Benefits of vitamin D supplements debatable
Health care professionals continue to debate the benefit of supplements as well as studies proving or discrediting their benefit.
A recent report, published in the journal Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, calls into question whether more clinical trials are needed to test the effect of vitamin D on health disorders. An estimated 50 percent of the U.S. population takes vitamin D supplements, according to the report.
Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is produced in the body when exposed to sunlight. The vitamin is essential for strong, healthy bones because it helps the body absorb calcium. Muscles also need it to move, nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and body, and the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses.
This new research suggests vitamin D supplements won’t protect against bone problems, cardiovascular issues or cancer in healthy adults who do not have a vitamin D deficiency. However, it was found that vitamin D may help people with diseases, including multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia who generally have a vitamin D deficiency.
This research calls into question whether vitamin supplements, a $28 billion industry in the United States, can bring health benefits to healthy adults.
“While it is not clear if there is a benefit for healthy adults taking vitamin D supplements, it is clear that those with a vitamin D deficiency should increase their daily amounts of vitamin D, says Dr. Tonja Austin, family medicine physician at Advocate South Suburban Hospital.
Dr. Austin says that the vitamin does not have to come in the form of a costly supplement but can also be found in foods such as egg yolks, fatty fish such as salmon, and cheese. Many dairy products and cereals are also fortified with the vitamin.
“Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be unclear. Some experience no symptoms at all while others may experience fatigue, aches and pains, weakness, and/or frequent infections,” says Dr. Austin
She stresses that the only accurate way to know if you’re deficient is through a blood test ordered by your physician.
“Once your physician has determined if you truly are deficient,” says Dr. Austin, “They will discuss with you the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D that you should be consuming and how you should be consuming it.”
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