Vitamin D Supplements May Lower Risk of Chronic Diseases
November 1, 2007—Numerous studies have suggested that people with lower vitamin D levels are more at risk for developing chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis. Now a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that vitamin D deficiency may also increase a person’s risk of death. The good news: supplementing with vitamin D may reduce that risk.
The authors of the study reviewed 18 randomized controlled trials that tested the impact of vitamin D (in the form of vitamin D2 or vitamin D3) on a variety of health conditions. The average daily dose of vitamin D for the 57,311 people participating in the trials ranged from 300 IU per day to 2,000 IU per day, but most people received between 400 IU and 800 IU.
The authors concluded there was a 7% reduction in the risk of death from any cause among those people who were randomly assigned to take vitamin D supplements compared with the control groups. Though the cause of this effect is not clearly understood, vitamin D is known to play a critical role in many of the body’s systems including the musculoskeletal, immune, and vascular systems.
“This study provides further evidence of potential benefits of vitamin D,” said Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD, author of an editorial on the vitamin D study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “Physicians need to be more aware of the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.”
According to Dr. Giovannucci, most people do not get enough vitamin D. He says the amount of vitamin D a person needs each day from food sources or supplements is dependent on how much sun exposure a person receives, as sun exposure triggers the synthesis of vitamin D in the body. “For most people, supplemental doses of at least 1,000 IU per day are required. Based on current recommendations, one should not exceed a dose of greater than 2,000 IU per day,” said Giovannucci.
(Arch Intern Med 2007;167:1730–7; Arch Intern Med 2007;167:1709–10)
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Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, Web sites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.
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