Extra Vitamin D and Calcium Aren’t Needed, Report Says
By GINA KOLATA
The very high levels of vitamin D that are often recommended by doctors and testing laboratories — and can be achieved only by taking supplements — are unnecessary and could be harmful, an expert committee says. It also concludes that calcium supplements are not needed.
The group said most people have adequate amounts of vitamin D in their blood supplied by their diets and natural sources like sunshine, the committee says in a report that is to be released on Tuesday.
“For most people, taking extra calcium and vitamin D supplements is not indicated,” said Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, a member of the panel and an osteoporosis expert at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute.
Dr. J. Christopher Gallagher, director of the bone metabolism unit at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb., agreed, adding, “The onus is on the people who propose extra calcium and vitamin D to show it is safe before they push it on people.”
Over the past few years, the idea that nearly everyone needs extra calcium and vitamin D — especially vitamin D — has swept the nation.
Hmm. We are talking about a vitamin whose role in bone health was discovered a long time ago, but which has recently been linked [or here, or here] to diabetes, obesity, cancer, brain development (maybe!), athletic performance and other things. Yet the Times is quoting two bone guys to tell me there is nothing to the hype. Unconvincing!
Secondly, I am applying a bit of common sense here (often risky when science is involved, but away we go). The first humans to leave Africa were dark-skinned. In the higher latitudes and reduced sunlight of Northern Europe, selective evolutionary pressure favored white skin. Was that exclusively about bone health? And more importantly, could modern urban blacks in northern latitudes really be getting enough Vitamin D strictly from food supplements? And is it just poverty that explains the many grim health statistics for the black community?
AHEAD OF THE PUSHBACK CURVE: Ms. Parker-Pope of the Times had a 'not-so-fast' story expressing skepticism about the Vitamin D fad last February. However, let me pluck this:
But don't start gobbling down vitamin D supplements just yet. The excitement about their health potential is still far ahead of the science.
Although numerous studies have been promising, there are scant data from randomized clinical trials. Little is known about what the ideal level of vitamin D really is, whether raising it can improve health, and what potential side effects are caused by high doses.
And since most of the data on vitamin D comes from observational research, it may be that high doses of the nutrient don't really make people healthier, but that healthy people simply do the sorts of things that happen to raise vitamin D.
The absence of studies is not the same as the study of absence. Or something like that... Anyway, telling us that a theory has not been confirmed is different from saying it has been refudiated.