Can I stop my Coumadin?

Here I go again.

While I will try to keep this blog on topic, i.e., coronary heart disease prevention and reversal using nutritional and other natural strategies, I believe that a "critical mass" of frequently asked, though off topic, questions keep cropping up.

One such question revolves around Coumadin, or warfarin.

Somehow, my Nattokinase scam blog post draws traffic about Coumadin. I tried to make the point that a conventional blood thinning agent like Coumadin that undoubtedly has undesirable side-effects cannot be replaced by an agent that has an uncertain track record. In the case of nattokinase, no track record.

To illustrate how far wrong the "nattokinase as replacement for Coumadin" idea can go, here is a question from Anna:

I came across your blog while perusing.

I am a bit bummed because I have been on Coumadin (warfarin) for around 22 years since I was 6 years old. I have a mechanical heart valve (St. Jude's), as I have heart-related issues, including hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy.

Well, it is just that the warfarin seems to interact with nearly everything. I feel like I can not get the nutrients my body requires. I desire to consume more raw foods and vegan foods, though I do not want anything to damage my heart valve or risk a stroke/heart attack or internal bleeding.

I have been underweight the majority of my life, malnourished , currently am still somewhat underweight, though enjoying food again, as I had what mimicked Crohn's Disease for several years (horrendous pain), from which I am in remission now. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, which may or may not be caused from consuming warfarin.

Is it possible to get off of warfarin and effectively keep my blood thinned ? I currently take 1.5 mg to 2 mg dosage. Does the warfarin destroy Vitamin K and if so does that mean while on warfarin I never get the Vitamin K nutrients even if I did consume foods with it in it?

Thank you

No, sorry, Anna. Stopping Coumadin with your unique issues, i.e., a prosthetic mechanical heart valve (likely mitral, judging by your history of hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, in which the patterns of blood flow ejected from the heart disrupt the natural mitral valve function) and cardiomyopathy, can be fatal. Without blood thinning, the mechanical heart valve can trigger blood clot formation, since it is a foreign object implanted into the bloodstream.

There are no natural alternatives available with track records confident enough to bet your life on. Aspirin nor Plavix are blood thinners, but platelet inhibitors. These two agents, while they work for other forms of arterial (but not venous) blood clot inhibition, will not work for your unique situation.

Likewise, a purported oral lytic agent like nattokinase should not be substituted for Coumadin. Even if there was plausible science behind it, you should demand substantial evidence that it provides at least blood thinning equivalent to Coumadin. Should a blood clot, even a small one, form in or around the prosthetic valve, the valve can stop working within seconds. This can lead to death within minutes.

I believe it would be foolhardy to bet your life based on the marketing--let me repeat: MARKETING--of a "nutritional supplement" by supplement manufacturers eager to make a buck.

Nor are there any other nutritional supplements that can safely replace the Coumadin. I wish that were NOT true, as I am no stranger to the long-term dangers of Coumadin and I am a big believer, in general, in nutritional supplements. I am a BIGGER believer, however, in the truth. Weighing the options available to us today, there really is no rational choice but to remain on Coumadin.

By the way, I tell my patients to eat a substantial amount of green vegetables while they take Coumadin. I know that conventional advice is to reduce or eliminate green vegetables due to their content of Coumadin-antagonizing vitamin K. I think this is wrong, also. Green vegetables are the best foods on earth. They reduce risk for cancer, diabetes, bone disease, and coronary heart disease.

To obtain the benefits of green vegetables without mucking up your blood thinning (your "protime" or International Normalized Ratio, INR), I advise my patients who take Coumadin to eat green vegetables--but do so every day in relatively consistent quantities, so that the protime or INR is not disrupted and remains reasonably constant. It may mean that your total dose of Coumadin may be somewhat higher, e.g., 3 or 4 mg instead of 2 mg, but the dose is immaterial outside of blood thinning. That way, you obtain all the wonderful health benefits of green vegetables while maintaining fairly consistent blood thinning/protime/INR. Coumadin does not block all the health benefits of vegetables, only those related to vitamins K1 and K2.

With regards to protecting yourself from the osteoporosis promoting effects of Coumadin, I would be sure to follow a program of natural bone health, such as the one I discussed in Homegrown osteoporosis prevention and reversal. You will have to be extra careful, however, with the vitamin K2. Ideally, you have a doctor knowledgeable about vitamin K2 who can assist you in managing K2 intake while on Coumadin. This is something you can definitely NOT manage on your own. (I am a big believer in self-managed care, but this is way beyond the limit.)

Lastly, it is my belief that anyone with an inflammatory bowel condition, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, should absolutely, positively, and meticulously AVOID WHEAT and all other gluten sources (such as rye, barley, and oats). Even if you test negative for celiac markers (e.g., anti-gliadin antibodies, emdomysium and transglutaminase antibodies), the enhanced intestinal permeability will allow wheat proteins, such as gluten, to gain ready entry into the bloodstream. Not to mention that wheat should have no place in the human diet anyway, in my view.

Comments (20) -

  • Myron

    9/5/2010 7:09:35 AM |

    Coumadin is considered a Natural Medicine having been derived from mold acting on Sweet Clover.

    Most Pharmaceutical Drugs have a Natural Basis.

  • Anonymous

    9/5/2010 8:32:30 AM |

    What about using heparin derivatives as a replacement of Marevan / Coumarin?

  • Anonymous

    9/5/2010 8:38:52 AM |

    As mentioned in Wikipedia, low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) is used in pregnancy. It should be possible to change Marevan / Coumarin with LMWH.

    Heparin can not be taken orally, so you have to get injections if you decide to change medication.

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/5/2010 9:54:16 AM |

    Yes, indeed.

    But anyone who has taken low-molecular weight heparin injections will tell you it's no picnic. The injections can be painful and leave a bruise. After a few weeks, you can feel like a pincushion and be riddled with bruises. Not a happy alternative.

  • Chris Masterjohn

    9/5/2010 4:56:00 PM |

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    Great, although somewhat depressing, post.

    What is the point of taking the K2 when K2 interferes with the therapy (as Vermeer's group showed) and the dose will have to be adjusted?  The drug interferes with the recycling of vitamin K so it should affect both forms equally.  Are you hoping it may shift the balance of residual vitamin K activity towards the bones and blood vessels?  That seems to make some sense if there is substantial residual vitamin K activity.


  • Anonymous

    9/5/2010 6:13:38 PM |

    Chris, I think you are going down the right path with your thinking.  Some K2 survives warfarin therapy as evidenced here:

    "In conclusion, our study indicates that in a rat model
    arterial media calcification is prevented by a high dose of

    The question then becomes how high a dose is therapeutic in humans and can you get it from diet alone?

    I'm a prisoner of life long warfarin therapy and have consciously shifted my K intake to K2 by eating lots of eggs, cheese and grass fed/finished beef instead of green leafy vegetables because of the way warfarin hammers conversion of K1 to K2.  Sure green leafy vegetables have health properties but they won't help with warfarin driven arterial calcification and osteoporosis.  So far I have avoided taking a K2 supplement and adjusting warfarin dosage because I don't have confidence in the consistency of the K2 in a supplement form.  It becomes another wildcard.  But the bottom line is I really don't know if there is enough K2 to make a difference from food alone.

  • Anonymous

    9/5/2010 6:19:24 PM |

    Dr. Davis, do you have any thoughts on arginine supplementation as a driver of nitric oxide production for the purpose of blood vessel dilation?  I am showing signs of venous insufficiency from a blood clot in my leg suffered over a decade ago.  You mention aspirin and Plavix as platelet inhibitors that don't impact venous clotting.  Arginine also affects platelet activity and I can't find anything definitive about whether or not that is an issue with warfarin.  Arginine is also associated with mitigating atherosclerosis which would seem to make it a good choice for people on warfarin.

  • Anonymous

    9/5/2010 8:04:38 PM |

    Dr davis

    after reading your blog two things have stuck in my mind. one about the role of vaccines in development of disease. and two role of GM foods in destroying health.

    kindly shed light on it. im splitting my hair over it


  • Anonymous

    9/5/2010 8:37:04 PM |

    This topic has to be of great interest to the many people on Warfarin for atrial fibrillation,  particularly the issue of warfarin-induced calcification and osteoporosis.  This article suggests that levels of 45mcg of K2 supplementation would be safe, but what is a therapeutic dose and how does it work with Warfarin? (One of the authors has ties with Natto Pharma, seller of K2; they also suggest it is a safe dose.) Until specific studies are done, we will not know how it works.

    Will one of the newer anticoagulants in the pipeline, such as Dabigatran, which I understand is not a vitamin K agonist, be approved soon and will it be effective?

  • Anonymous

    9/6/2010 3:16:19 PM |

    Dear Dr. Davis:

    This topic is really distressing.  My father has been on Warfarin for 10 years due to atrial fib. I can't help but wonder if his increasingly worsening calcium scores were due in part to Warfarin. It seems to be an extremely nasty - but necessary - drug.

    Over the past year he has been increasingly tired and two months ago had a triple bypass. He has been on a low carb diet, lost 25lbs and started taking fish oil and 5,000 i.u Vitamin D3. He is not taking any K2, but he does eat green vegetables every day. He recently started taking 10,000 i.u. of D3.  Should anyone taking larger D3 doses who is also on Warfarin be worried about arterial calcification? How does one find a doctor in Milw. or elsewhere who has knowledge about K2 and Warfarin? What else can Warfarin users do about their heart disease?

  • Dr. William Davis

    9/7/2010 1:45:50 AM |

    Sadly, there are no data--none, zero, zip--that address the end result of taking vit K2 in any dose or any form while on warfarin.

    No doubt: It will drive INR down, driving warfarin need up. But there are no data on what effects will result at the bone or artery level.

    I wish that weren't true, but we cannot invent data where it doesn't exist. It also cannot be extrapolated from existing data or experiences without incurring substantial risk.

    Sometimes, we just need the data.

  • Anand Srivastava

    9/7/2010 7:14:21 AM |

    How does Omega3 supplementation help?
    I have read that Omega6 is one of the agents that triggers blood clotting.
    Also I read that coumadin actually works by inhibiting action of K1/K2.
    So adding K1/K2 will actually be against the coumadin therapy.

    But since Omega6 is required for the signalling that causes blood clots. If you reduce the Omega6 and increase the Omega3 then the blood clots should not happen naturally.
    It will be like the Inuits.
    Their arteries are in a bad shape but they never get a heart problem, because they do not get blood clots in their blood.
    The only problem is that they don't get blood clots while bleeding also.
    So if you use excess Omega3 with very little Omega6 you will be doing the same. But the side effect is that you have to be careful about bleeds.
    I would think that the same problem will be there for coumadin

  • Anonymous

    9/7/2010 5:20:15 PM |

    Dear Dr. Davis:

    The FDA Advisory Council is meeting regarding Dabigatran on September 20th and word is that its approval is expected by the end of the year or early 2011. I have even seen Boehringer-Ingelheim ads on the online JACC to the effect of "Coming Soon - Pradaxa" (the brand name).

    Will this be the paradigm-shifting Warfarin alternative for AF patients?  As Dabigatran is not a Vitamin K agonist, will its users be able to also use food and supplemental sources of Vitamin K2?

    Apart from the supposed reduction in bleeding risk, will Dabigatran be a preferable anticoagulant for long-term Warfarin users?

  • Chris Masterjohn

    9/8/2010 7:07:28 PM |

    Dear Dr. Davis,

    Did you mean that there are no data on whether K2 will protect against the heart valve calcification that occurs on these drugs, or that there are no data showing its effect on INR?

    Vermeer's group compared vitamin K2 as MK-7 to K1 and showed that it is much more potent at driving down the INR value:

    By the way, since you are a fan of K2, if you haven't already seen it, you might enjoy the large review I wrote on it back in 2007, which argued that it was the "Activator X" discovered by Weston Price:

    Love your blog!


  • Chris Masterjohn

    9/8/2010 7:12:27 PM |

    Anonymous, I have seen that study but I don't think it shows how much residual activity of K2 there is, or to what extent it can protect against calcification for someone on warfarin.

    The reason is that K2 potently interferes with these drugs.  In the study, they used a massive dose without cranking up the warfarin proportionately.  However, if you take K2 and you actually need to be on these drugs, your doctor will have to adjust the dose of the drug according to the dose of K2 you are taking.  So it is not very apparent that it is actually possible to obtain the beneficial effects of K2 while taking these drugs.

    (As a side point, the massive dose of K2 could provide enough K2 in these studies to allow each molecule to act once and then get converted to the epoxide form without being recycled, and actually exert a meaningful effect.  Off memory, I don't remember whether they did calculations to show whether there was residual reductase activity (i.e. activity of the enzyme that recycles vitamin K, which is the target of warfarin), but the principle that high dose K2 protects against calcification does not show that the dose of warfarin used allowed residual activity of the enzyme, necessariliy.)


  • Anonymous

    9/8/2010 9:03:01 PM |

    Sounds as if AF patients should ask their physicians to change them to Dabigatran as soon as it comes out. Less bleeding risk, no constant monitoring and, importantly, the ability to avail oneself of good nutrition without worrying about INR's. The British Heart Foundation is campaigning for the drug to replace Warfarin.  

    Used widely to get rid of rat infestations in post-Katrina New Orleans, maybe Warfarin will soon be relegated to only killing rats.

  • Chris Masterjohn

    9/8/2010 10:10:20 PM |


    Good points -- warfarin was actually developed specifically as a rat poison, so if it came back into fashion post-Katrina, that's nothing new.


  • Lacie

    9/10/2010 10:21:24 PM |

    I spent 18 unhappy months on Warfarin after a DVT/pulmonary embolism episode due to oral contraceptive use (I have Factor V leiden).  Happily, my physician took me off blood thinners last year after a doppler scan to confirm all of my clots were gone.

    If you really need a blood thinner (artificial heart valve, active blood clot, severe prolonged a-fib, homozygous Factor V leiden), there's just no good alternative to Warfarin at the moment.  Several alternatives have been tested and rejected due to severe side effects.

    A lower-risk propensity to blood clotting (hterozygous Factor V leiden, mild, short-duration a-fib, etc.) might respond to vitamin E.  I started taking it while on Warfarin and my INR readings shot up from 2 to 4.5.  See study by Harvard researcher Robert Glynn, published in September 25, 2007, issue of Circulation journal

  • Holistic health Blog

    6/29/2011 1:07:21 PM |

    Surely the answer is to take the nattokinase, keep a close watch on the INR & if it goes up significantly titrate the warfarin down.

  • Sal P

    5/15/2013 6:40:08 PM |

    Hello Doc,

    I have the same conflict as many here. I take Coumadin for my mechanical heart valve but I do eat green veggies such as broccoli, spinach, or a small salad everyday. I also take Omega 3 daily. My PT INR is usually around the required goal of 2.0. As long as I have this consistent INR reading, is it safe to continue to to have all the above mentioned in my body? I am hoping that my Coumadin dosage can be lowered with the same INR results.

    Please Advise

Vitamin D increased my cholesterol

Vitamin D increased my cholesterol

A friend told me this story.

Her friend, Linda, had added vitamin D to her daily supplements. Because she'd had a vitamin D blood level of 22 ng/ml, she was taking 6000 units per day.

However, Linda also had a high cholesterol value with a total cholesterol of 231 mg/dl. After several months on the vitamin D, she had another cholesterol panel. Total cholesterol: 256 mg/dl.

"It must have been the vitamin D! So I stopped it right away."

Is this true? Does vitamin D raise the level of blood cholesterol? Yes, it does. But it's a good thing. Let me explain.

Followers of The Heart Scan Blog know that total cholesterol is really a mix of 3 other factors:

Total cholesterol = LDL cholesterol + HDL cholesterol + triglycerides/5

This is the Friedewald equation, still used today in over 95% of cholesterol panels. So, by the Friedewald equation, anything that increases LDL, HDL, or triglycerides will increase total cholesterol.

One of the spectacular changes that develops over a year of taking vitamin D is that HDL cholesterol skyrockets. While sensitivity to this effect varies (probably on a genetic basis), HDL increases of 10, 20, even 30 mg/dl are common. A starting HDL, for instance, of 45 mg/dl can jump up to 65 or 70 mg/dl, though the effect requires up to a year, sometimes longer.

Vitamin D can also reduce triglycerides, though the effect is relatively small, usually no more than 20 mg/dl or so. Likewise, the effect on LDL is minor, with a modest reduction in the small type of LDL.

So the dominant effect of vitamin D from a cholesterol standpoint is a substantial increase in HDL. Looking at the equation, you can see that an increase in HDL is accompanied by a commensurate increase in total cholesterol. If HDL goes up 25 mg/dl, total cholesterol goes up 25 mg/dl.

So Linda is absolutely correct: Vitamin D increases cholesterol--but it's a good thing that reduces risk for heart disease and is an important part of a coronary plaque-reversal program.

This is yet another reason why I advocate elimination of total cholesterol on lipid panels. There is no useful information in the total cholersterol value, only the potential for misinformation.

Comments (38) -

  • Anonymous

    10/2/2009 12:48:55 AM |

    I know enough to not stress about lipid levels that send some docs for their prescription pads.  However, I was a bit shocked to see my recent numbers as follows:
    TC 465
    HDL 102.18
    Trig 48.95
    LDL 353.73
    Even doing a more accurate calculation, the LDl is high, although all the ratios seem to be in order.  I'm mid 50's, slim and with no family history of heart disease.  I also do not have any of the indicators for Lp (a).  Anything else that would cause this?

  • David

    10/2/2009 12:55:49 AM |

    Dr. Davis,

    I was wondering why my HDL went up with my latest Lipid Panel test results I received yesterday from my Endocrinologist (Type 2 diabetes). It was a pleasant present on my 60th birthday – HDL of 65!

    My Lipid Panel results: - Total Cholesterol -127,     HDL – 65,  Triglycerides – 51,  LDL - 52

    I have been taking 4,000 IU of D3 for the past six months after reading your blog. Actually, my HDL was in the mid fifties to sixty since for a few years I have been taking 500 mg of Slo-Niacin along with two Omega 3 fish oil capsules per day. Added to this is four days per week at the gym for the last three years. This helps too.

    My HDL has never been so high at 65 and I didn’t realize the positive affect of the Vitamin D3 until the current test results.

    I believe my LDL is so low because I am taking a 20 mg dosage of Simvastatin, although I am now taking it every other day. Along with the Simvastatin, I am taking Metformin and Diovan all prescribed by my Endocrinologist. After researching on the Internet I added the Omega 3, Niacin, and from your blog Vitamin D3. My doctor doesn’t have much to say about this, although I have mentioned it to him.

    Vitamin D3 really seems to work on the HDL!

    Now I really have to try to cut down on my wheat consumption to drop my A1c below 6.4.

    I appreciate your blog along with your book.

    Thanks for all your helpful information.


  • Dr. William Davis

    10/2/2009 1:26:15 AM |


    You must--MUST--consider getting an NMR lipoprotein test to obtain the LDL particle number.

    Given the very high HDL , it is possible that the true LDL is far, far lower than the calculated LDL. It likely will be high, but not that high.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/2/2009 1:26:24 AM |

    Great work, David!

  • steve

    10/2/2009 2:38:01 AM |

    Dr. Davis:  How do you know the increased HDL is due to the D3 and not from the wheat elimination you recommend?

  • Lyn

    10/2/2009 2:40:24 AM |

    Raises TC?!!!  Wow, thanks!  Gonna print out and show to Primary, Endo, and Cardio who are talking statins (Primary said statins or niacin). Comments?

    Aug 08: D=15.2, TC=212, TRI=181, HDL=47, LDL=129, TSH=2.795(normal free T3 & T4), A1C=11...50K IU/wk of D2 for 8 wks, then 1K D3 daily. Very low carb diet, metformin ER, Januvia (terrible CNS side effects), Maxzide, Cozaar. BP=140s/65 <1800 mg sodium told to add a bit more.

    Dec 08: D=33, TC=205, TRI=119, HDL=57, LDL=124, TSH=4.289 (normal free T3 & T4), A1C=6.9, TSH=2.667(normal free T3 & T4)...2K D3 daily.  Very low carb diet, metformin ER, Maxzide, Cozaar (half dose). BP=130s/75

    Jun 09: D=36, TC=231, TRI=119, HDL=57, LDL=150, TSH=4.548(normal free T3 & T4), A1C=6.4...4K D3 daily.  Very low carb diet, metformin ER, Maxzide, Cozaar (1/4 dose) on days following apnea events that wake me up (on CPAP), aver BP=128/72

    Sep 09: D=41, TC=235, TRI=145, HDL=60, LDL=147, TSH=5.51 normal free T3 & T4), A1C=6.5 (tried new foods-meals & spiked)...4K D3 daily (thinking of upping to 5-6K).  Very low carb diet, metformin ER, Maxzide, Cozaar (1/4 dose) on days following apnea events that wake me up, aver BP=130/70, started generic Levothyroxine 25 mcg/day, just started Iodoral 12.5 mg a wk ago--body temp finally staying the 98s. Subbing a high-protein (lots of BCAAs) shake for breakfast and 1/2 shake for snack -- lost 4 pounds in 6 days (monitoring BGs frequently). ApoB=111 (<109 normal)...oops.

    So, are my rising cholesterol numbers the results of the following or ?
    - Very low carb (<40 gms) diet (guessing larger LDL particles)
    - Rising TSH levels(hypothyroidism increases cholesterol right?)
    - Increased amts of D3

    60 yo female. Lost 50+ pounds but still obese (takes time). 35-60 mins/day low intensity recumbent exercise bike. Laidoff--lots of angst & stress.  All other bloodwork results good (high RBC down to normal, guessing less apnea desats). Using topical progesterone, 3 wks on, 1 wk off a la Dr John Lee. No CVD in family, just Type 2 and hypothyroidism.  If niacin is good, which form?  Not sure I can handle flushing, have touchy skin, used to have rosacea.

  • Lynn M.

    10/2/2009 5:38:54 AM |


    Hypothyroidism will jack up cholesterol and LDL.  People can be hypothyroid even if they're slim.  Have you had your FT3 checked?

  • moblogs

    10/2/2009 9:27:36 AM |

    I actually found different. I've been on 10,000IU of D3 and found a general dip in my cholesterol levels (although a slight increase in HDL).

    Here's a scan of my results in '07 (when I was just 15nmol/L) and recently where I'm above 76nmol/L (I just say above as my most recent D reading is yet to arrive).

    Of course it may be co-incidence too, but both my brother and father have had no change at all in their cholesterol levels in the last few years. My brother's on D but only just enough as recommended by a doctor.

    My levels this year are now well below UK average (which is 5.7mmol/L and I'm now 4.95 from 5.62) and correspondingly I wasn't told to modify my diet or go on a statin, even though my cholesterol level was deemed as only marginally high before.

  • denparser

    10/2/2009 11:41:02 AM |

    wow.. how could it be? in fact, if that's gonna be true, not all vitamins are good for the body in the sense that it has a side effect inside the body.

  • Jim Purdy

    10/2/2009 12:00:27 PM |

    I read this and then immediately ordered some vitamin D.

  • Anonymous

    10/2/2009 4:02:13 PM |


    Has your LDLs always been this high or have you never had your cholesterol tested before? If so, then perhaps you have Familial Hypercholesterolemia like I do. If your LDLs have been tested before and were never that high, then it must be something else.

    Since your Trig. are so low and your TC is over 250, the standard Friedewald equation isn't the most accurate for you. Here is a better calculator for people like you:

    Regardless, that still is a high LDL. Have you recently started taking new supplements?

    The reason I ask is because I was once was advised to take a several difference supplements in the hopes of raising my Testosterone and they all had some zinc in them and my LDLs skyrocketed (even for me)! I later learned that too much zinc can do this. I was taking around 100 or 110mg of zinc daily if my memory serves me correctly. I believe taking too much zinc can adversely affect copper levels which in turn can raise cholesterol. Now I try to stay around 100% to 200% of the RDA (15mg - 30mg) and I don't have that problem.

    Are you taking sterols? Maybe you're absorbing the sterols...just a thought.

    Maybe it was a just lab fluke. I would recommend a retest (preferably using a NMR or a VAP test).

    Good luck!

    John M.

  • trinkwasser

    10/2/2009 4:25:01 PM |

    Put your numbers through this

    it brings your LDL down to 286, still a bit high, I'd suggest there's something else occurring, could be thyroid?

    One "authoritative" site for calculating cardiovascular risk won't even permit HDL levels over 100 to be entered, so you've aced that, and the trigs

  • Anonymous

    10/2/2009 5:48:46 PM |

    interesting...have you read or posted on this yet?

  • Helena

    10/2/2009 7:50:31 PM |

    Total Cholesterol is by far a wrong way to measure the risk of heart disease. In this case, if the doctor she was going to was one among many she would have been prescribed statin drugs without further investigation. Higher Cholesterol must be bad right - let's make a buck and sell her some lipitor or Simvastatin! People in general are too uneducated and trust doctors more than anything else. This makes me scared! A low carb high fat (LCHF) diet will gett people more healthy all over! Better cholesterol quota, less over weight, less risk of developing type 2 diabetes, less risk of inflammation, and better energy! You can't go wrong! Thanks for this very important post!

  • Anonymous

    10/3/2009 2:34:28 AM |

    Dr. Davis,
    Thanks so much for your response.  Would it make a difference to know that I have eaten low carb for several years, and seldom eat grains?  Also, apparently my lipids were 'normal' when last checked 10 years ago.
    My GP claims ignorance of the difference between calculated and direct measure of LDL, or of different particle size.  He just knows the numbers the lab sends.  I believe I would need to see a specialist to get tested further.  Worth the trouble?

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/3/2009 12:33:08 PM |

    Hi, Steve--

    You are absolutely correct: Given sufficient time, wheat elimination increases HDL also. However, vitamin D can also increase it independently. I've seen many people add vit D to an already established no-wheat diet and still send HDL through the roof.


    As you can see, it's probably a combination of all the good things you've done.

  • Lieta

    10/4/2009 2:40:15 AM |

    I've been supplementing with 6,000 mg of D3 each day for a month and following a low carb but not wheat-free diet for 2 months. I was surprised to see my HDL come back so low and my LDL so high on a recent test:

    HDL: 34
    LDL: 203
    VLDL: 9
    Trig: 47

    I will add Niacin to my supplement regimen to help bring down the LDL, and eliminate wheat. I am about 40 lbs overweight, with no other health issues (that I know of!). My A1C and fasting insulin numbers are good (A1C 4.7, Ins 4.3). I wonder if I need to pursue a more agressive approach to bring down my LDL, or just give the Vitamin D/Niacin supplementation time to work (and give up wheat)?

  • World Vitamins Online

    10/4/2009 9:25:55 PM |

    Very good information. Many people do not understand how to decipher the information when they get the results of a cholesterol test. This should help out some.

  • Anonymous

    10/4/2009 11:30:46 PM |

    I started taking 500mg niacin daily
    (for 40 days now) and increased my HDL to 49 from 35
    but my TC went from 189 to 251!
    (my trig is 62)
    Can niacin increase TC also?

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/6/2009 2:08:45 AM |


    When it comes to vitamin D and wheat elimination, it generally requires about 6 months for full effect to be reflected in your blood work.

    So patience pays!

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/6/2009 2:09:27 AM |


    Niacin or any other agent that increases HDL will likewise increase total cholesterol. It's all good!

  • Anonymous

    10/6/2009 2:28:53 PM |

    Do you have a recommended brand of Vit D3?  Does it have to be taken with Vit A (as I've read in some other places)?


  • Alex

    10/8/2009 2:22:51 PM |

    Does the lack of useful information in total cholesterol value extend all the way down to 150 and below, which is the level Joel Fuhrman and others say people should strive for?

  • Brian

    10/31/2009 2:07:32 PM |

    This reminds me of a story that the renowned physicist Richard Feynman told about the poor quality of textbooks he had reviewed, which gave students totally useless problems with no practical purpose.

    His example was a problem that listed the temperature of 3 random stars, and asked the student to calculate the total temperature, a totally meaningless and pointless number that tells you absolutely nothing about anything.

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    12/14/2009 2:07:28 AM |

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  • Kerri Knox

    4/20/2010 2:09:57 PM |

    Dr. Davis,

    Do you have any studies to support that vitamin d increases HDL? I've searched it and could find nothing but neutral studies on it or studies in combination with omega's and niacin.

    This study that was ONLY with vitamin d saw no effect.

    and this study showed that atorvastatin needed adequate vitamin d levels in order to work.

    but I couldn't find anything saying that vitamin d raised HDL. Any references that you can refer me to or is this just your observations?

  • Anonymous

    9/27/2010 1:21:55 PM |

    Vitamin D doesn't raise cholesterol - cholesterol uses sunlight to synthesize or create Vitamin D.  If you are taking a cholesterol lowering medication, your body can't process the cholesterol to make Vitamin D.

  • Anonymous

    10/5/2010 11:22:57 PM |

    In May 2008 I had a D3 level of 25. Now it's near 80, after 1+ years on 5000 IU of D3 per day. My LDL cholesterol has gone up (it's in the 170s) and my HDL is still low (40-50). HDL has actually changed very little while LDL has increased over time since the first time it was tested in 2002.

    Despite the info presented here, I'm not convinced that there's such a clear relationship between LDL and Vitamin D.

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    11/3/2010 6:41:09 PM |

    So the dominant effect of vitamin D from a cholesterol standpoint is a substantial increase in HDL. Looking at the equation, you can see that an increase in HDL is accompanied by a commensurate increase in total cholesterol. If HDL goes up 25 mg/dl, total cholesterol goes up 25 mg/dl.

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    4/28/2011 8:25:17 AM |

    Thanks a lot for the tips. Reduce your cholesterol by taking the necessary vitamins and supplements. Avoid eating fatty food and focus more on eating healthy fats.

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  • Brian

    12/4/2013 8:36:08 PM |

    Vitamin D3 supplements will absolutely increase both your LDL and HDL cholesterol.  The impact on each can be quite large.  I know people want to believe that supplements can do nothing negative, but it is what it is.  All you have to do is buy a Cardiocheck PA meter or the like and test your cholesterol at home.  Take 5000 IU per day of vitamin D3 for 2 weeks and recheck -- your LDL will go up dramatically, and your HDL will rise as well (and so your total will increase a fair amount).  The exact same thing will happen if you get massive amounts of sun without sunscreen over a number of weeks.  Who know whether this effect is a good or bad thing -- your guess is as good as mine.  But I'm always amazed at all the $30 million dollar studies that have to be done to find out what any person can see with a single affordable at-home monitor...