Is Vitamin D Useless?

A new study would have us believe so. But not so fast.

large scale study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and discussed in The NY Times recently posed the question: Does supplementation with Vit D 2000IU per day reduce the incidence of fractures? (The people in the study were not selected for Vitamin D deficiency nor for low bone density.) The answer was no, Vitamin D supplementation did not prevent fractures in that population.

Since we can’t be sure whether study subjects were deficient or not, this begs the question would deficient people benefit from a higher amount of supplementation than 2000IU in order to prevent fractures? 

The authors of an editorial published along with the research paper say, “Providers should stop screening for 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels or recommending vitamin D supplements and people should stop taking vitamin D supplements in order to prevent major diseases or extend life.” 

But are we taking Vit D to extend life or to improve function and resiliency? 

This study doesn’t address the question of whether supplementing with Vit D in low states enhances function and resiliency. In a nursing home resident study, Vit D supplementation of 5000IU increased physical function and improvement in quality of life. Vit D deficiency has also been linked with increased hospitalization and mortality from COVID 19 in a recent meta-analysis. 

The editorialists are quoted by The NY Times further, “There are exceptions, they say … those who live in conditions where they are deprived of sunshine and may not eat enough foods that are routinely supplemented with vitamin D, such as cereals and dairy products to help them absorb calcium.”

If you live in the northern latitude of Chicago, you need to supplement at least six months of the year. 

It seems logical that subjects in the fracture study who may have had Vit D deficiency, 2000IU per day was not enough to overcome the deficiency and prevent fractures, and for those whose status was fine to begin with, then extra Vitamin D wouldn’t add additional benefit.

I will continue to supplement Vitamin D to improve my function and resiliency. I have a history of D deficiency and fractures and it takes me 6000IU daily to maintain low normal levels and I haven’t had a fracture since supplementing. 

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