Revolutionary High Dose Vitamin D Protocol for Autoimmunity, Obesity and Improved Sleep

By Ron Hunninghake, M.D.

Watch Dr. Ron’s October 2019 lecture, “The Importance and Safety of High-Dose Vitamin D3”

Years ago, Dr. Hugh Riordan and I were driving through Boulder, Colorado on our way to an appointment. As we happened to drive past a McDonald’s restaurant, he shook his head and made this striking comment, “It’s too bad we don’t have a ‘McPill.’”

No, Dr. Hugh was not endorsing fast food. He told me he was thinking of vitamin D3: so simple to dose, low cost; very safe, highly effective at mitigating a wide array of chronic illnesses; the ultimate preventive nutrient. Were it offered by McDonald’s on a worldwide scale, it might cost less than a few cents for each dose. Heck, McDonald’s could offer it for free, as a public health option! The vitamin D McPill would have been the ultimate universal “health coup!”

Well, it will never happen. It was a pipe dream. The point being, however, that vitamin D may be the simplest, most universal way to both recover health and maintain health!

What “The McPill” Can Do for You

In the interest of time and space, I’m going summarize vitamin D3’s benefits into just three key categories.


Why do most colds and flu happen in the winter? Less sunshine means less vitamin D, which leads to less immunity. That simple. Plus, in the proper dosage, vitamin D acts as a powerful immune modulator. This property can help to stem the rising tide of autoimmune diseases in the Western world. If you are dealing with such issues as allergies, dry eyes, leaky gut, MS, Crohn’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis; the list goes on to over a hundred different autoimmune disorders, all of which could be mitigated with proper and safe dosing of D3.


Surprisingly, at the higher, more optimal doses, D3 orchestrates the deep, restorative level of sleep that is recognized as a key foundation for good health.


Perhaps the most important benefit of D3 (there are so many!) is its incredible ability to restore proper metabolism. With over 70% of our population struggling with insulin resistance, obesity, high BP, elevated triglycerides, and the development of type 2 diabetes; it is shocking to find out that vitamin D – at the optimal dose – will reverse these awful trends. For many, their weight will also begin normalizing, with as much as a 10-pound loss a month!

Keep in mind that D3 has demonstrated help with osteoporosis prevention and treatment, cancer and heart disease prevention, depression prevention and control, and a host of many other outstanding benefits. Just type in “” to link with an incredible 125 medical conditions that can be helped with proper dosing of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is Actually a Hormone!

It was in the early 1900’s that vitamins were being discovered, one after another. The fourth great vitamin discovery was “vitamin D.” Vitamin A cured a type of blindness, vitamin B1 cured beriberi, vitamin C cured scurvy, and vitamin D cured rickets.

Only one problem – vitamin D is NOT a vitamin. A “vitamin” is defined by the medical dictionary as “an organic substance essential in small quantities to normal metabolism and generally found in foods.” D3 is found in foods, it is essential, but, unlike other vitamins, it can be synthesized from cholesterol in the skin in the presence of sunshine.

There is much more to the story of D3 as a hormone. Suffice it to say that humans can make it, IF we get adequate sunshine, or eat very large amounts of healthy ocean fish. Here in the temperate zone, we used to get a lot of sunshine in the summer, but very little in the winter. Years ago, the typical farmer, working all day in the summer sun might generate 40,000-60,000 IU’s of vitamin D each day, much of which his body stored in his fat cells. These higher doses of stored D3 were later available to him in the winter months.

Modern Times, Modern Changes

The 21st Century is witness to unprecedented changes in what I generally will call “the modern way of living.” The widespread availability of electricity, mechanization and computerization of labor, indoor climate control, refrigeration and sewage, and the incredible rise in communication technologies have all transformed our lives for the better. Right? While many would unequivocally respond in the affirmative, we look around and see another picture of the downside of these advances.

Family cohesiveness has been replaced with online connectivity of dubious value. Hard outdoor work in the heat and sun with prolific sweating and a higher level of physical endurance has been replaced with periodic gym visits, prolonged TV watching, and sun phobias due to conflicting reports about the risks of skin cancer. Psychological hardiness is being replaced with widespread depression and rising rates of suicide and gun violence. One in four middle-aged American women now take an antidepressant medication. Overweight, tired, pre-diabetic and over-medicated citizens fight their way through their workday only to experience restless sleep at night.

It has been scientifically documented that in our most recent generation (the last 25 years), the incidence of ALL chronic illnesses has risen tenfold!

The Winter Syndrome

Judson Somerville, MD, offers a surprisingly simple explanation and possible solution for our modern chronic disease epidemics. Recall that vitamin D is, in reality, a hormone. A hormone functions as a cellular regulator, sometimes stimulating and at other times suppressing specific cellular actions.

The prolonged suppression of D3 in our sun-phobic, indoor-inactive modern times also acts as a signal: “It’s wintertime…time to hibernate.” Hibernation implies less food availability, thus activating hunger for high calorie, optimal storage foods. Metabolism slows down and fat absorption ramps up. The body fattens up. Chronically high insulin levels beget insulin resistance. Obesity and lethargy ensue. Ironically, sleep quality deteriorates. Gut flora suffers, immunity wanes, and the risk of chronic infection is heightened.

The chronic lack of optimal D3 reinforces what Dr. Somerville, in his book The Optimal Dose of D3, calls “the winter syndrome.” Low levels of D3 induce a state of waking hibernation, which corresponds to the many manifestations of D3 deficiency.

Misdirected, Excessive Caution

The early researchers of vitamin D were convinced that this newly discovered nutrient regulated calcium and bone health. That was all! They were unaware of the benefits of the much higher levels of vitamin D acting as a hormone.

They were not cognizant of the fact that most humans, prior to modern times, typically generated hormone D3 in the tens of thousands of units per day, not just the 600 IUs needed to prevent rickets.

Consequently, even after scientifically determining that the true toxic level of D3 in the blood was around 300 ng/ml, they decided to play it safe and declare toxicity at 100 ng/dl, “in order to create a safe buffer zone.” The precaution has crippled modern medicine’s concept of the incredible utility of high-dose D3. Here caution has done much more harm than good.

The Vitamin D Council

This scientific group has taken a much more enlightened view of the amazing utility of D3. As such, their recommended Toxic Level is listed as 150 ng/ml. And even this more liberal dosing does not take into consideration those individuals who are genetically carrying defective vitamin D receptors (VDR’s.) For them, especially those with severe autoimmune disease, much higher levels of D3 may be necessary.

Why high doses?

According to the renowned Portuguese Professor, Dr. Manuel Pinto Coelho: “Most of the drugs that are taken, try to imitate what high dose ‘vitamin’ D3 can do.” (Note: Dr. Pinto Coelho was able to reverse his son’s ALS using this approach.) Furthermore, according to the pioneering work of the renowned Brazilian neurologist, Dr. Cícero Coimbra, using vitamin D in large doses stops, and even partially reverses, the damage caused by multiple sclerosis and many other autoimmune diseases in 95% of the cases. (This paragraph is reprinted from the preface of the book How Not to Die with True High-Dose Vitamin D Therapy: Coimbra’s Protocol and the Secrets of Safe High-Dose Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 Supplementation by Tiago Henriques and Miriam Henriques.)

Vitamin D Optimal Dose Monitoring Protocol at Riordan Clinic

For the past 10 years I have been encouraging my Riordan Clinic patients to use vitamin D3 at what I will refer to here as Level 1. I base the safety and efficacy of this dosage level on my 12-year board member tenure at Pure North Synergy Foundation in Calgary, Alberta province, Canada. There over 40 major research studies on the safety and efficacy of high dose D3 have been performed and published. Most everyone on this dose has not gotten the flu during the winter months (this among many other benefits.)

Level 1 dosing of D3 10,000 IU per day always includes 100 mcg of Vitamin K2. Why? The only real risk of these higher intakes of D3 is the development of elevated blood levels of calcium, called hypercalcemia. This condition can damage your kidneys and cause multiple complex symptoms. Vitamin K2 is the body’s major calcium regulator. If you are getting enough vitamin K2 (K1 regulates coagulation) then excess calcium will be deposited in your bones and teeth – not in your kidneys or arteries. This is why Riordan brand vitamin D3 at the 10,000 IU level always includes 100 mcg of K2 (mk-7), the best form of K2. I recommend doing a blood test of 25(OH)D3 level annually to make sure you are getting a safe and effective dose at this level of vitamin D.

Level 2 refers to the dosing alluded to in Dr. Somerville’s Optimal Dose book mentioned above. He has been prescribing this dose for 8 years to over a thousand patients without side effects. Should you choose this dosage, I recommend you stick with our Riordan Clinic D3:K2 supplement along with biannual D3 blood level testing along with a Chemistry Profile test to monitor serum calcium and creatinine level (kidney function test.) Dr. Somerville’s D3 dosing does not include vitamin K2. Taking D3 with K2 at this dosage level adds greater safety.

Level 3 is reserved for seriously ill patients, generally those suffering from severe autoimmune disorders such as MS, muscular dystrophy, or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Again, D3/K2 is the safer dosage form to take. However, in the much higher levels that are required, physician supervision is paramount! I advise that you go through the Riordan Clinic Real Health Discovery process for new patients to assess for other disease or deficiency factors that need correction prior to instituting Level 3 dosing.

Follow-up D3, serum calcium, and creatinine levels will be required quarterly in the first year, then biannually thereafter. If you are interested in this higher dosing of D3/K2, please carefully read Henriques’ book first: How Not to Die with True High-Dose Vitamin D Therapy: Coimbra’s Protocol and the Secrets of Safe High-Dose Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 Supplementation.

Remember, Dr. Riordan thought D3 was the McPill – only much healthier than the other McFood.