Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vitamin D: Nature's Antibiotic 20-50k IU daily x 3 days

FIG. 5. Antiinflammatory effects of vitamin D in the critically ill. Plasma concentrations of CRP and IL-6 serum concentrations over time in ICU are depicted for the two study groups. Open bars represent the low-dose 200 IU/d vitamin D group (n 10), and hatched bars represent the high-dose 500 IU/d group (n 12). Data are means SEM. Elevated CRP and IL-6 levels, observed on ICU admission, decreased significantly with time in ICU in both study groups. The fall in CRP was significantly more pronounced in the high-dose vitamin D group, compared with the low-dose group between d 3 and d 7; likewise in the high-dose group, IL-6 levels decreased from admission to d 4, whereas they remained unaltered in the low-dose group.
(*, P less than 0.05.)

I love vitamin D3 5000 IU from NOW brand in olive oil ( $8.80 per bottle of #120 capsules... at 12 bottles per case)...for optimal health and longevity *smile* and optimal flu/immunological protection)


And when I'm coming down with a cold . . . T-E-N (10) A DAY KEEPS THE FLU AWAY :)

In fact I've been using vitamin D as an antibiotic as well for the last 18 mos and have had very few colds. Prior to supplementation, I suffered from frequent URIs, coughing spells and bronchitis that would last 8wks or longer with little benefit from albuterol and steroid inhalers. (Lack of natural estrogen, suppressed by synthetic progestin, was the cause it turns out -- and yes the drug companies know this -- yes -- read the package insert of your contraceptive).

How do you know if you are vitamin D deficient? Frequent colds? Asthma? Hayfever/Allergies? Feel crappy, achy, sad sometimes? You probably have significant vitamin D deficiency. Most lab standard ranges post 'normal' vitamin D 25(OH)D as 30 to 100 ng/ml and this is clearly out dated and 'off.' Normal for outdoor living, non-makeup, non-sunscreen-wearing individuals is ~60-80 ng/ml, and this is what should be achieved via supplementation, sun and food (food is the poorest source unless you are Inuit on a high-fat-seal/seafood-diet). And...Forget about sunlight/UVB if you live away from the equator . . . y e s . . . that includes San Francisco and anything NORTH for about ~4-6 months per year.

Antibiotic dose ('Stoss' protocol): ~25,000 to 50,000 IU daily in the AM (or split) for 3 days

(Precise dose: 1000-2000 IU per kg (or 500 IU per ~pound))

Side Effects: wake up without sniffles, scratchy throat, green phlegm, chest tightness or asthma

The above study (graph) was a short one in a small number of critically ill patients. A 'high' dose vitamin D (only 500 IU/day) was more effective at lowering CRP, marker for inflammation, and IL-6, immune marker for infected-tissue destruction, compared with 'low' dose vitamin D (200 IU/day). What does this show? Not much except . . . (1) when one is critically ill the blood vitamin D concentration hit ROCK BOTTOM (why? it's nature's antiobiotic and restorative hormone) . . . and (2) even licking a vitamin D capsule will provide IMMENSE immunological benefit and may perhaps even save your life if you are ever critically ill.

As a kid one summer, I became almost critically ill after a mild-sized 3rd degree burn on my L-thigh (which I joking refer to as my 'shark bite' if people happen to ask). As a child, the area was a significant portion of body surface area and I was near comatose for a little while (my father doesn't even remember how long). Spending 24/7 outdoors in the hot humid Pennsylvania sun that summer prior to the accident probably provided some degree of vitamin D, I believe, to have afforded some protection, healing, and surviving (in addition to the antibiotics/steroids).
Bone turnover in prolonged critical illness: effect of vitamin D. PDF here. Van den Berghe G, Van Roosbroeck D, Vanhove P, Wouters PJ, De Pourcq L, Bouillon R. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Oct;88(10):4623-32.

Below is info from Dr. Cannell and his non-profit Vitamin D Council on the curious antimicrobial protective effects and benefits of vitamin D.

May you and your family allude the flu this season!

Is Vitamin D An Antibiotic?
Antimicrobial Peptides

"Dr. Liu and colleagues at UCLA, publishing in this March's edition of the prestigious journal Science, showed that vitamin D might be, in effect, a potent antibiotic. Vitamin D increases the body's production of naturally occurring antibiotics: antimicrobial peptides. Antimicrobial peptides are produced in numerous cells in the human body where they directly and rapidly destroy the cell walls of viruses and bacteria, including tuberculosis. Furthermore, Liu showed that adding vitamin D to African American serum (African Americans have higher rates of TB) dramatically increased production of these naturally occurring antibiotics.

Liu PT, Stenger S, Li H, Wenzel L, Tan BH, Krutzik SR, Ochoa MT, Schauber J, Wu K, Meinken C, Kamen DL, Wagner M, Bals R, Steinmeyer A, Zugel U, Gallo RL, Eisenberg D, Hewison M, Hollis BW, Adams JS, Bloom BR, Modlin RLToll-like receptor triggering of a vitamin D-mediated human antimicrobial response. Science. 2006 Mar

Plenty of you have e-mailed me that pharmacological doses (high doses) of vitamin D (1,000–2,000 units/kg per day for three days), taken at the first sign of influenza, effectively reduces the severity of symptoms. However, has anyone ever studied giving 100,000, 200,000, or 300,000 units a day for several days to see if vitamin D induces antimicrobial peptides to help fight other life-threatening infections? (By the way, doses up to 600,000 units as a single dose are routinely used in Europe as "Stoss" therapy to prevent vitamin D deficiency and have repeatedly been shown to be safe for short-term administration.) No, you say, studies of "Stoss" therapy in serious infections have never been studied or reported in reputable journals. Well, maybe such treatment has been studied—and reported in the best journals—by way of the weirdest medical invention ever patented in the USA."


David said...

Very cool stuff. I have firsthand experience with this, and I know it works. Here's a comment I posted on Dr. D's blog awhile back:

"It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and I felt myself getting sick. Not with a cold, but with the flu. I got a 102 degree fever and felt awful. I remembered Dr. Cannell and Dr. Mercola talking about "stoss" therapy, so I calculated an "influenza dose" based on my body weight. I took around 150,000 IU once per day for three days. On the morning of the third day, I was completely better and was able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my family. All in all, I had the flu for TWO DAYS. Amazing. I've never recovered from a severe illness that fast. In the past, I have always been very slow to recover. Incredible stuff."

Obviously, my "stoss" therapy was much higher than the 20-50k IUs you talk about here. I was going off Cannell and Mercola's recommendations at the time according to body weight (around 2,000 units per kg of body weight, once per day for three days). Too much? I don't know, but it knocked out the flu like nothing else in my experience.

Dr. B G said...


That is wonderful you've been viral free for ~2yrs or longer. Personally I think that dose is quite fine -- I just don't have experience there. Maybe I should try it though -- the 25,000 to 50,000 doesn't always work for 3 days and perhaps it's b/c the dose is not sufficient. I always look forward to your feedback!


-Brandon said...

"Normal for outdoor living, non-makeup, non-sunscreen-wearing individuals is ~60-80 ng/ml, and this is what should be achieved via supplementation, sun and food."

So, wear sunscreen or not? As someone who spends a lot of time indoors training due to my work schedule, should we be wearing sunscreen? 2,000 IU of D3 daily, but I'll get my levels checked next week. Is the protective value of having 'high' D3 levels enough to not use sunscreen?

David said...

From what I've personally seen with family, friends, etc., the lower mega-doses (~20-50k) don't seem to pack quite as much of a punch. My sister was sick recently and took around 30k units (it was all she had left), and while this lessened the symptoms, it didn't totally eliminate it like it did with me. Same with my dad. He took 20k for a few days and felt better, but wasn't over it completely.

Of course, if someone gets the flu, I take that to be a pretty sure indicator that they're deficient in D. I know my sister and my dad were both deficient, and I was too. I'm thinking that when you have an underlying D deficiency coupled with a high demand illness like influenza, it takes a pretty massive dosing schedule to cause an acute recovery. Which is probably why I had better results than they did.

Over the 3 day period, it 60-90k IU for them versus ~450-500k IU for me. The higher dose definitely had the better effect, though I'm cautious to recommend it to people without knowing their background, blood levels, etc.

Dr. B G said...


Sunscreen is to protect against UVA (which goes through glass) and UVB (which does not, the only wavelength which activates vit D in the skin). Unfortunately if you live beyond the 37th latitudes north/south, then you get negligible amounts of UVB from ~Oct to ~Mar.

I do wear some suncreen in the summers to protect against the wrinkle causing UVA. Studies however do show that lack of Vitamin D causes melanoma and BCC, skin cancer -- despite how much sunscreen is used.

Hope that helps!

Dr. B G said...


Yes, it's all about the blood levels and personal profile b/c we're all so different. When I was not ill, I took a lot as an experiment and developed dry skin and bumpy arms -- ?? -- so definitely excess can produce the same symptoms as deficiency. Just like for Vitamin A: hypervitaminosis A v. vitamin A deficiency.

What I've observed when 25(OH)D is tracked, there are definite perceptible drops in concentration levels after the flu, UTI or other infectious episodes. So as you noticed, the boosts are helpful and hardly harmful if one is indeed ill.

Good thing there are so many convenient ways to track now -- as you are aware Dr. Cannell offers a convenient kit now :)

Thank you,

Dr. B G said...


Dr.Davis' Vitamin D report Sept 2007

You have a cool blog! Are you improving fitness gains and speed, performance and power with your diet changes? Any thoughts what optimal fat % for endurance HIT competitions?


-Brandon said...

Thanks for the comments. I've been racing as a 'pro' since 2004. We're not grain free and limit wheat products to an average of 2 slices of ezekial toast a day. Other than that it is usally quinoa, some rice, oats, yams, and some potatoes for carbs. We focus more on the timing pre- and post- workout. Since changing things up, I think that we've both recovered better and been able to more consistently hit our workout targets. So, I would say yes, things are improving between training and diet, and I am on the 'older' end of the pro ranks at 34...I use that loosely.

Since we are in more of the extreme endurance sports...triathlon, I suspect that 6-12% BF for males and 10-18% for females is pretty close for the elites, but I don't have a hard basis for that.

Dr. B G said...

Hey Brandon,

I'm gradually converting to higher fat -- but for girls (just like for fasting/IF) the gains are nominal and it is HARDER to lose weight.

Here an interesting read for you:
High Fat Diet in Endurance Athletes

That's is very cool you see improvements with such a few diet changes. I would still be concerned about Ezekiel bread... esp if the presence of autoimmune disease or small dense LDL particles. Any family hx of heart or stroke prematurely?

Some of our best athletes at TYP have significant heartscan scores. Why? How we look/compete/exercise/perform has no way of predicting inflammation and plaque growth. In fact, many endurance demands can grow calcifications (without the proper rest, recovery, supplements, antioxidants, etc).

Nrdski posted the above article I linked -- which I think is real neat. :)

I think those BFs are good too.

We do require the fatty acids and cholesterol for production of hormones and immune intermediaries for optimal immune and athletic performance (like testosterone, etc).


Anonymous said...

"When I was not ill, I took a lot as an experiment and developed dry skin and bumpy arms -- ?? -- so definitely excess can produce the same symptoms as deficiency. Just like for Vitamin A: hypervitaminosis A v. vitamin A deficiency.: Dr BG "

My D level is 67 on 6000iu daily. I have been taking high quality (Green Pastures) cod liver oil, 10,000iu's and I have bumpy upper arms, that hasn't happened since I was a kid. What is going on? Is there a way to figure out the ratio for A and D?
Conversely, I have been fighting off a virus for two months now, just unable to shake it. No fever, just ear, throat and chest congestion, and occaisional green mucus. Is it worth it to do a blast of D? I tried the high dose of 40 to 50,000 iu of 'D' when this all started in January, but didn't get much help.

Dr. B G said...

Hi Jean,

Skin issues can be an indicator of various excess or deficiencies of a number of vitamins and nutrients. To get that much vitamin D from CLO, you must be consuming a great deal of vitamin A. I typically think the best source of vitamin D is a separate pill b/c if you consume seafood/meat, then you are likely getting plenty of vitamin A (esp if you add some organ meats 1-2x/month which are AWESOME sources of vitamin A and other important critical nutrients like Coenzyme Q10, taurine, alpha lipoic acid, Carnitine, etc).

Bumpy skin?? Mine could've been secondary to not just high vit D but also high vit A. I was sort of testing a theory about how one supposedly prevents toxicity of the other...(I don't think it worked).

Since your blood vit D appears fine -- you likely may be just getting too much A right now. Vitamin A stays in the body b/c it is fat-soluble. Stopping for 1-2 mos should resolve the skin if that is indeed what is contributing. High vitamin A can prevent the immune system from functioning well (in the absence of true inflammatory sources, e.g. infection, cancer, skin condition, etc).

I appreciate your frustation about vitamin D/A ratios -- I think hunter-gather's sourced MOST of their vitamin D from sunlight -- hard to obtain those ratios from CLO.

Hope that helps and please let me know how it goes!


David said...

The bumpy upper arms thing is interesting. Sounds like Keratosis Pilaris, but the reason it's interesting is because KP is usually known for being a vitamin A deficiency condition -- not a problem of excess.

Still, since symptoms of deficiency and symptoms of excess often overlap in their presentation, I guess it's plausible that it could be connected.

I've heard of people developing KP after taking isotretinoin, so who knows?

Andrew said...

Wow, that's a LOT of Vitamin D. Aren't you worried about possible toxicity?

Anonymous said...

In regards to Brandon's comments about sunscreen, I have been reading a great deal about polyunsaturates and coconut oil and skin cancer. One study noted that the incident of skin cancer in the US has gone up in the last 20 years, even with our outdoor-aversion and increased use of sunscreen. It was correlated with the increased consumption of franken-oils/polyunsaturates (corn oil, vegetable oil/wesson, safflower oil, canola oil - all the oils that are solvent-derived); while in the tropics they are outdoors far more than we Americans are, they DON'T wear sunscreen, primarily consume coconut oil (DON'T consume polyunsaturates), and DON'T have the high-incidence of skin cancer

Go figure! - Marisa

TedHutchinson said...

I think it's a pity you didn't post your IHERB rewards code. It offers a $5 introductory discount. For people who live in the UK that discount means they can buy 3 Now foods 5000iu pots and using the discount code avoid paying Customs Duty + £8 Post Office handling charge. So the value of the discount code is far higher for UK buyers than you may think. My code is WAB666 but I'm very happy if you remove my code and insert your code. Just so readers in these economic recession times don't waste any money at all.
Antimicrobial Peptides, Innate Immunity, and the Normally Sterile Urinary Tract
I have to self catheterise 5 times daily, used to get UTI's regularly, even went on a long term low dose antibiotic.
Since I've raised Vit d status no need for the antibiotic as I no longer have UTI's been clear of infection for over 2yrs now. Amazing.

TedHutchinson said...

There is an excellent video explaining why sunscreens increase skin cancer incidence at the bottom link. For those who just want the facts (and possibly avoid the painful jokes) you can skim through the slides they were used in the presentation.

Grassroots documentation slides

Most readers who are able to follow the science detailed in the this blog will be well able to judge what the presentation slides are saying.

But if you've 45minutes the watching the Edward Gorham's full presentation you can download from here will tell the whole story. Downloading, rather than listening live, gives you the option of skipping the joke.

GrassrootsVitamin d Videos

Dr. B G said...


I think your on the right track... KP could be a sign of toxicity OR deficiency of vitamin A. (And a sign of gluten toxicity too -- which I used to have too! And skin tags! oh my!)

All the fat-soluble vitamins are critical for optimal, banging skin. Richard at Free the Animal just wrote about vitamin K2 MK4 makes his skin BABY SOFT!

Synergism of vitamins A and E with dermatologic applications. Scribner MD et al. Cutis. 1979 May;23(5):600-3, 689-90

A synergism between vitamins A and E has been demonstrated by a number of investigators, notably Stanley R. Ames, who showed that in rats on a vitamin E deficient diet, the serum vitamin A level remained low, no matter how much vitamin A was given by mouth, or even by injection, but that adding vitamin E to the diet restored the vitamin A serum level to normal. We have utilized these observations with a high degree of success where vitamin A alone had failed to control three dermatologic conditions involving a defect in keratinization, namely, keratosis follicularis (Darier's disease), pityriasis rubra pilaris, and acne vulgaris. It is possible that a number of additional dermatoses characterized by dyskeratosis or hyperkeratosis might also be benefited by this combination.
PMID: 156626


Dr. B G said...


Yes toxicity is always a worry without lab testing or using a convenient vitamin D testing kit (now available at the Vitamin D Council website and Track Your Plaque).

Have you ever been evaluated for your vitamin D status? Deficiency is surprisingly common.


Dr. B G said...

Hi Marisa!

Very interesting! I love your observations and insights!!

Thank you,

Dr. B G said...

Hi Mr. Hutchinson,

I've enjoyed reading your comments and information over the last 18-24 mos since I had the diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency. You provided very educational information.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and personal experience. I just tried the 100,000 IU x 3 days (again I was hesitant like others -- thankx David!) and it has totally taken away the cold I was getting this past wkend BETTER and FASTER than my lower dose I was doing. My baseline vitamin D is only 60s ng/ml. I'm surprised, for me, 75-80 ng/ml seems more optimal for me for asthma prevention and the dose is not a small one.

I appreciate your helpful comments!


dr j said...


2 personal experiments
only needed 1 day, not 3 days
50k D3 per day PLUS 1gm SR Vit C works a treat to knock off a brewing sniffle and a week later, brewing flu that has floored the household.

My measures.. 2 fold,
head feeling AND saliva pH. Normal saliva is 7.4 for me, symptoms, 6.4, on feeling better, 7.0. I should ahve measured BG too... next time
I have no fixed views on saliva pH but it sure shed light on my mother's glucose/lactic acid cycling with her cancer.
dr j

Brett said...

I really love your blog and am a long-time Paleo convert, despite being an endurance athlete.

I tried your vit D vit A cream trick on a rapidly growing mole/skin tag in a very private area. It worked like a charm, it went from being very large to almost gone in about three weeks of sporadic treatment. :) So, thanks for that, and keep up the excellent work on this blog!

Dr. B G said...

Dr J,

So glad to hear from you again!

You are so WAY way as usual ahead of the curve than me... I'm sorry don't know much about acid-base yet (though the ancient Chinese do believe in it... even for baby sex selection).

I agree -- vitamin C is good stuff.


Dr. B G said...

Hey Brett,

Isn't the topical use so GREAT...?!!! And so cheap and easy!

That is so awesome!


dr j said...


long time no comment but i do appreciate your work!

2 questions

1. have you seen this re vitamin C

2. Did you visit Bruces Ames lab yet? Do you know what Bruce's 14 compounds are for mitochondrial health?


Dr. B G said...

Hi Dr J!

I've read Dach's thoughts (who is btw a member at TYP) on Linus Pauling -- there is some validity in the vitamin C theories I think. Perhaps some individuals genetically are more inclined toward vitamin C deficient conditions, just as some are more prone to hyperhomocysteinemia (and CAD/PVD/CVAs) when folic acid and other B-vitamin lows are marginally 'low'.

Email me -- Ames didn't pass along info on the ingredients -- but I believe he's looking at not 14 but even 42 (?). From what I am currently reading, mitochondria really are the key to the law human energetics and perhaps even longevity. They are really cool little things. Any deficiency of minerals, vitamins, co-factors or hormones compromises mitochondrial function.

Toxins like statins can also ruin their function for a small subset of the pop with certain genetic predispositions. We can rejuvenate them with HIT/tabata and anaerobic exercises and proper recovery/nutrition. I am really amazed by what I'm reading! The implications are WAY beyond heart health... brain protection, lifespan protection, immunity protection, etc.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. BG,
Love your blog and read everything you write. Have followed you over to Nephropal as well.

I have upped my D to 10,000 and my recent test result was 79. I also take an occasional dose of 25-50K to make sure I don't get sick and so far it has worked like a charm.

I have a question though. There was a comment by Brett who mentioned vit D/vit A cream for mole/skin tag. I can't seem to find where you talk about this. Could you please explain?

Thank you so much for all the time and effort you expend to help others. You are truly saving peoples lives!

Laura, Arizona

Dr. B G said...

Hi Laura,

Thank you for reading!

Normal vitamin D is 50-80 ng/ml so that is great.

Have you heard of A & D ointment for diaper rash? Essentially we did our own using an opened capsule of NOW brand vitamin A 10,000/vit D 400 IU per capsule and smeared it on my daughter's warts (gently 'scrubbed' lightly with an disposable emery board) about every 2-4 days.

After 2-4 wks, all the warts were gone. Add'l I started her on vitamin D and some A. Previously the pedi 3x tried to burn the warts off with liquid nitrogen which completely failed. Not only did the warts return, they infiltrated the scar tissue as well.

Apparently works for skin tags and other things as Brett was an n=1 experiment (not surprisingly)!!

Vitamin A and D are critical for immunity. In Africa after dysentery, children who are vitamin A deficient (severely malnourished and immunocompromised) become blind. What causes the blindness? The dysentery or the prediposing factor of vitamin A insufficiency then subsequent depletion with the infection?

Just like D, one should be careful not overdo the A which is also fat-soluble and stays in our fat tissues -- the signs of toxicity are the same as the signs and symptoms of deficiency. I overdid vitamin A once 10 yrs ago eating too much liver pate! It screwed up my liver temporarily for a few days!


Steve Cooksey, Diabetes Warrior said...

Dr. BG,

I love your blog.

As a diabetic... your medical background coupled with your paleo/crossfit experience ... make your blog an indispensable resource.

I started getting "sniffles" this morning so I upped my Vit D3 and shared this post with others as we enter the winter season.

Take care and thanks again for all you do. :)


PS - I friend of mine had lifelong issues with cholesterol (she's gall bladderless) and I was helping her with going "primal". She read your posts on TYP and re-energized her efforts to control her life with diet and exercise.

Just thot u should know. :)

Dr. B G said...

Hey Diabetes Warrior!

Are you feeling better? That is the 'Stoss protocol' from Dr. Cannell's vitamin D council's site...

Thank your friend for the kind words. Means a lot.

YOU FOUND ME DUDE *haa ah!* And if you are ever in the Bay Area/San Francisco, you MUST MUST give me a ring so we can meet for drinks/xfit or a to hang!


Anonymous said...

This week my entire family has been hit with flu-like symptoms (fever, aches, severe congestion and coughing). We usually take D3 in small doses every day, but have been sick for most of the winter months. After reading the information here I am thinking we aren't taking enough. I am wondering if the dose of 500iu per pound needs to be once a day or can it be spread throughout the day?


Dr. B G said...


I think that dose is more applicable to vitamin D deficient versus replete individuals. Probably if someone is acutely inflamed with a viral or upper respiratory infection, then it would not matter the time of day but generally dosing of vitamin D supplementation should mimic typical sun exposure and endogenous production -- AM and noon. Since unlike sunlight the body does not shut off production or neutralize active metabolites, if vitamin D is taken in the evening there are frequent complaints trouble sleeping. I have shortened sleep if I take in the evening which may or not have any implications but I don't tend like it!

Hope that helps!

Dirk said...

Anyone still using the Stoss Protocol? My family and I do and it never fails us. 100,000 iu once for three days seems to work best for us.