Vitamin D is again in the news. Enough already.

There is no debate about the fact that there is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the United States – it affects about two thirds of the population. However, it is bewildering why scientists are still debating if people should be taking vitamin D supplements. You would think that this is a pretty obvious, common sense conclusion. But common sense is far from common, especially in academia (and obviously not just in medicine – it is much worse in the “soft” social sciences).

Two major studies published in the highly respected British Medical Journal reviewed studies that involved data on more than a million people. Both studies showed that vitamin D provided significant benefits. Vitamin D appears to protect against major diseases. Adults with lower levels of vitamin D had a 35% increased risk of dying from heart disease,14% greater risk of dying from cancer, and a higher risk of dying from any cause. Taking vitamin D reduced the risk of dying from all causes by 11%. The authors estimate that 13% of all deaths in the US are due to low vitamin D levels. This is an astonishing discovery, on the par with the discovery that aspirin dramatically reduces the risk of different types of cancer.

So, a reasonable person would expect the medical community to begin recommending vitamin D supplementation, at least for those with low levels. But here is what one of the authors said:: “Based on what we found, we cannot recommend widespread supplementation”. He called for more clinical trials to prove beyond any doubt that taking vitamin D is a good idea. These trials usually cost many millions of dollars and take many years to complete. How much does it cost to take 2,000 units of vitamin D3 daily? One dollar a month. And what are the potential side effects of taking 2,000 units of vitamin D? None.

The bottom line is, if your vitamin D level is below 40, take 2,000 units a day. Some people may need higher doses if their levels remain low, which is not unusual. The normal range is considered to be between 30 and 100, but there are studies indicating that you are safer with a higher level. One such study showed that attacks of multiple sclerosis are less likely if you have high normal rather than low normal levels. We do not know if taking vitamin D prevents migraines and other types of headaches (such a study does need to be done), but we do recommend to everyone whose vitamin D level is low to get it up to normal range.

1 comment
  1. John Bedson says: 04/08/20144:12 am

    This neurologist from Texas thinks that the best vitamin D range for migraine should be between 60-80 (US units NOT European; which should be 150 – 200).

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