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Member spotlight: Dr Kenneth Merriman on life, work, and vitamin D awareness

Posted on: July 4, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council


This is a new type of blog post. From now on, each month we’ll publish a blog highlighting a member, putting them in the spotlight. We’ll discuss their background a little bit and why they’re interested in vitamin D.

Our first member we’ll feature in this series is Ken Merriman, MD, a longtime member and Vitamin D Council supporter. Dr Merriman is an orthopedic surgeon living in a semi-rural area Southeast of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr Merriman has been practicing in Hastings, Michigan since he completed his orthopedic residency in 1979. Additionally, Dr Merriman has volunteered overseas for various NGOs. He’s worked in Pakistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea (north of Ethiopia) and plans to make another overseas trip in the near future.

Dr Merriman became interested in vitamin D because of his work with numerous patients with fractures, some simple and some complex. Over the years, he’s noticed various factors that seem to influence recovery time, including whether the patient smokes, general nutrition, how well they comply to doctors’ orders, and of course, their vitamin D level. “Certainly very few of them have what I would consider to be an optimal vitamin D level, which is around 50 ng/ml,” Dr Merriman explains.

kenWhen asked if he has any intriguing patient stories, Dr Merriman explained a case of a man with Parkinson’s disease who was also vitamin D deficient. Dr Merriman was able to increase the patient’s level into the high 40 ng/ml range. So far, they’ve noticed general and ambulatory improvement, although of course, there’s no way to tell if this is due solely to the vitamin D supplementation. However, there is research that is consistent with Dr Merriman’s observation, including a randomized controlled trial that the Council has previously blogged on.

“I tend to see a lot of people with low vitamin D levels who are not doing all that badly and when we raised them they do not really notice any difference, but I do see a fair number of patients that tend to feel significantly better after taking vitamin D,” Dr Merriman explains.

Dr Merriman has been a member of the Council for just over a year now. He most enjoys the community aspect of the blog, where he can interact with other blog members and discuss their opinions of each blog. “We are trying to get patients interested in the subject and we always recommend the Vitamin D Council’s website for information for our patients.”

We want to thank Dr Merriman for participating in the Council’s first monthly member spotlight.

15 Responses to Member spotlight: Dr Kenneth Merriman on life, work, and vitamin D awareness

  1. Rita and Misty

    I’ve been fortunate to have corresponded with Dr. Merriman on several D related items; and I have benefited from both his wisdom and his advice. It was nice to learn more about him!

    Keep up the good work Ken!

    The world needs more physicians like you. 🙂

  2. IAW

    To: Dr. Merriman or if anyone else can answer
    The statement was made “I tend to see a lot of people with low vitamin D levels who are not doing all that badly and when we raised them they do not really notice any difference.” When you “raised” does that mean to around 50 ng/ml or have you raised people a lot higher with “no noticeable difference”?
    I would also state that if they really are not having any particular health issues, then maybe if they still take the Vitamin D, maintain 50 ng/ml or above, even though “they do not really notice any difference”, they may never have to deal with any cancers in their lifetime.

  3. Rita and Misty

    Dear IAW:

    I did notice Ken’s comment regarding people not noticing any significant difference in their health and well being. Here’s my take on that statement:

    1. I would venture to say that most people taking feeling “good” for granted. And, they don’t attribute their health to any particular supplement or drug.

    This is why, imo, the compliance rate with psychiatric meds is so pitifully low. Once the patient feels “normal” then he believe he is fine, and stops the meds.

    2. Perhaps the 25(OH)D level reached isn’t really optimal for the particular individual.

    I have shared my personal experience here many times. I did not notice an improvement in my health and well being until my 25(OH)D level reached 74 ng/ml.

    Thoughts anyone???


  4. Ian

    I have noticed this “no noticeable improvement” with many people who are taking vitamin D at my suggestion. Most take between 3000IU and 5000IU daily. This is really what I would expect and I am sometimes “suspicious” of people’s “improvement statements”. Self reporting of symptom improvements is notoriously unreliable, subject to “personal validation” bias.

    I tend to argue the science of prophylaxis. I tell them to look up studies on vitamin D, look up the Council website and read summaries put on vitamin D wiki. I talk to them about the role of vitamin D in genetics and epigenetics, in immune function etc. I try to leave them with the idea that prevention is very important and is poorly advised in medicine. I also say that what they are doing in taking a supplement is to complement the suns rays.

    The more healthy people take vitamin D or get more sun if they can the better. And there is a similar argument for those with disease, any disease. That, at very least, vitamin D will help reduce the speed at which the illness progresses.

  5. Rita and Misty

    @Ian…I still think it’s is all about optimal 25(OH)D levels…and I often wonder if individually, we may each require a slightly different level of “optimal.”

    I may only use my personal experience to attest to this…but it is a significant experience, in my opinion.

    At age 40 I entered into what was termed “idiopathic menopause.” BTW–my mom entered menopause at 55 years of age.

    My physician at the time was savvy enough to test my 25(OH)D level. It came back at 32 ng/ml; and, she was extremely pleased. She said that this was an excellent level.

    From age 40 to age 46 I gained weight, got old and felt crabby. In photos, I appeared to look in my 50s.

    At age 46, through divine intervention, or the best of luck–you choose, same thing to me–I stumbled across this awesome website and organization. I began supplementing with high doses of D3. When my 25(OH)D level reached 74 ng/ml my menses returned, and over the last two years they have (more or less) been like clock work.

    At over 48 years of age, I have no symptoms of peri-menopause. In current photos, I look at least 10 years younger than 48.

    I have several other health conditions which have subsided, but this is the most evidenced.

    Be well,

  6. [email protected]

    Hi everyone, especilly hi Rita.
    Found this one today, about the optimal vitamin D-level and the dangers of a too high concentration. Of couse I do not agree with the conclusions.


    “In general, each 100 IU of vitamin D taken daily will, over several months, raise your blood level by about 1 ng/mL.”
    “Suppose a person started at 15 ng/mL and took a dose of 2,000 IU per day. After three months or so, he’d be at about 35 ng/mL, which is fine—but if he kept taking that same 2,000 IU per day, by the end of a year his vitamin D blood level would be dangerously high.”

  7. Ian

    I do agree that the “noticed” effects of vitamin D supplementation is an individual matter and I do agree it may be partially a matter of optimal or high blood levels. I also think that the benefits may take a long time to accrue and be “noticed”. Many expect quick results and when they don’t happen they may comment “I haven’t noticed any change”. That is to be expected. The other thing is that single supplementation, such as vitamin D on its own is not the best way to improve health or reduce symptoms of any disease related to vitamin D. As we know, vitamin D3 is best taken with “co-factors”: magnesium, zinc and the vitamin K2’s. In addition I do think that other co-factors or promoters exist.

    The extent of vitamin B12 deficiency is great, particularly in the elderly and in those with immune system dysfunction which involves chronically elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines such type-II IFN-gamma, Interleukin-1 and TNF-alpha. These cytokines, when chronically elevated cause some mitochondrial membrane depolarization and problems with cellular energetics as well as oxidative stress, driving down glutathione levels.

    We know that vitamin D elevates glutathione, so we should also consider taking B12 along with the vitamin D.

    I am particularly interested in the co-factors and believe that a lot of research should look at this more seriously. While it is simpler to consider single ingredient variables it is often not revealing the correct data so leading to conclusions which negate the value of a particular nutrient.

  8. Rita and Misty

    @Ian, Perhaps I am an anomaly; however, PRIOR to raising my 25(OH)D level to MY optimal of 74 ng/ml, I had been taking:

    1. 6,000 iu D3 daily
    2. 600 mg Magnesium daily
    3. 3 mg Boron daily
    4. 50 mg Zinc daily
    5. LEF Multi-B formula
    6. CoQ10
    7. Mixed natural E
    8. Beta Carotene
    7. 2 gram C daily
    8. 1,200 mg Calcium daily
    8. A plethora of immune-system enhancing herbs

    With the above protocol, my 25(OH)D level was ONLY 32 ng/ml. I was very sick…really-truly.

    The ONLY thing that brought back MY good health was high doses of D3, which within 6 weeks raised my 25(OH)D level to 74 ng/ml.

    I will forever say that D is the Master Hormone, from which ALL my best health flows.

    Be well,

  9. kenmerrimanmd

    nice little article makes me sound pretty good I am ok with that

    as regards the concept of pts feeling well or better with higher or lower vit D levels
    here is what I think
    1) lots of people feel just fine in the first place even with less than optimal vit D levels so when we increase their vit D level they still feel ok although we may be helping in other ways that are not particularly noticeable to the casual observer and /or the patient
    2) plenty of pts with very low vit D levels do express a feeling of sig improvement within a few wak of starting an increased dose of vit D
    3) it can be kind of hard to get that old vit D level up to 50ng/ml for some if not many patients
    personally I was taking 10,000IU/day for about 7 mo or so and it did not bump me up any where near the desired 50 each individual is different in their requirement here as regards their ability to absorb the dose and the effeciency of storage for me 10,000 IU was a bit above my calculated dose but it did not trun the trick so have bumped it up to 20,000 IU for now
    rarely I run across those people who seem to be able to gain and mantain a good level of >50 while taking a smallish dose of vit D and in those people we can get too high a level if going with the fromula so it bears watching.
    4) what I am presently shooting for is a level of > 50 & < 100 ng/ml some pts get there easily and for others it takes a bit more effort

    I continue to run across patients who are under treatment for various things including depression who have single digit vit D levels and have never been tested before in the future I am hopeful that we will see less and less of that sort of thing

    I thank the vtimain D Council for helping me so very much to leaqrn about this subject that is so interestiing and in being so helpful with materials of theaching of the population
    Best regards
    Ken Merriman MD

  10. kenmerrimanmd

    sorry for the typos

  11. Rita and Misty

    @Ken–I, for one, absolutely love you for all those typos–that’s usually my bailiwick!! 🙂

    BTW–I have a friend who has suffered from depression, but since taking high doses of d3 daily for the last 3 months, she is as light as sunshine… (yes, we are soon to test her blood).

    Be well,

  12. IAW

    I agree with you! I think for the most part, “D” alone can solve many, many problems all by itself!

  13. msparrow

    Ken, hopefully you are taking D3 not D2? just curious about why your high intake is not having much effect.

  14. mslarma

    My sister has secondary bone cancer and neither her oncologist or her dr will order a blood test to determine her levels. In fact her oncologist flippantly said that most of the population of Dunedin New Zealand would be vitamin d deficient. Both my parents died old colon cancer my mother at 42 and my father at 59. I wonder what their levels wild have been. I take 5000 IU a day plus magnesium. My daughter and family live in the Middle East and seldom sit out in the sun. My grand daughter is nine months old. How much vitamin d should they all be taking??? Your comments wld be appreciated. Thank you.

  15. Rita and Misty


    The VDC website has some excellent info on D3 dosage for children. Please see info in the below link:


    Be well,

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