18 Responses to “RCPCH launches vitamin D campaign”

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  1. avatar Diane Smith says:

    Hi Zoe – I do greatly respect your work but on this one, I have to strongly disagree.

    It is very difficult in the UK and even more so in Scotland, where I live, to obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin D from food and sunshine.

    The Scottish Government recognises that the majority of the population is likely to be deficient. Research has linked low Vitamin D levels to the high incidence of Multiple Sclerosis in Scotland and the highest levels in the world in the Orkney & Shetland Isles.

    There is also mounting evidence that Vitamin D can prevent breast cancer and other cancers and also boost the immune system and help prevent the flu and other infections. This research is also finding that the level of Vitamin D needed to provide these benefits are higher than the current recommended levels which were set to prevent rickets only.

    I had my levels checked last year and found that at the end of August, my level was 22ng/ml which is just enough according to the NHS level set to prevent rickets. However, that would mean that over the months of October through to April I would have received no Vitamin D from the sun and it is extremely likely that I was becoming deficient every winter. This is likely to explain lifelong aches and pains in my legs and arms and the poor state of my adult teeth which were soft and crumbling when they first came in in adolescence and also the frequent and persistent colds, coughs I suffered every winter.

    After getting my levels tested, I began taking a high does of Vitamin D (10,000 IU) through the winter months and am now continuing taking 5000 IU through the summer as it is nearly always cloudy/rainy where I live (check the BBC weather forecast for North West Scotland).

    The aches and pains in my legs and arms have gone and I did not suffer one bad cold or flu all winter though many around me suffered numerous and prolonged illnesses.

    In conclusion, I think ideally it would be best if we could get our Vitamin D needs met by diet and sunshine but for many/most people this is not possible and supplementation is the best solution. Vitamin D3 is very easy to obtain.

    Here are some links you may find interesting:




  2. avatar Olivier says:

    If you take an average quantity of vitamin D for dairy products, you will see that you would have to eat 1kg of them each days, to obtain a poor 5µg, the vitamin D in dairy is not correlate with plasmatic levels, the levels of active vitamin D are decreased and same thing for parathyroid hormones when the blood levels of calcium are increased. The more you eat, the more you release. Same goes for fishes you can’t eat 1kg of sardines a day or 150g of red salmon, unless you got a lot of money.
    Vitamin D2 in supplements REALY… people can see for themselves in grocery stores or chemist store.
    I can make a mistake but I am belgian and in my country, the most common and easy to get is D3.

  3. avatar Chad says:

    Hey Dave why are you commenting on something you no anything about
    please go back to reading cereal boxes and trusting the Government…ps
    exactly who’s the (Idiot) not my word yours.
    Hey Zoë Thanks for the Great research living proof that this life style works.
    Vancouver Canada.

  4. avatar Dave says:

    Zoe I think you’re an idiot who tries to sell books by being controversial and giving the exact opposite advice that should be given. You are tricking idiots in to believing your stories.

  5. avatar Fiona Cope says:

    Hi Zoe,

    An interesting article. You mention how ” Supplements tend to be in the form of D2″, however, in my experience, D3 supplements are freely available in chemists and health food shops. Boots own brand supplements, for example, are D3.

  6. avatar Mark Struthers says:

    Thank you, Zoe.

    The prosecution of Rohan Wray and Chana Al-Alas was an absolute catastrophe. How can such catastrophic prosecutions be prevented in the future? Of course, it is the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that bring such cases to trial. However, in the case of allegations of child abuse, a prosecution will only be brought with evidence provided by doctors. In the case of Shaken Baby Syndrome, otherwise known as Abusive Head Trauma (AHT), the doctors who currently advise the CPS are the hawks, the ‘dirty thinkers’, who believe that ‘The Triad’ (retinal haemorrhages, subdural bleeding and encephalopathy) indicates abusive head trauma, without the need for any additional supporting evidence of that abuse.


    It still seems to be CPS policy to resist challenges to the ‘Triad’ based on any possible alternative pathological mechanisms, which might arise, for instance, as a consequence of vitamin D deficiency. This must change if such dreadful proceedings are to be avoided in the future, as William Bache suggested in his letter to The Times of 23 April 2012. The text of his letter is as follows:


    “Sir, I was the solicitor for Rohan Wray during the course of the criminal proceedings against him in which he was alleged to have murdered his four-and-a-half-month-old son Jayden (report, Apr 20).

    At University College Hospital, London, and later at Great Ormond Street Hospital, as soon as fractures had been detected the immediate reaction of the health professionals was that my client and the child’s mother were abusive parents. They were treated thereafter as though they were criminals.

    As a result of the intervention of the police they were prevented from seeing their son or being at their son’s bedside when he died. They were not present at the death. The early assumption that there was abuse distracted those who should have known better from seeking out the real reason for his illness. As a consequence it is likely the treatment that might have saved Jayden was overlooked.

    All the official attitudes were obviously inspired by the so-called ‘shaken baby syndrome’ theory. The triad of retinal haemorrhage, subdural haemorrhage and brain swelling was present in this case.

    It is high time the shaken baby syndrome theory was discarded. It is becoming increasingly discredited. There can be many other reasons for the triad which have nothing to do with abuse. Slavishly assuming that the triad is strong evidence of abuse will result in yet more inappropriate prosecutions and worse, inappropriate convictions. It will lead to more loving families being torn apart for no good reason.

    The only worthwhile scientific truth in these situations is that the best experts simply do not know what really causes some of these deaths. To embark on legal proceedings on the basis of what is still only a theory will continue to lead to untold misery. The Director of Public Prosecutions should revise his guidelines on the subject.”

    William Bache & Co

    It would be a misfortune if all this were to happen again. In my view, it is high time that the Royal Colleges, particularly the RCPCH, reined in the hawks within the medical profession who, along with the police and CPS, have been allowed to abuse their power for too long.

  7. avatar Mark Struthers says:

    Continuing the dreadful story of a young coloured couple put on trial for murdering their baby …

    “A young couple who were in effect tried and cleared twice of shaking their baby son to death called last night for an inquiry into their ‘agonising’ treatment at the hands of social services, the NHS and the police. Rohan Wray and Chana Al-Alas were accused of killing four-month-old Jayden, who died of severe head injuries. While awaiting trial, they lost custody of the little boy’s younger sister, Jayda.”



    “Mr Wray said: ‘We feel we were treated very poorly by the state authorities involved in investigating our case. We were viewed as guilty from the outset. ‘They went down the line that we had done this to our son by shaking him. ‘If the doctors had found the rickets problem, we feel our son could still be alive today. But our agony at losing Jayden was exacerbated when we were accused of killing him.’ Police refused to let the couple or their family attend Jayden’s christening, which they requested before his life support machine was switched off. They were not allowed into the paediatric intensive care ward to see him when he died. But the parents said the most heartbreaking moment of their ordeal was when their newborn daughter was taken from them.”

    I believe this young couple’s experience provides damning evidence of the dreadful state we’re in over rickets and vitamin D deficiency.

    • avatar Zoë says:

      Hi Mark – I remember seeing this tragic story and thinking all the couple had done was to follow government advice – avoid fat and stay out of the sun!
      Great post – many thanks – Zoe

  8. avatar Mark Struthers says:

    A little known consequence of vitamin D deficiency is a murder charge.

    One such case concerned a Londoner, a 16 year old girl with a dark skin. She had a baby by her 19 year old, dark skinned boyfriend – who was overjoyed to be a father despite his youth. The girl breast fed her child. The baby become unwell; the couple took him to the GP who referred them to hospital. They went on the bus. The baby was admitted to their local London hospital, deteriorated and was transferred to the intensive care unit at GOSH where he later died. The young parents were not allowed to be with their child because the doctors had diagnosed deliberate abuse by parents. A post-mortem examination revealed rickets. Two years later the young couple were up at the Old Bailey defending a murder charge.

    There were 60 medical experts present as witnesses. No doctor really knew why the child had died, but a jury was expected to decide on murder beyond reasonable doubt, or otherwise. After six weeks the trial was called off. Judge Stephen Kramer QC told the jury: “There is insufficient evidence for you to be asked to continue.” The trial probably cost the taxpayer around £3 million, though the financial is a small part of the true cost.


    Of course, this sort of medico-legal obscenity has become routine,


  9. avatar Kurt says:

    Hi Zoe,

    I regularly read your blog and commend you on the work you have done in the analysis of poor quality science and countering much of the conventional wisdom based on such science. I agree with your position on Vitamin D in this post and that we should as far as possible get it from sufficient sun exposure and real food.

    I also totally agree that infants should preferably be breast fed and like adults be fed solids derived from real food. Industrial “food” for babies should not be promoted as a some kind of convenient “choice”. However, these products do have uses for situations where, despite optimal support, a mother is really unable to breastfeed or for the very rare condition of congenital lactase deficiency. The real problem is that they are promoted as a convenience, or in the case of the soy product mentioned, for pseudoscience reasons like “fussy tummies” whatever that is.

    That said, I feel compelled to point out that the following statement is both inaccurate and misleading:

    “In my book The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it? I analyse an infant formula. The composition of Similac Isomil Advance, Soy Formula is 50% corn syrup, 14.2% soy protein isolate, 10.4% high oleic safflower oil, 9.7% sucrose, 8.2% soy oil and 7.5% coconut oil.[iii] If a baby is unfortunate enough not to be breastfed, the infant can be started on a diet of 60% sugar from the first moment something is put in its mouth”

    The problems with this statement are as follows:

    1. There is currently no such product as “Similac Isomil Advance, Soy Formula“ made by Abbott Nutrition. The current product is called “Similac Soy Isomil”. See: http://abbottnutrition.com/Products/similac-soy-isomil .

    2. The composition of the current product is not what you have presented. The current unprepared powder contains: “Corn Syrup Solids (39%), Soy Protein Isolate (15%), High Oleic Safflower Oil (11%), Sugar (10%), Soy Oil (8%), Coconut Oil (8%)”.
    See: http://abbottnutrition.com/Products/similac-soy-isomil (Ingredients tab…).

    4. The misleading part of the statement is twofold. First, you do not state that the composition is for the dry unprepared powder which indeed contains 49% sugar (current formula – perhaps 60% previously). Second you suggest that a baby on this formula is being fed a diet of “60% sugar”. Are you really suggesting that babies eat the dry unprepared powder? I doubt it, but this is the implication.

    When the dry powder is mixed with the recommended amount of water the formula actually contains about 7g/100ml of sugar which is the same amount of lactose contained in human breast milk. See: http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/food/8F174e/8F174E04.htm So, by this logic maybe human breast also contains too much sugar? I am certain that you do not really believe this.

    The composition of commercial infant formulas is far from ideal,and the promotion of their use outside of situations where breast feeding is clinically impossible should certainly be opposed. However, if we expect alternative views to be taken seriously, it is equally important that care be taken to ensure factual accuracy and avoidance (even if unintentional)of misleading claims.

    • avatar Zoë says:

      Hi Kurt – Many thanks for your kind words and our areas of agreement.

      My book, The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it? was published in October 2010 and this was a current formula at the time. The original reference is #287 on the obesity epidemic site (http://www.theobesityepidemic.org/references/chapter-14/) This covers points 1 and 2. There is no point 3? The full extract in the book, point 4, notes “of the part that is not water”. Analysing the part that is not water is most relevant as it doesn’t matter how much water is added – the composition of the formula is the composition of the formula and the one I analysed was bad and I don’t imagine your references for more up to date products are much better. However much or little of the formula I analysed was consumed by a baby – the percentage was 60% sugar – corn syrup and sucrose – and I make no apologies for including this disgusting product in my book in the section on childhood obesity.

      Hence I stand by the accuracy of my 2010 publication
      Very best wishes – Zoe

  10. avatar Cosmo says:

    In previous post, you mentioned that the “five a day” for fruit intake was off target and nobody knows where that recommendation came from. Read this article, referrring to a new report, and expect that the new recommendation will be “ten a day”!


  11. avatar M says:

    Not to mention many black women are stupidly using and encouraging each other to use sunscreen. We should be the last people to worry about wrinkles (I’ll add though that whilst on holiday in Majorca my poor daughter did burn). I find it interesting that many of my friends and family report better health when they visit the Caribbean. Aches, pain and skin conditions seem to alleviate the closer you get to the equator.

    Glad you mentioned the vital role cholesterol plays in vit D synthesis. Fortified foods epic fail without it.

    Have you seen the price of butter lately? It won’t be long before it is £2/250g

  12. avatar Sara says:

    And what about its benefits on weight loss and muscle growth. My entire life I had trouble losing weight. I could never make it to goal… and would usually have to stay on the diet an unusually long time…the first diet I went on with my Vitamin D blood level high, I made goal in 6 months. I am sure this is a major key in the battle against obesity.

  13. avatar Kenny says:

    Fantastic post full of great info! Thanks!

    It’s so rare to see anyone point out the need for cholesterol to make Vitamin D via sunlight. I try to get all the good fats, cholesterol, and sunlight that I can. Luckily I live where we can get good sunlight year round.

    And great point about sardines. In addition to the Vit D, they also have omega-3 fats and B12.

  14. avatar Suzanne says:

    I take vit.D supplements from September to May as here in Sweden we simply do not get enough sun exept from June to August. It helps me get through the dark months and mostly keeps the colds away.
    It has also been noted here in recent years that there is an increase in autism in children whose parents are from Somalia. This has been attributed to lack of vitamin D. http://www.dietdoctor.com has extensive articles on Vitamin D.

  15. avatar Stephen says:

    Zoe, I was wondering when you would pick this story up.

    My favourite quote was this one on the BBC website:

    ‘”Writing in Scrubbing Up, Prof Blair said: “Vitamin D can be found in some foods such as oily fish, eggs and mushrooms – but only 10% of a person’s recommended daily amount is found naturally in food.

    “Put bluntly, eating more fish and getting out in the sun a bit more won’t make much of a difference to your vitamin D levels.”‘

    It is worrying how seemingly intelligent people can miss the obvious: Take a look again at this quote – “…only 10% of a person’s recommended daily amount is found naturally in food.”

    A diet that provides only 10% of the recommended amounts of a vital nutrient is clearly not a sustainable diet.

    This then raises two possibilities: The fact that humanity been able to survive so many generations on such a deficient level of vitamin D intake could mean that the recommended vitamin D levels are unreasonably high. But then that would negate all the clinical research on required vitamin D levels

    Or (much more realistically) it raises very real questions about the nature of the recommended diet itself — and, thus, whether it really should be recommended or not.

    Why is it that seemingly intelligent people are unable to draw the obvious inference from their own statements that it is the diet itself that is to blame?

    • avatar Zoë says:

      Hi Stephen – great question! I think that Dr Malcolm Kendrick summed it up in a debate thincs were having the other day (The International Network of Cholesterol Sceptics): “When you are defending an idiotic idea you are forced to use other idiotic ideas. It is the nature of the thing.”!
      Best wishes – Zoe

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