New Study Reveals How Vitamin D Prevents Disease

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The Vitamin D Society wants to make the public aware of a new study that reports for the first time on how vitamin D status is linked to the reduction of chronic diseases through gene expression.

The Vitamin D Society wants the public to know about a new research study published online in PLOS ONE which reports that improving vitamin D status could have a number of non-skeletal health benefits for the public. The study reveals for the first time that as your vitamin D blood level goes up the genes involved with a number of biologic pathways associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases are expressed 1.5 times greater than base levels(1).

“This research confirms the positive disease prevention associations that vitamin D has on various serious chronic diseases and which has been reported in thousands of previously published research studies” exclaimed Perry Holman, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Society. “It provides insight into ‘how’ vitamin D works to help prevent disease.”

Participants in the randomized, double blind, trial were given either 400 IU or 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day. After two months a broad gene expression analysis was completed and more than 22,500 genes were investigated. The researchers found that 291 genes were significantly altered and these genes were associated with 160 biologic pathways linked to cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and CVD.

“This study reveals the molecular fingerprints that help explain the non-skeletal health benefits of vitamin D,” said Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at BUSM and leading vitamin D expert who served as the study’s corresponding author. “While a larger study is necessary to confirm our observations, the data demonstrates that improving vitamin D status can have a dramatic effect on gene expression in our immune cells and may help explain the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk for CVD, cancer and other diseases.”

At the end of the study, the group who received 2,000 IU per day achieved a vitamin D blood serum status of 85 nmol/L (34 ng/ml) and the 400 IU per day group just 63 nmol/L (25 ng/ml). The study reported – these results suggest that to maximize vitamin D’s effect on gene expression may require even higher doses than 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.

90% of Vitamin D is produced naturally through UVB exposure to human skin. It can also be ingested from some foods or supplements.

An independent group of over 42 prominent vitamin D doctors, researchers and scientists recommend that people of all ages achieve optimal vitamin D blood serum levels of between 100-150 nmol/L (Can) or 40-60 ng/ml (USA) for best overall health and disease prevention(2). This recommended level matches recent research from Tanzania on natural vitamin D levels that the human body would have had through evolution in the horn of Africa(3).

To help avoid vitamin D deficiency, the Vitamin D Society urge everyone, from babies to adults, to have a 25(OH)D blood test, get your test score and make sure your levels are between 100-150 nmol/L (Can) or 40-60 ng/ml (USA). Dr. Robert Heaney recommends people achieve a daily intake of 35 IU of vitamin D per day per pound (75 IU per kg) to help ensure you reach optimal levels vitamin D blood levels of 100 nmol/L (Can) or 40 ng ml (USA).

About the Vitamin D Society:
The Vitamin D Society is a Canadian non-profit group organized to: increase awareness of the many health conditions strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency; encourage people to be proactive in protecting their health and have their vitamin D levels tested annually; and help fund valuable vitamin D research. The Vitamin D Society recommends people achieve and maintain optimal 25(OH)D blood levels between 100 – 150 nmol/L (Can) or 40-60 ng/ml (USA).

For further information, please contact:

Perry Holman
Vitamin D Society



1.    Hossein-Nezhad A, Spira A, Holick MF. Influence of vitamin d status and vitamin d3 supplementation on genome wide expression of white blood cells: a randomized double-blind clinical trial. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58725. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058725. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

2.    GrassrootsHealth – Scientists’ Call to D*action

3.    Luxwolda MF, Kuipers RS, Kema IP, Janneke Dijck-Brouwer DA, Muskiet FA. Traditionally living populations in East Africa have a mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration of 115 nmol/l. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jan 23:1-5

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Perry Holman
Vitamin D Society
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