Vitamin D Supplements: How Important Are They For Our Health And Well-Being?

Getting a recommendation to take the vitamin D supplement from your general physician is becoming more common now than ever. About 40 percent of Americans consume it daily and screening tests are increasingly being requested to check for deficiencies. Vitamin D is usually given to improve and maintain musculoskeletal health of people coping with bone loss but in combination with calcium. 

According to older observational studies, it was additionally seen as a way to keep non-skeletal chronic diseases at bay. The reason being that sufficient vitamin D concentration would be easily available as it is a safe and economical route to maintaining overall good health.  

However, contrary to these assumptions, a systematic review published in August by the British Medical Journal said that vitamin D does not contribute to the decrease of overall mortality risk. “Vitamin D supplementation alone was not associated with all cause mortality in adults compared with placebo or no treatment,” read the brief conclusion of study. The only positive benefit the researchers were able to find was that vitamin D supplementation reduces risk of death due to cancer by 16 percent. 

To conduct the review,  important databases such as Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched up to December 26, 2018. They also searched and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry to make an accurate analysis, albeit with limitations.    

“In this meta-analysis of 52 randomized controlled trials with a total of 75 454 participants, vitamin D supplementation was not significantly associated with total mortality. The findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation reduced cancer mortality by 16% but not mortality from cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, or ischaemic heart disease,” the researchers indicated in their review.

Unfortunately, the risk of cancer deaths was reduced only for people taking the naturally occuring vitamin D3 variety and not D2. The difference lies in the fact that vitamin D3 is produced by the human body organically in the presence of sunlight. It is also derived from animal protein, fish oil, eggs and butter.  

However, vitamin D2 has its plus points too. It is not as expensive and can be consumed through fortified foods and mushrooms. Futhermore, no health benefits were seen from vitamin D2 and therefore doctors who tout the supplements to be this miraculous wonder drug are thoroughly mistaken. 

Moreover, the subject needs further investigation due to several limitations posed by the meta-analysis. For instance, most of participants did not take a very high dose of vitamin D supplements and some of them took it along with calcium, which made it harder to analyze its individual potential.  

Vitamin D Vitamin D supplements reduce cancer risk by 16 percent. Pixabay