Later On

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

More vitamin D studies underway

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I’ve been taking vitamin D supplements for a decade or more—ever since the initial findings on the various ways in which vitamin D benefits us, along with the low levels of vitamin D found in typical patients. Research continues to verify the benefits of the vitamin: Amy Maxmen has an article in The Scientist that’s worth reading:

Once a month for the next 5 years, 20,000 people across the United States will find a package containing 62 pills in their mailboxes.  As participants in a clinical trial, the recipients agreed to swallow two of the pills daily. But inevitably as the years pass, some pill packets will become buried under a stack of letters, or forgotten in a drawer.  After all, these pills contain only vitamin D, fish oil, or an inert placebo—a person doesn’t need them to make it through the day.  Plus, no one monitors who takes the pills daily and who does not.

In another study, 871 pregnant women swallow a vitamin D or a placebo pill every day for the duration of their pregnancy. Then every year for 3 years after they’ve given birth, clinicians will evaluate their children for signs of asthma, in search of clues about the relationship between the essential vitamin and the respiratory disorder. But the study is scheduled to last only 3 years, so it won’t include children who begin to wheeze at age 6, when childhood asthma most often strikes.

A better vitamin D trial might send health-care professionals out to personally deliver pills to each of the first trial’s 20,000 participants. It might also test various doses of supplements, because no one knows how much is best. The asthma trial might include more women, run for a longer period of time, and test childhood supplementation, too. But then they’d also cost millions more, and in contrast to many drug trials, Pharma isn’t footing the bill. Profits from vitamin sales pale in comparison to those of most drugs, and therefore a company would struggle to recoup the money it spent testing supplements. Unfortunately, prevention trials require large sample sizes and long-term follow-up, making them incredibly expensive. Indeed, the National Institutes of Health has granted about $32 million for these two trials alone.

But researchers aren’t giving up. With limited budgets, vitamin D investigators are working hard to keep costs down, while still giving the vitamin a fighting chance to prove itself. Deficiencies of vitamin D have been linked to cancer, diabetes, strokes, and other maladies, and at least 12 imperfect clinical trials on its preventive powers have been set in motion since 2008. And while some scientists worry their cost-trimming shortcuts will render the results useless, others remain optimistic. Perhaps this smorgasbord of trials will reveal unpredictable benefits of taking one’s vitamins. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 March 2012 at 11:16 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

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