Interview with MICHAEL HOLICK, M.D.
Michael Holick, M.D.
Andrew W. Saul Interviews Vitamin D Expert
MICHAEL F. HOLICK, MD, PhD
“The population of the world has been brainwashed by the American Academy of Dermatology and the sunscreen industry, for 30 years, with the unrelenting message that you should never be exposed to direct sunlight because it is going to cause serious skin cancer and death.”
(Michael Holick, MD)
Editor’s 2006 introduction: Born
60 years ago in
DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWS: Dr. Holick, What are some of the research-based benefits of more vitamin D?
DR. MICHAEL HOLICK: You can reduce cancer risk by 30 to 50% by
increasing vitamin D in the diet, or by sensible sun exposure. We gave mice
colon cancer, and followed them for 20 days. Tumor growth was markedly
reduced simply by having vitamin D in the diet. There was a 40% reduction in
tumor size. And, casual sun exposure actually decreases your risk of
DY NEWS: Exactly how much vitamin D, and how much sun, do we need?
HOLICK: Vitamin D deficiency is less than 400 IU per day along with no sun exposure. If you take 400 IU daily, you would still have an inadequate amount of vitamin D. Humans need 1,000 IU each day, or to be exposed to sunlight. Five to ten minutes, arms and legs, three times a week, is adequate.
DY NEWS: What is you opinion of the official US RDA/DRI recommendations?
HOLICK: I was on the committee that set them (National Academy of Sciences, Panel on Calcium and Related Nutrients, 1996-1997). We have made some progress in increasing the recommendations. They are now 200 IU/day for children and adults up to age 50; 400 IU for adults over 50; and 600 IU/day for adults over 70.
DY NEWS: Would you have liked to have set the recommendations higher?
HOLICK: Yes. At the time, we were obligated to base our
recommendations on the published literature before 1997. Based on new
evidence, I think infants, up to one year of age, need 400 IU/day.
DY NEWS: And how are we doing?
DY NEWS: And that means rickets?
HOLICK: Rickets is only the tip of the vitamin D deficiency iceberg. If you are vitamin D deficient in childhood, you are 2.4 times more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes.
DY NEWS: And for people of color?
HOLICK: Skin pigment is a natural sunscreen. African American children require two to three times as much sun exposure, without sunscreen, to satisfy their requirement for vitamin D.
DY NEWS: What are the consequences of not getting enough sunlight?
HOLICK: If you live above 35 degrees north latitude, you are twice as likely to develop multiple sclerosis. Living in higher latitudes also means higher risk for Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and high blood pressure.
DY NEWS: What are some examples of “high latitude” cities?
HOLICK: Anything above
DY NEWS: I’ve been to
HOLICK: That’s fine. Anywhere above about 35 or 37 degrees
latitude, that is, anywhere north of
DY NEWS: And in the summer, should we tan?
HOLICK: I do not believe in tanning.
DY NEWS: That seems a rather moderate position.
HOLICK: I was fired from my position as Professor of Dermatology
DY NEWS: Who fired you, and when?
HOLICK: Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, BU
DY NEWS: Were you fired entirely because of your stance on vitamin D and for no other reason?
HOLICK: No question about it. The
DY NEWS: You’re telling us that the
HOLICK: That is correct. They are believers in abstinence from all sun exposure. They have been pretty firm about this. In May 2004, three months after I was fired, I was asked to defend myself in front of all the staff.
DY NEWS: How successful was it?
HOLICK: I got people’s attention.
DY NEWS: Who is most opposed to you?
HOLICK: The “unenlightened” dermatologists of the
DY NEWS: Yet it seems to be particularly difficult to kill yourself with vitamin D.
HOLICK: True. One man took 1,000,000 IU of vitamin D per day, orally, for six months. Of course, he had the symptoms of severe vitamin D intoxication.
DY NEWS: But he lived to tell the tale?
HOLICK: Yes. His treatment was hydration (lots of water), and no more vitamin D or sunshine for a while. He’s perfectly happy and healthy. This was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Koutkia P, Chen TC, Holick MF. Vitamin D intoxication associated with an over-the-counter supplement. N Engl J Med. 2001 Jul 5;345(1):66-7.)
DY NEWS: How many people have died from vitamin D or other vitamins?
HOLICK: I have no experience of anyone dying from vitamin exposure. In thirty years, I’ve never seen it.
DY NEWS: And in the medical literature?
HOLICK: Not as far as I know.
DY NEWS: About how many people get too little vitamin D?
HOLICK: In the
DY NEWS: What advice do you wish to offer our readers?
HOLICK: The most important thing is to increase your vitamin D intake.
DY NEWS: What’s yours?
HOLICK: I take 1,100 IU of vitamin D every day.
DY NEWS: Do you use sunblock?
HOLICK: I do, but only after some sensible sun exposure.
DY NEWS: Do you wear a floppy hat?
HOLICK: Yes, after sensible sun exposure.
DY NEWS: You are one consistent person. So what’s the bottom line?
HOLICK: The population of the world has been brainwashed by the
Holick, MF and Jenkins, M.
The UV Advantage, iBooks:
Saul AW. Vitamin D: Deficiency, Diversity and Dosage. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 2003; Vol. 18, Numbers 3 and 4, p. 194-204. Posted at http://www.doctoryourself.com/dvitamin.htm
CANCER AND VITAMIN D
“A PubMed database search yielded 63 observational studies of
vitamin D status in relation to cancer risk, including 30 of colon, 13 of
breast, 26 of prostate, and 7 of ovarian cancer, and several that assessed
the association of vitamin D receptor genotype with cancer risk. The majority
of studies found a protective relationship between sufficient vitamin D
status and lower risk of cancer. The evidence suggests that efforts to
improve vitamin D status, for example by vitamin D supplementation, could
reduce cancer incidence and mortality at low cost, with few or no adverse
D DEFICIENCY IS WIDESPREAD
“Vitamin D inadequacy has been reported in approximately 36% of
otherwise healthy young adults and up to 57% of general medicine inpatients
DIABETES AND MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
”The conditions with strong evidence for a protective effect of
vitamin D include several bone diseases, muscle weakness, more than a dozen
types of internal cancers, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes mellitus.
. . The current vitamin D requirements in the
EXCELLENT (AND FREE) VITAMIN D E-NEWSLETTER is yours for the asking available from John Cannell and the Vitamin D Council: http://www.vitamindcouncil.com .
Interview and comments copyright 2006 and prior years by Andrew W. Saul.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE: This page is not in any way offered as prescription, diagnosis nor treatment for any disease, illness, infirmity or physical condition. Any form of self-treatment or alternative health program necessarily must involve an individual's acceptance of some risk, and no one should assume otherwise. Persons needing medical care should obtain it from a physician. Consult your doctor before making any health decision.
Neither the author nor the webmaster has authorized the use of their names or the use of any material contained within in connection with the sale, promotion or advertising of any product or apparatus. Single-copy reproduction for individual, non-commercial use is permitted providing no alterations of content are made, and credit is given.