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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.

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  1. Cindy
    Seattle, WA

    To trumpet something like “Vitamin D doesn’t help with cancer or heart attacks!” is very misleading. I get many health and nutrition newsletters, both online and in print, from top colleges and medical schools. I’ve read literally THOUSANDS of studies and articles touting the great and numerous benefits of vitamin D. If it turns out that EVERY SINGLE ONE of those was wrong, then I may as well move to the forest and live under a rock. I am SURE that vitamin D contributes to overall health and wellness, even if it can’t be proven that it diminishes heart attacks, etc. All that’ll do is convince people that vitamin D is worthless, cuz all they’ll remember is “doesn’t help.”

  2. LaRae

    Sounds like a poorly-designed study to me. Should have measured a person’s D blood levels to determine if higher levels correlate with reduced cancer or heart attacks.

  3. Donna

    I stopped my Vit D3 several years ago & my levels dropped. My doc had me to start back again. I have increased myself to 6000 IUs daily. My HDL is great, cholesterol is good. My doc always does a vit D screen on me when I have my annual blood work. I’m female and 70 and have Polycythemia Vera so my blood is checked often.

  4. John

    I have 2 whole bottles of vit d to use up. Maybe by then another study will say they help with something.

  5. mary3

    Uplifting, well thought-out comments for sure. Especially about calcium. I remember some years ago when 1200mg. of calcium was recommended Even 1500 mg. Well now I have calcification in my aortic artery [found on ultrasound for ribs after an accident], and who knows where else.
    I too do not get the flu without having the flu shot. Too many good things about taking D3. Unfortunately did not learn about K2 [MK7] until a few years ago.

    Thank you to all who share their experiences.

  6. Janice
    North Carolina

    Constantly amazed by the number of people I talk with that do not know to take Vitamin D with fat, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin. No mention if the participants in the study were instructed to take the vitamin D with a fat source.

  7. Laurie
    The Chi

    I agree about the study being set up to fail. 2000 mg is too low. I also wonder about the quality of the D they used. I am part of the Grassroots Health Vitamin D Study. You MUST test your levels with a reliable test. Sometimes you need more D based upon the season, your weight, and a variety of other issues. Grassroots Health has great statistics to back up their recommendations, and they have recently added Omega 3 testing and other tests to their initiative.

  8. Dr. Richard
    West Palm Beach

    As a scientific research student, I would think that the researchers would have tried to construct a control group with a placebo, an experimental group with 2,000 unit, 4,000 units, and 6,000 units of vit D to discern the therapeutic and or toxic dosages. With the opportunity to create such a large study, I am disheartened the construction was very limited in dosage testing.

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