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Dear Dr Cannell: PCOS, hypersensitivity and lamps

Posted on: October 14, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD


Dr. Cannell:

Be sure that readers are aware that severe hypercalcemia may develop in those with sarcoidosis, other granulomatous diseases, hyperparathyroidism, and some untreated lymphoma and leukemia cases.

I’ve had several cases of these, and one required hospitalization. However, these are <1% of all patients.

Jim Dana, MD

Dear Dr. Dana:

You are correct. Anyone with such diseases, or any diagnosis of high blood calcium, should only take vitamin D under the care of a physician. A question to our readers – besides our “Health Conditions” section, where else should we present such information on our website?


Dear Dr. Cannell:

A friend of mine was in the hospital this weekend. She was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Through the course of our conversation, I found out that she was placed on estrogen due to her PCOS. She cannot be in direct sunlight without developing a rash. A light bulb went off in my head. I asked her what kind of vitamin D supplement she was on due to never being able to receive direct sunlight. None. The doctors had never addressed vitamin D deficiency with her. She then told me that her mother had explained that her family has a history of vitamin D deficiency, so she probably came out of the womb with low vitamin D.

I then went and did a simple Google search of “vitamin D women’s hormones.” The first link to come up was directly related to PCOS and vitamin D deficiency. It also addressed insulin resistance. I printed the information and took it to her. She read it and then sobbed. The first question she asked was “Why haven’t ANY of the doctors EVER told me about this?” She had been going to multiple doctors over the years for acne problems and ovulation problems since the time she was in her early teens. She had also struggled to become pregnant in recent years. All of this has put a huge amount of stress on her for much of her life. She felt a huge sense of relief and, for the first time since her teen years, a sense of hope. The sobbing was just her sense of relief at seeing something that could be so simple and natural and directly influence all of the problems that she has struggled with for so long.

Today she is going to the doctor and will insist on a 25 hydroxy Vitamin D test. She wants to start taking vitamin D supplements. Thank you for being advocates for the information that is not so readily available through normal avenues right now. I hope that doctors will become increasingly aware of vitamin D issues so that more young women can be saved from years of suffering. I am so thankful that the Vitamin D Council exists so that the information is available. Keep up the good work.

Thank you,

Mary Coburn

Dear Mary:

You are welcome. Make sure she knows she may get pregnant quite quickly taking vitamin D. I am in contact with several fertility clinics that use vitamin D supplementation on all their infertile couples, with good results.


Dear Dr. Cannell:

Do the bright light lamps for SAD provide either UVA or UVB light that would affect, either negatively or positively, Vitamin D levels?

Jim Murphy

Dear Jim:

SAD lights contain neither UVA nor UVB by law, thus have no effect on vitamin D.


Dear Dr. Cannell:

I have been taking 5000 IU of vitamin D3 for two years. The NZ government recently made vitamin D a restricted, prescription drug only and I can no longer import the dosage I have been taking. I went to my GP for a prescription and he refused to give me the same dose but said all I need is 0.25 mcg calcitriol once per day. He would not listen to my arguments for a higher dose so I am taking 3 X 0.25mcg and two omega3+1000 IU vitamin D capsules but I will be revisiting the issue in a couple of weeks with him. Is there any advantage to taking calcitriol, which is the most active form over taking cholecalciferol?

Steve Murrow

Dear Steve:

Calcitriol is contraindicated to treat vitamin D deficiency and may worsen the condition. Increase the omega-3/vitamin D capsules to 5 per day. This will shift your daily intake back to 5000 IU/day and everyone can use an increase in omega 3 intake. Did you try to order from overseas?

5 Responses to Dear Dr Cannell: PCOS, hypersensitivity and lamps

  1. Ian

    It does seen odd at first thought that calcitriol is contraindicated in vitamin D deficiency. My doctor knew nothing of this. I failed to convince him to prescribe any other form. I am importing the Omega3 + VitD capsules into NZ. I have communicated this impasse to our Government Minister of Health and am objecting to the restriction of vitamin D supplements when we have one of the highest rates of diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Nz is not abstaining from research and these snippets below are almost common knowledge:

    “Ms Von Hurst says while diet and exercise play a major part in the onset of type-2 diabetes, her findings reinforce the importance of vitamin D from the sun and supplements to prevent type-2 diabetes, which has reached epidemic rates in New Zealand.”

    And this:
    The prevalence (of multiple sclerosis) increases from 50.8 people per 100,000 in Northland to 134.6 people per 100,000 in Southland, with a national average of 71.9. Confirmed cases include 720 men (including 19 Maori and one Pacific Islander), or 24.8 per 100,000, and 2176 women, including 42 Maori and one Pacific Islander), or 75.14 per 100,000.

    And this, just last month:

    “Otago University researchers have contributed to a large international study that has shed light on the cause of multiple sclerosis. The researchers say one of the controversies over the disease is whether damage to the nervous system is primarily a degenerative process or results from a failure of the immune system. They say the study strongly supports the second theory, but researchers still don’t understand what causes or triggers the immune dysfunction. The study has also corroborated earlier findings that linked Vitamin D to multiple sclerosis. Researchers now want to examine how increased dosages could lessen the effects of the disease or even prevent it. Some 1100 of the 3000 New Zealanders living with multiple sclerosis contributed to the study, which is published in the journal Nature.”

  2. [email protected]

    Dana and Dr. Cannell state that should not add vitamin D to those with hyperthroidism
    The following page indicates that hyperthroidism is HELPED by vitamin D

    • Brant Cebulla

      Henry, please note that this article mentions/warns in cases of hyperparathyroidism, not hyperthyroidism.

  3. [email protected]

    Dr. Cannell,
    I recently met someone who suffers from hyPOparathyroidism and reacted very badly to vitamin D3 supplementation. She is now using alfacalcidol which appears to work for her. Is hyPOparathyroidism also a contraindication for vit D3 supplementation?

    Greetings from the Netherlands,


    • Brant Cebulla

      Hi Igor,
      There are no contraindications with vitamin D and hypoparathyrodism. What do you mean by “badly”?

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