By Dr. Lawrence Wilson

© June 2015, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.


All information in this article is for educational purposes only.  It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.




            Vitamin D is a critical nutrient today, and can help prevent some cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions.  Vitamin D affects the immune response, among many other body systems. 

Food and sunshine do not provide enough of it today.  Therefore, most adults need a supplement of 5000 iu daily of vitamin D3, and rarely even more.  This is much more than the Minimum Daily Requirement or what most doctors recommend 

Children need a supplement, also, but less than adults.  Children below age 4 to 5 do not need extra vitamin D.  Dark-skinned people may need vitamin D the most.

Sardines.  An excellent alternative to a supplement for adults is to eat 3-4 cans of sardines weekly (and less for children).  The sardines provide many other vital nutrients, and they are less costly that taking supplements of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are also high in sardines.

NOTE: The label says that sardines contain only about 200 iu of vitamin D per can.  However, it is far better utilized than any vitamin D supplement.  As a result, 3-4 cans per week is plenty.  Do not eat 3-4 cans of sardines weekly and take a vitamin D supplement.



Vitamin D is a fascinating nutrient that is shrouded in controversy because some researchers believe that we all need much more of it than we are able to get from our food and from spending time in the sun.  I agree with this position and believe that most adults need about 5000 iu daily of vitamin D3.  Rarely, someone needs even more.

Babies and children up to about age 4 seem to be okay without supplementary vitamin D.  Children over about age 4 or 5 often need a supplement or sardines to provide extra, even if they play outside in the sun.  Otherwise they are prone to sub-clinical or obvious rickets.

A serious problem today is that vitamin D deficiency in a mother can cause a syndrome in babies and young children that looks exactly like child abuse.  A separate article entitled Child Abuse Misdiagnosed – An Epidemic discusses this.

Some people claim that vitamin D raises the hair calcium level.  This is not true, in our experience, particularly if one is on a properly designed nutritional balancing program.




The sun as a source of vitamin D. Newer research indicates that going out into the sun does not seem to help one’s vitamin D status much, unless perhaps you are outside all day long.  Tanning beds can be used to obtain more vitamin D, but they may not be safe. 

Cod liver oil for vitamin D. Vitamin D is not high enough in cod liver oil, or just in dairy products and pasture-fed meats.

Sardines.  A good source of plentiful vitamin D is to eat three or four cans of sardines per week.  Those with the lowest level of mercury are the skinless and boneless sardines.  In my view, this is the only way to avoid the need for a vitamin D supplement.

Salmon and tuna are also rich in vitamin D, but are not recommended to eat, at all, due to their higher mercury content.  Black cod has some vitamin D, but not most other fish or seafood.  Black cod is also too high in mercury for regular consumption.

Vitamin D supplements.  Unless you will eat 3-4 cans of sardines weekly, adults need a supplement of vitamin D3 of about 5000 iu daily for adults, and less for children.  Sources for vitamin D pills include lanolin, salmon oil or other fish oils.  All these are fine.  Vitamin D2, a synthetic form of vitamin D available by prescription, is not considered as good as vitamin D3.


Notes about vitamin D.

1. Do not take both a vitamin D supplement and sardines.  It is too much vitamin D.  Do one or the other.

2. Children under age 5 or so usually do not need extra vitamin D from either a supplement or from sardines.  However, some sardines are fine for a young child.

3. One could eat salmon or tunafish to provide vitamin D.  However, we do not recommend these fish because they contain too much mercury.  Sardines are much better. 

4. Any brand of sardines is fine.  Boneless sardines have the least mercury, but all are okay.

5. Raw dairy products contain some vitamin D, but the amount is variable, so I would not trust this source of vitamin D.

6. Vitamin D supplements are either made from fish oil, or another good one is made from lanolin.  This is an oily substance in the skin of sheep and some other animals.  Removing some lanolin does not harm the animal at all.  Rarely, if a person cannot take these, there is a prescription form of vitamin D, called vitamin D2.  It is not nearly as good as standard, natural vitamin D, also called vitamin D3.  However, it will help prevent cancer, diabetes and a host of other health problems.

7. Some brands of vitamin D supplements are not working well enough, even if the vitamin D blood test indicates it does.  Please avoid emulsified vitamin D supplements.  Brands that work are Endomet and NOW brands.




Hair analysis.  I am not aware of how to measure vitamin D from a hair mineral test.

Blood tests.  This is the standard way to assess vitamin D.  A good level is about 50-70 ng/ml or more. However, the blood tests are not that accurate, so I would not judge by the blood tests.

I do not measure vitamin D levels, as a rule.  Instead, I just make sure all adults are obtaining about 5000 iu daily of vitamin D, either from sardines, or from a supplement.




The following is an excellent summary of vitamin D knowledge to date that I have borrowed for this article:

In recent years vitamin D has emerged as a star of the “vitamin” world. For example, there are currently over 800 studies showing vitamin D’s effectiveness against cancer. Optimizing your vitamin D levels can literally cut your risk of several cancers by 50 percent!

Further, middle aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D could reduce their chances of developing heart disease or diabetes by 43 percent.  Dark-skinned people tend to have even lower levels of vitamin D than others, and this may account for some of their worse health statistics for conditions such as heart disease and cancers.  Diabetics may also need more vitamin D than some other people.


How Does Vitamin D Do What it Does? Vitamin D is involved in multiple repair and maintenance functions, touches thousands of different genes, regulates your immune system, and much, much more.

Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, as well as chronic inflammation.  It produces over 200 anti microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.  This is one of the explanations for why it’s so effective against colds and influenza.

In addition, since vitamin D also modulates (balances) your immune response, it can prevent an overreaction in the form of inflammation, which can lead to a variety of autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s disease for example.

When you consider the fact that you only have about 25,000 genes in your body, and vitamin D has been shown to influence nearly 3,000 of them, the bigger picture of its true impact on your health can be easily understood.  It may, in fact, have literally thousands of health benefits!




Vitamin D deficiency is a growing epidemic across the world and is contributing to many chronic debilitating diseases.  Sunshine is not giving people enough vitamin D today, although the reasons are not clear.  Unfortunately, sun blockers and sunscreen blocks the rays that also help produce vitamin D in the skin.







Heart disease



Rheumatoid arthritis

Diabetes 1 and 2

Multiple Sclerosis

Crohn’s disease

Cold & Flu

Inflammatory Bowel Disease



Signs of aging


Eczema & Psoriasis


Hearing loss

Muscle pain


Periodontal disease


Macular degeneration

Reduced C-section risk

Pre eclampsia




Cystic fibrosis



Alzheimer’s disease





A study by Dr. William Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized research scientist and vitamin D expert, found that about 30 percent of cancer deaths -- which amounts to 2 million worldwide and 200,000 in the United States -- could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D.

Other studies showed that you can decrease your risk of cancer by more than half simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with sun exposure.  Vitamin D has a protective effect against cancer in several ways, including:


Š           Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)

Š           Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells

Š           Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)

Š           Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous


I hope you can see now some of the many benefits of vitamin D, and why it is so critical to make sure you and your family maintain healthy levels at all times.



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