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Vitamin D: The Cure or Not the Cure? (Book Review)

Ever wondered what happens if your body runs low on vitamin D? First time author James E. Dowd who penned The Vitamin D Cure has.

Dowd, a rheumatologist and CEO at his Arthritis Institute of Michigan, wanted to “look at our health through the lens of vitamin D deficiency.”

The book has three sections. Part one attempts to establish how vitamin D (not really a vitamin but a hormone our bodies synthesize from the sun’s UVB rays) regulates essential body functions, particularly through its interactions with minerals calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Dowd also establishes what can go wrong if a body is deficient in D, which ranges from obesity to arthritis, with a list that might literally fill a whole page.

Part two details Dowd’s five-step program which looks at how diet and exercise impact the efficacy of this vitamin, and how you can change that. Part three fuses recent scientific studies to support what Dowd’s vitamin D cure does with regard to individual diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

Dowd’s claim that “60 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient” is breathtaking, as this percentage amounts to around 200 million North Americans, or probably many of you reading this.

Consider how many of us sit or stand in buildings all day, and then slather on sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and hazmat suits—kidding!—to spend time outside. Simply living above the 37th parallel (anything above New Mexico) puts people at risk, because the days available for UVB production are limited. Additionally, people of color need more time in the sun since the melanin in their skin acts as a natural sunscreen. Women need more too, particularly pregnant women.

Dowd sidesteps the debate about sun exposure leading to cancer by simply telling readers that if they are worried, just use supplemental D.

What surprised me most was Dowd’s assertion that most diseases are the result of a lack of vitamin D in utero and early childhood.

Like a foundation poured with cracks, a child grows without his parent or himself really being aware that anything is missing. Numerous studies cited in Dowd’s book point to rising rates of diabetes, scoliosis and more.

On a brighter note, although the seeds for imbalance are sown early, many of the examples in Dowd’s book are used to illustrate “that you can address vitamin D and dietary deficiencies at any age. Young children as well as senior adults respond dramatically to this program.” Whew.

Dowd’s major failing might be the simple fact that vitamin D gets top billing in his title, giving the distinct impression that all someone would have to do is begin taking a high-dose supplement.

Not so.

Dowd quickly gets to the fact that adding vitamin D to your diet alone will not change much. He asserts that an acid-alkaline imbalance in the body in favor of acid (all those foods you love: cheese, sugar, grains, anything processed), will negate the D: “A healthy diet enhances vitamin D’s ability to take care of its jobs. By the same token, though, a bad diet can hinder vitamin D in its efforts.”

In Dowd’s 5-step program, he states that an idea diet for maximum absorption of vitamin D basically includes fresh fruits and vegetables plus meats in a 3:1 ratio (for their vitamin and mineral and protein content respectively), as well as nuts and seeds.

The cupboard might be looking pretty bare for vegans or vegetarians.

Ultimately, Dowd does a good job of covering his bases through research that vitamin D is necessary, although he purports it cannot be the only change you make if you’d like to see results and feel healthier. Many of his assertions are corroborated by Harvard Medical School. I checked.

The book doesn’t really gain momentum until section three due to the droll nature and placement of patient excerpts and oddly placed charts and graphs. Stick with it. The information is important for good health.

What I came away with:
What I’m really gaining from those nachos dripping with cheese and a bubbling soda to wash them down is weaker bones and muscles, fatigue and poor sleep, plus an ill-health legacy that might eventually turn into a more serious disease. I’m not as hungry anymore.

The book is a must read those north of the 37th parallel, people of color, expectant mothers, and those of you who believe you’re already getting enough vitamin D.

Further Information:
Check out 24 health videos discussing The Vitamin D Cure with James E. Dowd on


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