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New study on the efficacy of vitamin D: What you need to know

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About the study

A new review paper on vitamin D was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine by a group of researchers at the University of Alberta. The paper analyzed studies looking at the 10 most common benefits of taking a vitamin D supplement. Some of these benefits include reducing the risk of fractures and falls, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis.

What did the study find?

Due to the growing body of evidence that shows an association between vitamin D deficiency and a number of acute and chronic illnesses, the researchers wanted to analyze whether vitamin D supplementation in those with low vitamin D levels can help reduce the risk of these conditions. The researchers believe that the studies they reviewed were of poor quality, and suggest that there is little evidence to validate the benefits for an average person to take a vitamin D supplement. However, they did find that vitamin D can help reduce the number of falls and fractures in the elderly, in doses of at least 800 IU daily and in combination with calcium. They also suggest that regular testing of blood levels of vitamin D is not required.

What does this mean to me?

The researchers in this study did not conduct their own scientific studies on the individual benefits of taking a vitamin D supplement. Instead, this was a meta-analysis, where they reviewed a number of other studies that were published by acclaimed researchers and organizations worldwide, leaving interpretation up to their own scrutiny. Keep in mind that the researchers did not analyze all of the available evidence that shows the benefits of vitamin D supplementation. There are many organizations, such as The Canadian Cancer Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, who strongly recommend a vitamin D supplement based on current available evidence. Additionally, Health Canada recommends supplementing with vitamin D daily for the maintenance of strong bones and teeth and to help prevent vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is one of the most researched vitamins, with many studies worldwide touting its benefits for a wide range of health concerns. Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is naturally produced in the body when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in sunlight. Unfortunately, many factors limit our ability to do so, including limited sun exposure in the fall and winter months. Food sources are also extremely limited, making it challenging to meet your daily vitamin D recommendation without supplements.

The science behind the many benefits of vitamin D supplementation does not change based on this analysis. Research shows that supplementing with 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day is important for helping maintain strong bones, and can help reduce risks associated with heart disease and other illnesses. Your healthcare practitioner can help you determine how vitamin D can benefit you.

To read the full study, click here.

 

Additional studies on the benefits of vitamin D supplementation: 

Vitamin D: importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis

Effects of vitamin D supplementation in Multiple Sclerosis

Benefits of vitamin D supplementation for depression 

 

To learn more about vitamin D supplementation, click here.

To see Jamieson’s lineup of vitamin D supplements, click here.