Vitamin D Supplements May Be Useless

According to a new study funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, vitamin D supplements may be completely useless.

Vitamin D has long been associated with many ailments such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, fractures, and depression. The supplements are commonly prescribed to millions of people each year, however this new study shows that there is no significant improvement in health for the people who are currently taking the supplements.

Dr Mark J Bolland PhD, Andrew Grey MD, Greg D Gamble MSc, and Prof Ian R Reid MD summarized their study and their findings on Thelancet.com.

We did a trial sequential meta-analysis of existing randomised controlled trials of vitamin D supplements, with or without calcium, to investigate the possible effect of future trials on current knowledge. We estimated the effects of vitamin D supplementation on myocardial infarction or ischaemic heart disease, stroke or cerebrovascular disease, cancer, total fracture, hip fracture, and mortality in trial sequential analyses using a risk reduction threshold of 5% for mortality and 15% for other endpoints.

Heart disease, cancer, stroke and fracture prevention were the test subjects for the study. What the researchers will make you question everything you have ever been told about the important vitamin.

The effect estimate for vitamin D supplementation with or without calcium for myocardial infarction or ischaemic heart disease (nine trials, 48 647 patients), stroke or cerebrovascular disease (eight trials 46 431 patients), cancer (seven trials, 48 167 patients), and total fracture (22 trials, 76 497 patients) lay within the futility boundary, indicating that vitamin D supplementation does not alter the relative risk of any of these endpoints by 15% or more.

What this means is, the supplements did not prove to be effective in making a difference for people with these conditions. Experts still believe that the best way for an individual to receive the needed amount of vitamin D in their diet is to drink milk, eat foods high in vitamin D (salmon, tuna and vegetables, such as mushrooms), and get plenty of sunlight.

“The take-away message is that there is little justification currently for prescribing vitamin D to prevent heart attack, stroke, cancer, or fractures in otherwise-healthy people living in the community,” Bolland explained.

This is only one study, and many others will need to be done for the findings to be conclusive. More studies, using higher doses of vitamin D are currently underway. Brant Cebulla, the development director of the Vitamin D Council, told Medical News Today about the new trials that they are currently working on.

“We’ve got better designed large trials underway now, using 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day or more, and results from those will be out in 2017-2020. One such trial is VITAL, which is enrolling 20,000 Americans to take either 2,000 IU of vitamin D or placebo for 5 years. We should get really good data from that, data that doesn’t exist to date.”

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