Vitamin D Supplements Do Not Improve Health

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has long been recommended by experts as part of a healthy diet. It helps to keep bones strong by absorbing calcium. Muscles require it for movement and it helps strengthen the immune system. Milk has traditionally been championed as a good source, since most milk sold in the United States has vitamin D added to it. Fatty fish like mackerel and tuna are also high in the nutrient. The body also produces vitamin D when skin is exposed to the sun. Of course, sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, so this is generally not a good method of obtaining it. Many people also rely on supplements instead of food or drink to obtain vitamin D. A recent study published The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, however, suggests that vitamin D supplements do not appear to improve a person’s health.

Vitamin D supplements are incredibly popular. The study’s researchers stated that they are taken by almost half of all American adults. Several alleged health effects of vitamin D supplements were examined: myocardial infarction or ischaemic heart disease, stroke or cerebrovascular disease, and bone fractures. For these conditions a risk reduction threshold of 15 percent was implemented. That means that for vitamin D supplements to be deemed effective, their intake should reduce occurrences of these health problems by more than 15 percent. The study determined that this was not the case. In other words, there was no significant difference in reports of these conditions between people who consumed vitamin D supplements and those who did not. The effect on mortality was also considered, with a five percent risk reduction threshold, and it was not determined to be effected either. That is, people who consume vitamin D supplements do not appear to live longer. In short, consuming vitamin D supplements do not seem to improve an individual’s health.

The research team, which was led by Mark Bolland of the University of Auckland, came to their conclusions after they analyzed 40 previous studies examining the health effects of vitamin D supplements. Certain studies also utilized calcium supplements while others did not. The intake of calcium supplements was not determined to have any effect.

Not only do vitamin D supplements not seem to improve one’s health, evidence suggest that their intake may actually have a negative impact on the body. In an editorial which accompanied the report, Professor Karl Michaelsson of Sweden’s Uppsala University writes that there is a distinct possibility that harm may be caused to healthy individuals who take such pills. He only recommends that such supplements be used by people who are diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency. Traditionally vitamin D has been recommended for intake since past research concluded that low levels of the nutrient in the body were associated with poor health and premature deaths. More recent studies have suggested that a lack of vitamin D in the body is the result of poor health, not the cause of it. That is, vitamin D level can go down as a result of illness. Most health experts advocate the inclusion of vitamin D in the diet, but supplements do not seem to do any good.

By Jean-Paul Gauthier

Office of Dietary Supplements
The Lancet
Medical News Today

3 Responses to "Vitamin D Supplements Do Not Improve Health"

  1. Jeffrey Dach   January 29, 2014 at 3:25 am

    The Bolland Lancet report selected forty RCT studies to conclude Vitamin D is useless. Dr Bolland conveniently excluded all the other basic science and observational studies. There are thousands of observational studies that show health benefits for Vitamin D….What Are The Health Benefits of Vitamin D ? What if I told you I discovered a new drug that could reduce the number of cancer deaths in the US by 43,000 annually, reduce colon cancer by 50%, and breast and ovarian cancer by 30%. Would you be impressed?
    What if I then told you this same drug could safely prevent or alleviate the following medical conditions: Osteoporosis,Hypertension,Cardiovascular disease,Cancer,Depression,Epilepsy,Type One Diabetes,Insulin resistance,Autoimmune Diseases,Migraine Headache,Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOS),Musculoskeletal and bone pain,Psoriasis,Rheumatoid Arthritis,Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s),chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
    Improve calcium absorption and Reduce hip fractures. All of these health benefits can be obtained with Vitamin D3, an inexpensive vitamin, also obtained with sun exposure.for more…
    jeffrey dach md

  2. Jibran Qazi   January 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I think your writer is referring to Vitamin D rather than Vitamin D3. Which are completely different. God bless.

  3. Dipl. Troph. B.A. Meier   January 25, 2014 at 4:59 am

    You can visit, take a free subscription and read for yourself. The title of this statistical analysis of old and new studies combined is
    “The effect of vitamin D supplementation on skeletal, vascular, or cancer outcomes: a trial sequential meta-analysis”

    You will see in the table “study characteristics” that no study with the primary endpoint of cancer or cardiovascular events has been included. Most of the studies have been set up to examine the effects of vitamin D supplementation on body sway, bone health or the risk of falls or fractures.

    You will see when you read through column ‘age’ that all study participants were older than 52 years. The dosage of vitamin D used during the studies varies from 200 IU per day for five months to 500 000 IU once per year for three to five years ( in the same study ). For comparison: the amount your skin will produce during a sun bath on mid day during summer under a blue sky with no sun creme applied and 80 per cent of your skin uncovered ranges from 10 000 to 25 000 IU ( international units). So giving study participants 200 units a day or 500 000 once per year would be unphysiological ( it does not remotely mimick what your body is able to do ).

    The meta analysis included study data from studies that used two different forms of vitamin D, ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol. Only recently the advantages of supplemental cholecalciferol have become known. Today people are advised to use cholecalciferol as a supplement. Cholecalciferol ( vitamin D3 ) is produced in the skin, ergocalciferol ( vitamin D2 ) is produced in plants and fungus.

    So can anyone conclude from the statisitcal analysis named above whether vitamin D3 is helpful to prevent cancer, multiple sklerosis, swine flu, meningitis, dementia, to name a few, in toddlers, school children or young adults? No!


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