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Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Vitamin D in Supplements

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Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Vitamin D in Supplements

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to everything from cancer to diabetes. A recent review of vitamin D published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology questioned whether the link should be the other way around. Could low levels of vitamin D be the result rather than a cause of an illness?

The results are conflicting. Observational studies, which looked at what people ate or the supplements they took, showed a correlation between higher vitamin D levels and better health. People with higher levels had a 58 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 38 percent decreased risk of diabetes and a 34 percent decreased risk of colon cancer.

On the contrary, in the studies where vitamin D was given as a treatment to help prevent a disease it had no effect. There was one exception. Older adults, especially women, who were given 800 IU daily of vitamin D supplements, had a lower risk of dying from any cause. One possible reason for this finding is that vitamin D supplementation promotes stronger bones and therefore reduces injury from falls and fractures. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documented in 2010 that 41,300 seniors age 65 and older died from unintentional injury. Of that total more than half died from an unintentional fall, so if vitamin D is ultimately found to only offer this protective benefit, that alone would seem like a terrific reason to supplement with it. 

All of us have the goal of eventually getting old (versus dying young). With that in mind, all of us will want to reduce falls and fractures. If research eventually determines that vitamin D is only good for helping in this area, it’s still a home run.

Research on this topic continues to develop. For instance in a study released Dec. 9, 2013, findings show that vitamin D may combat multiple sclerosis by blocking the migration of destructive immune cells to the brain.

There are currently five studies underway that are using vitamin D as a treatment for various illnesses ranging from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and longevity. Specifically the objectives of one of these studies, the VITAL study, is to determine whether taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D or one gram of omega-3 a day reduces the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and stroke in people who do not have a prior history of these illnesses.The outcomes of these long range studies will be released in 2017 to 2020. So while it may be too early for us to determine if vitamin D levels are a cause versus a result of illness or disease isn’t it worth adding this supplement to your regimen if you know it can help protect you from death from an unintentional fall?

Try Cooper Complete Nutritional Supplements. The multivitamins in the Cooper Complete line each contain 2,000 IU of vitamin D. They're available for purchase at The Coop retail store or online. For more information click here or call 888.393.2221.

Article provided by Cathy Sides, Director of Customer Relations, Cooper Concepts Inc.