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Study raises new questions about taking high-dose vitamin D supplements.

More study indicates that the vitamin D mania should be dropped.

According to research published on Wednesday, taking large amounts of ‘the sunshine vitamin’ doesn’t protect older Americans with generally good health against breaking bones.

It’s the most recent setback for a nutrient about which it was originally anticipated that it would have numerous beneficial effects. Numerous vitamin D supplements did not prevent memory loss, cancer, or heart disease, according to the same study of roughly 26,000 adults.

And while consuming enough vitamin D is crucial for having strong bones, ‘more is not better,’ according to the study’s main author, Dr. Meryl LeBoff of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

An estimated third of Americans 60 and older take the supplements and more than 10 million blood tests for vitamin D levels are performed annually – despite years of controversy over whether the average older adult needs either.

Drs. Steven Cummings of California Pacific Medical Center and Clifford Rosen of Maine Medical Center Research Institute said in an editorial in the medical journal that the most recent data, when combined with results from other trials, should put an end to that dispute.

The two came to the conclusion that ‘people should cease taking vitamin D pills to avoid serious diseases’ and that ‘doctors should discontinue the routine screenings that fuel fear.’ They were not a part of the most recent study.

How much vitamin D should people consume daily? To make sure that everyone, young and old, receives enough, the U.S. advises 600 to 800 international units each day. While exposure to the sun helps our skin produce vitamin D, it can be more difficult in the winter. The nutrient is added to milk and a few other meals to aid.

The more important question was whether consuming more may be preferable in order to avoid fractures or perhaps even other illnesses. Dr. JoAnn Manson, director of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, launched the biggest study of its kind to monitor a range of health outcomes in nearly 26,000 typically healthy Americans aged 50 or older in order to address contradicting scientific data. The most recent findings compare bone fractures in individuals who took placebo pills daily for five years versus a high dose of 2,000 international units of vitamin D-3, the most active form of vitamin D.

LeBoff revealed in the New England Journal of Medicine that the supplements didn’t lower the incidence of shattered hips or other bones. While vitamin D and calcium work best together, she said even the 20% of study participants who also took a calcium supplement didn’t benefit. Nor did the small number of study participants who had low blood levels of vitamin D.

LeBoff warned that the study excluded persons with severe vitamin D shortages and those who would need supplements due to conditions like bone-thinning osteoporosis. Manson added that additional studies are necessary to see whether any other high-risk groups could gain from this.

Overall, ‘these findings challenge dogma and question the use of routinely checking vitamin D blood levels and making general recommendations for supplementation,’ according to Manson. For the majority of people, ‘spending time outside, being physically active, and eating a heart-healthy diet will lead to larger increases in health.’


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