Science and Tech


Vitamin D Has Little Effect On Healthy People: Study

New Zealand researchers reviewed more than 100 previous studies of the effects of vitamin D and concluded it has little benefit for healthy people.
Posted at 2:09 PM, Jan 24, 2014

Vitamin D — it can be helpful for people with weak bones, genetic diseases and other conditions. But a new study suggests that for healthy people, buying the supplement could actually be a waste of money. 

"Researchers in New Zealand have found that vitamin D did not help prevent heart attack, stroke, cancer or bone fractures by more than 15 percent." (Via NBC)

"Nearly half of U.S. adults take supplements. Vitamin D deficiency is linked with poor health and early death." (Via WPRI)

While vitamin D has long been thought of as the sunshine supplement that helps lead to better health, something Science News points out, the research in this study could call that notion into question.

The study, published in the journal Lancet, explains researchers analyzed results from more than 100 random previous studies that gave some participants the supplement and others a placebo. They also looked at the effects of taking vitamin D with and without calcium and found it made little difference. 

For healthy individuals, "the old-fashioned advice still holds true. Eat more fish, watch your diet and how you lead your life — unless you're specifically at risk [for deficiency]." Those at a higher risk include pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under 5 years old, people over 65 and those who don't get enough sunlight. (Via BBC)

But not all health experts agree with the conclusions of this recent study. 

USA Today spoke with a professor of medicine from Boston University who's a proponent of taking vitamin D. He calls the findings inadequate, saying: "The scientific term for it is 'silly'. There's nothing new here." The professor also said the results are flawed because many previous studies used vitamin D doses that were too low. 

The researchers from New Zealand stand by their study, saying, "Future trials with similar designs are unlikely to alter these conclusions."