Researchers cautious about Vitamin D supplementation to prevent chronic diseases

February 27, 2015, Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk for a variety of chronic diseases, which has led to increased use of vitamin D supplements, often in high doses. However, taking a supplement "just in case" is not recommended to prevent chronic diseases until reliable knowledge about the efficacy or unwanted effects are available. This is the conclusion from a knowledge summary published in the British Medical Journal.

Vitamin D has received much attention in recent years. There is evidence that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk for a variety of , such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and type 2 diabetes. Is there sufficient evidence to recommend vitamin D supplementation to prevent these conditions?

Professor Haakon E. Meyer and researcher Kristin Holvik from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, together with Professor Paul Lips from the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam, Netherlands reviewed the existing published research. They concluded that combined supplementation of vitamin D and calcium can prevent fractures in the elderly. However, they agree that vitamin D supplements should not be recommended to prevent chronic diseases before reliable knowledge about the efficacy and any adverse effects are available.

Should vitamin D supplementation be used if you have vitamin D deficiency?

"Yes. Vitamin D should not be ignored. In the latest nutritional recommendations from the Norwegian Directorate of Health, 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day are recommended for adults and children and 20 micrograms per day for the elderly. A blood test is not needed to follow these recommendations. In the summer months, sufficient exposure to sunlight will help many to achieve these levels regardless of diet. In winter, many people need to take a supplement, such as cod liver oil. Otherwise, oily fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel are good natural sources of vitamin D, and butter, margarine and one type of skimmed milk (ekstra lett lettmelk) are fortified with vitamin D in Norway," says Meyer.

In the article, Meyer, Holvik and Lips systematically reviewed the available literature and described the possible benefits of taking vitamin D supplements and possible unwanted effects. They also described ongoing research and studies that may provide a clearer answer in the foreseeable future.

Has there been much research into vitamin D?

"Yes, there is a considerable research about vitamin D and the article refers to large randomized studies that are now underway to investigate whether supplementation with high doses of D can prevent various chronic diseases. The results will be available within five years" says Meyer.

Explore further: Benefits of regular vitamin D tests remain unproven, study says

More information: Meyer HE et al "Should vitamin D supplements be recommended to prevent chronic diseases?" BMJ 2015;350:h321

Related Stories

Benefits of regular vitamin D tests remain unproven, study says

November 25, 2014
Experts said Monday regular tests for vitamin D levels are not proven to be beneficial or harmful, despite previous research warning of damaging effects of vitamin D deficiencies in adults.

Vitamin D reduces lung disease flare-ups by over 40 percent

December 1, 2014
Vitamin D supplements can reduce COPD lung disease flare-ups by over 40% in patients with a vitamin D deficiency - according to new research from Queen Mary University of London. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) ...

Winter weather depriving city dwellers of vitamin D

February 13, 2015
Residents of snowy, northern U.S. cities are at risk of vitamin D deficiency and worse, may not even know it.

Vitamin D may not prevent return of vaginosis after all

October 29, 2014
(HealthDay)—A new study suggests that high doses of vitamin D may not help prevent the return of bacterial vaginosis (BV). The research was published in the November issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Who benefits from vitamin D?

August 13, 2013
Studying the expression of genes that are dependent on vitamin D makes it possible to identify individuals who will benefit from vitamin D supplementation, shows a University of Eastern Finland study published recently in ...

Study finds no evidence that vitamin D supplements reduce depression

March 18, 2014
Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in numerous health conditions in recent years, including depressed mood and major depressive disorder. Recent observational studies provide some support for an association of vitamin ...

Recommended for you

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus

November 15, 2018
Which is better, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet—or is it the type of fat that matters? In a new paper featured on the cover of Science magazine's special issue on nutrition, researchers ...

Colder, darker climates increase alcohol consumption and liver disease

November 14, 2018
Where you live could influence how much you drink. According to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, people living in colder regions with less sunlight drink more alcohol than their ...

Survey reveals how we use music as a possible sleep aid

November 14, 2018
Many individuals use music in the hope that it fights sleep difficulties, according to a study published November 14 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tabitha Trahan of the University of Sheffield, UK, and colleagues. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.