Taking Vitamin D Revolution to the Next Step
A Vitamin D-Deficient Woman Leads the Way
April 9, 2008
Encinitas, CA — The scientific breakthroughs are astounding, even jaw-dropping. The world has begun to hear of a “pinch me to make sure it’s true” development — what may be a preventive measure for cancer is on the drawing board, and it may also be an antidote for the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the Western World, ranging from diabetes to obesity, mental depression, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, heart disease, infectious disease, and even autism. It’s not a pharmaceutically designed molecule, it’s a ray of sunshine, or more specifically, what a ray of sunshine produces, natural vitamin D.
The problem is, leading vitamin D researchers are already loaded with reams of scientific studies, and it’s about time to aim this information at the public as well as health professionals, who are eager to learn of this discovery. The challenge is, how to get accurate and authoritative information into eager hands?
Public uncertainty is high. People have heard about recent vitamin D discoveries, but they want to obtain assurance and instruction from their doctors before embarking upon a regimen to increase vitamin D levels.
This may sound a bit silly, since vitamin D is obtained freely from skin exposure to midday UV-B sun rays. At a brief glance, it doesn’t appear the public needs instruction how to get out in the sun. But since the dermatology community made the public phobic over sun exposure, fearing more skin cancer, and medical textbooks mistakenly warn the public away from higher-dose vitamin D supplements, the public is a bit confused. Can vitamin D pills be taken with medicines? Can I overdose? Can I take vitamin D pills if I’m out in the sun all day? These are some of the questions. Even doctors were trained to be cautious in prescribing vitamin D, so they need first-hand instruction on safety and applications of vitamin D therapy.
Enter Carole Baggerly, founder of Grassroots Health, a non-profit organization that wants to carry the torch for vitamin D. The trigger for her role as a sparkplug for the unfolding vitamin D revolution was her own ordeal — breast cancer.
After undergoing breast removal, chemo and radiation therapy, treatment she thinks is barbaric, Carole kept saying to herself, “there has to be a better way. But what?”
It took another unwelcome disease diagnosis for Carole Baggerly to find it. Her doctor informed her she had osteoporosis. Carole asked why. Why me? Her doctor said, maybe it’s due to a low vitamin D level. Tests confirmed she was deficient (about 20 nanograms per milliliter in blood serum) for adequate bone health.
Just about then, Dr. Cedric Garland of the University of California, San Diego, had published authoritative data showing the risk for breast cancer could be reduced by 50% with adequate levels of vitamin D (48 nanograms per milliliter).
Carole reached the same freezing point the public now has — she didn’t know what to do. She sought out a world expert, Dr. Anthony Norman at University of California, Riverside. She asked Dr. Norman, “is the research on vitamin D true?” A two-and-a-half hour lecture later, Carole was beginning to be convinced. But she needed to hear more. She attended a scientific workshop on Vitamin D and Cancer at the National Cancer Institute in Washington, DC.
It was there that Carole literally jumped out of her turtle shell as an attendee of the workshop to become a change agent for vitamin D. Panel experts concluded more research needed to be done. To the contrary, Carole felt it was also time to get word out to the public, that cancer is too life-threatening of a disease to wait for more research when vitamin D therapy is safe and economical. She was appalled at the lack of urgency shown by many attendees at the conference.
Before she left Washington DC, a dozen or so people came to her and said something must be done. Then, with her husband in tow, they both motorhomed to visit all the leading vitamin D researchers in the country and interview them firsthand. The list included Drs. Robert Heaney and Joan Lappe at Creighton University in Omaha, Reinhold Vieth PhD of Toronto University, Dr. John Cannell, founder of The Vitamin D Council in Atascadero, California, William Grant of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco, Cedric Garland Dr. P.H. at University of California, San Diego, Bruce Hollis PhD from the Medical University of South Carolina, Anthony Norman, PhD, University of California, Riverside, and Walter Willet, MD, Dr. P.H. and Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD. of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Michael Holick MD, PhD of Boston University Medical Center.
Carole mulled over how to become a change agent without much of a budget. She started by urging vitamin D researchers to develop a consensus statement over dosage. They came up with a recommended range of vitamin D blood concentration — 40-60 nanograms per milliliter sample of blood serum.
She then founded GrassrootsHealth, a non-profit corporation, to sponsor teaching seminars across the country about vitamin D for health professionals.
Next, Carole began attending medical association meetings, to prod them to produce policy statements regarding vitamin D. Work is now going on within the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Physicians and the American College of Preventive Medicine.
Carole’s latest developments are a set of community health projects on Chronic Diseases and Health Disparities. Carole’s prior experience in the computer industry has also led her to the observation that ‘there’s a better way’ for getting the public involved in health.
The first seminar, free for health professionals, is fully subscribed. Over 150 health professionals have registered, some from foreign countries. Dr. Cedric Garland, when he heard the seminar registration was standing room only, said “I never thought this would happen in my lifetime.”
Carole even has the Black Nurses Association volunteering their time as volunteers at the conference, invigorated by a presentation Carole made for their group. Black American health professionals need to lead the way, especially since Black Americans need far more sunshine to produce adequate levels of vitamin D compared to Caucasians.
Carole is utilizing skills she learned as a business woman in the computer software industry. Her desk at home serves as the world headquarters for GrassrootsHealth. The internet expands her reach to the world. She says it’s the biggest health development presented to humankind since clean water. She thinks of the fact that Edward Mellanby discovered vitamin D in 1922. The question arises in her mind and others, why didn’t this message get out to the public sooner?
Carole ended her interview with a touching story. Preliminary studies show vitamin D may be a godsend for young children stricken with autism. She sent a note to a pediatrician friend about that. Three days later her note was passed on by the doctor to a third party, a mom with an autistic child. That mom began taking her autistic child outdoors to get more midday sun, with noticeable improvement in behavior.
The vitamin D revolution trudges forward, one person at a time. For more information about vitamin D, and to see how you can help in this revolution, visit www.grassrootshealth.org
Founder and Director, Grassrootshealth
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