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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Dear Dr Cannell: Rheumatoid arthritis

Dear Dr. Cannell:

I thought I’d share my story with you. Ten years ago I started showing symptoms of what doctors thought was rheumatoid arthritis (RA). My symptoms were overall body pain and some joint swelling and because I tested positive for the RA factor, they thought sure I was developing RA since my family also had a history with RA. Five years later my hip became involved. Blood tests were done again and I tested positive for the RA factor again and showed a lot of other symptoms of RA. I was diagnosed with RA and began an aggressive treatment plan of chemo therapy, biologic drugs and steroids.

I went down this path for another 5 years getting worse every year. Two years ago, during the winter of 2012, I was at my worst. My doctor recommended that I quit working and apply for 100% disability. I was still taking chemo, biological drugs, steroids, anti-depressants to help with pain and fentanyl (a horrible pain killer) and was still in pain and my mobility was decreasing.

My family doctor finally decided to switch my RA doctor and off I went. My new doctor sat me down asked me lots of questions, looked me over and sent me to the store to buy a bottle of Vitamin D3 and some Tums for calcium. My new doctor started me out with 15,000 IU’s of vitamin D a day. My symptoms began to subside 3 days later and in a month I was completely OFF all the medications I had been steadily taking for ten years!

Today I am in perfect health with no symptoms and still take 10,000 IU’s a day with my Tums. If I miss a dose I do feel some pain in my hips. I live in Alaska so my doctor’s theory is I started becoming deficient in my 20’s right around when my RA symptoms started.


Albert, Alaska

Dear Albert: 

I found you story fascinating. As you know, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks flexible joints. It can be a disabling and painful condition, which can lead to substantial loss of functioning. RA affects up to 1% of adults in the developed world. The risk is greater the further away from the equator one lives. Some studies show it is more common and more severe among African Americans.

While there are no studies that I am aware of that confirm your treatment experience, the mechanisms by which such a treatment effect is possible have been described.

As far as dosage, according to the Food and Nutrition Board, 10,000 IU a day is the No Observed Adverse Effects Level, meaning no one has ever reported adverse effects at that dosage. So do not worry that you are taking too much. I hope your positive experience leads some researcher somewhere to test if vitamin D has a treatment effect in active RA.

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

8 Responses to Dear Dr Cannell: Rheumatoid arthritis

  1. Magic says:

    Among the many D3 “success” stories I have is one that comes out just about like the above story.

    Four Septembers ago I was walking at the Autzen Dog Park here in Eugene, Oregon and I told one of many people I meet about D3. I didn’t see him for months but in December he was telling ever;yone how I cured his RA. I didn’t even know he had it.

    He did this on 10,000 a day. I see him frequently now. He tells me I did what his two doctors were not able to. It is sad that more people don’t realize they might be helped by something so simple.

  2. Rita and Misty says:

    Magic–I am constantly chatting up a storm regarding vitamin d.

    But, it’s often my experience that most people are afraid to trust the average individual (average individual = us).

    To my dismay, I often hear: “Well, that’s interesting…I’ll ask my doctor about it…”

    Very frustrating….

    Last year at this time, I thought it would be sufficient to outreach to friends, family and associates.

    I no longer believe this to be true.

    We need to (somehow) reach more physicians and healthcare professionals…We just do.

  3. Magic says:


    Same goes for me. Very discouraging… You would think there was something in it for us.

    Healthcare professionals, doctors, spend years learning how to “do their job.” Now some nobody like you or me tries to tell them they are wrong. They cannot benefit from agreeing that D3 may solve our problem.

    My wife and I got canned because I begged our doctor to JUST go to this website. He told me over 1000 ius of D3 was poison. Another doctor told my wife the same thing…..They say, “If you don’t do what I say I am afraid you must find another doctor.”…..Which told me that the sales rep for both doctors was the same person.

    I have helped lots of people. I have a very poor “batting average.”



  4. Rita and Misty says:

    Keep swinging that bat, Magic…

    You only need to hit that ball out of the field once in order to score a home run.

    But seriously, I think we in the vitamin d community need to change our approach regarding outreach. T

    here’s something we are missing…it’s time for us to hold a brainstorming session.

    Very seriously: We need a stealth bomber to infiltrate mainstream medicine….

  5. Rita and Misty says:

    For those of you who do not follow me on the VDC Facebook page, I posted this earlier today:

    It is possible to lobby for our vitamin d rights. I particularly like strength in numbers, exhibited via one united front. Perhaps we can be a force of nature!


    (Please do JOIN ME on the VDC Facebook page…I’d love to see 1,000 new “LIKES” every ten days)

  6. I also have diagnosed RA and have found vitamin D (in addition to fish oil) indispensable for managing it. I use a range from 5,000-10,000 iu’s over the year and maintain a blood level in the upper safe ranges. While fish oil was magical in avoiding any medications (which I refused to take even at the worst), vitamin D stopped the annual mini-flares, which I eventually realised were happening at the end of the winter/early spring (after an annual conference in sunny California, usually). I chose my physician on the basis of his attitude toward vitamin D and avoidance of the typical medications. I do still have symptoms (active finger stuff and other residual damage from before I had the combination), but I don’t feel the need to medicate, certainly. Would love to try a brief period of mega-doses, just to see what happens, but since I’m already at the upper blood ranges, not sure that’s likely to help anything.

  7. Magic says:

    Hey Kshue.

    I have been very careful through the years with D3 but have been in contact with the mother of a man who was born inaudible (autistic)…..He is now in his 30s…With 20,000 D3s a day for more than 4 years he is now much healthier though still autistic.. She is working with OSHU on her own personal studies. For that reason I have felt safe to use a higher dose from time to time. Nobody told me I had RA in my hands but they were swollen around the thumb and I had “trigger finger.” It has been gone for years.

    Some of the new studies concerning chronic pain are unbelievable. My wife was racked with pain from a badly repaired broken hip and an inherited knee problem. She was taking 20,000 a day and I raised it to 35,000 for a few days and the she stopped complaining about the pain. Her 25 hydroxyd number was over 100 and her doctor told her to get off the D3. It took about two weeks before she could hardly move. Needless to say, we are back on the D3s for her and she hasn’t complained of pain.

    I look for symptoms of toxicity…I have yet to see any………….I must say I direct people to this website in order that they use the other helpful vitamins to go with D3.. I get plenty of exercise. Good Luck!!


  8. showmeaschematic says:

    reply to Magic re person at 100 ng/ml

    Please buy the book ” Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox “. It will explain how D3 and K2 work together to safely manage calcium. Follow the advice…. take 100 mcg of K2 ( Mk7 version ) for every 2,000 IU’s of D3 and you will avoid any negative effects of high dosage of D3…. namely hypercalcemia and calcium depositing in soft tissues. At the same time, learn about all the other wonderful positive results that will accrue from taking the two vitamins ( plus get enough Vitamin A in your diet ) …… reverse atheroscleroisis….. make your teeth cavity proof…. prevent osteoporosis…. etc…..

    good luck and good health