Dear Dr. Cannell,
My 82 year old uncle, who suffers from very bad diabetes, along with diabetic neuropathy and non-aggressive prostate cancer, was recently tested by his primary physician for D levels using the 25(OH)D, test. His level came by at 65 ng/ml, and his doctor ordered us to immediately stop any supplementation as he considered 65 ng/ml to be way too high.
I was not able to make any headway with my uncle’s primary physician, who told me that vitamin D supplementation is useless. However, I am hoping you will write a brief opinion that I may share with my uncle, as I feel his health will be in danger if he stops supplementation. He had been taking 12,000 IU daily since February 2012 prior to his test in this month (July 2012).
Thank you very much.
Jeanne, New York
Your uncle absolutely needs to be on vitamin D although I doubt he will need 12,000 IU daily. He was clearly very deficient when he started taking it and now is replete. While vitamin D has not been shown to cure diabetes, it may well help with some of the complications, such as foot infections. Foot infections in diabetics are four times more frequent if you have low vitamin D levels.
Furthermore, diabetic neuropathy can cause chronic pain and those with low vitamin D levels are more likely to suffer from chronic pain.
Finally, the majority of men with low-grade prostate cancer who took vitamin D showed improvement in both their Gleason Scores and the number of core biopsies positive. That is, in 60% of men, the cancer seemed to improve.
I advise your uncle to either find another doctor, who keeps up with the medical literature, or simply take 5,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 and tell his doctor he cut his dose down but will not stop it. However, after being on 5,000 IU daily for 3 months, repeat the 25(OH)D to make sure your uncle is still in the ideal range, around 50 ng/ml.
John Cannell, MD