Millions of Americans are low in vitamin D. They are at higher risk for a range of health problems, from asthma to osteoporosis, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. These individuals may be advised to take vitamin D supplements but a new study called VITAL published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that vitamin D strikes out.
How Do We Know Vitamin D Strikes Out?
The VITAL study demonstrates conclusively that vitamin D pills do not reduce the risks of cancer or heart disease (NEJM, Nov. 10, 2018). Nearly 26,000 people were randomized to take 2000 international units of vitamin D3 or placebo every day for more than five years.
The Envelope, Please:
Overall, there was no significant difference between the two groups when it came to survival. There were no fewer heart attacks, strokes or other cardiovascular complications in the vitamin D group. They were also equally likely to die from invasive cancer.
Based on this study and other trials, including an investigation that considered cancer prevention, it seems that vitamin D supplements may not be an adequate substitute for sun exposure.