Vitamin D: Miracle or Hype?

Just a couple weeks ago I posted an article discussing the trendiness of vitamin D. Since then, there is even more press about this; last week I reported how sales of vitamin D are jumping. Now, the New York Times also reviews the literature, with a cautionary note (The Miracle of Vitamin D: Sound Science, or Hype?).

The crux of the article is that indeed there is a lot of recent information that vitamin D supplements can help decrease cancers and heart disease — among those with documented blood-level deficiency in vitamin D. What is less clear is whether the entire population would benefit from a high-dose supplement. In other words, if your blood levels are normal, there is yet not a lot of evidence that a supplement would help. A good quote:

“What we know is that there are a lot of people who are vitamin D deficient based on estimates from national surveys,” said Dr. Michal L. Melamed, assistant professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. “But we don’t know what happens when the curve shifts to the other end. There probably is a risk to having too much vitamin D in the system.”

I think that perhaps the best approach is to see if you first have a deficiency, which many do. In that case, there’s clear evidence that a supplement of 1,000-2,000 IU a day wiill benefit. As for the rest of use, we will have to wait for better studies — which will take many years to finish. In the meantime? I’m still personally debating whether I should start myself on extra doses…

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