I often report on the government-industrial-medical complex. This powerful alliance apparently aims to discredit the value of nutritional supplementation. You see, this cumbersome complex doesn’t make enough money if people start getting enough vitamins and stop getting sick. People who use high-quality supplements typically don’t visit their doctor as frequently. They often stop getting needless, expensive scans and tests. And they don’t need to rely on Medicare. In other words, when people use supplements, they get–and stay–healthy. And the whole, profitable system falls apart.
So even when we have clear evidence that a supplement works…and benefits your health in a profound way…the word somehow just doesn’t seem to get out.
Take vitamin D, for example.
Two new, major reviews published in the British Medical Journal clearly demonstrate the benefits of higher vitamin D intakes and levels. But the studies were accompanied by an “expert” editorial opinion piece telling doctors, in effect, “wait, not so fast.” And that’s a shame. Because both reviews presented very strong evidence for vitamin D.
The first analysis reviewed 73 observational studies and 22 controlled clinical trials.
The observational studies followed 850,000 initially healthy people for up to 29 years. And the researchers looked at actual vitamin D (circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D) levels in the blood.
Overall, the researchers linked higher vitamin D levels with lower death rates from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other diseases. Plus, they found vitamin D supplementation reduced overall death rates among older adults.
The 22 clinical trials included in the review followed 30,700 participants. Researchers compared outcomes for people given vitamin D supplements versus placebo. The evidence showed a lower risk of death among those with higher vitamin D.
The same issue of BMJ featured a second, separate review of vitamin D. This review considered the effects of vitamin D levels earlier in life. And researchers found clear associations between higher vitamin D levels and improved birth weight, maternal health, and dental health in children. It also found a connection between vitamin D and hormone levels and kidney function.
Together, these two reviews followed about one million people. The evidence clearly links higher vitamin D levels with better long-term health. And vitamin D supplementation is a good tool to keep levels high.
Still, despite all the research in both reviews, the medical editors want more data. And more studies.
But this kind of needless caution–when we have the scientific evidence–thwarts medical progress. And keeps researchers chasing their tails. (Of course, it also keeps them all employed.)
Plus, in the same issue the “opposing” editorial comes along and attempts to discredit the evidence, that is, discredit the facts.
In this editorial opinion piece, the editor questioned the quality of the two reviews. And he was critical of the idea of vitamin D supplementation–despite the well-established vitamin D epidemic. The editor concluded we need more research before they recommend “widespread supplementation.” The editor said, in the meantime, clinicians shouldn’t even bother to conduct measurements of vitamin D levels in their patients.
At one point, the editor even poked fun at vitamin D, saying it’s credited with the triumph of good over evil. (Not likely among the government-industrial-medical complex these days.)
Now, The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) points out vitamin D is critical for many metabolic and physiologic functions. And–as the two research reviews showed–it appears to help reduce mortality from all causes. Particularly in older adults.
The CRN concludes that adding a simple vitamin D supplement would provide probable health benefits for most people. And I agree. Everyone should take a high-quality vitamin D supplement daily. Look for one that contains 5,000 IU of vitamin D. If you take other supplements, you may prefer the liquid form of vitamin D. You can add it to juice or milk.
1. “Vitamin D and risk of cause specific death: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational cohort and randomised intervention studies,” BMJ 2014; 348: g1903
2. “Vitamin D and multiple health outcomes: umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials,”BMJ 2014; 348: g2035
3. “Vitamin D and chronic disease prevention,” BMJ 2014; 348: g2280