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New study results: Vitamin D health benefits found questionable at best

Vitamin D supplements: healthy living or a waste of money?
Vitamin D supplements: healthy living or a waste of money?
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In an article published this morning, February 24, 2014, WebPro News is reporting on the results of a new study, conducted by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, which call into question all of the previously touted health benefits of supplementing one's diet with Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is found naturally in sunlight exposure. Most of the dietary Vitamin D that we consume is found in fortified foods such as milk, orange juice and a variety of cereals. Foods naturally rich in Vitamin D include salmon, tuna, eggs and cheese, along with a variety of vegetables such as bell peppers, leafy greens and mushrooms. Vitamin D deficiencies have been thought to increase risk factors for different types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure and wide-spread use of Vitamin D supplements have been prescribed to lower these risk factors for years. Vitamin D increases calcium absorbtion and is recommended along with calcium supplements to support bone health. The new study findings indicate that Vitamin D, along with other vitamins in supplement form, may be completely useless in the prevention of these risk factors.

The study researchers found that 'a group of people given a real Vitamin D supplement and a group of people given a "dummy" supplement had no marked differences in the diseases with which they suffered.' The study concluded, "Our findings suggest that Vitamin D supplementation with or without calcium does not reduce skeletal or non-skeletal outcomes in unselected community dwelling individuals by more that 15%. Future trials with similar designs are unlikely to alter these conclusions." According to bio-hormone-health.com, lead study author, Dr. Mark Bolland said, "The take-away message is that there is little justification currently for prescribing Vitamin D to prevent heart attack, stroke, cancer or fractures in otherwise-healthy people living in the community."

The results of this study were met with a critical response. Dr. Michael F. Holick, an expert on Vitamin D and author of the book, "The Vitamin D Solution", stated that the testing methods done in New Zealand were simply 'silly', and stated that 'the results prove nothing since the doses of Vitamin D given test subjects were incredibly small and not what would be normally described.' The recommended daily dose for Vitamin D supplements is 600 IUs, while Scientific American has written that doses of 4000 IUs daily may still be safe.

If you have been prescribed Vitamin D supplements, do not discontinue them. Discuss the merits of these supplements with your healthcare provider and follow his or her advice.