Effects of Vitamin D3 on Chronic Telogen Effluvium
The following is the story of a Vitamin D3 Blog reader who initially submitted her experience involving vitamin D3 supplements as a remedy for premature hair loss in the form of a comment on an older post about the topic. That said, her story was so well-written and intriguing that the editorial decision was made to publish it as an independent post, complete with a byline containing what information was provided by the author.
The following story was edited only for spelling and punctuation, and the contents of the story itself have not been modified in any way, shape, manner or form.
For the anyone unfamiliar with the condition, Chronic Telogen Effluvium is defined at the National Institute of Health website as follows:
Chronic Telogen Effluvium is not uncommon. It is a form of diffuse hair loss affecting the entire scalp for which no obvious cause can be found. It usually affects women of 30 to 60 years of age who generally have a full head of hair prior to the onset of shedding. The onset is usually abrupt, with or without a recognizable initiating factor. The degree of shedding is usually severe in the early stages and the hair may come out in handfuls.
Note: Photos depict chronic telogen effluvium, however they do not depict the author of the below story involving the condition entailing inexplicable hair loss which the author claims has been corrected via vitamin D3 supplementation.
Chronic Telogen Effluvium
Hi there, I would like to comment in my experience with Vitamin D3. I am currently 25 and since 2008 I have been diagnosed with chronic telogen effluvium.
I have had every blood test under the sun. I have been to an endocrinologist who ruled out any thyroid or hormonal issues. I have been to dermatologists and had scalp biopsies to test for female pattern baldness. All tests came back clear. Hence, the diagnosis of chronic telogen effluvium was made.
I have always taken copies if my blood tests, going back to 2007, and what I noticed surprised me. Each time my vitamin D was tested, it was within the low range. No doctors even mentioned this to me. Had it not been for me reading my blood tests myself I would have had no idea whatsoever that I was vitamin D deficient.
I have tried everything under the sun for this hair loss and no luck, so I decided to give vitamin D3 a go. My dose ranges from 2,000-3,000 IU, and currently is 3,400 IU.
At first I didn’t notice any hair growing back, so I became discouraged and used the vitamin D sporadically. What I can say, without doubt, every single time I discontinued using the vitamin D3, my hair shed would be huge. I can therefore confirm that taking vitamin D3 definitely reduces my hair shedding dramatically. Over the last few years, I have stopped and started vitamin D3 four separate times (would forget to take during holidays or overseas trips). Each time, the hair loss became worse and worse.
So where am I now in 2013? Well, it’s only been 3 months of continued vitamin D3 usage, and I can say that my hair loss has come to a stop. However, it has only been in the last month, that i have noticed that my temples and crown are beginning to grow in! Yay!
Now what have I been doing for the last month? I have been taking a prenatal vitamin containing vitamin D3, as I did read that prenatal vitamins can make your hair grow better. I did this for the hair, but I am also 25 years of age, and would like to prepare my body to have a baby.
It’s only been a month since I began taking the prenatal. It contains 400 IU of vitamin D3 and a whole heap of other things you can look up. I still continue to take vitamin D3 capsules, and twice a week I also use vitamin D liquid in my scalp and leave on over night. I have only been using the topical solution for a week, but I believe it could be helping, and will be sure to report back with further results.
Elle, on behalf of all the writers, editors and readers here at the Vitamin D3 Blog, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to write down your story involving vitamin D3 and hair loss. As Editor-in-Chief, I’ve encountered several personal accounts that I considered turning into posts, but yours is the first that I felt met the editorial standard for which the Vitamin D3 Blog has become known.
Thank you once again, and please check your email. We’ll be sending you some coupons for free vitamin D3 supplements as our way of saying “thank you” for your contribution to our informative website and blog.
Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Higher Risk of Lung Cancer, Decreased Pulmonary Function in Smokers
March 17, 2013 – A series of recently released studies involving the respiratory/pulmonary function of people who smoke cigarettes relative to their respective individual levels of vitamin D appears to indicate a direct relationship between vitamin D deficiency and reduced lung function in smokers, to go along with an increased risk of developing lung cancer in those who smoke and are also vitamin D deficient.
In one study of 626 male smokers conducted by researchers at Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston¹ concluded that: “Vitamin D deficiency was associated with lower lung function and more rapid lung function decline” in people who had smoked for at least 20 years.
The conclusion as documented in the study’s Abstract went so far as to say that vitamin D sufficiency (normal and/or healthy levels of vitamin D): “… may have a protective effect against the damaging effects of smoking on lung function”.
In more recent (breaking) news, a different study (Afzal et al²) published March 15 in Clinical Chemistry, the Journal of AACC (American Association for Clinical Chemistry) concluded that decreased levels of vitamin D may predispose smokers to developing tobacco-related cancer. This study involved 10,000 individual smokers from Denmark whom researchers tracked for a whopping 28 years – in some cases all the way through the Danish Cancer Registry. Of the 1,081 who developed some form of tobacco-related cancer, the median vitamin D levels as measured in terms of ng/mL were on average 10% lower than in those who did not develop tobacco-related cancer of any kind.
In an unusual twist, the researchers went on to state what any mentally competent adult could have logically deduced from the data, but which all-too-often is implied but never actually stated in similar such studies – that, in the words of the scientists, “This study illustrates that simple vitamin D blood tests and supplements have the potential to improve smokers’ health.”‘
A 2009 clinical review³ written by Christopher R Gilbert, DO, Seth M Arum, MD, and Cecilia M Smith, DO of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, determined that the adverse health effects of low vitamin D levels on smokers was in no way limited to an increased risk of being diagnosed with cancer.
The review of relevant data present at that time found that people who smoke and have been diagnosed with one or more of the following conditions: “Chronic lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial pneumonia“ are more likely to also suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
While at the time the researchers hypothesized that it was the respiratory illnesses inducing the low levels of vitamin D, the growing consensus is that in fact the low vitamin D is a precursor to the development and eventual diagnosis of the aforementioned pulmonary (lung) diseases.
“A recent observational study notes a significant association between vitamin D deficiency and decreased pulmonary function tests in a large ambulatory population.”
The review concluded: “From the available evidence, it appears that patients with chronic lung disease are at risk for vitamin D deficiency.”
As scientists from all around the world are establishing links between insufficient levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-OHD3) and what at times seems like every disease, health ailment and illness known to human civilization, a more complete picture has begun to form than existed in 2009. The overwhelming number of health maladies scientifically associated with insufficient vitamin D levels strongly suggests that the nutrient plays a vital role in immune function and disease prevention, with an inadequacy of the nutrient rendering one abnormally susceptible to developing any one (or more) of a myriad of diseases and illnesses, the full extent of which is not yet known and likely won’t be for some years to come.
Thus, the Vitamin D3 Blog advises readers to take certain statements from the 2009 review with a grain of salt given the research that has emerged in the years that followed and the collective understanding of the condition embraced by the scientific community in light of the new data. If a causal relationship does in fact exist between vitamin D insufficiency and development of disease (lung disease as it pertains to this article but disease in general in a broader context), it is in all likelihood the low vitamin D levels that serve as the precursor to increased susceptibility of developing a disease or illness, not that the presence of the disease(s) somehow leading to the 25-OHD3 levels dropping in those suffering from said ailments.
In the 2009 review, there was one additional anomaly that appears to be inconsistent with most of the published research on the topic, and that is that supplementation did not help in many cases. Without knowing the specific supplements used, where they were made, by whom, when and how, it would be impossible to know for sure if supplement quality (or more appropriately the lack thereof) was responsible for that reality. However, given the full scale of scientific research on the relationship between vitamin D levels and the risk of developing any one of several dozen illnesses, diseases and other health conditions; it appears likely that either those examples stand alone as exceptions, or there may have potentially been an issue with the bioavailability (ability for the human body to absorb and use) of the supplements used in the study.
The Comparative Guide to Nutrition Supplements IV Edition notes a substantial variance in terms of absorption rates of different brands of supplements, with three or four scoring head-and-shoulders above the other 150 or so supplement brands surveyed. Not every OTC, grocery store or pharmacy brand will be the equivalent of sunlight in a capsule. If one is going to rely on vitamin D supplements alone, that person would be well advised to reference the CGNS IV and decide for themselves which of the brands surveyed to use.
Brands like Douglas Laboratories, Biotech, USANA and Pamela Egan / Egan Wellness Clinic consistently scored significantly above virtually all other products by all other brands of the 100+ surveyed. This is not insignificant and it is not the result of random occurrence. Some supplement makers are better at making supplements than others, and consumers should think long and hard before entrusting their health to a brand whose corporate leadership’s top priority is cost-cutting measures.
The best way to obtain vitamin D is still direct exposure to sunlight. That’s right, sunbathing – positioning oneself in such a way that a maximum amount of sunlight makes extended contact with a maximum amount of skin (permissible by law of course) – is still the best way to obtain Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), the vastly superior of the two forms of Vitamin D approved for sale as a dietary supplement in the United States. Just be careful to sunbathe in moderation, being mindful of avoiding sunburn from prolonged exposure, even using sunscreen when necessary and appropriate.
Low Vitamin D, Alzheimer’s Linked in Women
According to a pair of new studies recently published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences¹, vitamin D intake appears to be an extremely important determining factor relative to a woman’s propensity to develop Alzheimer’s Disease with age.
The study, which involved a whopping 6,257 senior women participants, suggested that women with the lowest vitamin D levels are the most likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and/or experience other cognitive decline with age. The findings appear to be consistent with trending data emerging from other unrelated studies showing an increased risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis among women who vitamin D deficient.
The study, which was headed up by Yelena Slinin, MD, MS, at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, found that women with insufficient levels of vitamin D were noticeably more susceptible to global cognitive impairment and a higher risk of global cognitive decline.
The extent of the women’s cognitive capabilities was drawn from the Mini-Mental State Examination (aka: Trail Making Test Part B). “Low” levels of vitamin D were defined as less than 20 nanograms per milliliter, with “very low levels” defined as less than 10 nanograms per milliliter. Women whose range fell within the former grouping were more likely to experience cognitive decline progressively with age, whereas the latter group experienced cognitive decline “at baseline”.
These studies are not the first of their kind, and reinforce the notion that obtaining adequate levels of vitamin D is critical to long-term cognitive health, as well as short-and-long-term health in a myriad of other ways (see all other postings to this blog for more on that).
It is imperative that men and women alike obtain sufficient vitamin D intake. This can occur in two ways, with no evidence indicating either to be superior to the other. The first is sun exposure: sunlight making contact with bare skin for sustained periods of time. This method necessarily requires wearing minimal (if any) clothing while sunbathing during the months when weather and temperatures permit such activities. The Vitamin D3 Blog recommends to anyone contemplating going without clothing altogether to do so in a private setting where no laws will be broken in the process.
The second method is vitamin D3 supplementation. You might have noticed that for the first time in this article, the numeral “3″ appears following the term “vitamin D”. This is deliberate, and absolutely critical if one chooses to go the route of supplements.
There are two forms of vitamin D currently processed and sold as supplements. One form, vitamin D2, is a synthetic compound typically manufactured from plant-based materials. Vitamin D2 does not absorb nearly as well as does D3, the natural form obtained via sun exposure. D3 is the same compound manufactured within the body as a byproduct of direct exposure to sunlight. This form is far more effective as an oral supplement, and the Vitamin D3 Blog advises anyone relying on supplementation to meet their vitamin D needs do so with vitamin D3 supplements as opposed to those containing D2.
Vitamin D3 supplements generally come in the form of small capsules, which are ingested orally as one would do with most any other vitamin or supplement. However, recent developments have led to a new technological breakthrough within the world of vitamin D supplements. That breakthrough is a very high-quality liquid form that comes in a small bottle with a dropper. Those who use such supplements are advised to follow the instructions of their physician (or go by label instructions). The drops of this liquid vitamin D3 supplement are administered under the tongue (sublingually) according to either the manufacturer’s label instructions or better yet those of the user’s personal physician.
Any of these methods (regular, routine and sustained sunbathing), powder-filled capsules and sublingual liquid D3 supplements are all adequate means of ingesting sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
The Vitamin D3 Blog advises readers to take a simple blood test known as a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. This test measures the levels of the nutrient present in one’s blood serum. The specific dosage recommended for each individual ideally would vary based upon the results of this simple, affordable and potentially life-saving blood test.
A new study appears to show a link between healthy vitamin D intake and healthy testosterone levels, and/or a link between low vitamin D levels and low testosterone. Which is it? More research is needed, say the scientists who conducted the study.
Vitamin D3 and Testosterone
Vitamin D Deficiency has already been shown to lead to an increased propensity for developing dozens of different illnesses, diseases and other conditions. Conversely, healthy levels of vitamin D3 by way of sun exposure or supplementation have been shown to help strengthen the immune system and stave off numerous diseases. Well, there’s more news on the vitamin D front, and this latest news involving the “miracle” sunshine vitamin appears to bode especially well for men – particularly those whose age is at (or in excess of) the age at which testosterone levels typically begin to decline in males.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone, and low levels can result in a decreased sex drive, metabolic slowing and decreased muscle mass, among other things.
The most recent news is that high serum levels of Vitamin D have been clinically shown to boost testosterone levels in men. This according to a new study conducted by Katharina Nimptsch and associates at the Harvard School of Public Health, and which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology earlier this year.
In their report on the trial, Nimptsch and company suggested that vitamin D may increase the production of testosterone in men, and experimental animal studies and at least one cross-sectional study appear to show a positive link between plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D and testosterone production in men. The scientists determined that once vitamin D levels reached the point of 75 to 85 nmol per liter, the relationship with increased testosterone production appeared to taper off.
A similar association was also observed between levels of serum vitamin D and free testosterone.
At lower levels, the amount of the increase in testosterone production was proportionate to the increase in vitamin D levels, which in the study were ingested in the form of vitamin D3 supplements.
Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D obtained through sun exposure and a process of internal synthesis involving the body’s vitamin D receptors. D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is the most readily absorbed form of vitamin D available as a supplement, and is far more effective than the synthetic vitamin D2, the use of which as a supplement in humans has become controversial in recent years.
The scientists who conducted the trial stopped short of asserting a definitive causality between increased vitamin D3 intake and increased testosterone levels. The report made it a point of clarifying that more research is needed to determine whether the relationship between increased vitamin D intake (or synthesis if obtained from sunlight) results in increased testosterone, or if low testosterone is merely a byproduct of low vitamin D to begin with. While this may appear to be a tomato-tomahto argument for some, the scientists were careful to assert that more research was needed before any sort of causality between vitamin D levels and testosterone levels could be established.
In the scientists’ own words:
“This study supports previously reported positive associations between vitamin D and testosterone although we did not observe parallel seasonal variation patterns. Possible causality and direction of the vitamin D-testosterone association deserve further scientific investigation.”
In any case, testosterone-boosting medications and supplements have become a booming industry over the past couple of years, and it is possible that men across the country and world may be unnecessarily paying excessive prices for doctors’ visits, testosterone-enhancing medicines and high-end supplements which may have adverse side-effects. If all that is needed to achieve healthy testosterone levels is increased sun exposure and/or a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement, then hundreds of thousands if not millions of men could be saving hundreds of dollars while safely and naturally achieving the same ends (increased levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone) without all the risks, negative side-effects and foreign chemicals found in some of these other testosterone boosting medicines and supplements.
Vitamin D and Low Testosterone
 (http://) onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04332.x/abstract
The most recent health problem to be linked to vitamin D deficiency is the decline and eventual loss of personal mobility in senior citizens and the elderly, this according to a brand-new study published by a team of medical researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center May 29 .
While the study’s conclusion had not previously been established scientifically, it comes as no surprise to those up-to-speed with the seemingly countless scientific breakthroughs involving vitamin D uncovered in the years since Vitamin D expert Pamela Egan first broke the story the blew the lid off the notion that vitamin D2 – the synthetic and for all intents and purposes inferior form of the nutrient which at-the-time was the standard bearer for vitamin D in supplement form – was of meaningful benefit to humans when ingested in supplement form. Vitamin D3 along with calcium and magnesium have been shown to work in synthesis with one another to support bone and joint health, and that a chronic lack of any of the three substances inhibits the synergy the when all three are present in adequate levels leads to stronger bones and joints with a greatly decreased chance of being diagnosed with osteoporosis (when healthy levels are sustained over an extended period of time).
Since both the extent and quality of one’s personal mobility is directly related to the health of the individual’s bones and joints (along with the brain and spinal cord), it stands to reason that a nutritional deficiency which leads to the decline of bone and joint health would consequently adversely affect that person’s capacity to move about on his or her own. This is the reason that this particular development brought little by way of element of surprise when the story debuted in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, with a corresponding news release appearing Tuesday on the website of the medical school and hospital associated with Wake Forest University.
The study involved 2,099 individuals ranging in age from 70-79. All participants were in good health, free of debilitating and life-threatening conditions at the study’s onset and reported no difficulty in walking a quarter-mile, climbing a set of stairs or performing routine, daily activities without the need for various aids to daily living, personal mobility devices or any other home medical equipment products.
The study participants were observed for a total of six years. Their vitamin D levels were tested prior to the study, and the frequency and severity with which the participants experienced decline in personal mobility and/or the onset of disability was monitored along with their vitamin D levels by way of annual checkups and semi-annual phone interviews every year for the duration of the trial.
While not the least bit surprising, the results left little doubt about the detrimental impact of insufficient vitamin D intake on the ability of the elderly to move about safely and effectively.
“We observed about a 30 percent increased risk of mobility limitations for those older adults who had low levels of vitamin D, and almost a two-fold higher risk of mobility disability,” said lead researcher Denise Houston, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition epidemiologist in the Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Houston also cited the relative lack of concrete data regarding the (now confirmed) existence of a possible association between the timing, speed and severity of the virtually inevitable decline in personal mobility common among the elderly. “This is one of the first studies to look at the association of vitamin D and the onset of new mobility limitations or disability in older adults,” added Houston. Given the overwhelming nature of the evidence in conjunction with the well understood cause-and-effect between bone and joint health and vitamin D levels, this will also hopefully be among the last. There are too many health maladies that are not yet understood, and the development of treatments and cures for the many chronic/severe and/or so-far incurable conditions has long been unnecessarily delayed due to a general lack of communication among the world’s scientists, which results in excessive waste of funds earmarked for research due to multiple teams of scientists studying the same exact thing numerous times over a period of a half-decade or longer – with virtually all results being near-identical with the exceptions coming from studies commissioned by interest groups with a financial stake in obtaining the desired outcome of a given clinical trial.
While the study involved individuals, the youngest of whom was 70 years of age at the study’s inception, this website recommends that everyone either make a point of sunbathing regularly (but in moderation in terms of time spent outdoors during peak temperatures), take vitamin D3 supplements regularly at a frequency and dose to be determined by each person’s primary care doctor.
Houston noted that man if not most of the people falling into this age demographic do not spend much time outdoors, hence it is imperative for those who do not get a lot of natural sun exposure to take at least 800 International Units per day (although that amount may be low in some cases where deficiency is moderate-to-severe.
For those unwilling to go through the trouble of making a doctor’s appointment, having the blood drawn and showing up for the follow-up appointment following the physician’s receipt of the blood test results, the Vitamin D3 Blog recommends that these individuals take a lower dose than would someone whose blood tests have confirmed the existence of vitamin D deficiency. A 1,000 IU vitamin D3 supplement is a safe dose, and if taken in no greater a quantity than one per day should not have any adverse effects and is not a large enough dose to lead to toxicity. That said, the writers and Editor-in-Chief of the Vitamin D3 Blog are not physicians, and while we report on the scientific findings uncovered by those who are medical doctors and other qualified scientists, we do not issue medical advice, and no statement issued on behalf of this website by the Vitamin D3 Blog’s writers, staff, editors, contributors constitutes medical advice in any way, shape, manner or form.
Our first suggestion is always to speak with your doctor, have she or he conduct the simple and inexpensive blood test to determine your levels, following the doctor’s recommendation as to whether or not to start a supplement regimen at any time, and following the doctor’s suggestion as to which dose is ideal for each person’s specific dosage requirements.
That said, with so much writing on the wall relating to the relative degree of one’s health – in this case the mobility and personal independence of elderly individuals as it pertains to vitamin D (and D3 in particular — not D2), we do feel confident in issuing what suggestions we do make, in this case that everyone who does not sunbathe in a swimsuit or less several times per week and does not eat mushrooms, eggs and cold-water fish every day take at least some vitamin D3 supplements – even if only a relatively small dose (such as 400-1,000 IU per day). In light of this study, which may or may not be in some way related to the fact that older people spend more time indoors and less time in the sun than their younger counterparts, we believe this to be of an increased level of importance for those over the age of 55. The age of 55 was chosen because beginning supplementation in advance of people reaching their 70′s is almost certain to help prevent the conditions that lead to inhibited and in some cases total loss-of-mobility. 55 also corresponds with the age at which women’s risk of developing osteoporosis begins to increase substantially. Better safe than sorry. And we’ve not even touched upon the topic how this miracle nutrient from the sun helps curtail inflammation.
While Houston didn’t spend much time discussing the relationship between bone and joint health and personal mobility, she did touch upon the role vitamin D3 plays in maintaining healthy muscles. “Higher amounts of vitamin D may be needed for the preservation of muscle strength and physical function as well as other health conditions,” she said.
In addition to daily supplementation with vitamin D3, which comes in a variety of forms ranging from tablets to caplets to gelcaps to geltabs to liquid sublingual drops to gummy bears (which are a bad idea in houses with children), there are a number of other ways seniors can improve safety and mobility both inside the home and out.
Companies such as Egan Medical Equipment, which is the exclusive provider of the top-quality vitamin D3 supplements personally used by this author and all of the Vitamin D3 Blog’s contributors and collaborating medical practitioners, offer an array of products designed to improve both mobility and in-home safety by helping to minimize the opportunity for serious injury. Readers interested in exploring additional methods to make the home a safe environment for the elderly or disabled beyond D3 supplementation are encouraged to explore the website of Egan Medical, as well as look into other options for helping seniors live at home for as long as is humanly possible such as home health care and medical staffing.]
 = Source
As a follow-up to our recent post about Vitamin D and Pregnancy, here are a couple of videos recorded and produced by medical scientists who are bona fide experts in vitamin D3.
The first video features Dr. Bruce Hollis, who is the director of Pediatric Sciences at the University of South Carolina’s medical school. Dr. Hollis was among the first to recognize that vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women had reached epidemic proportions by the year 2006, and is still widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on the impact of vitamin D (in both too large and too little amounts) during pregnancy on both mother and infant.
Vitamin D Supplementation in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Effectiveness and Safety
The second video, hosted by Dr. Carol Wagner, also of the medical school at the University of South Carolina, discusses the role of vitamin D3 in growing healthy babies from pregnancy to lactation.
Vitamin D3: Pregnancy and Lactation
The latest in the seemingly endless series of studies being released involving various effects of vitamin D as it pertains to general health, immune health, cellular health and disease prevention involves the role of vitamin D relative to pregnancy, prenatal health and the effects of inadequate levels of the nutrient in the mother during pregnancy and lactation on both the mother and baby. These studies have shown that the aforementioned inner-workings of vitamin D and pregnancy are both numerous and complex. One common theme with virtually all of the studies published over the past half-decade involving vitamin D is that the fat-soluble hormone known to society as a vitamin is that this nutrient is of critical importance to both the health of mother and baby during pregnancy, birth and post-birth infancy.
One study conducted by researchers at a South Korean medical school determined that the importance of “adequate” vitamin D intake is of particular importance to pregnant women in ensuring both maternal and fetal health, that inadequate levels of vitamin D3 are unusually common among women who are pregnant, and that this rampant inadequacy can be extremely detrimental to the immune health of both mother and baby. The research showed that vitamin D deficiency in expecting mothers can lead to an increased risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, and bacterial vaginosis, and an increased risk for C-section delivery.
“Adequate vitamin D intake is essential for maternal and fetal health during pregnancy, and epidemiological data indicate that many pregnant women have sub-optimal vitamin D levels. Notably, vitamin D deficiency correlates with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, and bacterial vaginosis, and an increased risk for C-section delivery. Recent work emphasizes the importance of nonclassical roles of vitamin D in pregnancy and the placenta. The placenta produces and responds to vitamin D where vitamin D functions as a modulator of implantation, cytokine production and the immune response to infection.” 
A 2011 study by the Hannover School of Medicine in Germany found recent evidence that vitamin D status influences female reproductive and pregnancy outcomes. According to that study:
“Human and animal data suggest that low vitamin D status is associated with impaired fertility, endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. Evidence from observational studies shows higher rates of preeclampsia, preterm birth, bacterial vaginosis and gestational diabetes in women with low vitamin D levels.” 
Two recent studies; one by medical scientists from New Jersey and another by the University of Calgary showed a correlation between vitamin D and birth weight:
The first one these determined that intake of Vitamin D was associated with increased infant birth weight, and that the lack thereof may lead to lower-than-ideal birth weight of the infant. 
The latter arrived at virtually the same conclusion, with the main difference being that it also found that intake of milk (which contains vitamin D3) during pregnancy are each associated with infant birth weight, independently of other risk factors. 
An study by Australian researchers showed that a relationship may exist between vitamin D deficiency and impaired fertility in women, an increased risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus. The researchers noted that insufficient evidence existed at the time of the study to definitively declare causality.
“Fertility may be impaired in mothers with low vitamin D. During pregnancy, maintaining vitamin D and calcium levels may decrease the risks of pre-eclampsia, while gestational diabetes mellitus appears to be more common in those with low vitamin D status.” 
Those of us who need not adhere to the scientific method, and are therefore free to speculate are fairly safe in assuming that based on the results of similar studies involving vitamin D deficiency and more than four dozen other illness and diseases, the chances that causality will eventually be established are highly probable.
While the complete extent of both sufficient and inadequate levels of vitamin D throughout pregnancy are not yet known and may not be for some time. There are quite a few diseases and illnesses, the likelihood of an individual being diagnosed with which relative to the individual’s vitamin D levels during pregnancy (for both mother and infant) have yet to be studied, studied again, peer reviewed and then studied one more time for good measure (standard procedure before researchers declare anything as scientific fact) are many, and the time and money needed to conduct such a massive amount of research is somewhat prohibitive as it pertains to the immediate answers most in Western society have become accustomed to and have come to expect.
What is indisputable regarding the effects of vitamin D deficiency and/or supplementation during pregnancy is that both the mother and her infant will be far less likely to experience low birth weight, pregnancy complications and the diagnosis of a number of diseases and/or illnesses during pregnancy, post-birth, infancy and possibly even into adulthood if the mother makes a point of supplementing with vitamin D3 at a level determined by her doctor and based on her individual blood-levels, diet and need than if she were to go the entire term of the pregnancy without ingesting vitamin D3 from supplements and/or other sources.
Pregnant women (and anyone else buying vitamin D supplements) should make sure to check the label very closely to make sure the bottle contains vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and not D2 (ergocalciferol). Studies have shown the efficacy and absorption of the former to be vastly superior to those of the latter, with some experts going so far as to condemn vitamin D2 as a nutrient unfit for use as a dietary supplement in humans. For more information regarding the differences between vitamins D2 and D3, please refer to previous articles published on this website in which the topic is covered in-depth.
The bottom-line for pregnant women is that there’s no excuse for failing to take prenatal vitamins, and if there is any doubt over whether or not the prenatal vitamin a given mom-to-be is taking has sufficient vitamin D3, be sure to check with a doctor or nutritionist and ask whether or not it is necessary to take additional vitamin D supplements in order to ensure optimal health.
- Vitamin D Effects on Pregnancy and the Placenta
Shin JS, Choi MY, Longtine MS, Nelson DM
Source: Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, CHA University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
- Vitamin D – roles in women’s reproductive health?
Grundmann M, von Versen-Höynck F.
Source: Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.
- Vitamin D intake during pregnancy: association with maternal characteristics and infant birth weight.
Scholl TO, Chen X.
Source: Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-SOM, Stratford, New Jersey, USA.
- Association of low intake of milk and vitamin D during pregnancy with decreased birth weight.
Mannion CA, Gray-Donald K, Koski KG.
Source: Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta.
- Vitamin D deficiency and pregnancy: from preconception to birth.
Lewis S, Lucas RM, Halliday J, Ponsonby AL.
Source: Public Health Genetics, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
Vitamin D Receptors DO Play Role in Hair Loss, Although Effects of Vitamin D Itself Remain Unclear
Science has determined that defective vitamin D receptors in skin cells are responsible for at least one form of hair loss (alopecia), but the actual role of vitamin D itself remains unclear.
Back in February of last year (2011), the Vitamin D3 Blog published an article about Vitamin D Deficiency and Hair Loss, which at the time appeared to be accurate, but that nonetheless spurred quite a bit of controversy among readers. That particular post has been among the most read, and has attracted the most reader comments in the history of this website.
The gist of the post was that while plenty of speculation of a link between vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency and inexplicable and/or premature hair loss could be found online, at the time, we here at the Vitamin D3 Blog had been unable to confirm a scientific link between the nutritional insufficiency and hair loss. The post set off a firestorm of comments (which still arrive at a rate that exceeds our ability to moderate all of them in a timely manner) by readers who believe based on personal experience that such a relationship does in fact exist.
In the time since the previous post on the topic of vitamin D and hair loss went live, a number of studies have been released that appear to validate the reader speculation regarding a possible association between low vitamin D and alopecia, which is a scientific term for baldness and/or hair loss.
According to one study conducted by a group of researchers at the Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of California, both humans with certain mutations in their vitamin D receptors (VDR), and mice lacking in these receptors developed alopecia (baldness). In that study, the mice were born with a full coat of hair, but failed “to initiate normal hair follicle cycling”. The study concluded that the lack of vitamin D receptors resulted in the disruption of the hair follicle structure, which resulted in subsequent failures of hair follicle cycling. The researchers went on to state that such changes are associated with increased hair loss, suggesting that the mutated VDRs were at least partially responsible for the regulation of the gene that controls hair loss, and hence the hair loss itself. (1)
Another study conducted by scientists at the Department of Dermatology at the University of Texas and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston “sought to evaluate the role that vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor play in the hair cycle and assess how this can be clinically applied to the treatment of hair disorders.” While it was determined that the vitamin D receptor does in fact play a role in hair follicle cycling, this receptor acts independently of vitamin D itself in this regard. The research concluded that treatments that up-regulate the vitamin D receptor may hold potential as a possible future treatment for hair disorders, and that further studies should be conducted on the matter. The researchers were quick to admit however, that the actual role of vitamin D in hair follicle cycling is not well understood, and that no conclusions could be drawn at this time about the role of the actual nutrient itself. (2)
In yet another study, this one conducted by the Endocrine Unit, Massachussetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, researchers found that by genetically tweaking the vitamin D receptor-null mice, alopecia could be prevented. Effectively, what they did was take VDR-null mice and mate them with in mice by mating them with two “highly expressing transgenic lines of mice expressing the human VDR” in order to obtain VDR-null mice expressing the human vitamin D receptor-transgene. Expression of the transgene (the one created by cross-breeding VDR-null mice with genetically-altered mice expressing the human VDR) in the VDR-null mice prevented alopecia (hair loss). Thus, the scientists were able to restore the VDR expression in the VDR null mice, preventing the hair cycle defect that leads to the development of alopecia. (3)
One final study worth mentioned a likelihood that keratinocyte is the actual cell responsible for the defective vitamin D receptors, which are believed to lead to alopecia (hair loss, baldness). This study, conducted by the same group of Boston-based researchers responsible for the latter of the three previous studies mentioned, concluded that keratinocyte, the predominant cell type in the epidermis (skin), is the “origin of the defect”. They went on to suggest that “this form of alopecia is due to absence of ligand-independent receptor function.” (4)
Perhaps the most promising study of all was one conducted by researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine. The very title of the abstract of their research sounds far more promising and to-the-point than those studies previously mentioned. The title reads: “Vitamin D3 analogs stimulate hair growth in nude mice”. The study determined that “Vitamin D3 analogs dramatically stimulated the hair growth of nude mice,” adding that ”Vitamin D3 analogs seem to act on keratinocytes to initiate hair follicle cycling and stimulate hair growth in mice that otherwise do not grow hair.” (5)
To conclude, science has determined that a genetic defect in the vitamin D receptors found in skin cells is responsible for at least one form of premature hair loss/baldness/alopecia, or whatever other term one wishes to assign to describe the condition. However, the relationship of the actual vitamin D levels of a person suffering from alopecia has not been established relative to the development of the condition. It may well be that the mutated vitamin D receptors prevent proper absorption of the nutrient, resulting in vitamin D deficiency, which could factor into the loss of hair. Or, it’s entirely possible that new research will determine conclusively that vitamin D itself has nothing whatsoever to do with the condition.
So, for those of you reading this in hopes of discovering how to re-grow your hair, vitamin D3 supplementation may help, but there is no direct scientific evidence to support any claim that it would. The Vitamin D3 Blog is neither suggesting or denying a relationship between an balding individual’s vitamin D levels and the condition of his or her hairline and scalp, nor are we encouraging those suffering from hair loss to go out and purchase supplements in hope of regrowing hair.
That said, if anyone suffering from premature hair loss or balding does decide based entirely upon his or her own rationale to purchase supplements for the purpose of attempting to reverse a receding hair line, we here at the Vitamin D3 Blog would most definitely like to be notified of the results. So if anyone reading this does decide to try vitamin D supplementation (hopefully using vitamin D3 as opposed to D2) in an effort to regrow hair, please fill out the contact form located on the Contact Us page of the site and share your story with us regardless of the end-result. If we receive enough responses, we may do a follow-up post on the subject comparing the results of the readers of this blog who tried D3 supplementation as a means of slowing and/or reversing hair loss or premature balding.
Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Yet Another Disease
A team of anti-aging experts from Adonia Organics recently released the results of a clinical trial conducted at the AMA Laboratories in New York which concluded that the process by which dark circles and bags form around the eyes of young, middle-aged and older adults is actually caused in part by a lack of sunlight (or a lack of vitamin D). Insufficient sun exposure can result in a paler skin tone, which in turn enhances the appearance of dark circles and bags in the area of the face just below the eyes.
Researchers found that the dark bags are exacerbated by fatigue – particularly during the winter months – that is attributed to deficient levels of vitamin D, which is created in the body when skin is directly exposed to sunlight. The decreased sun exposure throughout the winter months also contributes to reduced levels of neurotransmitter serotonin, which is one of the chemicals produced within the brain that helps the human body “feel good”.
According to Dr. Mark Binette, “Lacking in Vitamins D and K has a considerable negative effect on the appearance of dark circles and puffy eyes and can age a woman by 4.7 years putting over ten per cent on a woman’s age of 40.”
In all, the study found that more than twice as many women (82%) between ages 27 and 60 experience dark circles and puffy eyes in the winter, while only 38% reported the same symptoms during the summer months.
Dark circles underneath the eyes are typically the result of minor blood leakage just beneath the skin’s surface. This minuscule bleeding is typically the result of tiny capillaries bursting or becoming porous and leaking small amounts of blood. Once outside of the capillaries, the blood begins a process known as oxidation, which is what turns it that dark, blackish-blue color similar to the appearance of a bruise or minor contusion.
Since the skin under the eyes is already thin to begin with, during the winter months when skin becomes more transparent due to the typical decrease in sun exposure, fluid builds up inside the thin skin beneath the eyes, causing the dark circles and puffy-looking eyes.
The problem is not as widespread in the warmer months for two reasons: First, people spend more time outdoors wearing less clothes, which translates into increased direct exposure to sunlight. Additionally, people are less fatigued, and the darker complexion of the skin that typically accompanies warmer months as people are outdoors more and have more sunbathing opportunities makes what’s left of the dark circles and bags very difficult to notice when compared with the cooler months. The increased vitamin D absorption that goes hand-in-hand with sunbathing also helps to negate this effect, further removing the unnaturally dark areas underneath the eyes.
Since the study seems to suggest (although without stating it point-blank) that a highly-bioavailable (readily absorbably), high-quality vitamin D3 supplement (the form of the nutrient absorbed through sunlight and in supplement form the one that is more readily absorbed for use by the body – also known as cholecalciferol) may be able to help prevent the conditions that lead to dark circles, bags and puffy eyes so that come wintertime, one can look every bit as good as during the summer months without necessarily having to spend hours each week sunbathing in the cold.
The Vitamin D3 Blog recommends that anyone experiencing unnaturally dark, puffy eyes during the winter months talk with their doctor or healthcare provider about vitamin D3 supplementation and any other treatment options the doctor may suggest to help rejuvenate the youthful appearance of the eyes and the area just below them.
Video on Vitamin D3, Health, Immunity, the Sun and Skin Cancer:
I strongly encourage anyone who is hesitant to go outside and absorb some of nature’s vitamin D on a bright, warm and sunny day due to longstanding fears based upon rumors that sunbathing is a surefire recipe for skin cancer to actually spend two minutes watching the above video. The video features a medical doctor who is far better than this author at articulating the medical facts pertaining to the value of naturally-obtained vitamin D towards a person’s overall health. The doctor also discusses possible financial motives potentially underlying the mass-scare of the public over skin cancer followed by the major push for everyone who steps outdoors to wear a coat of sunscreen.
Vitamin D3: A Misnamed But Vital Element for Good Health
Guest Post By: Holly Miller
Vitamin D is a pair of complex, essential nutrients that the human body uses to grow and develop healthily. Ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol are the two forms of D vitamins and are known as vitamins D2 and D3 respectively. Both of these nutrients must be incorporated in the diet to prevent harmful deficiencies.
An interesting fact is that “vitamin” is a misnomer for D3. Vitamins are important nutrient that are produced by plants. Vitamin D2 is found in fungus species and plants, so it fits the definition of vitamin. Vitamin D2 can be ingested naturally through vitamin-fortified foods such as cereal, juice and milk. Vitamin D3 is actually a hormone that is produced naturally within animals when the skin’s surface is exposed to sunlight. Indeed, the human body produces vitamin D3, but most people do not synthesize healthy levels of the nutrient.
Because of the preoccupation with the harmful effects of too much sun, most people do not get enough of it. Similarly, foods rich in vitamin D3, including egg yolks, sardines, fortified whole milk, mackerel and beef liver are unpopular or demonized by popular diet plans. As a result of the reluctance of consumers, supplementing vitamin D3 is suggested for many adults; however, it is unwise to rush to the vitamin shelf in the drug store and grab the first bottle marked “D.” A generic vitamin D tablet is likely to contain high levels of vitamin D2. While D2 is healthy in small amounts, large quantities of the vitamin can be toxic to the body. In contrast, there is no risk of toxicity with vitamin D3. Foods are uncommonly enriched with vitamin D3, but it can be found on sale in pill or liquid form.
Vitamin D3 helps the body absorb calcium and works to control the immune system. A lack of sufficient vitamin D3 can leave your body more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases and cancer. Obesity, kidney stones, fibromyalgia, type two diabetes, psoriasis and chronic fatigue syndrome are all linked to vitamin D3 deficiency. Mental conditions may rise from a lack of vitamin D3, as well. Those with insufficient levels of vitamin D3 have suffered from mood swings, depression and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin D3 cannot be produced by exposure to fake ultra violet (UV) light, such as that found in tanning beds. Natural, nourishing sunlight is the only source of vitamin D3 synthesis in the human body. Consumers can save money on expensive supplements and avoid eating foods they may not enjoy by soaking in the sun’s free UV lamplight. Morning sun is the safest for the body. Head outside for at least 20 minutes each day and expose a minimum of 40 percent of your body to the sun for maximum D3 synthesis. During cold months, pill or liquid supplements may be necessary for many adults.
Guest Post by Holly Miller, a writer for CouponCroc.co.uk, the best resource for savings on health supplements, vitamins, and everything you need to stay healthy.
Editor’s Note: The Vitamin D3 Blog would like to offer its most sincere thanks to Holly for this wonderful post!