The People's Perspective on Medicine

Forget Vitamin D Supplements for Heart Disease

A meta-analysis in JAMA Cardiology shows no benefit from vitamin D supplements for heart disease. This is the latest in a series of such disappointments.
Vitamin D supplements

Vitamin D supplements disappoint again. That’s the conclusion of a meta-analysis published in JAMA Cardiology this week. The researchers noted that many epidemiological studies have linked low vitamin D levels to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and other cardiovascular problems. Vitamin D is well known to be crucial for maintaining strong bones. Good levels of vitamin D seem to help protect children from air pollution. People with adequate levels of vitamin D seem to be less prone to cancer. Moreover, people with low blood levels of this vitamin are more susceptible to ulcerative colitis. But so far, supplements don’t seem to improve people’s health. This study of vitamin D supplements for heart disease did not change that perception (JAMA Cardiology, June 19, 2019).

How Did the Scientists Study Vitamin D Supplements for Heart Disease?

The researchers reviewed 21 randomized controlled trials involving vitamin D supplements for heart disease. These studies included more than 83,000 participants with an average age around 65. The trials had used a variety of doses and schedules. Altogether, however, the investigators found no indication that vitamin D supplements reduced the risk of cardiovascular events. 

Other Vitamin D Supplement Disappointments:

This comes on the heels of a large trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week. It demonstrated that people taking 4,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 were no less likely than those on placebo to develop type 2 diabetes.

Studies like this and many others over the years leave patients and doctors in a quandary. Low vitamin D levels are associated with multiple health conditions, but supplements appear to be ineffective for preventing such problems. This is not the first study to show that vitamin D supplements for heart disease are not effective. Unfortunately, it does not tell us how to ensure we have adequate levels of this crucial vitamin circulating in our bodies. 

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Vitamin D Deficiency

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Vitamin D Deficiency
  • Barbarawi M et al, "Vitamin D supplementation and cardiovascular disease risks in more than 83000 individuals in 21 randomized clinical trials: A meta-analysis." JAMA Cardiology, JUne 19, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2019.1870
  • Pittas A et al, "Vitamin D supplementation and prevention of type 2 diabetes." New England Journal of Medicine, June 7, 2019. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1900906
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Not sure that I believe this. Vitamin D3 is wonderful for many things.

These studies about Vitamin D irritate me. I’m a big believer in Vitamin D, but I never thought that taking a supplement was what was helping. I’ve always thought that higher Vitamin D levels in my blood is what helps keep us healthy.

If people who put air into their tires regularly still have their sidewalls breaking down, it might be better for them to keep tire air pressure at recommended levels rather than randomly putting air into their tires. Would ANY decent research suggest that putting air into tires is the way to avoid a breakdown of the sidewalls?

These authors of these articles that point out that taking Vitamin D supplements isn’t helping anyone need to rethink their research.

OR . . . Am I missing something that everyone else sees?

I’ll continue to take Vit D per my neurologist. This is an example of everything else we hear…. coffee is bad for you, then coffee is good for you. Eggs are okay, no, eggs are not okay. Take your Crestor, even though it elevates diabetes and makes my legs ache. We live in a world of mass confusion and conflicting information with the foods and meds. Everyday is a crap shoot and is very frustrating.

Vitamin D helps with one’s immune system.

I’ve read that for vitamin D to work, it has to be integrated with vitamin K2. Were there any studies with that integration?

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