Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Rethinking vitamin D

with 4 comments

I’ve been following the Vitamin D story since it first began to emerge a decade or so ago, and I’ve routinely taken Vitamin D supplements. My doctor tested my Vitamin D levels and pronounced himself pleased. But then I see this story by Gina Kolata in the NY Times:

The very high levels of vitamin D that are often recommended by doctors and testing laboratories — and can be achieved only by taking supplements — are unnecessary and could be harmful, an expert committee says. It also concludes that calcium supplements are not needed.

The group said most people have adequate amounts of vitamin D in their blood supplied by their diets and natural sources like sunshine, the committee says in a report that is to be released on Tuesday.

“For most people, taking extra calcium and vitamin D supplements is not indicated,” said Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, a member of the panel and an osteoporosis expert at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute.

Dr. J. Christopher Gallagher, director of the bone metabolism unit at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb., agreed, adding, “The onus is on the people who propose extra calcium and vitamin D to show it is safe before they push it on people.”

Over the past few years, the idea that nearly everyone needs extra calcium and vitamin D — especially vitamin D — has swept the nation.

With calcium, adolescent girls may be the only group that is getting too little, the panel found. Older women, on the other hand, may take too much, putting themselves at risk for kidney stones. And there is evidence that excess calcium can increase the risk of heart disease, the group wrote.

As for vitamin D, some prominent doctors have said that most people need supplements or they will be at increased risk for a wide variety of illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases.

And these days more and more people know their vitamin D levels because they are being tested for it as part of routine physical exams.

“The number of vitamin D tests has exploded,” said Dennis Black, a reviewer of the report who is a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

At the same time, vitamin D sales have soared, growing faster than those of any supplement, according to The Nutrition Business Journal. Sales rose 82 percent from 2008 to 2009, reaching $430 million. “Everyone was hoping vitamin D would be kind of a panacea,” Dr. Black said. The report, he added, might quell the craze.

“I think this will have an impact on a lot of primary care providers,” he said.

The 14-member expert committee was convened by the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit scientific body, at the request of the United States and Canadian governments. It was asked to examine the available data — nearly 1,000 publications — to determine how much vitamin D and calcium people were getting, how much was needed for optimal health and how much was too much.

The two nutrients work together for bone health…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2010 at 7:55 am

4 Responses

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  1. Christ almighty LG.

    Ditch the pills mate and get some sun. Thats our natural source of Vit D

    Since your in California there should be some sun left the Government hasn’t stolen from you

    Greg

    30 November 2010 at 11:46 pm

  2. As it turns out, in the latitudes far away from the tropics, winter sunlight doesn’t produce much vitamin D in humans. (I blogged on this a few years back: here’s the post.) Also, I don’t do much outdoors: my interests and activities are mostly indoor.

    LeisureGuy

    1 December 2010 at 6:10 am

  3. Yeah you are right in a way LG, but i thought where you are neat Monterrey? it might be adequate

    I am in Canberra Australia at 600m alt (2000ft) and lat 35S. We don’t get enough sun in winter and I have heard from other that their Vit D is low.

    I take Fish Oil tabs, Chia, Quinoa flakes, Vit B ocassionaly and some Vit C in winter. In summer our sun can be ferocious and gives us maybe too much of everything. You can get sunburn after 30 mins in the sun in the middle of the day.

    Must admit I found the solution to a healthy lifestyle is adequate and regular exercise through cycling 16Km (10miles) 2-3 days a week plus some 5-10Km walks. I also go on 4-7 day treks 2-3 times year which is getting harder but really worth the effort.

    You’ve just gotta force yourself to do it as the rewards are astounding. Too much bogging means less time cycling

    Greg

    1 December 2010 at 10:55 pm

  4. The Monter(r)ey confusion is a common mistake: Monterrey is far south of here, in Mexico. I live in Monterey California in the US, which is just south of San Francisco, in northern California around 36.5º North, just a little farther from the equator than you, but my altitude is about 10 meters above sea level: at the very bottom of the atmosphere. So I do take a D supplement, especially in the winter months.

    Now that my weight is substantially less, I suspect that walking is a real possibility. Once I’m below 200 lbs/ 91 kg I’m going to take up walking again.

    LeisureGuy

    2 December 2010 at 6:40 am


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