6/29/2008 — In the last couple of years, following medical research and guidelines published by medical authorities, I have been recommending that many people supplement with Vitamin D-3.  There is a lot of data suggesting that a variety of clinical problems can be helped by having high levels.

However, information that I’ve recently run across has created serious questions in my mind.  The situation is too complicated to describe in a short note, but there are claims being made that the anti-inflammatory effect of vitamin D-3, while helping people with certain diseases to feel better, may ultimate down-regulate (turn off) the immune system.  This down-regulation reduces symptoms, but it is possible that the “underlying disease” may continue.  This is certainly true of steroids such as Prednisone, which although increasing well-being allow for the progression of the underlying disease, and reduces the ability of the immune system to fight infection (“resistance”).

In the Marshall Protocol theory, the “underlying disease” is thought to be a chronic infection by bacteria existing in “biofilms” and which can mutate into forms which can “hide” in the cells of the immune system (this is well-known in the case of Lyme disease).  More information can be found at www.bacteriality.com. 

An interesting article was recently published on that site, and can be found here.  Healthy people from India, where sun and exposure to sun is plentiful, were found to be “deficient” despite this sun exposure.  Deficiency was defined according to criteria set in the United States based on available research. 

Since the study subjects were healthy prior to the study, rather than judging them as deficient, an alternative  conclusion could be that the current thinking on Vitamin D is incorrect.  This study is in accord with 2 others (done in different populations).  These studies all measured the Vitamin D-3 (25-hydroxy vitamin D) level, and not the active hormone (1,25-dihidroxy vitamin D).

Other studies have failed to show a clear relationship of sun exposure to Vitamin D-3 levels (see, for example, http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/92/6/2130)

My concern came about while researching the Marshall Protocol, which is a treatment for such infections, and linked by basic science and clinical results to a variety of diseases, such as chronic Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s disease, etc.  The Bacteriality site has a huge amount of information regarding the theory and practice of the Marshall Protocol, and a large number of patient interviews.

While I’m not ready to make a final judgment regarding the Marshall Protocol, or the correctness of the very different view of Vitamin D, I have to say that the research that I’ve done so far concerns me greatly.  

Accordingly, I recommend the following:

1.  Anyone with an autoimmune disease, such as those listed above, should stop taking any supplemental vitamin D.  In addition, in the Marshall protocol, avoidance of sunlight, especially with advanced disease, should be considered..  This is especially true for anyone with any negative reaction to either sunlight or other bright light.

2.  Anyone who is using Vitamin D supplementation as a basic nutritional supplement, but who is otherwise well, should probably also stop, and be sure to get some natural sunlight at this time of year.  In the Marshall protocol theory, the bacterial infection itself can “turn off” the vitamin D receptor, and thus inactivate the immune system.  The theory also suggests that high doses of D-3 in themselves can also switch off the receptor.

I’ll be continuing to research this in the next few weeks, and will post more when it is appropriate to do so.