Vitamin D – Conflicting Studies Have Me Confused

LindaFranklin01a This morning I woke up had my breakfast and read 2 reports about Vitamin D.  One was in The New York Times the other in The Wall Street Journal.  When I finished I was totally confused  – but not surprised.

A long awaited report from the Institute of Medicine released today triples the recommended amount of Vitamin D we should take from 200 IU's per day to 600 IU's per day. But, that's far lower than many medical groups have been advocating.  I take 2,500 IU's per day and that dosage works for me.  I know this because every time I get my blood tested I ask for my Vitamin D levels to be tested. You should be doing that too.  

Many Americans are Vitamin D deficient due to working and playing indoors out of the sunshine. Vitamin D has long been associated with bone health but other studies have shown it helps to  prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer auto immune disease and many other health issues.  It short, it has been touted as a supplement that is really a Wonder Drug.

Patsy Brannon, a professor of nutritional science at Cornell said, "the evidence that Vitamin D contributes to bone health is compelling  and gives strong evidence of cause and effect."  Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, an osteoporosis expert at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute said "for most people, taking extra calcium and vitamin D supplements is not indicated.”  So who do you believe?  Just another example of cross currents in medical research that leave all of us totally confused and wondering who to believe and what to do.

It is not clear how or why the claims for high Vitamin D levels started, medical experts say. First there were two studies, which turned out to be incorrect, that said people needed 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood, the upper end of what the committee says is a normal range. They were followed by articles and claims and books saying much higher levels — 40 to 50 nanograms or even higher — were needed.

After reviewing the data, the committee concluded that the evidence for the benefits of high levels of vitamin D was “inconsistent and/or conflicting and did not demonstrate causality.”

Evidence also suggests that high levels of vitamin D can increase the risks for fractures and the overall death rate and can raise the risk for other diseases. While those studies are not conclusive, any risk looms large when there is no demonstrable benefit. Those hints of risk are “challenging the concept that ‘more is better,’ ” the committee wrote.

So what do we do?  Who do we believe?  I will continue to take my 2,500 IU's of Vitamin D each day and will check with my doctor as to the validity of this latest confusing and disheartening study. Given time I am sure this study, like so many others, will prove to have many flaws.

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