumatism  2004; 50(1):72-77.

Diabetes and Vitamin D

Posted by admin on under Diabetes, Vitamin D | 6 Comments to Read

Diabetes mellitus type I

Studies in mice have suggested that pretreating mice that are prone to developing type I diabetes with the active form of vitamin D (1,25-hydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D]) reduces the development of type I diabetes by 80%.  This study is supported by the observation in Finland where children in the 1960’s routinely received 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day during their first year of life.  When these children were followed for the next 31 years, it was observed that these children had a reduced risk of developing type I diabetes by 78%.  Children who were vitamin D deficient at the same time and also followed for 31 years had an almost 300% increased risk of developing type I diabetes.  


Hypponen E, Laara E, Jarvelin M-R, Virtanen SM.  Intake of vitamin D and risk of type 1 diabetes: a birth-cohort study.  Lancet 2001;358:1500-1503.

Diabetes mellitus type II

The beta islet cells that produce insulin in the pancreas have a vitamin D receptor.  The active form of vitamin D stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin.  It has been observed that the relative risk of developing type II diabetes is reduced by as much as 33% in men and women who increase their intake of vitamin D above 800 IU/day along with 1,000 milligrams of calcium.  


Pittas AG, Dawson-Hughes B, Li T, et al.  Vitamin D and calcium intake in relation to type 2 diabetes in women.  Diabetes Care 2006:29:650-56.

Rickets and Vitamin D

Posted by admin on under Rickets, Vitamin D | 2 Comments to Read

Rickets occurs at approximately six months of age in children who are vitamin D deficient.  They can present with growth retardation, skeletal deformities including bowing of the legs or knocked knees, prominent knob like projections along the ribs next to the sternum known as the rachitic rosary and muscle weakness.  Infants with vitamin D deficiency also suffer from craniotabes which is a softening of the skull causing it to become square shaped.  They can have increase in the bone formation in the front of the head which is known as frontal bossing.


Holick, M.F.  Resurrection of vitamin D deficiency and rickets.  J Clin Invest 2006, 116(8):2062-2072..

Kreiter SR, Schwartz RP, Kirkman HN, Charlton PA, Calikoglu AS, Davenport M.  Nutritional rickets in African American breast-fed infants.  J Pediatr 2000;137:2-6.

Marksted, T., Halvorsen, S., Halvorsen, K.S., Aksnes, L., and Aarskog, D.  1984. Plasma concentrations of vitamin D metabolites before and during treatment of vitamin D deficiency rickets in children.  Acta Padiatr Scand. 73:225-231.

Osteomalacia and Vitamin D

Posted by admin on under Osteomalacia, Vitamin D | 3 Comments to Read

Vitamin D deficiency causes a defect in the ability of the body to deposit calcium into the collagen jello-like matrix in the bone.  As a result, the covering on the bone which contains pain sensing nerves is easily deformed resulting in throbbing aching bone pain.  Patients with osteomalacia often complain of achiness in their muscles and bones.  These non-specific aches and pains in the bones and muscles are often misdiagnoses as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.  There have been several studies demonstrating that patients with severe bone and muscle pain and muscle weakness associated with osteomalacia have dramatic improvement in their symptoms when vitamin D deficiency is corrected.  It takes months to years to develop osteomalacia and associated symptoms and it takes three to six months before significant improvement in symptoms results from correcting vitamin D deficiency.  


Holick, M.F.  Vitamin D deficiency:  What a Pain it is.  Mayo Clin. Proc.  2003; 78(12): 1457-1459.

Malabanan AO, Turner AK, Holick MF. Severe generalized bone pain and osteoporosis in a premenopausal black female: effect of vitamin D replacement. J Clin Densitometr . 1998;1:201-204.

Osteoporosis and Vitamin D

Posted by admin on under Osteoporosis, Vitamin D | 5 Comments to Read

Vitamin D deficiency will cause removal of both the calcium and matrix from the bone, and as a result, will cause osteopenia and can precipitate and exacerbate osteoporosis.  Unlike osteomalacia which causes bone pain, osteoporosis, which is porotic bone, i.e., holes in the bones and loss of bone does not cause bone pain unless there is an acute fracture.  Typically this pain resolves as the fracture heals and can be easily distinguished from osteomalacia.  


Bischoff-Ferrari, HA, Giovannucci, E., Willett, W.C., Dietrich, T., and Dawson-Hughes, B.  Estimation of optimal serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D for multiple health outcomes.  Am J Clin Nutr  2006; 84:18-28.  

Boonen S, Bischoff-Ferrari A, Cooper C, Lips P, Ljunggren O, Meunier PJ, Reginster JY.  Addressing the musculoskeletal components of fracture risk with calcium and vitamin D:  a review of the evidence.  Calcif Tissue Int  2006; 78(5):257-70.

Chapuy MC, Arlot ME, Duboeuf F, Brun J, Crouzet B, Arnaud S, Delmas PD, Meunier PJ.  Vitamin D3 and calcium to prevent hip fractures in elderly women.  N Engl J Med 1992; 327(23):1637-1642.

Cancer and Vitamin D

Posted by admin on under Cancer, Vitamin D | 8 Comments to Read



As early as 1941, it was observed that people living at higher latitude were at higher risk of dying of cancer.  In the 1980’s and the 1990’s, several reports surfaced revealed that living at higher latitude and being at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency increased risk of developing and dying of cancers of the colon, rectum, prostate, breast, ovary.  More recently, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of developing many other cancers including cancer of the esophagus, pancreas and leukemia.   Read more of this article »


Posted by admin on under Obesity, Vitamin D | 16 Comments to Read

Obesity is associated with vitamin D deficiency.  The reason is that the vitamin D is trapped within the fat and cannot easily exit.  As a result, obese patients need at least twice as much vitamin D as a normal weighted individual in order to maintain a normal vitamin D status with a 25(OH)D between 30-60 ng/ml.    

Wortsman J, Matsuoka LY, Chen TC, Lu Z, Holick MF. Decreased bioavailability of vitamin D in obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72: 690-693. 


Vitamin D2 vs. D3

Posted by mfholick on under Vitamin D | 12 Comments to Read

Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 Are They Equally Potent?

During the past several years, there have been two studies Trang et al, (Am J Clin Nutr 68:854-858, 1998); and Armas et al, (J Clin Endocrinol Metab 89:5387-91; 2004) that have raised questions about whether vitamin D2, which is found in some supplements, used in some fortified foods and is the pharmaceutical form of vitamin D that doctors prescribe for their patients, is as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining a person’s vitamin D status, i.e., blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D.  Trang et al 1998 gave healthy adults Read more of this article »