Nutrition News Roundup: Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Bone Fracture, Chronic Pain

by Ann Marie Michaels on March 30, 2009

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Nutrition News: Cod Liver Oil - Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Bone Fracture, Chronic Pain

Every Monday on, I’ll be posting a new feature, Nutrition News Roundup — a list of links to nutrition news articles and blog posts about nutrition.

Last week the United Press International reported a study by the Mayo Clinic showing a link between chronic pain and vitamin D deficiency: Chronic Pain Linked to Low Vitamin D.

Science Daily reported today that supplementing with vitamin D results in fewer bone fractures: Vitamin D Supplements Associated With Reduced Fracture Risk In Older Adults

According to Web MD, most Americans are deficient in vitamin D: Americans Low on Vitamin D.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not so easy to get adequate vitamin D from the sun. According to Krispin Sullivan, CN:

What the research on vitamin D tells us is that unless you are a fisherman, farmer, or otherwise outdoors and exposed regularly to sunlight, living in your ancestral latitude (more on this later), you are unlikely to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin D from the sun. Historically the balance of one’s daily need was provided by food. Primitive peoples instinctively chose vitamin-D-rich foods including the intestines, organ meats, skin and fat from certain land animals, as well as shellfish, oily fish and insects. Many of these foods are unacceptable to the modern palate. Source: The Miracle of Vitamin D, Weston A. Price Foundation

She goes on to write:

Modern diets usually do not provide adequate amounts of vitamin D; partly because of the trend to low fat foods and partly because we no longer eat vitamin-D-rich foods like naturally reared poultry and fatty fish such as kippers, and herring. Often we are advised to consume the egg white while the D is in the yolk or we eat the flesh of the fish avoiding the D containing skin, organs and fat. Sun avoidance combined with reduction in food sources contribute to escalating D deficiencies. Vegetarian and vegan diets are exceptionally poor or completely lacking in vitamin D predisposing to an absolute need for UV-B sunlight. Using food as one’s primary source of D is difficult to impossible. Source: The Miracle of Vitamin D, Weston A. Price Foundation

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

4,000- 5,000 IU per day should be sufficient to maintain blood levels in wintertime unless you are obese (in which case you may need more and should be tested). Note that this is more than ten times the USDA recommended daily allowance. Source: Whole Health Source Blog

Top 5 Food Sources of Vitamin D:

USDA databases compiled in the 1980s list the following foods as rich in vitamin D. The amounts given are for 100 grams or about 3 1/2 ounces. These figures demonstrate the difficulty in obtaining 4,000 IU vitamin D per day from ordinary foods in the American diet.

Cod Liver Oil: 10,000 IU
Lard (Pork Fat): 2,800 IU
Atlantic Herring (Pickled): 680 IU
Eastern Oysters (Steamed): 642 IU
Catfish (Steamed/Poached): 500 IU

Source: The Miracle of Vitamin D, Weston A. Price Foundation

How Can You Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Here’s how to become vitamin D deficient: stay inside all day, wear sunscreen anytime you go out, and eat a low-fat diet. Make sure to avoid animal fats in particular. Rickets, once thought of as an antique disease, is making a comeback in developed countries despite fortification of milk (note- it doesn’t need to be fortified with fat-soluble vitamins if you don’t skim the fat off in the first place!). The resurgence of rickets is not surprising considering our current lifestyle and diet trends. In a recent study, 40% of infants and toddlers in Boston were vitamin D deficient using 30 ng/mL as the cutoff point. 7.5% of the total had rickets and 32.5% showed demineralization of bone tissue! Part of the problem is that mothers’ milk is a poor source of vitamin D when the mother herself is deficient. Bring the mothers’ vitamin D level up, and breast milk becomes an excellent source. Source: Whole Health Source Blog

Here’s how to optimize your vitamin D status: get plenty of sunlight without using sunscreen, and eat nutrient-rich animal foods, particularly in the winter. The richest food source of vitamin D is high-vitamin cod liver oil. Blood from pasture-raised pigs or cows slaughtered in summer or fall, and fatty fish such as herring and sardines are also good sources. Source: Whole Health Source Blog

Vitamin D Deficiency

Getting Tested for Vitamin D Deficiency

For only $30, you can get tested. is offering Vitamin D testing by mail. Just fill out the questionnaire here, and etner your credit card information to order a skin prick test by mail. (I just registered our whole family — I’m very curious to see what our Vitamin D levels are.)

They are publishing the results of the testing — so far they’ve found that 51% of the people tested are below the recommended levels of 40-60 ng/ml.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura March 30, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Hi Cheeseslave!

I’m not sure if I’ve commented on your site before (I think I only commented on Kelly’s and Organic&Thrifty before) but I’ve been reading it for a few months now. I just love all the great information that you’ve been posting.

It was so ironic today, because as I was starting to read this post, I got a notification that a package had arrived for me at the commons (I’m at a university). It happened to be my very first order of CLO! As a recommendation of Organic and Thrify’s in dealing with acne, I decided to purchase some. I’m excited to see how it benefits me as I start taking it. Thus, after all that, my question is how much should I take each day? one or two pills? I think one pill has about 500 mg in it (I ordered the Green Pastures fermented CLO).



Rob Smart March 30, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Yet another study showing a nutrient-level impact on health.

Regardless of the study’s validity, which I am definitely not questioning, especially given its from the Mayo Clinic, it gives a new “marketing claim” for processed food manufacturers to use to convince consumers that eating their food will make them better.

I wonder if there is anyway to get more consumers (eaters) to shift their nutritional focus back to whole foods? While it may not be possible to get us to “take our cod liver oil”, cooking with lard seems reasonable.

Until consumers start to get it, I am afraid we will remain at the mercy of industrialized food.


Rob Smart

Rob Smart’s last blog post..Experiencing Food v. Thinking Nutrients


cheeseslave March 30, 2009 at 1:06 PM

I should have mentioned (but ran out of room and energy writing that post) that fat, organ meats, milk, skin and eggs from pastured animals are much higher in vitamin D than those from animals in confinement.

For example, truly pastured eggs have 5 times the vitamin D of eggs from chickens in confinement (chickens in factory farms or even “free range” eggs from chickens that have “access to the outdoors” but don’t get the vitamin D from sunshine).

So if we go back to the old ways of eating more butter, cream, lard, tallow, and eggs from pastured animals, we should expect to see an increase in our vitamin D levels.

Also, it is very traditional to take cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is not exactly what I would call an industrial food.

People have been taking cod liver oil for centuries.

“cod liver oil was traditionally processed via fermentation, and not processed with heat. She said that the fishermen would throw the livers into a barrel, add a little sea water, and then leave it to ferment.”


Bay March 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Hi Ann Marie!

Another great informative post. I’m going to call you the oracle of health and nutrition! :)

We grew up going out in the sun all the time rarely with lotion. In fact my mom never wears lotion, is 56 and looks about 45…good skin genes I guess!

Only since I developed the melasma have I started wearing a high SPF (titanium and zinc oxide) to protect against it darkening (only on the melasma, not the rest of my face). You live in sunny LA…did you ever wear sunblock to protect your melasma? If not, did you ever notice it getting worse in the sun? I’m going to the beach in May and don’t want it to get worse! Did you just take all your supplements and see it fade even while living in the sun all the time?

Thank you!!


Grace March 30, 2009 at 9:35 PM

I have been taking Vitamin D suppliments now for over a year. As soon as I started taking an extra 1000 mg I felt better with my lower back. I had been injured in a rear end collision a few years ago and had mainly healed but everytime I gained even 3-5 lbs my back would be a mess. I couldn’t sleep and it was awful. After taking the Vitamin D all of that went away…literally. Now I’m stable at 2000 mg and hope that I don’t get osteoporsis like my Mom did. I can’t wait to get her on it. She recovered by taking Fosimax but that stuff is rough on your organs. So glad for Vitamin D. Good going AM to blog about it. It’s really important! Hope all is well. Kiss Kate for me! xo


cheeseslave March 31, 2009 at 6:10 AM

Hi, Grace!

That is awesome!

You are right, Fosamax is very bad. Statins deplete the body of CoQ10 which is really hard on the heart.

For strong bones, some of the best things you can do are:

Drink raw milk and eat raw cheese (you can get these at the farmer’s market — Organic Pastures and Winchester Cheese)

Eat plenty of butter and cream from grass-fed animals — great for vitamin K which you need to help assimilate the D & calcium (KerryGold butter from Trader Joe’s is grass-fed — and I buy the Organic Pastures cream)

Eat homemade chicken stock (bone broth is full of calcium)

Avoid phytates/phytic acid — it blocks mineral absorption. Soak your oatmeal overnight and avoid bread or pasta. I’m going to post tomorrow about the Bezian Bakery at the Hollywood & Santa Monica farmer’s market — his bread is naturally fermented sourdough and so it is lower in phytates. Maybe one day we can convince him to make pasta… :-) I use rice pasta now — it is lower in phytates.

“Phytic acid is found within the hulls of nuts, seeds, and grains.[1] In-home food preparation techniques can reduce the phytic acid in all of these foods. Simply cooking the food will reduce the phytic acid to some degree. More effective methods are soaking in an acid medium, lactic acid fermentation, and sprouting.[5]

“Phytic acid is a strong chelator of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and can therefore contribute to mineral deficiencies in people whose diets rely on these foods for their mineral intake, such as those in developing countries.[6][7] It also acts as an acid, chelating the vitamin niacin, which is basic, causing the condition known as pellagra. [8] In this way, it is an anti-nutrient.[1] For people with a particularly low intake of essential minerals, especially young children and those in developing countries, this effect can be undesirable.

“‘Probiotic lactobacilli, and other species of the endogenous digestive microflora as well, are an important source of the enzyme phytase which catalyses the release of phosphate from phytate and hydrolyses the complexes formed by phytate and metal ions or other cations, rendering them more soluble ultimately improving and facilitating their intestinal absorption'”[9]

Soy is also very high in phytic acid so avoid unless it is naturally fermented.

Gee, I need to do a post on this…



Jacqueline March 31, 2009 at 6:41 PM

Hi cheeslave,

I can’t get enough of your blog! I was diagnosed with borderline d deficiency and have since changed my diet to include free range eggs — they really do make a difference — here’s an article from Mother Earth News about vit. D and eggs:

More Great News About Free-range Eggs and another one on vitamin D from Women to Women

Is vitamin D deficiency casting a cloud over your health?

Both helped me as I try to make diet changes for better health. And of course, your blog has been a real blessing. Thanks!


Sustainable Eats April 2, 2009 at 8:39 PM

Hi Cheeseslave,

When you say “avoid breads” you mean avoid breads where the grains are not sprouted or soaked overnight, right? It is my understanding that soaking overnight or longer in an acidified solution fixes all and makes the vitamins and minerals in the grains absorbable. Here is how I make my family’s bread: and I’d love to get your feedback on it. We eat a ton of bread so if it’s not good for us I’d like to know!

Thanks so much for all you do.
Sustainable Eats

Sustainable Eats’s last blog post..Homemade 100% Whole Wheat Bread – Swoon-worthy


cheeseslave April 3, 2009 at 6:01 AM

Hi, it looks pretty good! Awesome that you grind your own grains. And fermenting overnight does help reduce the phytic acid.

I think you could skip the yeast though and instead of using the yeast/buttermilk combo, just use a sourdough starter.

Also, instant yeast forms toxins (this is what Iearned from Jack Bezian, the sourdough king of LA — read about him in my Wed post). So it’s best avoided.

The sourdough starter will break down the phytic acid better than anything. I just did a post about this on Wed — and I did a post about phytic acid and dental decay yesterday.

You can get sourdough starters here:

She has 17 different varieties!


Sustainable Eats April 3, 2009 at 12:25 PM

Nuts on the yeast – my family won’t eat sourdough. I had made a desem bread over winter break that I coddled for two weeks, kneading and feeding it for at least 10 min every day and keeping it at just the right temperature but they thought even that was too tangy for toast. Maybe I’ll make another desem baby and try to sweeten it up for them. Thanks for looking it over for me. :(

Sustainable Eats’s last blog post..Homemade 100% Whole Wheat Bread – Swoon-worthy


cheeseslave April 3, 2009 at 12:34 PM

There are all kinds of sourdough starter varieties. Not all are very sour. It depends on how you make the starter, and it also depends on how long you let it ferment.

The Bezian sourdough bread I’ve been buying is not very sour at all — my whole family liked it. They could not tell the difference between this and regular bread.


Kelly the Kitchen Kop April 9, 2009 at 6:29 PM

Instant yeast forms toxins?! Crappy carumba, I just got Annette’s (Sus. Eats) bread soaking 10 minutes ago…………….

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s last blog post..Chocolate Chips & GMO’s


Sustainable Eats April 9, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Hi Kelly,

Sally Fallon does have a bread recipe in NT where she uses yeast so it’s not going to be the end of the world – and since this post I’ve experimented with decreasing the yeast. This week I used buttermilk soaker instead of whey and let it sit out on the counter overnight instead of putting it in the fridge. By morning it was very bubby (but it finally broke 65 in my kitchen this week). In the morning I added half the yeast I normally use and it still rose ok but took a lot longer to rise. Just a thought since your next step is in the morning. If you are going to be home cut out half the yeast.

Sustainable Eats’s last blog post..The Front Yard Conversion is Almost Done!


cheeseslave April 9, 2009 at 8:47 PM

Haha Kelly you crack me up with all your expressions — “bevvies” and “stinkin'” and “crappy carumba”! I so love your spirit!

Acc. to Jack Bezian, instant commercial yeast does not break down all the stuff you want to break down. Sourdough (or wild yeast, as opposed to commercial yeast) is your best bet — it breaks down all the bad stuff (phytic acid, etc.) and creates all the vitamins and minerals.


Kelly the Kitchen Kop April 9, 2009 at 8:57 PM

Well then, can you tell Jack that we reeeally need him to give you some major tutorials on how to make his rockin’ sourdoughs?? Or did I miss that at the post you did on his sourdough breads?? I’ll go look…

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s last blog post..Healthy Substitutions for Condiments and more – A Random Reader Question


cheeseslave April 9, 2009 at 9:26 PM

Actually I just went and met with him again yesterday (and bought 4 more loaves). He gave me a bunch of info which I promise to post about soon!

One thing he said though is that long-fermented sourdough like he does is easy to make. He said just let your bread ferment for days/weeks in your fridge! It’s not rocket science.

You must come visit me, Kelly! Not only will I take you to the best restaurants in LA, but we will go visit Jack at the farmer’s market AND eat raw oysters. Woo!


Kelly the Kitchen Kop April 9, 2009 at 9:36 PM

Ummm, yeah, but…well, have I told you I don’t do the raw oyster thing??? One try on the mussels about did me in. Kent & half the kids loved them! If only my palate was as mature as yours!!! I’ll go to any chocolate shop you want to take me too, though! LOL!!

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s last blog post..Healthy Substitutions for Condiments and more – A Random Reader Question


cheeseslave April 9, 2009 at 9:40 PM

Fly to LA — or San Francisco for that matter — and I will teach you, Grasshopper.


Kelly the Kitchen Kop April 9, 2009 at 9:43 PM

Can’t make me.

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s last blog post..Healthy Substitutions for Condiments and more – A Random Reader Question


Kelly the Kitchen Kop April 9, 2009 at 9:44 PM

Eat them, that is. (I’ll fly out, though!)

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s last blog post..Healthy Substitutions for Condiments and more – A Random Reader Question


Ken June 27, 2009 at 3:15 AM
LeahS July 19, 2011 at 11:10 PM

I worry about vitamin D. My dad had melanoma and I worry about sun exposure but I know it is also important!


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