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NEW! Vitamin D in Wild Salmon Oil
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by Craig Weatherby

Get what so many people lack, in a unique, colorful, complementary base of whole, natural, certified-pure, antioxidant-rich wild Alaskan sockeye salmon oil!

Readers of Vital Choices and close followers of health news know that vitamin D is the hottest topic in human nutrition today.

The voluminous evidence linking low vitamin D blood levels to disease is very persuasive… as noted by the American Public Health Association in this recent statement:

“Vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency is recognized as a major public health concern for both children and adults in the United States” (APHA 2008).

Fatty fish such as albacore tuna and wild salmon rank as the richest known food sources of vitamin D… and sockeye salmon tops the list at a highly healthful 1,170 IU per 6 oz serving.

But even major fans of salmon and other fatty fish can’t eat enough to meet the daily intakes recommended by leading vitamin D researchers.

So we decided to offer our customers a high-quality, higher-potency vitamin D supplement… one with unique characteristics.

The very first vitamin D3 in whole, unrefined, wild Alaskan salmon oil
Each tiny, 300 mg softgel capsule of Vital Choice Vitamin D3 in Wild Sockeye Salmon Oil provides a generous 2,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D3.

Better yet, our D3 comes in a base of whole, unrefined, certified-pure, sockeye salmon oil... a natural companion that is also certified sustainable by the MSC.

Vitamin D3 is the preferred, natural form, proven the most effective at raising and maintaining vitamin D levels in the blood.

And our innovative approach, using a base of omega-3-rich wild salmon oil, makes this a truly superior Vitamin D3 supplement.

As our ingredient list reveals, Vital Choice Vitamin D3 contains no additives of any kind: “Wild Alaskan sockeye salmon oil, softgel capsule (fish gelatin, glycerin, purified water), vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).”

(Natural, food-grade glycerin is a key component of all softgel capsules, while cholecalciferol is simply the scientific name for vitamin D3.)

And, as you’d expect, our vitamin D3 supplement contains no artificial preservatives, colors, dairy, starch, wheat, or yeast.

In contrast, take a look at the ingredient lists for a bestselling mass-market brand’s vitamin D3 tablets: Calcium carbonate, cellulose gel, croscarmellose sodium, acacia, stearic acid, maltodextrin, magnesium stearate, corn starch, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

We don’t care to use chemicals or junky ingredients… and we doubt it’s possible to find a vitamin D supplement as pure, whole, and natural as ours!

Why we chose natural D3 over synthetic D2
Vitamin D3 is the form the body makes when UV sunrays strike the skin. It is also the form of vitamin D found in all known food sources… the richest ones being wild salmon, albacore tuna, and other fatty fish.

As we said, most studies support vitamin D3 as the most effective form for raising and maintaining vitamin D levels in the blood.

The cheaper, more common synthetic form—called vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)—does not occur in the human body naturally, nor is it found in human diets.

Supplement makers use vitamin D2—created by irradiating fungi—because it costs less than vitamin D3.

Excerpts from two recent review articles explain why we chose to use vitamin D3 in our supplement:
  • “…vitamin D3 has proven to be the more potent form of vitamin D in all primate species, including humans… Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification” (Houghton LA, Vieth R 2006).
  • “…several studies have showed that serum level of 25(OH)D is increased more effectively with vitamin D3 …  Vitamin D2 should not be regarded anymore as suitable for supplementation or fortification” (Mistretta VI et al. 2008).
While a recent clinical trial found no differences in the ability of supplemental D3 and D2 to raise blood levels of vitamin D (Holick MF et al. 2008), the preponderance of human and animal evidence remains in favor of D3.

How much should you take?
The best available advice comes from John Cannell, M.D., founder of the non-profit Vitamin D Council.

Dr. Cannell is in constant communication with the world’s leading academic vitamin D researchers, co-authors scientific papers with them, and urges people to ensure adequate sun exposure and/or vitamin D intake.

Here’s what he had to say in the July 2008 edition of the Vitamin D Council newsletter, the contents of which he encourages all to spread (Cannell JJ 2008):
  • “Well children under the age of two should take 1,000 IU per day, over the age of two, 2,000 IU per day.
  • “Well adults and adolescents between 80 pounds and 130 pounds should start with 3,000 IU per day, over 130 pounds but less than 170 pounds, 4,000 IU per day and over 170 pounds, 5,000 IU per day.
  • “Two months later have your doctor order your first 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [calcidiol] blood test. Then adjust your dose so your 25(OH)D [calcidiol] level is between 50 and 70 ng/ml, summer and winter. These are conservative dosage recommendations.”
  • “Most people who avoid the sun—and virtually all dark-skinned people—will have to increase their dose once they find their blood level is still low, even after two months of the above dosage, especially in the winter.”
Pediatricians and public health experts urge more D for all
As we reported last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has doubled the amount of vitamin D it recommends for infants, children, and adolescents, from 200 IU to 400 IU per day (see “Kids’ Daily Vitamin D Allowance Doubled”).

Fish fit the vitamin D bill; sockeye salmon stand out
Certain fish rank among the very few substantial food sources of vitamin D, far outranking milk and other D-fortified foods.
Among fish, wild Sockeye Salmon may be the richest source of all, with a single 3.5 ounce serving surpassing the US RDA of 400 IU by about 70 percent:

Vitamin D per 3.5 ounce serving*
  • Sockeye Salmon—687 IU
  • Silver Salmon430 IU
  • King Salmon236 IU
  • Sardines222 IU
  • Sablefish169 IU
  • Halibut162 IU
*For our full test results, click here.

And the health risks associated with low vitamin D levels explain why the American Public Health Association (APHA) issued this blunt statement from its 2008 Annual Meeting in San Diego:

“Vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency is recognized as a major public health concern for both children and adults in the United States.”

In “Action Statements” issued at its 2008 Annual Meeting, the American Public Health Association urged Congress and key federal agencies to take these steps:
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should educate health care providers about the benefits of adequate levels of vitamin D.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should add vitamin D to the list of nutrients that must appear in the Nutrition Facts Panel borne by all foods sold in the U.S.
  • Federal food and health agencies should begin a vitamin D awareness campaign aimed at the general public, and especially among populations at highest risk for vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency.
  • Congress should fund research to determine population-specific vitamin D intakes associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases and other conditions.
Leading vitamin D experts presented a paper at last year’s APHA meeting, in which they summarized the state of scientific research (Grant WB et al. 2008):
  • “The health benefits of vitamin D3 now encompass prevention of fractures, about 20 types of cancer, infectious diseases such as gastroenteritis, influenza, septicemia and tuberculosis, autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes mellitus and multiple sclerosis, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.”
  • “While these benefits have been found largely through ecological and observational studies, a number of these benefits have also been confirmed in randomized controlled trials, providing that the vitamin D3 doses were large enough.”
  • “Observational and randomized controlled trial studies have found that it takes at least 1000-2000 IU of [dietary] vitamin D3 [per day] and serum [blood]… levels of 40-60 ng/mL for substantial benefits… [taking] 1100 IU/day can raise [vitamin D blood levels] by about 10 ng/ml.”
A close reading of this summary affirms what we’ve heard before from vitamin D researcher William Grant, Ph.D. and others, which is that most Americans need to take at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, and that most would benefit even more if they took 2,000 to 4,000 IU per day.

Further, virtually all vitamin D researchers say that few Americans get enough sun exposure to meet their vitamin D needs.

Where does our D3 come from?
Like virtually all vitamin D3, ours is extracted from lanolin. This waxy, safe, hypoallergenic substance is secreted by sheep and other wool-bearing animals.

(We looked hard and could not find a practical marine source of vitamin D, which we'd have preferred, just because our seafood is naturally rich in D.)

Lanolin is extracted by pressing wool through rollers, and is commonly used in moisturizers and to treat diaper rash, dry skin, chapped lips, and nursing mothers’ chapped nipples.

The truth is that most of us lead indoor lives and have also heeded the anti-sun hysteria whipped up by dermatologists.

Sadly, most skin doctors advocate obsessive slathering of sunscreen, despite a stunning lack of evidence for their unscientific fear of sunlight (see “Cancer Society’s Anti-Sun Ads Decried as Deceptive” and “Northern Exposure: Tanning-Bed Risks & Rewards”).

The U.S. National Research Council (NRC) sets the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) and upper intake limits (ULs) for vitamins and other nutrients, based on guidance from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Leading vitamin D researchers have for years urged the IOM to raise the RDAs and the ULs for vitamin D, radically (see “Review Supports Safety of Much Higher Vitamin D Intake”).

The current RDAs were based on the minimum amounts needed to prevent rickets, not the amounts needed to maintain good overall health.

And the current upper intake limits have no apparent basis in any research whatsoever. The 1989 U.S. nutrition guidelines that advised against taking more than 1,000 IU per day cited a 1938 report, in which bone growth in infants was suppressed in those given 1800-6300 IU of vitamin D per day, but that citation was and is meaningless in relation to adult nutrition.

There is a similar lack of credibility for a statement in the 1987 NRC report for the American Medical Association stating that “dosages of 10,000 IU/day for several months have resulted in marked disturbances in calcium metabolism... and, in some cases, death.”

This NRC report cited two references. One was a review article that cited no reference for its claim of toxicity at vitamin D doses as low as 10,000 IU per day. The other paper cited in the report dealt with 10 patients with vitamin D toxicity reported in 1948, for whom the vitamin D dose was actually 150,000-600,000 IU per day, and all patients recovered.

Reinhold Vieth, Ph.D., the world’s leading researcher on vitamin D safety, says that a human would have to take 40,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for months to run any risk of overdosing.

Dr. Vieth—Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and Director of the Bone and Mineral Laboratory at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital—found no published evidence that taking 10,000 IU per day poses any health risk to adults.

To put this amount in perspective, an adult with white skin, exposed to summer sunshine while wearing a bathing suit, generates about 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 in 15 to 20 minutes… an amount equivalent to the vitamin D in 25 conventional multivitamin pills (i.e., 400 IU) or 100 glasses of fortified milk.

As Dr. Vieth wrote in a recently published evidence review, “Evidence from clinical trials shows, with a wide margin of confidence, that a prolonged intake of 10,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 poses no risk of adverse effects for adults, even if this is added to a rather high physiologic background level of vitamin D.” (Vieth R 2009)

By “a rather high physiologic background level of vitamin D” he meant the high vitamin D blood levels produced by ample sun exposure.

In other words, even outdoor workers, gardeners, and serious sunbathers face no risk from consuming as much as 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day.

  • American Public Health Association (APHA). Call for Education and Research Into Vitamin D Deficiency/Insufficiency. Policy Date: 10/28/2008; Policy Number: 20081. 136th APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition (October 25-29, 2008), San Diego, CA. Accessed online at
  • Calvo MS, Whiting SJ. Overview of the proceedings from Experimental Biology 2004 symposium: vitamin D insufficiency: a significant risk factor in chronic diseases and potential disease-specific biomarkers of vitamin D sufficiency. J Nutr. 2005 Feb;135(2):301-3.
  • Cannell JJ. Supplementing With Vitamin D. July, 2008. Accessed online at
  • Grant WB, Garland CF, Gorham ED, Mohr SB. Paper 179061, presented Monday, October 27, 2008: 5:10 PM: How to reduce the burden of disease in the United States through increased vitamin D3. 136th APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition (October 25-29, 2008), San Diego, CA. Accessed online at
  • Holick MF, Biancuzzo RM, Chen TC, Klein EK, Young A, Bibuld D, Reitz R, Salameh W, Ameri A, Tannenbaum AD. Vitamin D2 is as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Mar;93(3):677-81. Epub 2007 Dec 18.
  • Houghton LA, Vieth R. The case against ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) as a vitamin supplement. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;84(4):694-7.
  • Mistretta VI, Delanaye P, Chapelle JP, Souberbielle JC, Cavalier E. [Vitamin D2 or vitamin D3?] Rev Med Interne. 2008 Oct;29(10):815-20. Epub 2008 Apr 11. French.
  • Trang HM, Cole DE, Rubin LA, Pierratos A, Siu S, Vieth R. Evidence that vitamin D3 increases serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D more efficiently than does vitamin D2. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Oct;68(4):854-8.
  • Vieth R, Fraser D. Vitamin D insufficiency: no recommended dietary allowance exists for this nutrient. CMAJ. 2002 Jun 11;166(12):1541-2.
  • Vieth R. Vitamin D and Cancer Mini-Symposium: The Risk of Additional Vitamin D. Ann Epidemiol. 2009 Apr 11. [Epub ahead of print]

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