Are we getting enough vitamin D?

October 4, 2010

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) are on a mission to find out if we need to supplement our diet with vitamin D.

According to lead researcher, Dr Rachel Neale from QIMR, “There has been increasing scientific and media attention paid to the potential , known as the sunshine vitamin.”

“Adequate vitamin D levels are essential for maintaining good bone health. It may have other potential health benefits such as prevention of heart disease, colon, lung and several other cancers, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia and diabetes among others.”

“There is currently insufficient information about how much vitamin D we need in our blood stream. We don’t yet know if increasing vitamin D levels by taking supplements is beneficial.”

The researchers are currently running a study called D-Health. They aim to recruit 560 participants from Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania aged 60-85 for a pilot study to investigate the health benefits of taking a dietary supplement. If successful they plan to embark on a larger scale trial of vitamin D for the prevention of chronic disease in the general population.

Volunteers will be asked to take a vitamin D tablet or a placebo tablet once each month for 12 months. They will also be asked a series of questions about their general health.

“We hope people will be willing to participate in this very important research. The success of this research depends on people who are invited to take part saying yes.”

The study follows research conducted by QIMR as part of Suncorp’s skin cancer awareness program SunWise. This research has found there is a great deal of misinformation in the general community when it comes to vitamin D.

”It is urgent that we obtain information to enable us to develop recommendations about sun exposure and vitamin D supplementation,” said Dr Neale.

The research is in collaboration with researchers at the University of Sydney, the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Melbourne, and the Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania.

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