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Pilot study: Vitamin D’s effect on newly discovered hormone

Posted on: July 19, 2014   by  Jeff Nicklas


In a new study, researchers found that vitamin D supplementation has no effect on levels of a relatively newly discovered hormone called irisin.

Irisin is a hormone secreted from muscle in response to exercise that was isolated and discovered in 2012. Researchers believe it may be involved in the beneficial effects of exercise and have suggested various roles it may have in overall health.

One effect of irisin is to convert white fat (the type of fat that stores calories) to brown fat (the type of fat that helps burn calories). Researchers have also found that the hormone may help improve glucose tolerance and increase insulin production, suggesting a role for it in the management of diabetes.

Irisin, then, appears to share some of the same effects on health as vitamin D. Research shows vitamin D to have beneficial effects on muscle strength, glucose tolerance, and insulin production.

Recognizing the similarities between the effects of vitamin D and irisin, a research team from France and Belgium recently conducted a study to determine whether vitamin D and irisin interact with each other in the body.

This was a small pilot study in which the researchers recruited 29 healthy young adults. The participants were given a single dose of 100,000 IU of vitamin D and were monitored over the course of four weeks.

The research team were curious if vitamin D supplementation would lead to an increase in irisin levels, possibly revealing a new interaction and mechanism for vitamin D in glucose tolerance, insulin, and muscular strength.

So, the researchers administered the supplements and measured vitamin D and irisin levels at baseline, 3, 7, 15, and 28 days. Here’s what they found:

  • Baseline vitamin D levels increased from a of 19.8 ng/ml to 29.7 ng/ml at 3 days and to 33 ng/ml at 7 days.
  • Vitamin D status decreased significantly between 7 and 28 days.
  • There was no significant change in irisin levels over the course of the study period.
  • One participant experienced an increase in irisin that resulted in 3-fold higher irisin levels than the study population average.

The researchers concluded,

“In this study, we failed to show that a single large (100,000 IU) dose of vitamin D increased the circulating levels of irisin in young healthy individuals.”

The researchers note that not all of the participants were deficient in vitamin D at baseline, which may have impacted their results. Furthermore, a consistent and physiological dose of vitamin D given daily over the course of 4 weeks may lead to different results compared to a single, large dose.

There was no placebo group to compare supplementation to, meaning we do not for sure that vitamin D has no effect on circulating irisin levels.

While this study failed to show an interaction between vitamin D and irisin, further research is warranted. As has been suggested with trials on vitamin D and specific health conditions, vitamin D may only influence production of irisin in individuals with abnormal irisin levels.

This was the first study to evaluate whether vitamin D interacts with this newly discovered hormone. Further trials are needed to fully explore the potential role for vitamin D and irisin and to determine if an interaction exists between these hormones in those with relevant health conditions, such as diabetes.


Cavalier, E. et al. Evaluation of circulating irisin levels in healthy young individuals after a single 100,000 IU vitamin D dose. Annals of Endocrinology, 2014.

12 Responses to Pilot study: Vitamin D’s effect on newly discovered hormone

  1. Rita and Misty

    From the study: “Baseline vitamin D levels increased from a of 19.8 ng/ml to 29.7 ng/ml at 3 days and to 33 ng/ml at 7 days.”

    Here’s the problem with all these studies–they don’t raise the 25(OH)D level to what nature intended as healthy. We know that current hunter/gatherer societies have levels of between 46 ng/ml and 104 ng/ml. Why would anyone think then that 30 ng/ml is “normal?”


    Why also would health benefits be “discovered” at suboptimal levels of around 30 ng/ml?

    That’s dumb.

    All these studies are doomed for failure because they do not raise the 25(OH)D level to what nature intended as healthy–around 50 ng/ml.

    I feel like I’m shouting in a vacuum.

    What will it take for research to get a clue?

  2. Magic


    The money comes for research that Big Pharma knows will fail. I went through this with statins. Now we have got it with D3.

    I am subscribing to Dr Russell Blaylock’s monthly letter and taking a number of his suggested pills. He retired as a neosurgeon after 23 years. His father and then his mother died of Parkinsons. In order to get attention he relies on hokey come ons. He has to get attention..

    Can you imagine a book that announces using 50,000, 75,000 and up to a 100,000 international units of d3 is now being given away free because not enough people cared to spend less than $10 for a paperback. The author has spent 20 years background studying health issues.

    Why is this site not exploding with interest???

    I am afraid…………it is money.


  3. Rita and Misty

    We have approximately 1500 members.

    I would like to see each member encouraged to yearly bring one new person here to this amazing informational website and impeccable nonprofit.

    We here all care deeply about vitamin D and our good health. But do we all realize that great organizations like VDC will cease to exist without our very active participation.

    Why not consider giving a VDC membership as a GIFT to a loved one? Or a colleague.

    I thimk belonging here also brings a duty to us to outreach. And part of the outreach I think includes ensuring that this organization–a place for accurate up to date info–continues to survive.

  4. Magic


    You and I have heard so much about Michael F Holick MD, I just ran across this from Amazon.

    It is a sales piece for the kindle. I like it


  5. Rita and Misty

    Another great aspect of belonging to the VDC is that we get to partake in these blogs, and learn from members about more sources of vitamin D knowledge–like Blaylock and Holick. I just love these blogs. 🙂

    The blogs also allow us to learn from members how vitamin D has personally improved their lives. These stories, thought anecdotal, are beneficial to many of us.

    It would be wonderful (imo) to get more dialogue going between the membership.

    Perhaps other vitamin D physicians and researchers, Blaylock, Holick and others, might be encouraged to join the VDC and add to the conversation here.

  6. Magic


    I found it reassuring that Misty reacted well to a large dose of D3 (How much?) Then there are close to 400 replies to the book on how Jeff T Bowles took the plunge with huge doses of D3 and basically found no harm after a year…

    I missed the replies the first time I saw it.. Here it is again. I try very hard when I tell people about D3 to do their own investigating. because we aren’t doctors………..However, I feel that doctors many times let their drug sales guy do theirs.


    Now the very important question??? How is Misty??


  7. Rita and Misty

    I gave Misty 50,000 iu D3 daily for three days prior to dropping her daily dose to 4,000 iu D3 daily. She continues on this daily dose to date.

    Misty is approximately 60 pounds.

    How is Misty now ?

    Well this is a difficult question to answer. Misty used to run 6 miles a day. Now she walks 200 ft. 3 times a day. Under force.

    But with the higher dose of D she has regained use of her hind legs. She appears to be happy. Again she is around 15 years old. She may be older.

  8. Magic

    As a dog lover, I would suggest trying at least 10,000 a day and see if she does better. Under force to me tells me that she may be hurting. My experience with dogs and d3 although not at the same time is my comfort zone. Our dog, Brody is about 3 and has no problems. After reading these posts I may slip him a little….lol..


  9. Rita and Misty


  10. Jonathan Whitehurst

    So many people are dependent on their doctors for validation to take beneficial supplements like D3. I know because when I told my own doctor that I was taking 10000 IU / day for three months you should have seen his eyes bug out. He said that’s very high and started to quote RDA recommendations. I said to him he needs to get out of the office more. I’m now on 5000 day and my blood level is at 98. Keep preaching to your friends, family and neighbors. Your doctor won’t keep you healthy, only you can do that.

  11. Magic

    Jonathan, Way to go….lol…

    I have been preaching our story for years and the same reaction is obtained from doctors everywhere. I really think I have a 10% success ratio. I have told many people but that large pharmacy in the sky.has told doctors world wide that D3 could be poison. And we aren’t doctors, how would we know?

    Sadly, I tell people to come to this site to see for themselves. (After they have talked to their DOCTOR, why would they do that?

    Rita has been working all most full time telling the story across the country from me. I am in Eugene, Oregon, she is at Yale.

    And there is 1500 of us doing the same… Pathetic…Only 1500 world-wide………as members .of VitaminDcouncil..

    The only thing that VitaminD3 can do is save money and save lives..

  12. Rita and Misty

    Well, I hope I don’t preach. I hate it when folks preach to me. In my opinion, few folks appreciate being “preached at.”

    It is true that I work full time at Yale. I work for two amazingly awesome researchers and their absolutely outstanding post-docs.

    Vitamin D is not a job for me.

    Vitamin D is the way I live my life.

    And folks learn about vitamin D from me simply by knowing who I am.

    You see, I present only one face to the world.

    I’m genuine. Outspoken. Direct. And yes, I am pushy. 🙂

    But I do walk my talk. Most of the time I have a very big, and forgiving, heart.

    Mainly, I would never ask anyone to consider taking a supplement or following a health protocol, like appropriate sunning, if I didn’t do it myself.

    I am my #1 experiment.

    Truly, I am passionate about vitamin D because my health vastly improved upon my correcting for this deficiency. Vitamin D gave me back years of life.

    Thanks, John Cannell, for the Vitamin D Council. Without this site I would still be ill.

    I am an open and helpful person. Regardless of the road block(s) I face, I will continue to push. Why? Because it is the ethical thing to do.

    And, doing the ethical thing matters more to me than living a hidden life.

    I’m looking forward to the day I’m invited to the West Coast. I hear the folks in SLO are extremely hospitable. It would be nice to have a dose of this kindness.

    Be well,



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