Vitamin D Anecdotes

Dr. Davis has a post up the other day on "high-dose" vitamin D. Says the doc:

Judging by my experiences, now numbering well over 1000 patients over three years time, I'd regard this dose range not as "high dose," nor moderate dose, perhaps not even low dose. I'd regard it as barely adequate.

Though needs vary widely, the majority of men require 6000 units per day, women 5000 units per day. Only then do most men and women achieve what I'd define as desirable: 60-70 ng/ml 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood level.

I base this target level by extrapolating from several simple observations:

–In epidemiologic studies, a blood level of 52 ng/ml seems to be an eerily consistent value: >52 ng/ml and cancer of the colon, breast, and prostate become far less common; <52 ng/ml and cancers are far more likely. I don't know about you, but I'd like to have a little larger margin of safety than just achieving 52.1 ng/ml.

Regarding the epidemiology of cancer and vitamin D levels, take a close look at the last image on my post on cancer the other day.

However, I also posted a comment on the entry relating an anecdote (or coincidence) I recently had with the sunshine vitamin.

I just had a very interesting experience, but keep in mind: this is purely anecdotal.

I've been taking 6k IU per day for a few months and I'll soon get tested to see what my level is. However, week before last was the holiday party week and I was at parties like 5 days in a row, LOTS of drink (scotch, mostly), staying up late, getting up early, etc.

Predictably, I came down with a cold. On that first day, with that odd scratchy feeling in the back of my throat, I did 18k units of D. Next morning, no symptoms, to the point I though I might be mistaken about a cold coming on. Next morning, bang, the nose starts running, sneezes, but very mild — like 25% of a cold. 18K units again, and within hours, no more symptoms. Next morning, same thing with the runny nose, so I did another 18K units and within a few hours all symptoms were gone, it's now almost a week later and they have not returned.

I almost can't wait to catch another cold just to see if I can duplicate.

So, OK, I threw that out there, but I did so and still do think it's highly speculative. While I have a lot of confidence that good levels of D will prevent colds, flu and other maladies, I'm not so sure about its ability to stop, cure, or ameliorate a sickness that has already taken hold.

Even so, I was surprised that I'm apparently not alone in my experience. Here's three follow-on comments from others.

Very interesting indeed, Richard. I had a similar experience recently.

It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and I felt myself getting sick. Not with a cold, but with the flu. I got a 102 degree fever and felt awful. I remembered Dr. Cannell and Dr. Mercola talking about "stoss" therapy, so I calculated an "influenza dose" based on my body weight. I took around 150,000 IU once per day for three days. On the morning of the third day, I was completely better and was able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my family. All in all, I had the flu for TWO DAYS. Amazing. I've never recovered from a severe illness that fast. In the past, I have always been very slow to recover. Incredible stuff.


My experiments last winter and this one with high doses of D at the first sign of a cold have been very similar, though I have been using 8-12,000iU of D3 (Carlson Solar Gems 4000iU x 3 each morning for my husband and I, x 1 for my son). The past week we were visiting family members some of whom had a cold that was catchy, and so far, we haven't caught the cold. Of course, they were skeptical of the Vit D boosting the immune system, etc.



your experience where Vitamin D appears to eradicate cold symptons is similar to my experience.

In past winters I always experienced major colds – typically three to five during the months of November through April. Usually they would last a couple of weeks each.

Late Spring 2008 I learned about the critical importance of vitamin D3. Now I supplement between 6,000 IU and 8,000 IU per day, and my 25(OH)D level floats in the 60 – 80 ng/ml range.

This year, sofar, I have had three experiences where I thought I caught a cold with typical symptoms. In each case the symptoms seemed to get worse during the first day, but completely resolved within 24 hours. No additional medication or supplementation of anyting, except the regular 6k – 8k IU D3.

With research indicating that vitamin D is critical to a strong immune system, my sense is that the cold virus still attacks, but has no change to survive when the immune system is strong, enabled by means of adequate Vitamin D.

By the way, my four year old son also has no persistent cold symptons this year, no ear infections. Such relief!

It is great to see that vitamin D does much more than enusring the cold virus cannot survive. The strong immune system it allows our bodies to build, appears to reduce all kinds of inflammation (CVD link) and cellular problems.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Erin in Flagstaff on January 5, 2009 at 17:37

    I have got to start taking some Vitamin D or at least get out in the sun more. I'm one of those folks who catch every cold. I could at least brag that I wasn't prone to stomach problems, but the common cold? It would catch me every time.

    I picked up some Vitamin D and am going to see what happens. Thanks so much for the good information!

  2. Paleochick K on January 6, 2009 at 07:16

    What a strange coincidence that you posted this on the same day as I was having a cold knock-out day. I had felt it coming on for about 36 hours before I saw this. I took a larger than normal dose of vitamin D, and indeed, I have no trace of a cold this morning. Note, however, that I also threw echinaceae, zinc, half a jar of coconut oil and two good nights sleep at it.

    Extra vitamin D is definitely something to add to my arsenal, though. It can't hurt.

  3. Jessica on January 15, 2009 at 12:33


    Thought I'd add to your anecdotal evidence…I started coming down with something nasty last week, and my husband directed me to this post. I decided to give it a try, and have been supplementing with 6,000 – 10,000 IU of Vitamin D each day. Each morning I'd wake up with the symptoms of a beginning sore throat, swollen glands, and post-nasal drip, and within an hour of taking the D, my symptoms would start fading away. The only symptoms that didn't go away each day were a deep fatigue and lightheadedness.

    I wonder…If I had started taking an even higher dose of D, say around 18,000 units, would even those symptoms have passed? I'm still recovering, but this is the first time I've tried a "cold remedy" and had success. Usually, if I get sick, I'm sick for a miserable two to three weeks.

  4. Richard Nikoley on January 15, 2009 at 12:35

    Yep, and there are also those who will do 50k units and more three days in a row.

  5. kristina on March 1, 2010 at 06:35

    Warning Vitamin D Side Effects

    I have had a young woman living with me for several months. She was very pleased to find I had a wide verity of supplements available and started taking daily doses of most every thing as she was feeling run down and was in a great deal of stress in her life.
    For a while she was feeling much better and we were both pleased.
    But for the last couple of days she started feeling much much worse which started to scare me.
    Today she was in great pain throughout her body and was in terrible shape.
    I kept wondering what was the matter, and on a hunch I looked up the side effect of excessive Vitamin D.
    Her symptoms almost perfectly mimic the information I found on excess Vitamin D. and from your sight I learned there might be a link to cod liver oil which is in the D3 from Costco.
    This is scary because she is very sick.
    Of course, I will halt all the Vit. D immediately but I do not know what else to do as she has no money to see a doctor.
    From other sights I learned that a fair skinned person, which she is, can get enough Vit.D in 45 minutes in the sun in a week. She spend a great deal of time in the sun walking her dog daily etc. so I can believe she is way over dosed as she has been taking this vitamin in three sources as well as getting plenty of sunshine.
    It would be good to list the problems here. The ones I have are:
    ” Ordinary doses can build up in the body over time and cause serious illness. Not surprisingly, the Mayo Clinic (are they defending themselves against Linus Pauling’s accusations?) is the best source I’ve found on-line for vitamin D side effects. Here is their list:

    Late symptoms of severe overdose (emerge after months or years of starting supplements)

    High blood pressure
    High fever
    Irregular heartbeat
    Stomach pain (severe)

    Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

    Early symptoms of overdose (emerge within days or weeks of starting vitamin D supplements)

    Bone pain
    Constipation (especially in children or adolescents)
    Dryness of mouth
    Headache (continuing)
    Increased thirst
    Increase in frequency of urination, especially at night, or in amount of urine
    Irregular heartbeat
    Itching skin
    Loss of appetite
    Metallic taste
    Muscle pain
    Nausea or vomiting (especially in children or adolescents)
    Unusual tiredness or weakness

    Late symptoms of overdose (emerge within weeks or months of starting supplements)

    Bone pain
    Calcium deposits (hard lumps) in tissues outside of the bone
    Cloudy urine
    Increased sensitivity of eyes to light or irritation of eyes
    Itching of skin
    Loss of appetite
    Loss of sex drive
    Mood or mental changes
    Muscle pain
    Nausea or vomiting
    Protein in the urine
    Redness or discharge of the eye, eyelid, or lining of the eyelid
    Runny nose
    Weight loss

    Thanks so much,

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2010 at 11:45

      Correlation isn’t causation. When people get sick they tend to notice if anything is new in their lives that could associate with the sickness. But people get sick sometimes and those symptoms describe lots of illnesses. No way you can know about D toxicity unless she gets a blood test. Also, you don’t mention how much she was taking.

  6. Lou on March 1, 2010 at 11:08


    I highly doubt it has to do with vitamin D. Maybe your friend got a flu.

    Avoid cod liver though as it tend to have too much vitamin A and not enough vitamin D. Throw it in the trash can. Typical women need around 4000-5000 IU a day during the winter.

    It takes unbelievable amount of vitamin D a day for many months to see toxicity and we never see that kind of dosage unless your friend is swallowing whole bottle a day.

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