February 17, 2014 | 22,669 views
By Dr. Mercola
Last November, researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research1 declared that vitamin supplements are probably useless when it comes to preventing heart disease and/or cancer.Their seriously flawed analysis (which, sadly, is being used by the US Preventive Services Task Force to update its recommendations on supplement use) was widely reported by the media.2Now, the attack against vitamin supplements has heated up yet again—this time they’re trying to quell the idea that vitamin D, specifically, has any useful purpose for the average person.Numerous media sources3, 4 have trumpeted the findings of a recent meta-analysis,5 which claims that vitamin D supplements are not only useless against heart disease, stroke and cancer, but may do more harm than good, and that further investigation into vitamin D would likely be “pointless”! According to the authors of the study:“Available evidence does not lend support to vitamin D supplementation and it is very unlikely that the results of a future6 single randomized clinical trial will materially alter the results from current meta-analyses.”What’s more, they also found that people taking vitamin D supplements had anincreased risk for hip fracture, which prompted Professor Karl Michaëlsson, a researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden, to publish a call for stricter labeling on vitamin D supplements. In his editorial,7 which accompanied the featured analysis, he writes:“Without stringent indications — i.e. supplementing those without true vitamin D insufficiency — there is a legitimate fear that vitamin D supplementation might actually cause net harm.”It should be noted that the dose given to the women in the study with increased fracture rates was 500,000 IU, all in one dose. This is an intake the body cannot absorb and process properly and the toxicity of the dose itself was not a surprise to the vitamin D researchers. The increased fractures were seen shortly after the huge dose but the rate declined in later months.
Research Shows Vitamin D Sufficiency Is Critical for Good Health
Meanwhile, a robust and rapidly growing body of research clearly shows thatvitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention, in part due to the fact that it influences about 10 percent of all your genes.Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections and chronic inflammation. It also produces over 200 anti-microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.Since the early 2000s, scientific investigations into the effects of vitamin D have ballooned. By the end of 2012, there were nearly 34,000 published studies on the effects of vitamin D, and there are well over 800 references in the medical literature showing vitamin D’s effectiveness against cancer alone. According to Carole Baggerly, founder of GrassrootsHealth, as much as 90 percent of ordinary breast cancer may in fact be related to vitamin D deficiency.Granted, the featured review is rebuking vitamin D supplements only. They’re not trying to claim that vitamin D deficiency doesn’t have any repercussions for your health. On the contrary, it supports the notion that sun exposure is your best source of vitamin D, as your skin naturally creates it in response to UV radiation.However, many people, especially those living in northern latitudes, are simply unable to get the necessary sun exposure needed to maintain clinically relevant vitamin D levels of 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
Vitamin D Synthesis is Unlikely During Winter Months…
The US map below shows the likelihood of vitamin D synthesis during February. My Vitamin D Resource page also contains maps showing vitamin D synthesis in various US states for the rest of the year. As you’ll see, even if you live in the southernmost states, optimal vitamin D synthesis will not occur until June!I firmly believe that UVB exposure is a far healthier way to optimize your vitamin D levels, but if you can’t use the sun or a safe tanning bed then it is best to use an oral supplement, but please recognize that it’s an inferior choice.Vitamin D supplements are also among the least expensive, and the health impact of deficiency is so broad and detrimental that it simply makes little sense to scare people away from vitamin D supplements—unless you’ve got some ulterior reason for doing so.
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