August 13, 2012

178 Vitamin D & Fractures [13 August 2012]

Last week I critiqued a study that concluded that calcium and vitamin D were useless in preventing fractures. Among the many oversights of the study was the low dose of vitamin D used, averaging 400 IU daily. The critique suggested that 5,000 would be a better place to start. A new study has just confirmed the significance of dosage to vitamin D’s effect on fracture prevention.

The new study, published in the N Engl J Med in July, analyzed 11 controlled studies of oral vitamin D and hip fractures. Overall those taking vitamin D had a statistically insignificant 10% reduction in fractures, agreeing with the previous study which found no benefit. However, when analyzed by dosage, those taking the highest amount of D (800 or more) had a 30% reduction in fractures which is significant but not as good as it could be. While the researchers called this “high-dose vitamin D supplementation” many still consider it to be far below optimum.

As frustrating as it is to wait for research to be carried out in the optimum range of supplementation, at least these studies are contributing something to our nutritional knowledge. What really annoys me though is the news articles reporting on such studies. Seeking sensation rather than education, journalists jump to conclusions never intended by the researchers. For example one of the headlines for the story of the former analysis read: “Panel’s Thumbs Down to Calcium/Vitamin D supplements” [Philadelphia Inquirer, June 13, 2012]. A more accurate and helpful headline would have been: “RDAs of Calcium and Vitamin D Too Low to Prevent Fractures”.

Having established, once again, the importance of adequate vitamin D levels, how can we take advantage of the last month of summer sunshine and get our vitamin D without increasing the risk of skin cancer? In short, expose skin for a short time during peak UVB period, then cover up. Details next week.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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