High cholesterol, low vitamin D and its significance pt. 2

Purchase the enlightening Kindle eBook Prescribing Sunshine: Why vitamin D should be flying off shelves from Amazon US [$2.99], Amazon UK [£1.99], Amazon Germany, France, Spain & Italy [€2.68]

Need a reason to celebrate something? How about, me?

Seriously.

I’d normally add what I’m going to write on this post as a never ending addenda to my most popular post of all time (ego, sorry), but this deserves its own little fresh page as it’s virtually a end point (however, not the end point) – once I graft on my latest vitamin D results this year.

First things first. I’m going to share a little medical evidence. [Download .jpg here] I’ve censored out personal details – just kept. Mr. Mo.. so you know it’s me – and unrelated results.

You don’t need to be familiar with the cholesterol saga to analyse my figures. Basic maths will reveal to you a general decrease from 2007-2009.

There is a reason for excluding 2008; simply due to the fact my cholesterol was wrongly measured un-fasted then, and only my total cholesterol was given. However, my value was 5.4mmol/L, which was still slightly lower than my total fasted cholesterol in 2007 (5.62).

My vitamin D level in 2007 was between 10-21nmol/L – I can’t remember off hand if I started my initial 400IU D2 supplementation before or after my initial cholesterol profile.

Last year my vitamin D level reached 76nmol/L on 5,000IU D3. Since then I’ve been taking 10,000IU (as one 50,000IU capsule per 5 days) and by the end of this month my vitamin D level will be taken again. I forecast it to be in the safer early hundreds.

Whether or not cholesterol itself is a cause of cardiovascular disease, we do know that statins – even with their side effects – have made some data dent in heart disease statistics. But mechanisms for these drugs have never been made clear. Some have hypothesised that statins are an analogue of vitamin D and there are studies showing statins increasing vitamin D levels by up to threefold, as well as showing lipid changes. And of course you know cholesterol is a precursor of D, right?

When I received my results in 2007 I was given a warning about my slightly high profile and told to change my diet (I am slim, fairly active and a non-smoker, so wasn’t given advice on increasing activity). I also got a British Heart Foundation pamphlet to read. Though I was healthy, and still am, I felt that visit to be like visiting a mystic who shook their head at reading my palm. I was dismayed moreso as I think my diet is very balanced.

So I ignored their advice as something about family history of illness and my brother’s then recent vitamin D deficiency led me down this path.

This year, only part of my profile is high and only by a rather paltry 0.7. In any case I still have some dispute with cholesterol ranges, but my cumulative results also yielded a printout which wasted ink for the one line (which I won’t bother to scan but will send to anyone who wants it): Serum lipids [(GP initials)]-Normal, no action.

I am also now below UK total cholesterol averages at 4.95mmol/L (“In the UK, the average total cholesterol level is 5.7mmol/l.”) Most profiles remain unchanged even with diet/exercise changes, as has my father’s for years.

Does this mean I’m immune to heart disease (and other diseases)? Who knows. All it means is maintaining my current profile will prevent my GP from generating a repeat prescription for a drug that at best could be substituted by a gift from nature.

I must stress I still need to post my vitamin D level up, but it cannot be less than 76nmol/L, that’s for sure. I’m just hoping 10,000IU didn’t take me too high, but I haven’t had any ill effects on it and approached it responsibly. I will add my vitamin D (25-D) level here as soon as possible.

Update 1 of 2 (18/09/09): I had vitamin D and calcium blood tests today along with a DEXA scan (recommended to me to every 5yrs since 2004 due to a maternal history of bone disorders). While I wait for the former, the latter has revealed to me an increase in bone density as measured at the hip and spine since my previous, first scan. I had normal T-scores and Z-scores (scroll link for definitions) but they have been been bettered since then, most noticeably in my spine (T from -0.1 to 0.6). This is not unexpected as my last parathyroid hormone (PTH) level dipped as my 25D rose. PTH dipping means less calcium is stolen from my bones as my sufficient 25D handles the job of maintaining blood calcium with whatever I glean from my diet. Although bone health isn’t what I’m focusing on in this topic, it has been shown that brittle bones link to heart disease (at least more strongly for women who don’t have the extra protective effects of male level testosterone) So it did shed valid extra light. And of course we’ve long known about vitamin D’s skeletal effects.

If you’re interested, here’s a portion of my scans. The right graphs show you a significant rise in my spinal reading from 2004 (aged 24)-2009 (aged 29), while on the hip it’s virtually the same (although up a number by data given to me).

Update 2 of 2 (22nd Sep, unfinished): This evening I got my calcium result which is 2.7mmol/L. Now accordingtomy doctor and various online sources that is ungravely high (as in probably not good), although not high enough to typically cause symptoms (which I don’t have and that would typically start at 3+) and not too high out of range(2.2-2.6). My doctor (who gave me these results on the phone; vitamin D is still being processed) seemed unconcerned about this as he believes my albumin (forgive my reliance on WikiPedia tonight) is likely normal (they would contact again if not). The two are used in tandem to indicate a calcium problem. However they can rule out bone leech since my bone mineral density showed a 6% increase since 5yrs ago (a positive outcome here) along with dropping PTH. But while the level could be benign in accordance with my lack of symptoms I may have “increased intestinal calcium absorption (is that all good?), or decreased renal calcium excretion (clearly not good…)”  according to WikiPedia’s Hypercalcemia definition. This is not to say vitamin D has done me wrong (not with my bone density increase and a cholesterol profile that rules me off statins) but I may be on a dose that’s slightly too high than necessary personally. I’ll only know when I get my results. It is also quite possible 2.7 is actually as normal as 2.6 – one document appears to think so – (not that I have the expertise to hedge) due to the fact that ranges are defined by the norm – and the norm is vitamin D deficiency.

One other curious fact though to add is that when I was severely vitamin D deficient my calcium was 2.59. This is virtually upper-end normal according to online sources but both my GP and hospital regard 2.55 (2.15 to 2.55 on our UK health service) as the upper limit, but even then this slightly higher level, perhaps insignificant, didn’t concern them due to not being accompanied with symptoms and perhaps being the norm. But I’m only guessing now. My albumin was also normal (a stock level of 50 g/L).

It would make things simple if the only cause of this is consuming a bit more D than I need. If it’s not, it could imply nothing wrong or possibly being a bit risky. I will have to address this when my level comes within a week or two, but don’t worry (if anyone is!) I’m alright and this is fairly simple to address.

12 November 2009:
I’m really sorry the result isn’t up yet. My hospital neither sent the result to me or my GP so I’ll have to chase it up. One interesting note however, my unfasted total cholesterol result might be as valid as my fasted ones, read this.Update 2.5 of…2.5 (finished!): 141 nmol/L (56.4 ng/ml) is the magic value which I received today.
I had predicted that I would probably reach 132 nmol/L at my upped dosage of 10k per day, so I was just off by 9 nmol/L, showing that for every 5000IU I go up roughly by 65 nmol/L.
Given that revised (if not yet universally accepted) optimal values are between 125-200 nmol/L, I have likely found my personal correct dose.
Of course at 141 nmol/L I exceeded the 128 nmol/L limit defined by my local health authority (who also still insist that from 25 nmol/L upwards is ‘normal’) so I may need to to drop down to 50k every 7 days (just above 7000IU per day) rather than 5 just in the season before my next blood test to keep them sweet.
No further comment was made on my blood calcium level because other markers weren’t pointed out as being risky. So I think my personal dose will remain at 10k per day since I wouldn’t attain any extra benefits by going right up to 200 nmol/L or more, and I also don’t want to risk it.The only future updates to this and perhaps the previous blog post will be just of future result scores to form a long-term result sheet. Any further writing on the topic will be on a dedicated blog. Guaranteed.

13 December 2009 forum announcement:
Until such a time where I do create a dedicated blog, there is now a vitamin D forum. 09 October 2010 update: Please refer to the original ‘pt. 1’ of this post for any further updates. 

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “High cholesterol, low vitamin D and its significance pt. 2

  1. Ack! The values are expressed in nmol/L and mmol/L, while in my country ng/mL and mg/dL are used. I’ll have to look up how to convert them before I know if I should congratulate you. 😉

    • Oh no, lol! Maybe something on Google will help you out?

      I think my results are significant anyway (as far as one reading goes). I didn’t do anything other than take vitamin D, and it’s often the norm for people who even try modifying their diet to end up on statins. That’s why they’re so widely prescribed.

      • Ok here’s the result of some Googling.
        I don’t guarantee its correctness:

        Cholesterol
        2007 5.62 mmol/L 217 mg/dL
        2008 5.4 mmol/L 208 mg/dL (UNFASTED)
        2009 4.95 mmol/L 191 mg/dL

        Vitamin D
        2007 10-21 nmol/L 4-8,4 ng/mL
        2008 on 5000IU 76nmol/L 30,4 ng/mL
        2009 on 10000iU ? ?

        I’m curious about the 2009 vitamin D result!

        P.S. Conversion done like this:
        Cholesterol: convert mmol/L into mg/dL = multiply by 38.67
        Vitamin D: convert nmol/L into ng/mL = divide by 2.5

  2. Cheers for that Jan. Those will be useful for most countries as I think they’re the standard.

    I’m guessing I’ll be around 128nmol/50ng/ml, but I was wrong last time.

    I see you’re up late like me. 🙂

  3. Hello Mo
    Sorry to hear of your health problems. I also have high cholesterol but was told it was “good cholesterol” and so not to worry about it, but I am overweight and currently am not living a healthy lifestyle at all although I usually do, and probably will do again now that summer is over.
    In the states they seem to have a lower level of cholesterol seen as dangerous, same with blood pressure etc…
    Anyway have a good day and enjoy the sun!
    Love and Peace
    Véronique

  4. Hello,

    Do you know why the body pumps cholesterol in the blood?

    It is carried to the skin and converted to vitamin D3 in the skin, after which the vitamin D is distributed via the blood to every cell in your body. That is one of the primary reasons for cholesterol.

    We are naked apes. We evolved naked under the sun making use of solar UVB rays to produce whole body exposure vitamin D. This evolution took place over 5 million years.

    When exposure to solar UVB does not occur the cholesterol levels build in the blood, and the body pumps more into the serum epecting a fair trade of cholesterol to vitamin D.

    Mankind then adopted clothing, later started using sunscreen. The long term effects of vitamin D deficiency are cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, allergies, multiple sclerosis and a host of others. Even more recently scare mongering doctors have terrified people with the risks of skin cancer by exposing themselves to the sun.

    This has lead to a huge increase in vitamin D deficiency diseases.

    Our biology is wild. It evolved using “healthy” amounts of daily solar exposure.

    Even the brain uses vitamin D and it is tied to serrotonin production. Hence, seasonal affective disorder in winter for those who are vitamin D deficient.

    Later

  5. fascinating blog! i was diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency about a month ago. after 2 weeks of D3 500 i.u. daily the muscle soreness and stiffness i’d suffered for 7 months mysteriously vanished. at the age of 72, after 40 years in hawaii, i apparently no longer make adequate D via sun exposure. i’d also been put on statin at the same time but couldn’t tolerate it (caused severe diarhea) so i quit. after reading your blog i am increasing my intake of D in anticipation of a cholesterol test at the end of december.

    • Hi Jolly,

      Thanks for commenting and I’m very glad the D3 (I’m assuming you meant 5000IU) helped you so quickly in one respect already.
      It’s true that older skin contains less cholesterol – perhaps as an unfair mechanism by nature to favour the young – so the only option to raise your D level is supplements.

      I’ve never been on a statin myself (though fairly close to being offered one), but I know that very intolerable side effects are experienced by more than a minority.

      The thing to bare in mind, in my experience at least, is my cholesterol values didn’t change much until I fully optimised my level (125-200 nmol/L). Remaining mildly deficient (79nmol/L) – in accordance with revised recommendations – didn’t make much of a difference to when I was severely deficient. That said, you don’t want to go guns blazing with vitamin D by making sure you adjust your dosage logically and conservatively if needs be.

      Also, bare in mind that even if your cholesterol values don’t change (though I would bet – and this is backed up by studies – that your good ‘HDL’ cholesterol will rise), it doesn’t necessarily mean that D isn’t helping in regards to heart health.
      Statins possibly work because they reduce inflammation in the way D does (I say possibly because even the manufacturers do not know) and cholesterol reduction is either a side effect – perhaps because liver cholesterol production can be reduced with a sustained intake of D3 – or is an intended effect with no extra value.

      Make sure you also have a balanced diet to complement your supplementation, as it would be a waste to be onto a good thing and discard others.
      Take care.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s