Vitamin D has been believed to help to support bone growth in conjunction with calcium. When osteoporosis hits post-menopausal women, they are prescribed vitamin D tablets to help reduce bone density loss. It might work for the older population, but how about those healthy adults who also take vitamin D tablets? It there any reason for healthy adults to take such a supplement? Is their any benefit that comes out of it? Does it really prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart attacks and stroke? Scientists have begun to question the use and validity of vitamin D.
A new study published in, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology Journal, stated that the prevention of the previously mentioned diseases by taking vitamin D supplements is only a myth. According to the study, the prevention of the diseases previously mentioned does not exceed more than 15%. However, there have been suggestions that the risk of death may be reduced by 5% in conjunction with calcium. But, this is still unclear and there is not enough proof justifying the claim.
Besides supplementing on vitamin D tablets, this precious vitamin can be found in foods like fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks and cheese. Grain products fortified by the vitamin are also great sources to receive the benefit. Exposing one to the sun’s rays is another great way for the body to absorb vitamin D.
According to Mark Bolland, PhD from the University of Auckland, the benefits of supplementation may be effective for those who already have very low vitamin D levels such as frail elderly people, those who avoid sun exposure, and people who are heavily pigmented although the vitamin D use is still being questioned.
According to Dr. Bolland, there are few trials that show benefit by supplementation, however quite a lot of trials show no benefit and there are some trials which show adverse effects. Because some studies have proven adverse effects such as, increased risk of fractures, Dr. Bolland recommends being more careful when supplementing with vitamin D. However, recent research has indicated a positive effect on people with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.
The industry of supplements has seen an increase of vitamin D sales since 2002. In the United States, the sales of the supplement increased from $42 million to $605 million dollars in a span of nine years! What a booming industry!
Arapera Salter has been taking vitamin D supplements for two years due to low vitamin D levels in her system. She continues to take them despite the research contradicting the use of vitamin D. She already has given birth to one child and in preparation for her second child, she supplements by taking vitamin D. In defense, she mentions that she she would want to allow her child to have healthy vitamin D levels before she gives birth. She works as a pediatric registrar. She does not think she has wasted her money and will continue to supplement despite the research debunking the myth.
So the question still remains. Is vitamin D supplementation really beneficial like the industry says, or are they trying to make the multi-million dollar franchise grow by selling a product that has no beneficial use and may even be harmful to those taking it? Will it have any use to treat fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis as mentioned earlier?
By Moeen Shaikh