Do You Take Vitamin D?
Sorry for the radio silence, everyone. Siobhan and I are slowly emerging from our very amazing (slash very exhausting) week!
As promised, we wanted to discuss the latest news about vitamin D. Many of you probably know that vitamin D has emerged in the last few years as a kind of miracle worker. Studies were conducted and, all of a sudden, D was being touted as a cancer-curing, body-scanning catch-all for health. (We reported as much in the book.) And just like that, everybody and their dog was diagnosed as vitamin D deficient while the market for supplements soared.
Now an expert panel is saying that the new higher recommendations for D are actually totally unfounded. Ruh roh. Here’s what the New York Times reported last week:
The 14-member expert committee was convened by the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit scientific body, at the request of the United States and Canadian governments. It was asked to examine the available data — nearly 1,000 publications — to determine how much vitamin D and calcium people were getting, how much was needed for optimal health and how much was too much.
The two nutrients work together for bone health.
Bone health, though, is only one of the benefits that have been attributed to vitamin D, and there is not enough good evidence to support most other claims, the committee said.
Some labs have started reporting levels of less than 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood as a deficiency. With that as a standard, 80 percent of the population would be deemed deficient of vitamin D, Dr. Rosen said. Most people need to take supplements to reach levels above 30 nanograms per milliliter, he added.
But, the committee concluded, a level of 20 to 30 nanograms is all that is needed for bone health, and nearly everyone is in that range.
It sounds like the research is thorough and balanced, and the committee is being applauded by other reputable groups like the Mayo Clinic and the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Of course, there are still vitamin D defenders who are saying there is no proven harm in dosing up either. As with all scientific studies, nothing is conclusive.
So where does that leave us, the guinea pigs? It’s unprofessional opinion time. As a rule I’m pretty skeptical of supplements and recommendations for high doses of them. Like cosmetics, the vitamin business is an unregulated industry and Siobhan and I are both of the mind that we should be getting our vitamins through food when possible. But because vitamin D is produce by the body through sun exposure, and not so much in food (unless you drink enriched milk), that’s a little trickier.
I, for one, do not take the supplements, though I had every intention to. I have a little milk in my Earl Grey, and I try to get very moderate sun exposure. But I do that mostly because I think it feels good (this is one of the only things Siobhan and I disagree on—in fact, it may be the only thing; she doesn’t do sun).
For now I think that’s sufficient but I will follow new research closely. What about you? Have you been tested for D deficiency? Do you take supplements? Do you think we’ve been foiled by industry once more?