The main function of the immune system is to defend against foreign invaders, things like viruses and bacteria. Our defenses are made up of specialized white blood cells and organs that directly assault invaders and produce antibodies to fight off infection.
But sometimes, the immune system becomes overactive and targets the body’s healthy cells, tissues, and organs rather than infections and viruses—basically, the immune system fails to sense the difference between self and non-self.
When this reaction occurs, it is known as autoimmunity.
Autoimmune diseases are complex dysfunctions of the immune system involving an imbalance of the Th1, Th2, and Th17 immune cells.
Let me explain further.
Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that can be divided into 3 groups: B cells, T cells, and natural killer cells.
Within the group of T cells are white blood cells called T-helper cells. T helper cells are divided into Th1, and Th2 cells.
Now, autoimmune disease develops from an abnormal immune response in the body when there is an imbalance of Th1 and Th2 cells and the chemical messengers they release.
In people with autoimmune dysfunction, there is usually a dominance of either TH1 or TH2 cells.
The onset of autoimmune disease can be triggered by gluten, dairy products, leaky gut syndrome, infections, chronic stress, and vitamin D deficiency.
Now Among its countless benefits, vitamin D is also a powerful manipulator of the immune response.
Vitamin D Deficiency
A deficiency of vitamin D—lower than 30ng/ml in the blood—is associated with increased susceptibility to infections and autoimmunity.
Here’s how that happens. Many tissues in the body, including the brain, intestine, breast, pancreas, bone marrow, skeletal muscle, and immune cells, express the vitamin D receptor (VDR)—a protein responsible for sensing vitamin D.
The VDR, once activated by vitamin D, forms a complex that finds its way to the cell’s nucleus and its DNA. Here, specific genes are turned on to produce proteins for different functions in the body.
Vitamin D can boost your immune system, while simultaneously regulating the arm of the immune system involved in autoimmunity.
To prevent an autoimmune response, vitamin D regulates Th1 and Th2 cells, the white blood cells that are programmed to attack the cells and tissues of your body, thus causing an autoimmune response.
Low vitamin D is linked to autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease, Sjogren’s disease, and systemic lupus.
If you are challenged by any one of these TH1 dominant conditions, get your vitamin D levels measured.
Research is now showing a vitamin D level of 30ng/ml or below, puts you at major risk for developing autoimmune disease or preventing your recovery from one.
So, to rebuild from an autoimmune disease, you must get the vitamin D levels in your blood up to 60-90ng/ml. This is the therapeutic range to normalize the immune dysfunction seen in Th1 dominant conditions.
To do this, start by eliminating foods contain gluten and all dairy products. Then, increase your sun exposure, and eat foods high in vitamin D including (salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, shrimp, eggs), and last, supplement with vitamin D.
If your vitamin D levels are below the recommended range, I would start by taking 4-5000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D3; daily for adults, and 2000 IU for children.
After supplementing for 2 months, get your vitamin D measured to check the levels. If it is still below 60ng/ml, increase your intake by 2000 IU and then retest in the future until you are within that therapeutic range of 60-90ng/ml.
Vitamin D is fat soluble, so it’s best to take it with your food. If you have gut issues, a leaky gut, a history of gluten sensitivity, or, you had your gall bladder removed, consider taking digestive enzymes to aid in digesting your food, and absorbing that vitamin D.
While there are multiple reasons for the development of autoimmune diseases, vitamin D deficiency is top of the list. To rebuild from an autoimmune disease get your vitamin D levels up to the therapeutic range of 60-90ng/ml
I hope this helps to rebuild your body and your mind.
Fore information on resolving you autoimmune disease, go to: drzembroski.com/rebuild
Remember, a diagnosis is not your destiny
Thank you for that information Ihave lichen sceloris,and vitiligo , have never been told to supplement my vitamin d , or have it regularly tested by my doctor .
Hi, you should definitely get your vitamin D levels tested. I would test both the 25(OH hydroxyvitamin D) and 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D—the hormonal form. Most practitioners only focus on the symptoms associated with autoimmune disease, not the underlying issues that cause them. Don’t forget to eliminate grains with gluten, milk products and white sugars as these food sources cause immune dysfunctions and autoimmune disease.
Why eliminate gluten and dairy?my teenage son just diagnosed with photo dermatitis
Hello, thanks for reaching out. As you know, photodermatitis is an acute or chronic inflammatory condition. We as humans are supposed to be exposed to the sun. This is how we produce vitamin D. The sunlight also provides us with many other health benefits. So, the question is: why would sunlight cause a significant reaction in someone leading to photodermatitis? While there are theories as to why it happens—underlying autoimmune issues, metabolic reasons, nutrient deficiencies and inflammatory conditions. Because the dermatitis is an inflammatory condition, its best to eliminate any food source that is inflammatory
The elimination of milk products and gluten is the first big step to reducing systemic inflammation. Gluten from grains and the protein casein found in milk products can and will cause an immune reaction in the body aka inflammation. So, it’s best to eliminate these foods to reduce the inflammatory burden in the body.
Remember, you must keep looking for the cause of the reaction. Sunlight is just the antigen—the irritating factor.
This is a very valuable information.
Thank u so much for this.
I am diagnosed with Membranous Nephropathy recently.
Will vitamin D help me in this case?
Hello, vitamin D is not the end-all-be-all to improve autoimmune conditions. However, low vitamin D has been implicated in many autoimmune diseases. As with all autoimmune disease, its important to look for causes: zonulin, low vitamin D, insulin and blood sugar issues, infections etc. Get you blood work done and supplement accordingly
Hey doctor my mother is diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis with incomplete cirrhosis and all the anti body test are negative.can you please direct me to reverse this.
Hello, sorry your mom is dealing with this. It is also very difficult to provide a one-off answer to your question. I also don’t have enough information based on your input here to provide guidance.
Hello Dr.Z , was diagnosed mon with lupus. My Ana was 1:25 speckled. Also going through menopause. Not sure if it’s ok to get on BHRT . My vitamin D was 24 . My remuy wants me to take 2000 a day. I think it’s to low. What suggestions do you have?
Laurie, a positive ANA or a speckled ANA is not definitive for Lupus. Inflammatory conditions and infections give a positive ANA https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31718355/ Regarding vitamin D, 24 is seriously low. It’s best to take vitamin D then get your blood levels checked. 2000IU per day is too low. I can’t give you clinical recommendations as I don’t know anything about your health, but I can say that 2000 per day is too low. Consider 5000IU/day then get your blood work done to check your levels
Dr .z just seen this message of your reply. Also I had high Rnp that was 90 . Forgot to tell you that . But I also have HSV 1 & 2 . Do you think reversing autoimmune getting hormones balanced helps with increasing Vitamin D?
I had another question could my HSV be the reason for Ana speckled? Isn’t HSV part of Ebv family?
Could HSV 1&2 cause positive Ana ? My doctor said no. But it’s a infection. I don’t take medicine for it so it’s not suppressed . I have it a lot. So when I read your reply infection can cause Ana positive that’s what I thought maybe HSV was causing the positive.
Hello doctor. My daughter has crohns and is taking a supplement drink they say helps ease crohns called modulen. The second ingrediant is casein (thinks how its spelled) could this be affecting her condition? thank you
Hello Jimmy. I would never recommend Modulen to anyone for any reason. Its first ingredients are: GLUCOSE SYRUP, ACID CASEIN (MILK), SUGAR, MILKFAT, MEDIUM CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES, CORN OIL . .all absolutely toxic!!! Crohns is an inflammatory bowel issue that has multiple causes. Those causes need to be found and resolved. There are also far more healthful medical foods designed to cool of the immune issue associated with Crohns. Do you have a copy of Rebuild? The information in it will help stabilize and normalize the immune issues involved in Crohns. https://www.drzembroski.com/the-book/ If you need further assistance, please contact my clinic.https://www.drzembroski.com/contact-page/
Dr.Z , Can HSV 1&2 cause the positive Ana with Rnp antibody. I also have Raynauds. I balanced hormones and been taking the vitamin D. Going tomorrow’ to get blood work again to see levels. Also my ferritin was high and homocysteine was low last time . Could menopause cause this??
Jacqueline that is so true hey! I have Lichen planus pigmentosu no dr told me or ask to measure my vitaminD levels. I have been switched from one treatment to the next by my dermatologist.
which type of doctor is able to test my vitamin D levels and what other supplements/diet restrictions can you recommend for autoimmune hepatitis please? Also my college aged child is showing symptoms of having autoimmune (has alopecia, nailbiting) whom do you recommend his PCP refer him to for specialist care? thank you in advance!
I tell everyone to eliminate all gluten, animal-dairy products and white refined sugars. You many want to get rid of unfermented soy products and processed foods. Any doctor should be able to get your vitamin D levels measured. My recommendation is to find a functional medicine practitioner who can help you uncover abnormal physiology and help you improve your health. It sounds like your college-aged child is having some abnormal immune reaction. The cause of autoimmune issues must be found in order to set the stage for a treatment plan that would work for you both. Any natural ant-inflammatories will benefit you both providing there are no contraindications. Good anti-inflammatories include: curcumin, Vitamin D, alpha lipoic acid, OPC-3, probiotics. These are general recommendations.
Ive spent alot of money still not fixex i think i have ms my legs tighten up feet im a mess how much vitamin d should i take i was checked iwas low on vit d
Sorry you are dealing with these issues! It is hard to say what is causing you leg issues without information—lab tests, nerve conduction tests etc. To answer your question its best to get your blood work checking the levels of vitamin D. The levels must get up to 50/60-80ng/ml. This is the therapeutic levels, not the reference range. I take 5000-7000IU a day which is enough for me to maintain my levels of around 70ng/ml. Work with your doctors to test and then supplement with D to get those levels up.
I was diagnosed with R. Arthritis 3-4years ago I am 37. Doctor put me on Methotrexate , but my liver blood results were high lately (not sure exactly what was high) and he told me to stop taking MTX ( i was bit worried how I am gonna cope with pain and fatigue to be honest) , I started to take Vit D3 maybe 5weeks ago something like 1500UI daily and last 2weeks I am feeling fantastic despite working 10days straight.
Good for you! Don’t forget to eliminate gluten, and dairy as these food sources ate linked to autoimmune disease
Sorry, but I don’t believe vitamin D levels have any direct relevance on whether you develop an autoimmune disorder. I have recently been diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Sarcoidosis- inflammatory condition of the lungs. Prior to my diagnosis I was regularly taking optimal daily dosages of D3- 4000 IU. Even after stopping D3 supplemation 2 months ago I had a recent blood test and my D blood levels were still at optimal levels (92). Why do I still have this debilitating disease despite having optimal vitamin D blood levels, prior and during my disease?
Dominic, there is plenty of evidence that shows low vitamin D is a cause of autoimmune disease. There are many causes to autoimmune dysfunctions—one being low vitamin D. Leaky gut; insulin dysregulations; elevated zonulin; hormonal issues etc., can all play a role in the creation of autoimmune disease. I don’t know anything about you and your unique physiology to make recommendations. There is also no way to blog about all the causes and solutions in one sitting. That said, get your 1,25 (OH) vitamin D levels checked, not just your vitamin D (25(OH) D3. Do you have a copy of Rebuild? It is an excellent guide and resource to help you with autoimmunity
I havent been right after i took gabapentin my nervous syste m is messed up ive stoped taking everything doctor think im ok but im not i have treamors in left arm
Sorry to hear you are dealing with gapapentin toxicity. Tremor development is a side-effect of gabapentin use. While there are other reasons for the development of tremors, I suggest you find a highly-qualified chiropractic neurologist, one that also specializes in functional medicine to help uncover why this has happened. Let us know if we can be of service.
Hi. My daughter has recently been diagnosed with type1 diabetes. Have you seen success in reversing or stopping the autoimmune response in type1?
Type 1 diabetes is a TH1 dominant condition. TH1 dominance is a state of the immune system whereby certain immune cells become “unbalanced” with another arm of the immune system . . the TH2 system. Vitamin D can help the immune dysfunction in type 1 diabetes, and it has been known to help regulate blood sugar. The 2 biggest causes of type 1 diabetes is gluten (gliadin) and the protein casein from dairy products. Those food sources must be eliminated, and certainly taking vitamin D would be beneficial.
Hi doc, I was diagnosed to have an undifferentiated CTD…But last March, one of my doctors have checked my Vitamin D and she found out that it was very low 17ng/ml. Knowing that how can I improve my Vit D esp if my doctor advised me to refrain walking in the sun?Thanks
Hello. For one, you should get some sun on your skin at least 20-30 minutes a day to activate vitamin D in the body. You then must supplement to get your vitamin D levels up! 17ng/ml is dangerously low for anyone. In fact, low vitamin D is a cause of autoimmune issues and connective tissue disease. According to research those with vitamin D levels from 15-30ng/ml were more likely to develop autoimmune disease and CTD.
I would start taking 8-10,0000 IU/day of a reputable vitamin D. I recommend Metagenics, Designs for Health, Nutrametrix for a high quality D. Once you start supplementing, get you vitamin D levels tested again. You want to strive for 60-80ng/ml in the blood. Once there, keep it there!
Been diagnosed with fybromyialgia and doctors still figuring out if i have lupus.today got result for my vitamin D..25 hydroxy oh result at 20.4 ng/ml..should i be concerned.i have severe joint pain..muscle pain..foot pain..i also have bulging and digenerative disc c5 c6 c7..
Im so lost dont know what to do..i bruise easily..get skin rash as well..recently im having a lot of red spot on my skin as well..please advise.
Hello, your vitamin D levels of 20 is absolutely to low! It is difficult to “prescribe” nutraceuticals to you without having more info about you, however, you could start with 6-8000IU of a day fro 4 weeks then get your vitamin D levels checked to see if the vit D has gone up. I strongly suggest finding a specialist in functional medicine to help you with your health. And you absolutely need to get rid of gluten, milk products and white refined sugars to start.
Hello when you mention milk, is it safe to have lactose free?
Lactose is simple sugar that can cause major gut issues for people who don’t produce the enzyme to break it down. That said, there are other components of milk and inflammatory proteins like casein that can create major health issues. As I understand more about animal breast milk, I strongly suggest to stay away from it
I was diagnosed with Lichen planus pigmentosus n apparently the dermatologist does not know how to treat this auto immune condition!! I have bad pigmentation both my arms,chest, neck and rightside of my face. Im so frustrated and depressed
Every single food I eat makes me itch, taking a antihistamine is very painful when you have dry eye disease, but have no choice, will start taking d immediately, anything else I can do, thinking maybe vit a ? I have already eliminated sugar, grains and milk.Please help.
It’s difficult to recommend actions to take without knowing anything about your health history. If you are dealing with an autoimmune issue get your gut checked for a protein called zonulin. You must also eliminate gluten, milk-products, and white refined sugars. Again, get your blood vitamin D levels up to 60-80-90ng/ml
I have multiple autoimmune disorders going on including MS and MG as well as immune thrombocytopenia. Over the last 2 years I have experienced varying degrees of neurological deficits and increasing muscle weakness. My vitamin D level has been consistently low at every 3-4 month recheck (levels ranging from 8-15) while taking a prescription dose of 50,000units 3 times per week for a total of 150,000 units per week. Basically my level on the supplements (for 18 months now) is not continuing to drop but it’s not coming up either. Any thoughts on what to add to the regimen?
Cynthia, you have a bunch of challenges. Regarding vitamin D, there are several things to consider including the type of vitamin D you take (D3), how its manufactured—the quality—and physical reasons behind poor absorption like celiac. Make sure the vitamin D is in D3 form and not D2, and you are not taking vitamin A in the form of retinol as this will decrease absorption of vitamin D. Ask your doctor to test 1,25 hydroxyvitamin D. Most practitioners will only test 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood. For some people, the 25-hydroxyvitamin D is quickly converted into the hormonal form of 1,25 hydroxyvitamin D which is the real test for vitamin D. Last, make sure you are taking your vitamin D3 with food as it is fat soluble and needs fat for absorption. Let me know what happens to your D levels
There are over 31 reasons why the Vitamin D levels in the blood respond poorly to supplementations.
~ 50% of all people have a low response to vitamin D3
~ 10% of all people have a ZERO response to a LOW dose
One of the primary reasons is that the form of vitamin D used was not gut-friendly, and was thus has poor bio-availability.
Henry, can you post a link to the 31 reasons why someone would not absorbe vitamin D.
Hello doctor, i have an autoimmune disease camled morphea. It doesent stop. I will do the paleo diet and i had 17 vit d so i am integrating with 4000 iu for day. Once i arrive to 50/60/80 mg in the blood how long should i still take the pills? How long should last this terapeutic dose? I ve read at some point the vitamine becomes toxic if it s too much?
Hope in your kind reponse.
Thank you very much.
Hi Daniela. Vitamin D will never become toxic at the 50-80ng/ml range. I suggest you get it there and once you get it there, you will most likely have to maintain it. Depending on where you live, there may be less sun light and more of a need to supplement for vitamin D. Whatever the dose is to get you to 80ng/ml, I would take the appropriate amount to keep it there. Make sure its D3, not D2. Depending on the time of the year, you can adjust the amount of D you take based on current blood work. If your body can make enough with sun light, there is less need to take it through supplementation.
I have cold urticaria, is that an autoimmune disease? I take vitamin d supplements per my dr as my levels were low. Would eliminating gluten and dairy help?
Rona it is my understanding that cold uticaria is an immune dysfunction where you have excessive or deficient immune system reactions caused by a genetic mutation in the gene for phospholipase C-gamma2 (PLCG2), an enzyme involved in activating immune cells. Regardless of the immune issue it is always best to eliminate gluten and casein in dairy can cause serious immune problems. Get your vitamin D levels up to 60-70-80ng/ml for sure.
I also suffer form cold Urticaria and my Vit D levels were low. Raising it by taking supplemental did it really reduce the symptoms. Maybe it is more of a complex conditions
Can autoimmune disease cause u to start having allergies to medications?
Paula there is a link between allergies and autoimmune disease. Allergic and inflammatory diseases may actually trigger autoimmune diseases. Because autoimmune diseases are complex dysfunctions, it is plausible that autoimmunity can create immune issues to medications. Medications can act as triggers to a variety of side effects, I’m sure one of them can be allergies. Your body may just be reacting to the drugs creating side effects regardless of the autoimmune issues
Will Vitamin D help with granuloma annulare? I have plaques on my face, upper arms, chest, and upper back. It came about shortly after a hysterectomy and trying a keto diet.
Hello, GA is a somewhat rare immune dysfunction. There is obviously some link between trauma (hysterectomy) and the onset of the GA. The causes need to be uncovered and resolved. Vitamin D is a powerful immune modulator and I suggest anyone with immune issues take vitamin D. As I have stated here, take vitamin D then get your blood work to see if the serum vitamin D has gone up, and get it on the higher end of the suggested reference range.
I am 30 yrs old with recently diagnosed vitiligo over my hand and besides my mouth portion. I got my thyroid and vid d checked as recommended by my skin specialist. My thyroid came out fine but my vit d levels are 15ng so she recommended takinh vit d supplement in the form of an oil liquid available in small glass forms.
Furthermore, i have had episodes of bells palsy on each side of my face and a long yeast infection on my butt crack for about 2 years which is healed now but my skin specialist says that the redness/inflammation on my face is yeast and i should try a tropical cream. I have had UTI twice and took steroids while curing my bells palsy back in 2011 and 2014.
My question is would raising my vit d levels help me overcome vitiligo/leucoderma completely? Because people say that there is no cure for this disease. It comes back as soon as you stop applying tropical creams. 🙁
Moreover, my doctor recommended omega 3 and fish oil tablets to boost my immunity. I feel a strange pain in my whole body when i wake up and my knee joints make a sound followed by pain when i keep them bent for a while. Moreover, i plan to get myself checked with a neurologist since my arm feel weakness at times and i am unable to move it for few seconds while doing daily chores.
Furthermore, my eye lashes started to get itchy and i got my allergy tests and nothing showed positive. I have episodes of migraine pain as well which i thought is related to my allergy but there is no allergy.
Please help me in finding the right course of action. Also, please address my concerns regarding curing vitiligo.
Thank you very much
Cheena, it is difficult providing you with the right course of action not knowing a complete history and having not seen any lab tests, blood work etc. Vitamin D levels at 15ng is alarmingly low. Data out of Indian journal of dermatology, venereology and leprology states low vitamin D is associated with vitiligo, and it can help prevent the destruction of the melanocytes in the skin that leads to vitiligo. According to the data, “topical application of vitamin D yields significant results when used in combination with phototherapy and ultraviolet exposure to treat vitiligo in humans.” You may want to consider topical vitamin D and get light therapy to help reduce the vitiligo.
Hi Dr Zembroski, I suffer from an overactive TH2 immune system due to CFS. Can vitamin D3 down regulate over active TH2 cells?
Jason it is my understanding that vitamin D acts to support T cells involved in both the TH1 and TH2 arms of the immune system. If you are TH2 dominant you may want to consider nutrients to support TH1 including: grape seed extract, mushroom extracts, echinacea, and ginseng.
I’ve been recently diagnosed with Behçet Disease, would vit D help ?What would you recommend on helping with my over active immune system? Thank you
Ania, it may be a good idea to get you vitamin D levels looked at. According to the journal Clinics those with Behcet’s Disease have low vitamin D. The goal is to supplement until you get your vitamin D levels 60-90ng/ml
I suffer from eosinophilic esophagitis and my physician wants to treat with 30,000 IU of D3/K2. My 25-hydroxyl-Vitamin D is at 24ng/mL. I recognize that my D needs to increase, but I’m concerned at playing with such large doses. Are you familiar my condition and any attempts at using Vitamin D to treat? Do you think that I could get clinical benefits from doses closer to 5,000 a day?
David there is much to discuss. For one, you need to dig further to understand the reason behind the eosinophilic esophagitis. Known reasons include: reflux from H. Pylori, and bacterial over growth in the gut. There is nothing wrong with taking 8-10,000IU per day until you get your blood work done again. Shoot for 80-90-100ng/ml in the blood.
Dear Dr. Zembroski,
My kid had been diagnosed with sistemic juvenile arthritis, which is autoinflammatory disease (not autoimmune). Do you think vitamin D can help also for autoinflammantory diseases?
SJA has appears to be a dysfunction in the “innate” immune response. Kids with SJA usually have elevated IL-1, and IL-6 in the blood which are involved in inflammation. Vitamin D will help for sure, as will curcumin and other anti-inflammatory nutrients. I strongly suggest you get a copy of my book Rebuild https://www.drzembroski.com/the-book/ It can help guide you in reducing inflammation
I am very interested in starting this protocol, I have Graves disease for about 10 years now. Currently on a low dose of Thiamazol(1,25 my daily). I am supplementing with vit C and weekly 14.000ie of Vit.D. would you recommend to take a higher dose and is a daily intake more beneficiary? Many thanks!
In my clinical experience, 2000IU/day (14,000IU/week) of vitamin D is not enough to tame an autoimmune disease. I don’t have your blood work, so it’s difficult to make recommendations. My patients with Graves typically start with 4000-6000IU/day until testing bloods to check levels. If there are not to 80-90ng/ml in the blood, they take more until their levels are up.
Supposedly I’ve got MS. My neurologist believes so, however the diagnosis isn’t stated yet cause traditionally we have to wait for another inflammation. Initially I’ve got problems with sensitivity of my skin and the contrast in my left eye was acute. Obviously, I’ve read a lot about the disease and got heavily depressed. Right now thank God I’m getting back to normal mental state but is that really possible to definitely fight the disorder?
I stopped eating gluten, dairy products,sugar. I’ve been also taking 10000 d3 a day for 3 months though it is still 27. What else can I possibly do? Does mental condition influence the way d3 gets absorber?
Hello. There are many people who have controlled and stopped the progression of MS—not through pills, lotions, and potions—through resolving leaky gut syndrome, eliminating all gluten, dairy, white sugar, getting their vitamin D levels high in the blood, regulating their cortisol and eating a super-nutrient-dense diet. Your mental state has everything to do with your healing. Stress and negative emotions increase the stress hormone cortisol which can suppress the immune response and cause leaky gut—the main reason behind autoimmune disease. I strongly suggest you read Rebuild to better understand how to control autoimmune disease and how to get your vitamin D levels higher.
Hi doctor, writing from Germany…I have Hashimoto and Itp. I was down on Prednisone to 3 mg but after taking antibiotics against Helicobacter the platelets are low again and I am back to 10 mg or maybe higher if they continue to decrease. I also take vitamin D, C, Selenium and iron. I eliminated gluten and lactose. But it is depressing when you see no positive change. Is it ok to take vit.D with Prednisone?
Yes, there is no contraindications taking vitamin D and prednisone. In addition to vitamin D levels, get your 1,25 (OH) vitamin D3 tested, as its a better gauge at where your vitamin D levels sit
Fui diagnosticada com artrite reumatóide, durante anos fiz tratamento convencional sem melhoras, até que fiz hepatite medicamentosa e na mesma ocasião fui diagnosticada com hipertiroideismo e a seguir com Síndrome de Jogren. Fiz tratamento com Tapazol por 2 anos para o hipertiroidismo, estabilizando meus hormônios. Desde março/2018 faço altas doses de vitamina D associado ao uso de Adalimumabe. Tive melhora significante. Em dezembro /2018 fiz uma ultrassom da tireoide e descobriram um pequeno nódulo, que o médico afirmou ter características de ser benigno, ficará em acompanhamento. O médico atual que prescreve altas doses da vit. D, prescreveu 80.000ui/dia. Com esta dosagem da vitamina D poderá regular adequadamente as células Th1 e Th2 e inativar a AR e evitar sua progressão, bem como, do nódulo? Preciso de sua opinião. Gratidão.
80,000 IU/day is quite high. Its best to start with some dosing perhaps 10,000IU/day for a month then retest the vitamin D levels. Vitamin D will help regulate the TH1 and TH2 response, however, there is more to vitamin D and TH1 cytokine responses. Typically, autoimmune disease including RA and hyperthyroidism are TH1 dominance. To improve TH1 dominance its important to support TH2 cytokines with Pycnogenol, Quercetin, Curcumin, and green tea extracts. You must also look for the reasons behind autoimmune disease including: high cortisol, abnormal insulin levels, leaky gut and high levels of zonulin in the gut.
I have several autoimmune (Hashimoto; Sjogren Syndrome..); meningioma in the brain. Dr. prescribed vit d weekly, is it adequate or should I take it daily?
Hello, I don’t know the amount recommended weekly. Whether weekly or daily, getting your vitamin D to 80-90ng/ml is important. I recommend taking vitamin D daily and checking the blood to monitor the levels. Perhaps start with 4-6000IU/day for 4 weeks then get your blood tested to see what your levels look like. If below 80ng/ml, take another 2000IU/day and retest bloods.
My daughter was effected with psoriasis. I have followed the protocal of freedomfrompsoriasis.com, that is taking high dosage of vitamin d 20000iu per day + 200mcg K2. my daughter level prior to medication is 4. Now after 40 days the d3 level is 83ng. As per protocol my daughter has to take 20 more days the high dosage of vitamin d3. If taken my daughter will get the levels of 120ng. Please advise upto which maximum level (ng)I can gve higher dosage of vitamin d3. My daughter age is 18 years. And we are from india, a sunny south asian country.
Hi. To understand how high you can “go” with vitamin D, make sure you get her calcium levels checked. When vitamin D becomes too much or “toxic” calcium levels rise.
Help! 14 year old diagnosed with HSP Vasculitis. Said to be inflammation of the blood vessels which creates petichae and horrible stomach pain. Sometimes bloody diarrhea and vomit. Nose bleeds. Joint swelling. Doctors don’t know much about it.
There is some abnormal immune response causing HSP vasculitis. Typically, there is abnormally high IgA antibodies found with HSP. The clue is to look for the reasons for abnormal immune dysfunctions including: low vitamin D; increased gut permeability or leaky gut; infection; immune reactions to gluten and dairy; medication toxicity. Find someone who will do appropriate testing to uncover causes. Consider high dose vitamin D now to help regulate the immune system. Also consider curcumin as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
My daughter is 4years old fighting with HSP*Henoch shoilin Purpura from last 4 months. She had 4 times relapses with in 4 months. Intially she was having lot of stomach cramps,kness and elbows swelling and blood in stool. she had taken then medicines like predenisone,IVIG,Mehthylprednisone,Endoxan and now she is on Methylprednisone,prednisone,MMF750mg/per day. all reports shows normal(CUE,CBP,LIVER) but last week we did the test for vitamin D it 6 only. then doctor was prescribed CALCIROL to increase the vitmin D. now she is doing well without any issues except If she goes in SUNLIGHT then she will get the rashes again.
Could you please provide any info to overcome from this issue.
I’m glad your daughter is rebuilding. There are many reasons for inflammatory vascular issues and low vitamin D. It’s certainly important to get her vitamin D levels higher and look for the causes of systemic inflammation. Eliminate dairy, white sugar and gluten, as these are inflammatory foods. There is some info that says there may be an underlying infection of some kind which warrants investigation. Without knowing the specific causes, its hard to recommend specific resolutions.
I DR Z iam I did a colonoscopy and I colitis and gastritis. Can vitamin D help Dr
Gastritis and colitis have many different causes. Vitamin D can help modify the immune response in favor of reducing inflammation. Data out of the Journal Crohn’s and Colitis states vitamin D can help control the inflammation behind colitis. It is also known that those with chronic inflammatory issues have low serum vitamin D levels. While it is super important to take vitamin D as D3, you need to find the causes of your gastritis and colitis.
dr what is the relationship with menieres disease and auto immune and inflammation? and how can it be controlled?
There is some data that suggests MD is linked to a dysfunctional immune response. Take a look https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203881/ If in fact your MD is an inflammatory issue, than its best to control and reduce inflammation. There is also some information that eliminating crappy carbs can help and functional neurology. Check this article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081245/
I have a friend who’s family is battling with auto immune diseases and have been using an array of medications for all of their issues. The doctors just keep prescribing more tests and stronger meds. They seem to think medications are the only way to go but I really believe they need to look into their diets. What’s your view and any suggestions on how to get them to consider a better course of action?
Son #1 (age 15, twin):
diagnosis in 2010: Type 1 Diabetes
diagnosis in 2018: Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorder, has been on formula for over 3 weeks and has had 3 endoscopy procedures and still has issues
Son #2 (age 15, twin):
diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
Daughter #1 (age 12): diagnosis (2017/2018) of Celiac and Juvenile Arthritis. Currently eats a gluten free diet and is on multiple pain meds.
Daughter #2 (age 10): has Anxiety issues
My feeling is they have not getting enough fruits and vegetables. Perhaps too much processed foods and sugar.
Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, many doctors aren’t trained to look for the reasons behind the immune issues and are trained to “treat” the end-stage health problem or diagnosis. Because most doctors get little to no training on nutrition and nutritional biochemistry, you won’t receive the proper advice to help resolve the reason behind autoimmune issues. Your family has health issues that go beyond a lack of fruits and vegetables—although, these foods must be eaten for proper immun function. Without knowing history and lab work on each of your family members, its difficult to direct you. That said, get their vitamin D levels checked, and eliminate gluten-containing foods, animal-milk products, white sugar and soy. For more information on regulating the immune response through foods, I suggest you get a copy of my book Rebuild.
Does vitamin d deficiency cause hair loss & does it cause the hair texture to be different; brittle, easy to break?
There are many reasons for poor hair quality and hair loss. Nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, high stress hormones, thyroid hormone dysfunctions etc. Low vitamin D has been associated with hair loss in women. Vitamin D does have influence with hair health and growth, however, it is hard to say if low vitamin D is the cause of hair loss or poor hair quality. It’s best to get your vitamin D levels up and get checked for other hormone imbalances including: cortisol, free T3, free T4, estrogen, and progesterone.
I am a 37 year old Bangladeshi British woman who started having hay fever since 25 and more allergic symptoms to random things/foods over time. I have been diagnosed with lichen sclerosis that has calmed down. But the last few weeks I’ve had a flare of eczema like never before. I was told I had low vit D and was given supplamemts for 2 months last summer and I haven’t had a blood test since. What shocked me was that I took cod liver oil everyday… so why was I low on vit d? Is it possible that my eczema is related to low vitamin d? Can I just buy them as I find my doctor very unhelpful?
Yes, low vitamin D can be related to your eczema. The amount of vitamin D in the cod liver oil may not be enough to make a change in the body. In my experience, to improve the inflammatory response associated with eczema, you need to get your vit D levels up to 80-90ng/ml. Find a supplement company (metagenics) that makes a high-end absorb-able form or D. Eliminate all foods with gluten, animal-milk products, white refined sugar and soy products. The systemic inflammation that creates skin issues (eczema) often times originates in the gut. It may be worth getting a detailed stool test done to rule in or out leaky gut
Hello Doctor,I’m glad I stumbled across this article, it has been a VERY interesting and informative read for me. I have many autoimmune diseases including Interstitial cystitis, PCOS, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, and I am being evaluated for Lupus. Also, I have had 3 miscarriages and am wondering if I am even healthy enough to carry a baby. But my real question is about vitamin D and autoimmune diseases. My vitamin D has been low for years and my most recent test was 17! When I take vitamin D orally I get horrible UTI like symptoms. Do you know why? I was thinking maybe my body is not breaking the vitamin down. Like a lipase deficiency?? I’ve figured out that an injection of IM vitamin D does not cause the UTI symptoms. Is 50,000 units a week enough? Can I take it twice a week? My real concern is, will my symptom decrease with optimal Vitamin D levels? And can my autoimmune symptoms go away? Thank you <3
Korie there is much to discuss here regarding your health issues. Vitamin D is important for countless reasons, and vitamin D at 17 is dangerously low. Its my understanding that vitamin D helps regulate the inflammatory response in the bladder. The only way to know if the 50,000IU of IV vitamin D is enough is to get blood work done to check your levels. It’s important to get the levels up to 70-80ng/ml. Regarding the other health issues, you need someone to dig deep to look at the causes of the PCOS, Hashimotos etc. Do you have a copy of my book? Please get a copy and read it cover to cover as it will provide research and tools for you to start rebuilding from these issues. https://www.drzembroski.com/the-book/
I take 5000 IU of Vit D a day yet my Vit D remains at 42. Although it’s above 20 so the doctors say I am fine but I do have Sjrogen’s. I was taking the Vit D for osteoporosis and it was NOT helping. Now I find out my manganese was low which can contribute to osteoporosis.
Cheryl unfortunately many practitioners are ignorant to the importance of vitamin D. Again, work on getting your blood levels up to 60-90ng/ml. Take 10,0000 IU/day for 4 weeks then retest levels. You can always tweak the amount you take based on those levels. Vitamin D for osteoporosis alone will not change your bone density. For bones to remain strong you need normal hormone levels including estrogen and the others. Consider using ZRT labs—the comprehensive metabolic profile for women—as this will be the best test to run to assess your hormones.
Hello Doctor ! I have been suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome for past few months and struggling to find root cause. Is CFS autoimmune ? And if yes, would improving my D3 level help ? Current d3 is 32. Please advise.
Hello. Chronic fatigue is really a generic diagnosis, and there are many reasons for your symptoms—infection, hormone and thyroid dysfunction, gut dysfunction and immune abnormalities. Your vitamin D levels at 32 is fat too low! Perhaps take 5000IU/day for a few weeks then retest your blood levels. Take the amount of vitamin D that gets you up to 60,70.80.90 ng/ml in your blood. Find a functional medicine practitioner that can help uncover why you feel the way you do.
Doctor, do you have any experience about treating patients with chronic gastritis autoimmune ? How to evaluate if the high dosis vit d replacement are being effective to the treatment? Thanks
I have had Reactive Arthritis for over 2 years now. Would you suggest more vitamin D in my diet?
To be direct . . yes, I suggest taking vitamin D when you are dealing with an inflammatory condition. That said, the goal is to get you D levels up to 60-90ng/ml in the blood. Im not sure what your levels are, so its hard to give you a recommendation. Get your vitamin D levels measured then supplement and retest. Depending on the numbers, you can tweak the amount you take based on blood work.
I am 32 years old. I have a lot of bone pain in my hands and arms. I also feel extremely tired. My doctor ordered me an arthritis test and vitamin d. My arthritis came back negative but the ANA screening was elevated and my vitamin D level is at 10.2. My doctor said she wasn’t too concerned and that she wasn’t going to order any further test. I am really upset because my pain is getting worse every day. I know I have to go to a different doctor, but can my pain be caused by my vitamin d levels? How much vitamin d should I start taking to increase it?
Rosa, there are many reasons for pain: inflammation, infection, hormone abnormalities, low vitamin D, etc. The majority of the population has an elevated ANA, so without proof there is an active autoimmune issue, the ANA is not an issue. Strive to get your vitamin D levels up to 60-80-90ng/ml for sure. Start with 10,000IU a day for 4 weeks then get tested again. You can always adjust the amount based on your bloods. You may want to reach out to a specialist in functional medicine to find out other abnormalities in your health that is causing your pain.
Great article. After many years and labels and tests …. I found a good functional MD and discovered my vit D was at a 7!!!! 10,000 iu a day (my body took a bit to adjust and I had to work up to this level) but I already feel and see massive improvement. I think everyone should have a nutritional panel run before any diagnosis now!! I know I will. If all these years could have been fixed with a few vit d tablets?? I hope many read this article and save themselves the time and money I spent trying to get to this point. Hooray for vit d!
Wow! 7 is non-existent! Good thing you dove deeper to find the levels and get them to a healthy level. It’s still amazes me that practitioners continue to minimize the importance to vitamin D and its levels in the blood.
Hello! I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis last year and have desperately searched for what it is my body is lacking to bring me to this point. I went gluten/ dairy/ lectin free 6 months ago and it has helped but I had no idea the power behind vitamin D! So excited to try thank you!!
HI, get your vitamin D levels high; eliminate gluten; resolve leaky gut.
Hi, my son was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, it is related to immune issues. He’s currently on prednisone and he’s been on a daily dose of vitamin d, 400 IU but wondering if more would help? He’s only 19 months old.
Hello, sorry for the late response. Medications, infections, immune issues can all be involved in nephrotic syndrome. Vitamin D is a powerful immune modulator and anti-inflammatory. Vitamin D is lost with nephrotic syndrome so supplementing with vitamin D is very important for sure. Some of the data shows giving 1000IU/day would be helpful with those with NS. Check out this article: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/20469047.2018.1505589
I have psoriasis and bloodwork shows that I have 85.89 ng/ml of 25-OH Vitamin D which id normal. What next for me?
Vitamin D is part of the resolve for psoriasis. I recommend eliminating all gluten, dairy, white refined sugars. You may also want to investigate the presence of leaky gut which plays a role in immune dysfunction like psoriasis. Please get a copy of my book Rebuild to get more info on how to test for leaky gut and improve your immune issue associated with psoriasis
Sir,i am suffering from ulcerative colitis .i coulnot find any literature specifying what ratio of T helper are changes?TH1/TH2 TH1/TH17, TH2 /TH17, or ratio of any other cells? . Kindly advice me HOw to correct my cells ratio and cured of ulcerative colitis.
Sorry you are dealing with UC. I can tell you to eliminate all gluten, animal dairy products, and white refined sugars to start healing your gut. Without knowing more about you and seeing lab work, blood work etc it is difficult giving you specific recommendations. When I work with individuals with UC, it begins with food elimination as stated, then there are nutrients to take and medical foods (UltraInflamX 360) from Metagenics along with different probiotics to help heal the gut. Vitamin D will help regulate TH1 and TH2 responses. I suggest you order my book Rebuild which has multiple nutrients listed to help balance TH1 and TH2.
I have been dealing with ITP for the last 10 years. I have had all the testing done, bone marrow, coagulation studies etc. although I haven’t had my vitamin D levels checked, I am wondering if vitamin D supplementation might be an option. I should add that I do live in a northern climate. Are you aware of any success treating ITP with vitamin D?
Barry, some studies show a direct association between low vitamin D and Immune Thrombocytopenia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3623781/ Vitamin D has a powerful immunomodulatory where it—vitamin D—dampen the immune response associated with ITP. Get your vitamin D levels measured. With ITP, I would strive for high levels in the blood . . . 90-100ng/ml. If I were you, I’d be taking 10,000IU/day and more until your D levels are high. I hope you find it helps.
I have had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis for many years and came to hypothyroidism. No doctor recommended me to determine the level of vitamin D3.
Following the information read on the Internet I understood how important vitamin D3 is for the functioning of the body and I tested it in a laboratory at its level. As expected, the level was very low 18 ng / ml.
I asked a doctor if I should take vitamin D3 supplements and he told me that there is a risk of calcium deposits in places where they should not be deposited normally. Does vitamin D3 and vitamin K eliminate these risks? What is the correct D3 deficit adjustment scheme?
I mention that I am 60 years old, 160cm, 70 kg and the calcium level is within normal limits. I do not know if I started osteoporosis or not, because I did not do my analysis.
All the best,
Dr Z. I have a baffling auto immune like syndrome affecting major body systems with facial and hand flushing and burning, chills, joint/bone pain, fatigue, tremor and other symptoms of which all come and go. They may be CIRS/mycotoxin related though we aren’t sure. The only clinical evidence is low VIT D and a very weakly positive rheumatoid factor of 14. Everything else negative and I have random periods of total wellness.
My primary question is what about the 2009 study that hints that vitamin D deficiency is caused by autoimmune disorder, and. It the other way around? That autoimmune responses are a bacterial phenomenon wreaking havoc in our bodies so that increasing vitamin D may help in the short term but will lower the body’s ability to fight the infection making symptoms worse over time in the long run as the bacteria continues to culture?
I have had rosacea flare ups with flushing for the last 6 months. My face (cheeks) get very hot, irritated and red. I also have seborrhea dermatitis on my neck. I am taking a steroid cream 5 days on 2 days off. But it comes and goes and returns. My dermatologist has said that laser IPL is the last resort for the flushing, but there is no guarantee that it will work. I had hip surgery in about a month after this started. I am very frustrated and wanting to feel healthy again. Any ideas for me?
Hi, there are many reasons for your symptoms. My suggestion to you is to look for the reasons behind your immune dysfunction. That could come from gluten and dairy products; low vitamin D; leaky gut; systemic LPS toxicity; problematic levels of the hormone cortisol, estrogen and insulin . . . to start. As I tell all people I work with, the key to rebuilding from the rosacea is to find the causes behind its occurrence if you can. Without knowing your history and seeing any of your lab work, its hard to recommend a direction for you. I will say, you should eliminate all gluten and dairy products, and consider taking vitamin D, curcumin and pycnogenol.
I have a history of leaky gut, vaginal yeast infection and a bad itching, months back i took lot of tablets to cure but none worked later i got irregular periods also.
Right now i got vitiligo, where i get itching badly through out my lesions on legs and hands wherein i am really depressed, as what is the reason for all this. please suggest me a proper diet to get cured.
Hi, there is too much to write here regarding you current health issues. If you are interested in a very specific diet/food plan, I suggest you get my book Rebuild as it has very specific guidelines for you to create a diet unique to you and your health needs. If you would like, my office staff can schedule a consult with you to begin the process of getting your health issues resolved. Please reach out to them at email@example.com
Hi Dr. Zembroski,
I was recently diagnosed with oral lichen planus and I was given betamethasone ointment to apply inside my mouth and on gums. It did not help much.
After reading blog here, I had my vitamin D3 levels checked and seems it is very low- 49 nmol/L (believe it convert to 19.6 ng/ml). I have started taking vitamin D3 supplements since last month.
Is there anything else I should get checked that might help reversing this condition? Symptoms for OLP gets better for a day or two and then gets worse again making
it even difficult to bursh properly at times. I have had no luck figuring out what might be causing/triggering this. I also have hypothyrodism and
take levothyroxine once a day. Thank you so much for all your help.
Have a great day.
Hello, it is my understanding that lichen planus is an autoimmune dysfunction. Yes, your vitamin D is alarmingly low . . . you must get those levels higher. Since LP is an autoimmune dysfunction, you must stay away from gluten and dairy products. Its also worth testing your cortisol and getting a gut function test to determine if you have gut permeability issues—aka leaky gut. Consider other anti-inflammatory nutrients like curcumin, pycnogenol, fish oils. I think the message here is to find where the immune dysfunction is coming from, the resolve that. Vitamin D is very important to regulate the immune response.
Do you have a particular brand that you recommend?
Tara, thanks for reaching out. Yes, there are two types of vitamin D we recommend: powder http://www.nutrametrix.com/drzembroski/product/nutrametrix-isotonix-vitamin-d-with-k2/?id=1329808&idType=product and, small pearl: https://rzembroski.metagenics.com/d3-5000 Each serving has 5000IU Hope that is helpful
I am diagnosed with pemphigus foliaceous since one year ago. Taking prednisolone daily. Doctor prescribed Azathioprine as well as Dapsone for me but after one week of taking, I developed adverse reactions. My liver enzymes went up 10 folds so had to stopped immediately.
The blisters are all over my scalp and face and I am feeling really helpless.
Uggh Im sorry you are dealing with this. In PF, the immune system goes after a protein in the skin. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough information to help guide you. Look for causes of autoimmune disease——leaky gut, zonulin toxicity, low vitamin D, infections, gluten. Have you tried plant-based anti-inflammatories like curcumin, Ashwagandha Maitake, reishi, and shiitake mushroom extracts, Astragalus, Echinacea, Ginseng? It appears a dominant TH2 immune response is involved in PF. These nutrients have been known to improve and regulate this response.
Hullo doctor, I would appreciate your comments.
I have been diagnosed with late onset cerebellar ataxia, mild at present but with balance and coordination problems. A history of chronic migraines and IBS all my adult life. Have been gluten free for 2months which was suggested by a friend. Maybe it is gluten ataxia but no professional has told me this but out of desperation as consults with neurologists are not producing anything positive have gone GF.
Also have vestibular dysfunction, maybe caused by a virus, which makes my balance even worse.
Was told that my Vit D levels are low but do not know the measurement.
Have low amphysin antibodies but been told this is probably not significant. Am waiting to get appointment at specialist ataxia clinic but because of COVID this will be a long wait. I am worried about permanent and irreversible damage to the cerebellum. Please comment.
Carol, you are goin through a lot. There is far too much to type here in response to your brief history and conditions. I STRONGLY suggest you find a chiropractic (functional) neurologist to help you stabilize your cerebellar ataxia. Chronic health issues——including cerebellar ataxia——have multiple causes. In addition to a chiro neuro, you may want to find a specialist in functional medicine to help you navigate the IBS and other metabolic issues that can create IBS, with potential immune dysfunctions behind the ataxia. Yes, gluten is a destructive protein that has been linked to neurological dysfunction and ataxia. A gluten-free diet is a good place to start. Seek those practitioners. They will be your best chance at getting some resolve.
Hi I’m suffering with allergic reactions daily are there any recommendations on how to calm an over reactive immune system? I’m taking vitamn d3 supplements prescribed for me once a week
There are many factors that cause TH2 dominant immune responses. For one, get rid of gluten and dairy. You may want to consider taking this product to help alleviate the allergic response. http://www.nutrametrix.com/drzembroski/product/nutrametrix-isotonix-opc-3/?id=1329784&idType=product Hope this helps
I contracted covid is September, I couldn’t kick it. I have RA and Lyme. My immune system couldn’t fight it off. I started taking 10,000 iu of D3 ( along with a ton of other immune boosting vitamins) and went off the Sulphasalazine about 4 weeks ago and I have very little RA symptoms! I still take Hydroxychloroquin and Meloxicam still. I ran across you and read that D levels should be above 30. So, I went a checked what my last blood work said and my D was an 18. I hope to continue to heal my RA with vitamins, minerals and diet!
Your immune system is working overtime! Your vitamin D is dangerously low. Focus on healing your gut and eliminating gluten 100%. The majority of autoimmune issues stem from leaky gut and immune dysfunctions caused by the consumption of gluten.
Hello Dr Z: I have an ANA of 1:160. Still undergoing tests to find out which autoimmune disease I have. Does vitamin D help with an ANA of this amount? Haven’t had my vitamin d levels checked lately…..
Clinically, ANA is not a diagnostic test by itself. Infections, inflammatory conditions etc can all cause a positive ANA test. It is best to have other tests done to determine if an autoimmune disease exists. If one does exist, what is it, and what are the causes? Vitamin D will help normalize the immune response——the imbalance in TH1 and TH2 cytokine responses. Please get a copy of my book Rebuild for more information on regulating the immune response involved with autoimmunity.